By Evan Marczynski/The AS Review

Throughout February, ASP Films is teaming up with other campus clubs and organizations to hold film screenings and discussions centered on topics such as the war in Iraq, climate change and gender stereotypes. ASP Films Coordinator Matt Blair is working with the Veteran’s Outreach Center to present “The Hurt Locker,” the Environmental Center and the Current Events Forum to present “The 11th Hour” and Western Men Against Violence to present “300.”

“The Hurt Locker,” Feb. 8, 6:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.,
VU 552, $2

This 2008 war thriller follows three U.S. Army soldiers as they attempt to find and remove improvised explosive devices from the streets of Baghdad.  It stars Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty.

The film was one of the most critically acclaimed movies of 2009. It has won numerous awards from film festivals around the world and from organizations such as the Director’s Guild of America, the Producer’s Guild of America  and the National Society of Film Critics.

“The Hurt Locker” has also been nominated for nine Academy Awards, tying James Cameron’s film “Avatar” as the 2009 movie with the most Oscar nominations. The film is in the running for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay, among others.

Paul Wright, coordinator of the Veteran’s Outreach Center, said he organized the screening with Blair in order to spread awareness of the veteran-related organizations and programs at Western.

Blair said “The Hurt Locker” displays the subject of war in a much more realistic way than star-driven, action war movies such as the 1998 Stephen Spielberg film “Saving Private Ryan.” “The Hurt Locker” succeeds at putting a more relatable face on the war in Iraq and the soldiers who serve there, he said.

“The 11th  Hour,” Feb. 9 and 10, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., VU 552, free

Leonardo DiCaprio’s documentary on climate change echoes the message from Al Gore’s successful film “An Inconvenient Truth.” It features interviews with dozens of politicians, scientists and environmental activists. Both former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and renowned physicist Stephen Hawking make appearances. “The 11th Hour” claims humanity is in serious jeopardy due to issues such as global warming, deforestation, and mass species extinction. The film also proposes solutions to these problems.

Environmental Center Coordinator Lauren Squires said the film presents a dramatic picture of the environmental issues facing Earth.

“It kind of jolts you awake to the realities of the state of our planet,” she said.

Squires said the discussion after the film will give people a chance to talk about the issues it presents and come up with ideas to create positive environmental changes in their lives.

“300,” Feb. 17, 7 p.m., VU 552, free

What exactly is a “real man”? That is the question that ASP Films and Western Men Against Violence want to discuss after a screening of “300,” a 2007 film adaptation of a graphic novel written by acclaimed writer Frank Miller. The movie, directed by Zack Synder, is a fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae, a battle that took place around 500 B.C. between ancient Spartan and Persian armies.

Blair said the overly masculine depiction of the Spartan soldiers in “300” raises questions as to what message the filmmakers, and the movie industry in general, are trying to send regarding masculinity and male stereotypes. He said there has been a lot of discussion about how women are objectified in movies, but not much of the same from a male perspective.
“Rarely do you hear about how men are objectified,” Blair said.

Jason Austin, who works with Western Men Against Violence, said in an e-mail that he has planned a presentation before the screening that will focus on masculinity in the media and its effect on society.

Austin said he chose to show “300” not only because of its striking visual style and extremely graphic depictions of battle and violence, but also the fact that the film plays up the notion of traditional violent masculinity.  He said watching a movie that takes masculinity to such extreme proportions is a great way to examine the idea.