In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Hurt Locker

Grand Lake Theater
This is my first repeat of a theater. Since I'm now confident I will exhaust my theater possibilities long before I run out of movies to see, I have some flexibility in patronizes my favorite theaters more than once. The Grand Lake, like many other theaters this week, is showing Oscar-nominated films, allowing me to sneak in a title or two before the awards on Sunday.

This also gave me the chance to take a few more photos of the Grand Lake's interior, including of the lobby's beautiful staircase.

The upper lobby looks out over the stairwell and its naturalist mural. The seats which had previously sat outside the women's restroom are now in this more neutral location.

A comfy throne-like chair waits beside the the entrance to the main auditorium. I want one of these in my house.

The hallway leading to the Egyptian and Moorish auditoriums displays old projection equipment, theater programs, photographs, and other historic memorabilia.

One such program from 1927 advertises "Milton Sills, as a Dashing, Daring Desert Fighter, Comes to Grand-Lake in The Silent Lover Next".

Across from the showcase is a beautiful mosaic, part of a three-arch set originally in a bank in upstate New York (now demolished).

An engrossing wall fixture illuminates the hallway outside the Egyptian and Moorish theaters.

In my original review, I had erroneously reported that the Moorish auditorium seats 235. It actually seats 161, putting the theater's total seating count at 1471. Like the Egyptian auditorium, the Moorish auditorium has a small balcony. Decorative patterns adorn the ceiling, pillars, walls, and even the stairwell. Several art deco light fixtures illuminate the room.

It's been at least one sentence since I last praised the Grand Lake, so let me say this: their seats are incredibly comfortable. The seats have a slight recline to them, can recline further, and are the perfect height (for me), ending just above my shoulder blades. Their deep red coloring looks nice, too.


Green Zone
(Previously reviewed)

The Hurt Locker
I think I'll just put in mini-reviews for the films that don't count toward my goal, so here's The Hurt Locker in a nutshell. Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, and Brian Geraghty are members of a bomb squad stationed in Iraq. They spend their days creeping up on piles of rubble, trying to find and defuse the bombs inside. That's the entire movie.

The film is incredibly tense, at first. Watching Renner try to disarm a bomb, while Mackie and Geraghty scour the skyline looking for snipers, is gripping. But soon the movie repeats itself. Every scene is basically the same: team is called to disarm a bomb, and then they disarm the bomb. There is no rising tension from scene to scene, no unifying plot. The scenes, with few exceptions, could have occurred in any order.

Nor do our characters develop. Renner is posited as a lifer, whose only joy is derived from the rush of disarming some dangerous device. But to me he just seems lifeless, as if he think of himself as already dead, and is thus trying to do what good he can before his number is finally up. Geraghty seems too green for someone who has already been in the war for a year, and has seen some terrible things. Several big names grace the screen, but each ends up being but a cameo.

The Hurt Locker might endure for the same reason that keeps it from being great: rather than being about the war at a macro level, it takes the micro approach and just focuses on the day-to-day dangers of a few characters. In later years, when people are looking for examples of what it was like to participate in the Iraq war as an American soldier, they can turn to this film, just as one could look to the excellent 84 Charlie MoPic to learn about the American experience in Vietnam.

The Hurt Locker has now won the Oscar for best film of 2009. My vote would have gone to Avatar or Up in the Air (which also deals with a timely issue, that of economic depression). Both are excellent movies that I imagine I'll watch for years to come. Any one scene in The Hurt Locker is excellent, but as a whole, it is merely good.

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