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One reviewer signs up for the suck! What'd he think of JARHEAD?

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a review of Sam Mendes' JARHEAD, one of my most anticipated flicks left in 2005. No long drawn out intro. I want to see this flick, that is all. Beware of a pretty in-depth synopsis of the plot!

Hey AICN gang. Kreegal here with another review for ya. I saw this last night at the Arclight in Hollywood. Thought I'd pass it on.

So there's a little movie coming out in November called "Jarhead", directed by Sam Mendes, the guy that brought us Mena Suvari's boobs and a hot make-out session between the guy from Matewan and the new Lex Luthor, as well as allowing "America's Favorite Actor" kill a bunch of people with a tommy-gun in the rain. So yeah, it's time for a new movie from this guy.

Perhaps I haven't been to a lot of press screenings, but this one, at the Arclight in Hollywood last night, was a clusterfuck from the beginning. They handed out too many tickets to begin with, and then had to sort people out for the press, and then when, as usual, certain members of this elite squad of press didn't show, they started filling the audience up with the people that they had briefly turned away. Having said all of this, there was no introduction to the film, and it started late. Good work by all.

Now I haven't read the book on which this is based, but I've been told that Mendes chopped the original draft of the film down to "just the war parts". I'm sort of glad he did, because it would've added ANOTHER hour to the film instead of the 2+ it already had.

I'm sure that Swofford's book is a grand exploration of his life before, during and after being in the desert, along with commentary on how war changes you and the people you love. But maybe not. Either way, this film starts you off with Jake Gyllenhaal, as Swofford, already in fatigues, ready to go. We blow through boot camp and Swofford taking liquid laxative to give the impression of stomach flu, and finally Jamie Foxx confronting him on the shitter and requesting that he become a sniper.

Swofford pseudo-makes friends with people in his company, including Peter Sarsgaard (the loner/leader), Lucas Black (the politico), Evan Jones (the crazy) and Brian Geraghty (the nerd). I mention these four because they are the only four worth paying any attention to. Peter Sarsgaard is great in this film, and I'm glad that he's finally getting good roles. That, I can say with confidence.

They train for awhile and life is tough, and then they are shipped to the desert, where they get to fight Iraqis. They're the Marines. First to fight. Semper Fi. They are excited about killing and "Apocalypse Now".

What they didn't expect was to sit around in the desert for the better part of a year with equipment that doesn't really work, a bunch of sand in their underpants and nothing to do.

It's hot, there's nothing to kill, most of their significant others are cheating on them or leaving them, Lucas Black thinks they are there for the wrong reasons and Evan Jones is out of his fucking mind, killing camels and collecting dead bodies.

This film is all about waiting for something to happen, and then when it does, it's over so quickly that if you blink, you miss it. Mendes sets this whole idea up really well. At one point, Sarsgaard even tells you it's going to happen that way.

Once the war actually starts, there are genuine moments of suspense, and dare I say it, "drama". Unfortunately, there are characters that I care more about than Swofford. I want to know why President Palmer… err… Dennis Haysbert gets to parade through two scenes and we don't know what he's doing. He's funny and he gets to swear, but I would rather follow him around than some of our regulars. Not to mention Sarsgaard, who did "something bad" and we're left to wonder what it was and how he ends up the way he ends up at the close of the film.

This film IS a commentary on war and the military, however. It shows how blood-thirsty we are to go to war, and how bored we are once we get there. It plays a lot to the "I don't want to be here" and "This is the only place I want to be" ideas that different people have. It shows that no matter how shitty your home life is, once you get back, it's still going to be shitty. Sometimes, it's even going to be worse.

It makes you uncomfortable to watch how excited these guys are about fighting, and at the same time makes you almost feel sorry for them that they don't really get to. It's the first movie I've been to in a while where I didn't feel fulfilled to some extent after it was over, but I was OK with feeling that way. It's almost as if that feeling is how the characters felt after the war. They had had an experience, something that would stay with them, but it's not certain if it was a good experience or a bad one.

I like the movie. It's more "Full Metal Jacket" than it has any right to be, but Mendes drives a hard bargain between well-rounded characters and events that shape those characters. This is no "war movie" in the action sense. It's a "war movie" in the psyche sense. Everything is cerebral, just like Mendes likes it, along with great early 90's music and beautiful, if horrifying, visuals of maddening war-torn landscapes.

It's also the best use of Nirvana's "Something's In The Way", possibly ever, even by Nirvana.

This isn't a movie for the "let's go have a fun time at the talkies" crowd. It could also boor people to tears, but I think it's worth seeing, and will certainly create A LOT of discussion about war, people and how we, as Americans, see ourselves.

Check it out when you can. You won't be the same. Welcome to the suck.

-Constable Kreegal

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 17, 2005, 6:55 p.m. CST


    by LeckoManiac

    I Want to see this movie...trailer was kick ass

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 7:02 p.m. CST

    Jake Gylenhaal - two words: OVERRATED and NEPOTISM

    by Dannychico

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 7:03 p.m. CST

    "It's also the best use of Nirvana's "Something's In

    by SmarkJobber

    You mean, besides The Cush-lash's acoustic rendition in "Jerry Maguire," right? Besides that instance, I don't think many Nirvana songs (if any) have even been used in film, so your statement doesn't really carry much value. In any case, I'm glad the movie is testing/screening pretty well, and I look forward to seeing it November Whatever.

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 7:03 p.m. CST

    this won't beat chicken little opening weekend.....

    by jig98

    oh and i'm second or close third.

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 7:05 p.m. CST


    by DarthNameless

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 7:06 p.m. CST


    by DarthNameless

    I Mean.!?!?!?This Movie could be cool as hell,mendes can direct character and action,so.... Ve'll See.

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 7:16 p.m. CST

    Two words...

    by Cadillac Jones


  • Oct. 17, 2005, 7:18 p.m. CST

    Why Mendes Doesn't Suck

    by HarmoniumSaver

    He hasn't proven himself to suck. I thought Road To Perdition was a bit lacking since 'Beauty' kicked my 17-year-old ass back into movies. Still, I didn't try too hard to be another movie. It was dull at parts, yeah, but had it's style. I'm looking forward to this shit. END

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 7:22 p.m. CST

    "Jake Gylenhaal - two words: OVERRATED and NEPOTISM"

    by DirkVega

    Yeah, because his father has so much power from directing LOSING ISAIAH ten years ago....

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 7:30 p.m. CST

    The Man who brought us Mena Suvari's boobs?!?

    by KenKRK

    You mean the mosquito bites she passes off as boobs?!? What about Thora Birch's Double D chestticles?!?

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 7:55 p.m. CST

    Just talked to guys from my former unit...

    by pizzatheface

    ...they just got back from Iraq last week. I bet they'll wait a while before watching this. Still, I'm there.

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 8:31 p.m. CST


    by Yossarian

    That review makes it sound like a more interesting film than your typical "shit-blows-up" movie.**I can attest, with 9 years in the military under my belt, there is indeed a lot of sitting around waiting for something to happen in any branch of the armed forces.

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 8:55 p.m. CST

    Wow, not a single <PLANT> reference to this review.

    by nomihs

    This is going to be a great film for generations. Only because I will forever associate Mendes with the great shot of jugs, both little and large, in "Beauty" and that is not a bad thing. Attach him to any project for all I care, thanks for the mammories.

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 8:58 p.m. CST

    I&#39;ll be first in line for this one. Looks good.

    by Shermdawg

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 9:22 p.m. CST

    M.A.R.I.N.E. =

    by Capt. Spaulding

    Muscles Are Required Intelligence Not Essential. Old joke. My pops was a Marine. Anyhoo, this movie looks cool, judging by the trailer. I was kind of on the fence about "Road to Perdition", I liked the cinematography and Paul Newman, but overall, I felt it was kind of like watching a watered-down "Miller&#39;s Crossing." "American Beauty" I saw god knows how many times in the theater, and, oddly enough, haven&#39;t watched much since.

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 10:48 p.m. CST

    I don&#39;t care what hollywood has to say about our military

    by Hate_Speech

    or war. Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn probably love it.

  • Oct. 17, 2005, 11:27 p.m. CST

    what&#39;s that damn song in the trailer for this?

    by Lou C.

    i don&#39;t listen the radio anymore, so i don&#39;t know if it&#39;s some big hit or not. but it makes the trailer kick some major ass. anyone know what it is? and american beauty kicked ass. and even if she&#39;s got small ones, mena is hot. that&#39;s all.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 12:22 a.m. CST


    by Kamikaze_Jones

    The song in the trailer is "Jesus Walks" by Kanye West, a song I really dig despite the fact that Kanye has proven himself to be among the ranks of the glory-seeking Hollywood "activists." Fuck him, but I&#39;m still stoked as shit to see this one. Never did see Road to Perdition, but American Beauty is probably one of the 5 best movies of the past 15 or so years. Hoorah.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 12:35 a.m. CST

    for a movie i&#39;m really looking forward to...

    by drakeavenue

    what a bland review. i know these people aren&#39;t &#39;real&#39; critics, but if you liked the film, describe it in more convincing ways, please.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 12:48 a.m. CST

    You remember when?

    by FNORDcinco1

    Antiwar movies were good? Didnt outright say HEY WAR IS BAD LISTEN TO US! More, hey look at this guy, his life sucks maybe because of war...And his enemy yeah life sucks for that dude to... DAH!

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 2:25 a.m. CST


    by Bob of the Shire

    I&#39;m really looking forward to this, although neither Perdition or Beautiful Mind really impressed me.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 2:31 a.m. CST

    Hate_Speech, the book is written by a marine, not by &#39;Hollyw

    by gobofraggleuk

    The book is definitely worth a read and it sounds as though the film captures part of what it was about. Anyone who feels like getting defensive about &#39;our military&#39; should reflect on the fact that the military consists of individuals rather than uniforms and if some of those people have a story to tell - their reflections on their experiences - you&#39;re disrespecting them by not caring to listen.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 6:16 a.m. CST

    gobofraggleuk, i see that you have "UK" in your name

    by SirBiatchReturns

    therefore your comments are probably going to be meaningless to some American talkbackers. no matter what you say, you&#39;ll still from the UK.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 8:34 a.m. CST

    How many uses of Nirvana&#39;s "Something&#39;s In The Way" are

    by moviemaniac-7

    Just like to know.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 9:19 a.m. CST

    Wheres The ABU GHRAIB Movie?

    by ZombieSolutions

    we&#39;ll call it FREEDOM FASCISTS!: The Movie. "In a world... where freedom isn&#39;t free; sometimes you have to torture, rape, murder and otherwise humiliate a bunch of brown skinned people for Jesus. Because the only way tor promote freedom and democracy is to utterly destroy the possibility through force and arrogance. Coming to theatres all around the Confederate Red States of Jesusland soon..."

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 9:53 a.m. CST

    thanks, kamikaze

    by Lou C.

    i thought it was kanye west. just don&#39;t listen to the radio anymore.

  • I&#39;d just like to say Swafford&#39;s "experiences" were exagerated and/or made up for the most part. One thing to go home and tell your buddies all the urban legends you heard as your own, its quite different to write a book with them as your own.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 10:26 a.m. CST


    by wackynephews

    Do you have some proof that Swafford&#39;s experiences weren&#39;t real?

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 10:35 a.m. CST

    re: the abu ghraib movie

    by DeadPanWalking

    Working title: Saw 3

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 10:44 a.m. CST

    the last great anti-war movie may have been A MIDNIGHT CLEAR

    by lostoptimist

    People can crow as much as they like about SAVING PRIVATE RAYN, but that&#39;s no Anti-war movie. It&#39;s much more a depiction of American Bureaucracy at work

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 11:07 a.m. CST

    stop hating on mendes, damn it...

    by the_man_from_Rio

    the man

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 11:09 a.m. CST

    "Swafford&#39;s "experiences" were exagerated"

    by gobofraggleuk

    I don&#39;t see how either of us could know how exaggerated or accurate SwOfford&#39;s memoir is. I&#39;m guessing that since you didn&#39;t know his name, you haven&#39;t read the book... It certainly doesn&#39;t read like an exaggerated or extreme account of anything - there&#39;s nothing extreme about it. That&#39;s the whole point - the enervating nature of waiting for war. You might be right, but, why make a claim you can&#39;t know the truth of?

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 11:20 a.m. CST

    gobofraggleuk, the movie was adapted by hollywood from a book!

    by Hate_Speech

    I know that. Big deal. How many movies follow the book word for word, idea for idea? Not very many. This looks terrible.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 12:07 p.m. CST

    Sounds better than I thought... But still...

    by ZeroCorpse

    I want a proper movie version of "I Am Legend" and a direct-from-the-novel version of "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" before I bother with any more movies about modern wars and military "brotherhood." Fuck the Marine Corps. They aren&#39;t jarheads. They&#39;re cannon fodder (and are brainwashed to either not realize it, or not care), and the Corps pretty much abandons them once they&#39;re through with them. This movie seems to portray that, but you know what? It ain&#39;t news to me, and it&#39;s not entertaining in the least. Give me something that isnt anchored in our modern bullshit for once.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 1:09 p.m. CST


    by Capt. Spaulding

    Dude, that&#39;s very not cool, to say "Fuck the Marine Corps." If it were possible, I&#39;d reach through this computer and bitch slap you. And no, I&#39;m not a Republican Redneck (but I do, sadly, live in a red state).

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 1:46 p.m. CST

    Mena Suvari had boobs in that movie?

    by J-Dizzle

    It looked more like a flat chest with nipples.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 1:52 p.m. CST

    Why do some people think that Hollywood only makes negative movi

    by Orbots Commander

    Ever see a little tiny movie called, Saving Private Ryan? How about The Sands of Iwo Jima? No? Well, what about Navy Seals (w/Charlie Sheen) or Delta Force (Chuck Norris)? Maybe Top Gun? You guys are just pointing out one or two movies about the military with a negative and skeptical slant rather than from a whole deluge of positive portrayals. And regardless of slant, Full Metal Jacket is a great movie, even if I don&#39;t agree with Kubrick&#39;s theme/premise.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 7:15 p.m. CST

    "I thought Road To Perdition was a bit lacking since &#39;Beauty

    by IAmLegolas

    Because you got jaded of movies when you hit 9 years old?

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 7:22 p.m. CST


    by Sir Loin

    Dude...seriously, wtf? Stop reading DailyKos, your mind is being slowly turned to oatmeal. Every conflict has a few idiots that do stupid things, and Abu Ghraib was definitely one of them. Nothing "Jesusland" about it. I take it you&#39;ve never been in the military, so we&#39;ll just chalk that ridiculous post up as good old-fashioned ignorance, mmmkay?

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 9:10 p.m. CST

    Jake Gyllenhaal would be nowhere if his big casting agent Mom di

    by Thunderballs

    Seriously, Maggie Gyllenhaal is easily one of the ugliest, smelliest looking bitches ever to come out of Hollywood. She&#39;s talentless as well. And Jake Gyllenhaal is a hunk? Since when is a lopsided face and werewolf hair considered good looking? Can anyone say horse face? Fuck this noise!

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 9:53 p.m. CST

    You&#39;d TRY to bitch slap me, Capt. Spaulding.

    by ZeroCorpse

    Note I don&#39;t say "fuck the MARINES"- the individuals- but the Corps itself, which is known for treating veterans like crap and ruining lives without so much as a hoohah. Ask my brother-in-law about that). I expressed an opinion, and you threatened violence? It&#39;s attitudes like that which make me glad I opted out of being sucked into the military by my aggressive, lying worm of a recruiter. If I had joined, I&#39;d have been in the Gulf War, and would probably be dying from exposure to depleted uranium as we speak. I don&#39;t have a problem with soliders- I have a problem with the brass and the government who treat our soldiers like crap and leave them broken and lost after the war is over.

  • Oct. 18, 2005, 10:11 p.m. CST

    Boored to tears

    by Nate Champion

    This review is what happens when you take an important movie and apply it to your average sub-30 IQ audience member. Was the boobs/make out reference an attempt to be witty, or just make the writer look like a facile idiot? Flip a coin.

  • Oct. 20, 2005, 1:51 p.m. CST

    gobofraggleuk and the truth

    by Pageiv

    Sure, I had an "a" instead of an "o" I guess I have no idea about the four years I spent in the Marines. And I guess this is not the very same story I heard numerous times while I was in. So quit taking SwOfford&#39;s word as gospel, he is a braggard and an all around loser. Now that said, his book was fun to read and the movie may be enjoyable as well.

  • I went to see this at the Arclight as well. I had really been looking forward to the movie, and the crowd was all pretty pumped for it. In the end, I felt that while the movie is beautiful and gripping, the episode that it describes is so anomolous that the movie just wrong. I can&#39;t wait to see Mendes&#39; movie about the current Iraq war -- that&#39;s the story that really needs to be told. A story about how hard it is to wait in the desert for nothing to happen, well, it&#39;s just not that interesting.