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A movie directed by Sam Mendes

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Significance? JARHEAD depicts the Bizarre DESERT STORM War

  • Mar 8, 2006
Were intentions graded instead of product, then JARHEAD would be given 4 stars rather than 3, merely because it is one of the few films (so far) that shows the particular idiosyncrasies of that first Bush war, the DESERT SHIELD transforming into DESERT STORM. We have many films that document the mindset of the soldiers from the Civil War through the two World Wars, to Korean War to Vietnam War and each is different. JARHEAD is as much about the changes that have occurred in the American military with the advent of computerized warfare and sophisticated war machines and weapons as it is about the Greed for Oil Dominance that prompted the US Kuwaiti involvement. And for that this film is important and will remain so until something better comes along.

The story is rather minimal and as narrated by the author of the novel on which it is based, Anthony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal), it takes a while to become airborne. Swoff is a disillusioned kid who can't figure out how to make life meaningful so he opts for the USMC as a staging zone in his growth. What he discovers is the usual boot camp mentality and training, encountering other men who have both similar and different reasons for joining the Corps: Troy (Peter Saarsgard) has dark issues that remain with him throughout the story; Kruger (Lucas Black) opted for the Corps instead of prison; Cortez (Jacob Vargas) needed money to support his pregnant wife; Cuban immigrant Escobar (Laz Alonso) sincerely is a grateful patriot, etc. Along the way the boys encounter the stereotype DI (Scott MacDonald), the Staff Sergeant (Jamie Fox) and the company commander Lt Col Kazinski (Chris Cooper) as well as the usual variety of testosterone provoked young kids successfully brainwashed to be 'fighting men'.

The bulk of the story after boot camp is the boredom of going to war in the Kuwaiti desert, having nothing at all to do except play dumb games and wait and hydrate, until at last the Staff Sergeant gleefully announces Saddam Hussein is shooting and they are off to actually do what they were trained to do - Fight! But even that is thwarted as they wade through a miserable existence of seeing sky-darkened oil well fires, constant oil raining from the burning oil money holes, losing buddies to friendly fire and mistaken attacks by their own air support. And just at the point when this company of trained snipers (especially Swoff and Troy) gets the chance to kill, the 'war' is over and they go home. And in Swofford's narrative comments he notes how those men will never be allowed to leave the desert experience behind. 'Wars are different, yet wars are the same'.

Jake Gyllenhaal, buffed and shaved headed, gives us everything Swoff represents - as far as the meager script and misguided direction by Sam Mendes allow. He is a fine actor and his range of emotions is what holds the film together. The remainder of the cast likewise does their best to make their shadowy character outlines from the screenplay by William Broyles Jr. as close to three-dimensional as the lines allow. Yes, the film is about a new kind of soldier, one less driven by patriotism and more informed about the commercial greed that drives these fiascos, and Mendes does allow us to see that. But deeper character development and motivation could have made this a more powerful antiwar statement than a visual excursion of life under the sun of the foreign desert skies. Grady Harp, March 06

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More Jarhead (2005 movie) reviews
review by . May 11, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Good soporific      Cons: It is too dull to have any real cons      The Bottom Line: Who knew that war could be more dull than an English drawing room?      Plot Details: This opinion reveals everything about the movie''s plot.      Looking through the very helpful reviews of Jarhead, I noticed that even the reviewers who didn’t particularly like the film still rated it fairly high. I’m not …
review by . June 01, 2006
This film had received bad reviews from a political standpoint. I read a couple before I saw this film. They mostly didn't like it because.......what they say again............ O yeah,because it had no message or stance. To that I say good. It was refreshing to see a movie as a movie. I was glad that it was just a story, and there wasn't any motivation underneath it. That's not to say that the movie is one dimensional. There are many undertones, just none of which are attempting to reassert or defame …
review by . May 27, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
"Jarhead" is a marine expression that describes a recruit as an open vessel waiting to be filled by the commanders that be and by the haircut that makes the marine look like one. The movie is a recollection of the first Persian Gulf War, told from the point of view of Private Anthony Swofford (who wrote the book, but is played by Jake Gyllenhall) and his trek from marine recruit until the end of Operation Desert Storm. The war only lasted six weeks, and his contributions only four days, but the …
review by . November 04, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Jake Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard     Cons: ....     The Bottom Line: "Welcome to the jungle   It gets worse here everyday   Ya learn ta live like an animal   In the jungle where we play   Guns-n-Roses        God, in His infinite wisdom, had the forethought to let my brother join the Marines when we were between wars. He got out of the Marines just a few months before the casualty known …
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Grady Harp ()
Ranked #96
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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For his third feature film, British director Sam Mendes (AMERICAN BEAUTY) turns to the pages of Anthony Swofford's 2003 book on his experiences in the first Gulf War, and enlists William Broyles Jr.--a former Lieutenant who fought in Vietnam--to convert it into a screenplay. Mendes's film strays into FULL METAL JACKET territory as it opens, with young recruit Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal) undertaking some rigorous basic training under the steely, watchful eye of Staff Sgt. Sykes (Jamie Foxx). Impressed, Sykes invites Swofford to join his team, and partners him with Troy (Peter Sarsgaard), ultimately taking them to Saudi Arabia to fight in the first Gulf War. But once they arrive in the punishing heat of the desert, the long wait for battle sends many of the Marines dangerously close to the brink of insanity. <br> <br> Drawing on the experience of acclaimed cinematographer Roger Deakins (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION) to help viewers get a close-up taste of the Marines' punishing life in the desert, Mendes's fil...

Based on Anthony Swofford’s excellentmemoirabout his experiences as a Marine Sniper in Gulf War I,Jarheadis a war movie in which the waiting is a far greater factor upon the characters than the war itself, and the build up to combat is more drama than what combat is depicted. To some viewers hoping for typical movie action, this will seem like a cruel joke. But it’s not. It’s just the story as it was written, and if you liked ...
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