In the Valley of Elah and Eastern Promises

I’ve seen two really good movies this weekend. In the Valley of Elah and Eastern Promises.
In the Valley of Elah, directed by Paul Haggis, was very moving and disturbing to me. Much more so than the movie Crash, which I felt ended up reinforcing white privilege as much as challenging racism. One review called the movie “lacerating.” That’s a great word to describe it. I can’t say much about the film because just describing it will give too many spoilers. Apparently, it is based on a true story, however. One of the themes of the film is how the young soldiers in Iraq deal with their stress and the lack of mental health care they get as they transition from Iraq to home. It makes me think of all the young people I have in my classes who have been “over there.” What kind of transition issues are they facing? I have no idea. I mentioned the movie to one of my students from the military, and he disagreed that there were issues. Have we as a culture become so cold through a combination of video games, dehumanizing racism, and Neo-con stupidity that these kids really -don’t- have issues? In the Valley of Elah is bone-chilling.
The other movie I saw this week was Eastern Promises, starring the hunky Viggo Mortensen, who gets totally nekked! in a brutal fight scene. This was a very body-oriented movie, as are all of Cronenberg’s movies. I really dislike Cronenberg because he’s so misogynistic, but he wasn’t so bad in this movie. Tattoos are central to the plot, and apparently it was Viggo’s idea to incorporate them in the movie. It illustrates how deeply he does research and immerses himself in his roles. Anyway, there was lots of Viggo eye-candy amidst a suspense-filled tale. I could go on and on about the gross body-stuff of this film, but I won’t. It’s a great movie and worth the fresh tomato from Rottentomatoes.com.

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