Zero Dark Thirty

Why You Should See 'Zero Dark Thirty' & Why Congress Doesn't Want You To

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In a recent interview for her role in ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, Jessica Chastain described the opportunity that the film had, like many others, to gain support from the government. When a production decides to work hand-in-hand with the government, it gains access to federal equipment that would otherwise cost a fortune, supplying helicopters, airplanes and congressional support, which certainly sounds like it wouldn’t hurt. Yet in turn, a film also gives the government complete access to the script. For Zero Dark Thirty the production decided against this opportunity. And by the tail end of the film, it’s clear their reasons why.  

Kathryn Bigelow, Oscar-winning director of The Hurt Locker, was more focused on doing more than just make a movie. Bigelow’s only clear political agenda was starting a conversation of specific aspects of how our government and CIA has handled the war on terrorism. And more than just make a movie she has certainly done, now that she and  screenwriter Mark Boal are the subject of congressional inquiry. The depiction of CIA tactics and, more specifically, the idea that torture aided the hunt for Osama bin Laden, has the government in an uproar.Just months before the Premiere of the film, Senate Intelligence Committee, California Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein, had publicly said that coercive interrogations had played no role in how bin Laden was found. Not only is Feinstein and much of congress not too happy with the film, but they are likely to bring Director Bigelow and her co-producer and screen writer Mark Boal into question, who they feel gained “unusual access to senior officials at the Pentagon and CIA who were deeply involved in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.” The film who’s title card read “first hand accounts of actual events” and presents itself as journalistic account of the hunt for bin Laden, certainly has our government’s attention and now it has ours, which in turn likely heightens congressional inquiry over the sources for the movie. (But it’s just a movie, right Congress.)  

We all know how this story ends, to an extent (and likely much less than we care to discover.) So why should you go see it? It’s a story we’ve all lived through, but few have explored. The film explores torture in the tactics of the CIA, both the torture they’re expected to place on others and, the torture they’re expected to endure. I could go ahead and save you $10.50 if you so desire, (SPOILER ALERT: there is no spoiler alert, since we know what happens in the end) - this is no feel good movie and has been described as “dispassionate and matter-of-fact.” For many the film might not even be entertaining, for the same reason many didn’t find ‘The Hurt Locker’ entertaining, but rather grueling or hitting too close to home. It’s subject may be too real, if not present, to the questions we are living at, but not necessarily asking. 

Whether or not you agree that torture is a necessary component to win the war on terrorism, isn’t necessarily the point. Whatever your political party may be, or may not be, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ will get you to start thinking and talking. It meets where we are at and begs to ask, “Where do you want to go now?”

Films To See Now That The Golden Globe Nods Are Out

In a day when a movie ticket costs me twice what it did when I was in high school, and even makes me debate whether or not to skip dinner in lieu of a $12 ticket, I’m a bit pickier about what movies to pay up for. Around this time of year, and February when the Oscars are a month away, I’m all of the sudden on an agenda in my movie watching as well as weekend planning. There are some obvious directors and actors who’s films used to be a shoe-in. You hear their name, you see the movie. Frankly the dough doesn’t roll in as heavy as I’d like it to for me to be so frivolous with my spending (well, for most actors - there’s always an exception.) So now that the Golden Globes nods are out, or now that all the smart films have premiered in time for the nods, I’ve narrowed down my top (film) priorities for the remainder of the year, and in this very specific order….

1. Lincoln

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This movie, though having been out for weeks now, clearly has winner screaming all over it. First, Daniel Day Lewis. Second, Steven Spielberg. And thirdly a historic drama with one of the most admired Presidents of all time and you have a match made in screenplay heaven. That, and Daniel Day Lewis can do no wrong.

More than just some iconic actors and historic figures, this film has been years in the making, based of the best-selling book “Team of Rival” by historian and Pulitzer Prize winner Doris Goodwin. Apparently after Spielberg had bought the film rights Lewis was his first pick, though it took 10 years and ultimately a call from Leonardo Dicaprio to get Daniel Day Lewis on board. Even then Lewis requested a year to prepare for the role, reading over 100 books on the life of Lincoln. Do I hear Best Actor of the Year? This may just be the film to sweep house at most award show this year. If anyone knows how to do that it’s Lewis and Spielberg. Together they just might be dynamite.

2. Argo 

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Since The Town I’ve been waiting for Ben Affleck’s next film. Many may have felt that the typical Bostonian bad boy falling for the good girl plot (a reason I love previous Affleck/Damon projects - along with their discovery of Shia Lebouff) and a predictable heist scenario was not worthy enough for an Oscar nod. (Say what you want but I loved it.)

Argo, Ben Affleck’s latest creation, loosely based on a CIA’s rescue of U.S. diplomats from Tehran, Iran during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, has been sparking up Oscar talk since it’s first week out. Promoted as a thriller, this nail-bitter has been reviewed as a dark comedy, typically a perfect marriage in a film, which is inevitable to emerge when casting Bryan Cranston and Alan Arkin. The combination may be just the thrill and release that the Oscars raves over. For me this is a tie with #1.

3. Zero Dark Thirty

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Since watching The Debt, Jessica Chastain is just one of those “She’s in it? I’ll see it.” kind of actors. She brings something classic and yet fresh to the screen no matter what kind of film it is. Pair her strikingly glamours presence, whose pretty much pinned down the most character-driven female lead these days, in my opinion, with the dominating female Oscar winning director of The Hurt Locker, whose films seem a far cry from a female-driven film, and a female-driven film you have indeed. And driven well, no doubt. Any who’ve seen Hurt Locker knows that Katheryn Bigelow will give you a ride that’s as unpredictable as it is unformulated, even comparing it to the most recent raw, cutting-edge military dramas in it’s genre.

The film is centered around the ultimate man-hunt, one that feels so fresh to our Nation it may be disconcerting watching it on the big screen. After The Hurt Locker Bigelow’s style is clearly anything but comforting for her viewers. Bigelow has seemed to unveiled something for the audience and they all (the audience) seem to like what they see. Already raved as a “Power house thriller” & “Groundbreaking”, Bigelow’s newest piece of work is a must-see for sure, at least on my list.

4. Les Miserables

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It’s considered one of the greatest stories of all time. It’s the longest-running musical in history. It’s a movie that’s already been made. Although Liam Neeson, Geoffery Rush and Claire Daines already have done this film justice, the musical force of this story has yet to be seen on the big screen.

Victor Hugo’s classic novel of the French Revolutionary War and ultimately enduring tale of love and mercy is a story that has withstood the ages. With such a stellar cast ( I may exhaust my any reader by listing it) it is sure to be entertaining whether or not it will meet all the expectations it’s aroused. And unlike most musicals, this is the first to be filmed in real time; that is, the actors are actually singing while filming. It may seem like no big deal but this is no small feat for an actor. It is truly a test of an actors chops and with the immediate nods and nominations, it will certainly, and no doubt already has paved a new path for Broadway and film-making.

5. Django Unchained 

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Leonardo Dicaprio in a Quentin Tarantino film. I don’t think there’s anything left to say.