Friday, April 18, 2008

Valley of Muddle, Valley of Light

'Elah' is a mystery, an Iraq war treatment, and a character study, and on this basis I'd grade it B-, C, and B+.

So let's call it a character study and recommend it, it's a movie worth seeing, with superb acting by Tommy Lee Jones as the father of a soldier gone AWOL from his military base and Charlize Theron as the local policewoman who helps him investigate.

The 5 Parameters:

1. Four Words That Encapsule: 'Where Is My Son?'

2. Haikus (5/7/5):

'Family tradition
military style entails
constant risk of death'

'Torn flags and red tape,
sad remains of wasted lives;
watch where you war....'

'How can father rest?
with flesh and blood gone missing;
undaunted, forge ahead...'

3. Oblique Commentary: a) It's not fair to complain about what this movie isn't: a head-on military drama set in the Iraq war. Thusfar we have many movies with vague flashbacks, and some excellent documentaries. But nothing that really shows me, vividly, what it's like to be stationed in Iraq today; b) Few actresses as attractive as Charlize Theron have worked harder to overcome their beauty and display their talent; c) 'Elah' is the biblical story of David and Goliath, but I didn't quite get the analogy.

4. Insight: I wish I'd seen more of a) the missing son, since he's the movie's motive and needs to be more threshed out; b) Susan Sarandon, who's excellent as Jones' wife and the boy's mother, but gets less than 10 minutes of screen time... though I suppose arguments between the parents would be the cliché in such a story.. This film is unflinching in showing mysogynistic characters (notably Theron's fellow police..), that's a big presence here without being a main theme of the movie...

5. Link - Summary of Metacritic Reviews - 65 grade by 37 reviewers - that's about a B-...

Trailer for 'In The Valley of Elah':

Cartoons du Jour:

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