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Jarhead

Still on a bit of a Jake Gyllenhaal kick. Can you tell?

As part of his press tour for Demolition, Gyllenhaal answered an interviewer's question by saying that he worked with three amazing directors when he was about 25. Of course, I had to guess for myself which those were. First was easy, Ang Lee for Brokeback Mountain. The second one, came to me as soon as I pulled up his IMDB credits circa ten years ago. David Fincher for Zodiac. The third, required me to click into a few entries before I spotted it. Sam Mendes directed Jardhead?!

Sometime back, I was asked by someone what my favorite war film is. I still struggle to answer that (probably Full Metal Jacket, unless there's enough combat scenes for you to consider Forrest Gump a reasonable answer). But I remember at the time, it hadn't been too long since I'd seen Jarhead and it came to mind pretty quick. And for good reason, because this is a great movie that still holds up ten years later.

This is basically Full Metal Jacket for the next generation. It follows Gyllenhaal as a new Marine recruit through his basic and sniper training, and into desert storm. It's a very intense look at war, focusing on the mental effects on a soldier out in the field. You've got the guys that just want to be home, the guys that want to be nowhere else but the suck (as they refer to it) and everyone in between.

The supporting cast includes Peter Sarsgaar, Chris Cooper, Jamie Fox, and Lucas Black all of them giving very in your face performances. As mentioned, this is directed by Sam "American Beauty" Mendes, so you know from that how artfully crafted the film is. It's sort of faded into distant memory over time, but it deserves to be remembered along with other wartime classics.
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