Senior Editor
08.22.07 8 Comments

Higher res version here.

Directed by Paul Haggis…

”In the Valley of Elah” tells the story of a war veteran (Tommy Lee Jones), his wife (Susan Sarandon) and the search for their son, a soldier who recently returned from Iraq but has mysteriously gone missing, and the police detective (Charlize Theron) who helps in the investigation.

I like Tommy Lee Jones as an actor, so I'm glad he's working more these days.  I guess it's only natural – when a guy looks like he's taken a load of buckshot to the face and lived to tell about it, you listen to what he has to say.  It's one of my rules to live by, like, never fight a guy with cauliflower ears.  

As for Paul Haggis, the guy's definitely done some good stuff, but he's also responsible for two of the crappiest, most inexplicably critically acclaimed movies in recent history, Crash and Letters From Iwo Jima.  Every critic acted like you were going to learn some profound life lesson from Letters From Iwo Jima.  You know what I learned?  War is long.  Two three hours of Japanese soldiers killing themselves filmed almost in black and white?  Yes, I know that actually happened; I knew that going in.  Why not film three hours of Jews getting gassed?  Because that would really drive the message home, that the holocaust was bad.  And Crash is to drama as Love Actually is to Romantic Comedy – it's one of those movies with cartoonishly unrealistic events and characters filmed in a realistic style, that uses cheap gimmicks to manipulate the audience's emotions (to elicit tears in Crash, a warm heart in Love Actually).

Nothing against cartoons, but if I'm going to watch a cartoon, it better at least have otters from space or schoolgirls having sex with octopi.  

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