Jan 11, 2008

Jarhead

Jarhead is another war film about a young man reaching true manhood and masculinity through the rite of military passage. This convention is used in so many war films that the film felt like nothing new. Jarhead was just a contemporary and polished version of the same story told in a slightly different way. The film was directed by Sam Mendes known for the highly overrated and banal American Beauty. Another soulless existentialist film set in suburbia. American Beauty was tooted around as a artistic “Masterpiece” to somehow give Hollywood artistic credibility.

Jarhead, although taking place during the first war in the Persian gulf, seems like a response to the disastrous and failure war in Iraq. I learned as much from Jarhead about way as I would from watching Fox news. The film would be ideal for screening after a drunken super bowl party. Jake Gyllenhaal almost makes Jarhead appealing to high school girls.

The presentation of soldiers in Jarhead is embarrassing. Contrived idiocy, cuss words(fuck was used 278 times), and male bonding are nothing new in the American war film. The so-called antiwar Vietnam films did all these things better twenty and thirty years ago. But of course, these overused conventions made for a generous monetary investment. Too bad poor director Sam Mendes didn’t get the critical ravings he did with his earlier films. I guess Jarhead was too hollow of a film this time.


Jarhead
has also reinforced my belief in that there is no such thing as a Hollywood antiwar film. Like all the other antiwar films, it entertains audiences with excitement and action. Its dramatic scenes are laughable at best and leave the viewer feeling embarrassing after watching them. Hollywood really never was able to execute drama appropriately.

After reading articles comparing the novel version of Jarhead and the film and I wasn’t surprised. Of course the film is going to leave the significance of the novel out. Meaning isn’t important when your trying to make a buck. At least Stanley Kubrick was able to make his book adaptations interesting and well executed.


Jarhead
felt like a weak shell rip off of Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. I still haven’t figured out whether this was Sam Mendes intention or not. Mendes is another one of the perfection filmmakers that model everything they do after Stanley Kubrick. Unsurprisingly, none of these directors come even close to matching Kubrick’s eye for constructed perfection and artisan craftsmanship. Kubrick never put his soul on celluloid and neither would any of these up and coming hacks.

I can foresee a series of films similar to Jarhead in the upcoming years. Hollywood will obviously take the failure of the United States in Iraqi and capitalize on it. Eventually one of these will be hailed as a undisputable masterpiece capturing the essence of tragedy and suffering in war. Underpaid War veterans will shelve out their hard earned cash to see it while the film producers sit at their mansion and count their wads of cash.

-Ty E

1 comment:

John Stone said...

I love your reviews but I have to respectfully disagree with this one. The major theme throughout Jarhead was the boredom these soldiers faced. One such sequence sums it up when one marine asks two others if they'd gotten a kill, and in a sullen manner they reply to the negative.

The scene where we also see Peter arsgaard break down because he kept from taking out an Iraqi sentry also played on this theme.

Granted, war is hell, but for these soldiers there was nothing to do but but sit around and wait for something to happen. The scene where the oil fields are torched were surreal, especially whe Jake Gylenhall comes across an oil covered horse.

This film deserves more recognition than it retretrived.