I am not sure I succeeded, ultimately, in convincing Devin Faraci and Amy Nicholson that Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is worthy of entering their canon of the greatest films of all time but I certainly enjoyed myself. Despite their casual rapport with each other, these two are total pros. I’m used to the “turn on Skype and ramble” form of podcasting but this was organized, thoughtful and Amy even brought notes. I do think The Hurt Locker is canon worthy, though it’s enjoyed a bit of a tarnish for having won Best Picture against Avatar. Often, the Best Picture winner has to take a dive for a decade or so after the Oscars because we all think we like winners — we like to be on the winning side — but after the win is achieved we have buyer’s remorse, I have found, much of the time. To date, no one has really captured the quagmire like Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal. They do this not in an obvious way but in a deceptive way, with metaphors weaved throughout. This idea of not being able to recognize your enemy, being there to fight something but what exactly? How do you retain your human core when you’re in that kind of a war? I still feel that The Hurt Locker achieves greatness by reaching for something profound and delivering an entertaining thriller at the same time.
It does not ever make the lists of the Greatest Films of All Time and many still believe that it was only praised because “it was directed by a woman.” I disagree with that. First, Bigelow isn’t a director who associates her gender with her work. She is an artist first and foremost — an artist who happens to be a woman. To not give her credit BECAUSE she’s a woman is what typically happens to women in our culture. The hatred comes from all sides, from women and men. The film was also hit by both sides of the political spectrum — accused of being pro-war and anti-military all at once. To date, we have not been able to leave Iraq better than we found it. We keep going back — and therein lies the profound truth to be found in Bigelow’s most excellent film.
At any rate, have a listen!