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Category: The Hurt Locker

Envelope Directors Roundtable: Kathryn Bigelow on casting 'The Hurt Locker'

February 12, 2010 |  8:00 am

When you're making an intimate character study, how do you find just the right performer? Perhaps even more pressing when you're Kathryn Bigelow making "The Hurt Locker," how do you approach your producers and tell them you're hiring a relative unknown like Jeremy Renner to star in your picture?

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Envelope Directors Roundtable: The importance of the audition

February 9, 2010 |  8:00 am

So how important is the auditioning process in the making of a film? It depends on whom you ask. James Cameron certainly has a different approach than Lee Daniels, for instance.

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Video: Sizing up the lead actor/actress Oscar nominations

February 2, 2010 | 12:53 pm

Until Tuesday morning, Sandra Bullock had never been nominated for an Oscar. Now, she and Jeff Bridges -- who got his first Oscar nod 38 years ago -- are in the same club: Both could be considered front-runners for their respective roles in "The Blind Side" and "Crazy Heart."

And although Bullock and Bridges are both veterans, the acting Oscar nominations include some  newcomers in Carey Mulligan, who plays a British teenager in "An Education," and Jeremy Renner, who portrays an expert bomb defuser in "The Hurt Locker."

Watch the video for Times film critic Kenneth Turan and writer John Horn, on the scene at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

-- Scott Sandell

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Video: Kenneth Turan and John Horn on the Oscar best picture nominees

February 2, 2010 | 12:00 pm

By now, you know which films are up for best picture at the Academy Awards -- "Avatar," "The Hurt Locker," etc., etc. But did expanding the category from five to 10 nominees this year make a tangible difference -- say, in the nomination of films such as "The Blind Side" and "Up"? And what does former British prime minister Neville Chamberlain have to do with it all?

Find out the answers in the above video with Times film critic Kenneth Turan and writer John Horn, taken at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills. 

More videos to come.

— Scott Sandell

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Video: Who will win the Oscar for best director? And who was overlooked?

February 2, 2010 | 10:54 am

The five Oscar nominees for best director — Kathryn Bigelow for "The Hurt Locker," James Cameron for "Avatar," Lee Daniels for "Precious," Jason Reitman for "Up in the Air" and Quentin Tarantino for "Inglourious Basterds" — are some very familiar faces indeed. Not only have they been regulars on the award circuit this year, but they also all came to The Times last month to participate in The Envelope Directors Roundtable series.

Still, it's hard not to feel that other directors were overlooked. To find out the name of at least one worthy candidate who was not on the list — and learn who is the odds-on favorite to win — watch the above video of Times film critic Kenneth Turan and writer John Horn.

After all, while the nominees could watch from the comfort of home, Turan and Horn had to be at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills well before the crack of dawn Tuesday.

And keep coming back to 24 Frames for more videos today.

— Scott Sandell

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Sundance 2010: Has someone finally made a good movie about Afghanistan?

January 22, 2010 |  7:30 am

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If, as the axiom goes, it can take as long as a decade after the start of a war for someone to make a decent movie about it, then Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington are right on time. At Sundance's opening night on Thursday, the pair pulled the wraps off "Restrepo," the abstractly titled (it's the name of a fallen soldier, as well as a military outpost named for him) but grittily effective story about a U.S. platoon fighting in some of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan.

A cautionary attitude would have been justified from an audience that these last few years has seen 1) too many U.S. military movies with an air of redundancy and/or oppressiveness and 2) too many journalists putting themselves at the center of the story, a foible that "The Perfect Storm" author Junger hasn't exactly avoided over his meteoric career. But Junger stays mercifully out of sight (just a few off-screen questions shouted out, Errol Morris-style) and the soldiers, in various states of machismo and vulnerability, are engagingly front-and-center in this jolt of a movie about America's so-called good war.

As they shoot, play, strategize, mourn and conduct, as honorably as they can, the dishonorable job of shooting and killing, the soldiers are nothing if not galvanizing, and the audience at the Eccles Theater Thursday night ("the largest we've ever had watching a documentary at one time," festival director John Cooper noted wryly) responded in kind. It's impossible not to compare this movie with a host of other important documentaries about U.S. military activities of this past decade, many of which have played at this very festival. But even well-presented talking-head pictures such as "No End In Sight" can't match the in-the-moment verite offered by Junger and Hetherington.

In fact, the best comparison for "Restrepo" might be to the equally tense and illuminating script for "The Hurt Locker" -- except there's nothing scripted about this movie. We've become so bombarded with Hollywood perspectives on war that, watching this film, one can't stop but think that it's all just another set-up -- indeed, you may find yourself wondering why the director isn't cutting to the enemy -- until you stop and realize that this actually happened, and continues to happen, pretty much every day. (Incidentally, another Afghanistan movie, Amir Bar-Lev's "The Pat Tillman Story," is set to follow on this film's heels, while Hollywood is developing a few Central Asia projects of its own; we'll see if they can rise to the same high bar.)

National Geographic helped finance "Restrepo," and the television world that that brand comes from will likely be the most hospitable home for the picture. That's better than no home at all for a difficult war film, but after so many years of filmmakers and audiences failing to take on the subject directly, it would be nice if audiences could see this story, in all its intimate tragedies and challenges, on a large screen.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: A scene from "Restrepo." Credit: National Geographic


With Critics Choice win, 'The Hurt Locker' looks for a surge

January 17, 2010 |  8:00 am

The Broadcast Film Critics Assn.'s Critics Choice Awards have historically been known more for their number of choices than the choices themselves; the group was one of the first to go to 10 slots for best picture (initiating that more than a decade ago).

Bullo So we're loathe to read too much into  "The Hurt Locker" win for best film, although, heading into tonight's Golden Globes, it's likely that the best-director slab of crystal Kathryn Bigelow picked up Friday is the harbinger of more prizes and encomiums for the director herself. 

Still, as the third pony in a two-horse race (at least at the moment, as "Up in the Air" and "Avatar" shape up as front-runners), it never hurts to get a win, even if doesn't exactly come at Churchill Downs. It will be hard to upend the interplanetary tree huggers or the airport-lounge wanderers, but if a chunk of voters split between large-scale spectacle and intimate human drama, that leaves "The Hurt Locker" right there to collect.  And some ink from a win, even from a group of critics, doesn't hurt the cause.

Otherwise, Friday night's event at the Hollywood Palladium was a mixed bag. The good witch Kristin Chenoweth would have been better off going to the movies than hosting a show about them; the helium-voiced one couldn't pull off many of the jokes (not that the writers gave her much to work with). And bits like a Sarah Silverman presentation were about as fresh as last summer's nectarines.

Still, a John Hughes tribute played well, with just the right touch of nostalgia, and Christoph Waltz's, surrealist, Teutonic speech -- in which he attempted to make some kind of conceptual joke around a thousand repetitions of the word "choice," a performance piece to rival (unintentionally) anything Hans Landa had to offer -- bailed out the evening. And what to say about the latest round of Meryl Streep-Sandra Bullock faux rivalry, this time with a sapphic twist. 

The awards, voted on by a group of television and radio reviewers, is in a transitional place. This year's felt a little more glamorous -- and convenient -- moving from Santa Monica on a Thursday night to Hollywood on a Friday night. But there's still plenty of uncertainty -- the group is in the final year of a three-year deal with VH1, and insiders say odds aren't great it will be renewed. A little more Sandy and a little less Glinda might help that cause too.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Meryl Streep, left, and Sandra Bullock cement their faux rivalry with a faux kiss. Credit: MTV

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