January 02, 2012

In the Land of Blood & Honey- AMC Loews 19th Street 6



Mike: After we watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close at Lincoln Square, Erica went home (she was tired) and I went down to the AMC Loews East 19th Street 6, just above Union Square, to catch Angelina Jolie's In the Land of Blood and Honey. Jolie's first effort at writing and directing is a war drama set during the early 90s Bosnian War. It had a one week Academy qualifying run at this theater - odd choice, but this is where it was playing.
 
The AMC Loews East 19th Street 6 is one of AMC's smaller Manhattan theaters. It's a lot like the AMC Loews Village 7, which is just a few blocks south of this one. They're similar in that they're smaller and somewhat... I don't want to say dilapidated, but they're not given as much as care as other AMC theaters. The screens are fine, spread out over two levels - a lot easier to navigate than the Escher-like Village 7. I've been to this theater a bunch of times before - in fact, it's the place where I had to utter the words 'One for Burlesque, please' last year. Embarrassing, but humbling.
 
I was kind of pissed because I didn't have time to eat lunch, so I figured I'd buy an AMC Smart Movie Snacks box. For the second time in one week at an AMC theater, they didn't have them. The girl behind the concessions counter said that they don't carry them anymore - despite the fact that there were posters promoting this very product all over the theater. I actually tweeted to AMC about it, as I did the week before when I tried to buy the Smart Movie Snacks at Kips Bay. They said that the program is still going and that they were going to follow up with the theater. I really do hope that AMC makes a better effort at making sure that their theaters are actually carrying these things - I'm not crazy about popcorn and I try to eat healthy, so I was hungry for the duration of the movie. Thanks, AMC.
 
Back to the movie - right off the bat, my hat is off to Angelina Jolie, who wrote, directed and produced this film. In the Land of Blood and Honey is as harrowing as it is genuine. The Bosnian conflict didn't get a lot of attention in the news in the US, so I appreciate an A-list personality like Jolie reminding us of the atrocities that occurred there so recently. I've read that she shot two versions of each scene - one in English and one in Serbian. Thankfully, distributor FilmDistrict has decided to go with the more authentic Serbian language version. Which goes along with Jolie's overall take on the subject - nothing is sugar-coated or romanticized. There is a lot of violence and lots of blood, and each time someone is shot in the head (it happens a lot here) it's a shock but there's no sensationalism to it. The deaths of major characters happen and pass as quickly as those of people in the background.
 
I was equally impressed by Jolie's ability - as a writer - to deal with such complex characters. While I enjoy seeing her on screen, In the Land of Blood and Honey is one of the best directorial debuts in recent years - proof that Jolie really ought to focus her efforts to writing and directing. 
 

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