Was Roger Ebert smacked by “The Hurt Locker?!”


Mr. Ebert’s review of The Hurt Locker boggles my mind.

He loves and applauds the story’s realism, but, while I expected a compelling narrative arc and characters for whom I would feel, I found instead a combat diary that lacked not only that, but at least a few pages.  I was dissuaded by the fact that.  Where I expected transitions, I didn’t get them; that threw me a few times.  Transitions are nice between segments or sections of stories.

I respect, at times nearly revere, Mr. Ebert.  I rue the day when his facility for writing and thinking leaves us as his voice has.  I miss watching his passion opposite Gene Siskel.
I respect that Mr. Ebert appreciates the film’s realism and candid grit; I concur.  I think that viewers and cinéphiles deserve to expect and receive more.

The good

I know and respect some of Kathryn Bigelow’s work; when I watched Blue Steel 15-years-ago or so, I liked it.  Seeing the complex story of a policewoman, who came from a blue-collar and typically dysfunctional and misogynist family, who faces ethical conflicts as she starts her career – that fascinated me.  The dense and intense concern for gender politics, in the home and in an old-boy’s workplace, was great!

While Staff Sgt. William James’, Jeremy Renner, in-country “family” has dysfunctions and the communication with his loving wife, when he’s briefly back home, is strained, The Hurt Locker doesn’t make me care about many of the characters for very long.  The newbie, Specialist Owen Eldridge, Brian Geraghty, whom James accidentally shoots in the leg, was the character who connected to me.

This is an interesting story with interesting details, but I was kind of left feeling as I did after Spike Lee’s Crooklyn. It had no strong or clear narrative arc either; it was a series of vignettes.  Crooklyn felt strange and off, but I felt some connection to the characters and some of their situations.  This, even though I grew up an only child in Minnesota; a theoretical opposite of Mr. Lee.

Both of those films, Blue Steel and Crooklyn as disparate as they are, engaged, amused, or interested me – they connected with me.

The “Eh”

I was left feeling,”huh, that’s it?”  All of what Mr. Ebert praises is good, but falls short of meriting major awards.  Like what Chris Rock said about some Black men boasting “Hey, I take care of my kids!” or “at least I ain’t in jail!”  “They want extra credit for doin’ sh%t that they’re already supposed do be doing!”   Yes, I’ve high standards; it drives me nuts and makes people wonder if I’m “a little off” or “really too serious or up tight.”

The Hurt Locker is an interesting, informative day at the cinema, but that’s all.  That’s not enough.

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