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Jarhead: The Movie

Sam Mendes' latest statement movie Jarhead doesn't say much

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by LamontPaul, for outsideleft.com
originally published: November, 2005
how many films have ever cast two guys with consecutive A's in their surnames in the lead roles

First of all, AMC might get some of their MBA'd middle managers down to Albertson's to check out what happens at the supermarket when they get more than three people in line. Happened last week, but happily I turned up at the wrong cinema anyhow, and happened again this week - long lines, backed up the staircase which should be an insurance nightmare anyhow and a lone box office worker. The subtle punishment of the final cut-price matinee of the day movie attendee. May as well throw down the UnWelcome mat. And while they're at it, they should consider setting one of their 24 screens of Stadium seating per location aside for the occasional Sony Pictures Pseudo Classic, so that I don't have to put my back out to see Capote.

Meanwhile, their computer booking program managed to pick up Jarhead - a war movie that lasts longer than its war. Jarhead, it's pretty ropey and it isn't Sam Mendes' finest moment. It's more turgid than Road to Perdition. War is stupid and People are stupid. Someone said that with atonal clarity already. It was Boy George 30 years ago. It doesn't take Jarhead to tell it different.

In Sam's War, people aren't just stupid, they're totally stupid venial degenerates. It's a sorry look at some sad faced boys straight from central casting and a far cry from Camp Pendleton. Someone's gonna create one of our famously popular outsideleft lists of the greatest authentic movie marines of all time and neither Jake Gyllenhaal nor Peter Sarsgaard will be on it. Maggie Gyllenhaal, a better shot.

I can't figure out whether Sam Mendes thinks it cool to 'take chances' with casting. Like I think its cool to take chances with other people's money. Tome Hanks as a tough survivor. Kevin Spacey as a dad. Jake Gyllenhaal as a marine. Or whether Sam is somewhere else while casting happens.

It's not as if Anthony Swofford's book was so bad. I read an account of the current Iraq war from a first person perspective (Harper's November) and as he wrote about adjusting the way he walks, forever, for the pistol currently strapped to his hip, it was a Swafford-esquian litany. Except with all of the drudgery and any of the fun taken out. And the particularly evocative saving babies and shooting at their parents all in a days work, put in.

About all that masturbation stuff in the movie. With more and more of us telecommuting, never going into the office, you don't have to be a marine to masturbate away half your working day. The M factor is way up. Ask anyone who works from home. It's what you do instead of the watercooler bit, right?

On the interesting side of the ledger, how many films have ever cast two guys with consecutive A's in their surnames? In the lead roles. And Jamie Foxx has two X's. There's some relatively cool film making in the desert, evoking the alien nation of it all, these guys could be on the moon its so remote from me and my life. And as Platoon Staff Sergeant Sykes, Jamie Foxx saves himself, but he can't save anyone else.

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LamontPaul

publisher, lamontpaul is currently producing a collection of outsideleft's anti-travel stories for the SideCartel, with a downloadable mumbled word version accompanied by understated musical fabulists, the frozen plastic

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