Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker is the best movie of 2009 so far. Easily. This movie is intense and moving and, well, just plain awesome. It's a movie about a bomb-defusing squad in Iraq (I know films about the Middle East are not popular with the USAmerican public, but there have been a couple of really good ones lately.) Bigelow's film is the most suspenseful movie I've seen in years, though. The bomb sequences are intense and crazy, and I found myself not breathing for pretty much the film's entire running time. At two points in the picture my jaw dropped at the The Hurt Locker's sheer audacity. This movie is incredible. Go see it. Unequivocally recommended.
Brüno is, as it turns out, a lot like Borat. Except that it doesn't work as well. The film, in fact, doesn't really work at all. Still, Brüno is a really funny movie and has some cracking good jokes. I laughed pretty much all the way through it. And I think the film is occasionally clever, too. It is certainly very clear about its stance on homophobia—Brüno is very scary in this respect, too: it shows just how unsafe it is to be queer in the mid-west United States. But Brüno also left me feeling empty. Its message isn't that interesting, and star Cohen and director Charles don't really uncover anything we didn't already know about middle America. I am not sure any of us realized how racist many people in the U.S. are, but we all know how homophobic everyone is, don't we?
At any rate, Brüno is missing something. Perhaps that something is likable characters, or perhaps that something is a real narrative for which one can root. But whatever it is, Brüno doesn't have it.
I thought Todd Phillips' The Hangover was pretty funny. I also thought it was homophobic and racist. But, then, I am surprised when various cultural products are not homophobic and/or racist.
The Hangover is also completely absurd. The stars of the film are less interesting than, say, the stars of Wedding Crashers or Dan in Real Life, but the situations in The Hangover are still pretty funny. Plus it's about Las Vegas. And, as you all know, I love me some Vegas.