DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Sunday, January 15, 2006

Film Review: JARHEAD

Jarhead (15)
Dir. Sam Mendes’

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

Welcome to the U.S. Marines. Thank you signing up to become a Jarhead – a hollow headed recruit ready to have your mind filled with killing know how, patriotic jingoism and an unswerving desire to serve your commanding officer. It’s a great life. See the world (well the desert at least), make some interesting new friends (admittedly mostly psychos), and after an arduous soul destroying training process – go out there are kill some enemies*. Remember that your country loves you and is grateful for the oil supplies your actions are helping to secure…
*Actually you might not get to kill (or even see) any enemies on the duration of your tour of duty, but there are refunds.
For most problems the U.S. Marine is issued a solution. If ill, go to sickbay. If wounded, call a Corpsman. If dead, report to graves registration. If losing his mind, however, no standard solution exists… So, welcome to The Suck.
Sam ‘American Beauty’ Mendes’ film is a fascinating, disturbing and powerful portrayal of one Jarhead’s experience of the first Gulf War. Based on the real life Anthony Swofford's memoirs – he is brought to the big screen by a suitably bulked up Jake Gyllenhaal. Perhaps. the most shocking thing about Jarhead is that there is hardly any ‘action’ – it is a study of men going out of their minds through boredom, whilst always under the tease/spectre of attack. The harsh desert conditions combine with the ever increasing realisation that the girlfriends back home may not be wearing yellow ribbons and waiting patiently for them. Doubts and lack of anything meaningful to do start to sap the sanity from the soldiers and while it might not sound like it; it’s compelling stuff to watch. Jamie Foxx is excellent as Swofford’s corp loving Staff Sergeant and Mendes delivers some retina burning images such as Iraq’s burning oilfields.
One thing is for sure – Jarhead is not likely to prompt a massive rush to enlist in the way that more pumped up action orientated war films have (yes, I admit that even I wanted to be a Naval Aviator after Top Gun). But I strongly recommend this film – it is a delicious counterbalance to the ‘managed’ news coverage, which can make it all look so easy to the casual observer.
Now, repeat after me. “This is my rifle. There are many like it but this one is mine. Without my rifle, I am nothing. Without me, my rifle is nothing”... Woo Haa!!

Darkmatt Rating: öööö (I feel the need, the need for speed... erm or going mental in the desert)

"The Suck is always waiting..."

Darkmatters: H O M E

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