Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

SF: This film is based on first hand accounts of how they found Osama Bin Laden. Surely the CIA would want this information locked away for years? Anyway the film itself is nothing short of brilliant. It never falls into sensationalism, everything is measured and understated in the right way. In some ways it has the same appeal as a documentary rather then entertainment, which is probably the right approach. I'm making an effort to leaves the politics out of my score. That said it is not a film that is enjoyable to watch and I'd never watch it again. Some bits were horrifying. However I could not think of a way that it could be improved. 9/10

50 Eggs: n/a

DonkeyB: My immediate thoughts about this film were that it was near flawless; it is very difficult to think of any way in which this film could be better. The first part is tense and interesting and dramatic; then the raid starts and its an action thriller which is near pitch perfect. In some ways similar to Apollo 13 in that we know the outcome from the start and yet the film grabs you from the start and never let's go, which means you don't have time to consider the fact you do know exactly where the film is going.

There has been a lot of controversy about whether the film promotes torture- and some people have said that it clearly doesn't- Catherine Bigelow and supporters of the film have defended themselves and the film of the charge by saying that depicting something is not the same as condoning it. They are undoubtedly correct in this assertion and I think it is fair to say the film does not explicitly endorse the torture it dipicts- it is also not the only Hollywood film to depict torture- I seem to remember Rendition and Syriana both deal with torture.

What I think troubles people about the film is that the politics of the film as a whole are very ambiguous. The film does endorse the "War on Terror", at least tacitly by making a major intelligence protagonist the hero of the film. The sexual politics of the film might be right on liberal- but there are plenty of liberals in Hollywood and elsewhere who are more than a little bit squeamish about extraordinary rendition, carpet bombing of countries America is supposed to be allied with or protecting, drone strikes on "high level targets", and extra-judicial killings of alleged terrorists. This is a morally complex aspect of 21st Century international politics and the film never really engages with the moral ambiguity of what is essentially a revenge plot.

Maybe this would have been different if real life hadn't intervened and Bin Laden hadn't been found and killed- there is a scene in the embassy in Pakistan when Chastain's character confronts Kyle Chandler's character (her boss), and the film does briefly engage with to topic of teh purpose of the "War on Terror", but the film takes a different direction and treats the scene as a straight power play between Chastain and her boss.

I think everyone should see the film, and I hope it makes everyone who sees it think, because they should, its a serious film, with a point of view that you might not agree with. 9.5/10

Overall: 9.25/10

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