#41  
Old 01-12-2013, 10:40 AM
I'm sorry to hear that you didn't like it QUENTIN, considering your interest in American politics I thought you would like the reporting/journalistic storytelling of the film. The film has definitely been hyped up a lot though.

Here's my 4 1/2 star review from my blog: (rustysyringe, if you read this you'll notice I got a bit of inspiration from your critique. Hope you don't mind )


I’m sure Ben Affleck, director of 2012′s Argo, has seen Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty by now. He must have. I’m willing to bet a substantial amount of money that the guy walked out of the screening room and thought, for the most part, “what a brilliantly suspenseful, masterfully directed and wonderfully acted retelling of one my country’s most important recent historical moments”. He’s a great guy with lots of respect for his peers so I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what he thought, for the most part. But, a small, tiny, part of him must have also thought “Fucking SHIT man! Seriously?! The same year?!”

Much to Mr. Affleck’s possible chagrin, what Bigelow and her writer, co-producer and partner-in-report Mark Boal have done, is take a damn similar concept to Argo’s and make a more introspective and – thanks to one woman – more powerfully acted film, stealing a bit of thunder in the process. American history? Check. Classified CIA operation? Check. Contextualized narrative that relates to current world events? Check. Seen through the eyes of a single, ambiguous, CIA operative? Check. As more check marks align you’d be forgiven if you thought that there was some backroom talk about releasing such similar films in the same year. Not to mention Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, a chamber piece on American history that’s sits like a grandfather in the dusty corner, rocking in his chair and telling great stories. You’d be forgiven, but you’d be wrong. The two films are similar, but they are both excellent for different reasons. Jump the cut to see why Zero Dark Thirty is one of the year’s best.

Zero Dark Thirty follows Maya (Jessica Chastain), as she grows more and more obsessed with the one and only mission she’s been assigned to since she was pulled out of high school and recruited for the CIA; catch Osama Bin-Laden. The figures around her, including chief interrogator Dan (Jason Clarke), Security Chief in Pakistan (Kyle Chandler), fellow CIA colleague (Jennifer Ehle), among others, come in and out of her life in one way or another but it is with Maya with whom we stick. This is what elevates the film from being a mere recounting of facts (bent or otherwise). Most people are going to know it or talk about it as “that movie about killing Bin Laden right?” and some conspiracy lovers (nuts?) will throw in a “propaganda” and a “bullshit” in there too, but if you see the film for yourself you’ll see that the events depicted provide a springboard for more intriguing questions, which hit home regardless of where you’re from, or what your thoughts are on American foreign policy. How do events (and, more specifically, careers) in our lives define who we are? How does strength of character, personality and instinct persevere in near-impossible situations? And a bonus one for the ladies and the smart guys: How does a woman handle herself in a man’s world in a film that’s not corny?

The film makes no qualms about being, first and foremost, a report of the crucial events which led to the final killing; right down to the Navy SEALs, whom the film dedicates its last 20 or so minutes to, and in a seamless tonal shift presents a supremely edited and tightly directed night-vision sequence of the take down (“Osama!”). If you’re expecting in-depth character studies, token comic relief or some kind of hidden critique of how government workers watch porn in their spare time, look elsewhere. I’d suggest the excellent TV show Homeland (no porn though, sorry) or, well, Ben Affleck’s Argo if you want to see a more fleshed out, emotionally involving or entertaining version of American politics in action. Zero Dark is a much more straightforward and bleak line, which grounds it more to reality. This make i Having said that, it’s very conscious of the fact that it’s not a documentary, which is where Maya comes in.

First of all, Chastain’s performance can’t be praised enough and the girl deserves every award that can possibly be given to her (more than a couple of ladies give Oscar-caliber performances in 2012; she’s one of them). There is an evolution of the character, from field noob in Pakistan who can barely look at the tactics employed to extract information (more on that below) to someone who has the Security Chief by the balls and doesn’t let go until she gets what she wants. Chastain hits every single note like Muhammad Ali used to punch opponents in the ring; dancing with dialogue like a butterfly and stinging with expressions and gestures like a bee. She is helped along by a solid supporting cast; Clarke, Ehle, Chandler, Mark Strong and Joel Edgerton all standing out and complimenting Boal’s script like the pros that they are. Clarke and Ehle especially stand out and give us two of the most likable characters. The great thing about this film is that you’re not sure if Maya herself is likable, which is ultimately a very human depiction of a CIA operative. She is shrouded in mystery because we don’t know about her past, we don’t get time to “meet” her in any conventional cinematic way. We pick up characteristics about her and by the end of the film, my favorite ending to any film this year with the exception of Holy Motors, we are told: figure it out. Make your own conclusion. Who is this woman and where is she going.

Does it deserve all the critical praise it’s received? No, the film isn’t a masterpiece. It still leaves you a tab bit cold because there is a sense of something missing (my finger is still trying to point out what that is) and it’s been hurt by some internet hyperbole. Has the Academy royally fucked up by failing to nominate Bigelow? Big time. Another notch in their long list of fuck-ups, which grows bigger than the other list each year. Bigelow’s camera is wonderfully in-your-face at every twist and turn, documenting the subtleties of the performances and unraveling the story in small enough doses to keep you glued from start to end (even when you know what the outcome is going to be). Boal’s script is hardwired with explosive dialogue and suspense. These points, along with the great naturalistic acting, made it easier for the critics to shower the film with praise but what truly stands out is the beautifully balanced juxtaposition of a pivotal American moment in recent history and the human element that isn’t afraid to ask questions, stick a mirror in front of our faces and trust us enough to find the answers on our own. I don’t doubt that Mr. Affleck would agree.


A NOTE ON THE DEPICTION OF TORTURE - REVISED

Many-a tweet has been twatted about the advocacy of the use of torture. The first portion of the film shows Dan doing his thing and interrogating Ammar (Reda Kateb) and I won't give my opinion here lest I spoil anything but let's just say, it sparked up a crazy amount of controversy. The New York Review of Books treats the film like the public service announcement that it's not and concludes that it has "enlarged the acceptability" of the pro-torture side of the fence. Many have come to the film's defense, including Sony Co-Chairman Amy Pascal. I'll give my two cents: it is public knowledge that torture methods are employed in order to extract information from the enemy during war-time. I was in a bubble that got popped about 10 minutes ago, because I thought the hoopla was about the existence of torture hence the note's revision. The controversy has more to do with some high-ranking officials not paying much attention to the film and thinking that vital information was obtained because of the torture. That's incorrect. The information is obtained despite of the torture, and actually has more to do with the development of Maya's character than anything else. We shouldn't blame people in politics for missing that though, I don't think they get much time to go to the movies. Bigelow and Boal depicted the ugly truth that torture was employed and most of it was too excessive and ultimately useless because psychological advantage prevailed in the end. They have my utmost respect for that.

Last edited by DaMovieMan; 01-13-2013 at 01:48 AM..
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  #42  
Old 01-12-2013, 04:24 PM
I thought it was fantastic. I was completely gripped from start to finish. There aren't very many great procedural dramas nowadays, but Zero Dark Thirty is a rare one that is done right. The level of detail is exceptional and while I'm sure even more could have been included, Bigelow and Boal strip it down into a tightly structured and engaging film. While I obviously knew some of the details from TV and news articles, this certainly clarified some things and presented them in an interesting way.

The one film this has been compared to is Zodiac, another rare great procedural drama. I think the comparison is apt, but I do think Zodiac is better in the sense that I thought the main character was handled better. While Chastain is terrific in the role and has some really great scenes to shine, I don't think the character is handled as well as Robert Graysmith was in Zodiac. Chastain occasionally feels like a robot, and while the sense of isolation that is depicted at times throughout the film is somewhat powerful, it feels slightly tacked on in comparison to the brilliant development of Graysmith from a goofy cartoonist into a man consumed by obsession to the point of isolation. I honestly thought Clarke was the highlight acting-wise.

All in all though, it's one of the best of the year, and is likely to hit my top 3.

Last edited by Bourne101; 01-12-2013 at 06:21 PM..
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  #43  
Old 01-12-2013, 08:04 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaMovieMan View Post
A NOTE ON THE DEPICTION OF TORTURE

Many-a tweet has been twatted about the use of torture in this film. People have gone on to say that the film advocates the use of torture. The first portion of the film shows Dan doing his thing and interrogating Ammar (Reda Kateb) and I won’t give my opinion here lest I spoil anything but let’s just say, it sparked up a crazy amount of controversy. The New York Review of Books treats the film like the public service announcement that it’s not and concludes that it has “enlarged the acceptability” of the pro-torture side of the fence. Many have come to the film’s defense, including Sony Co-Chairman Amy Pascal. I’ll give my two cents: if you think torture methods are not employed in order to extract information from the enemy during war-time, you’re living in a bubble, probably slept through your high school History classes and dollars to doughnuts you think every single war documentary is debatable. Like it or not, we’re a fucked up species. If the U.S. Military can have an outbreak of a rape epidemic, behind its own doors, you don’t think that they won’t torture the enemy to possibly save American lives? Give me a break. Or maybe you think Oscar-nominated The Invisible War is also debatable. This talk is for the birds. Bigelow and Boal weren’t afraid to depict the ugly truth and they have my utmost respect for that.
I'm not sure what to say except that with all due respect, it seems like you genuinely didn't get what the controversy was about. No one thinks torture wasn't used, that's widely known and public record, I don't think anyone has a problem with the torture that was used being depicted either. The controversy is about the fact that the film purports to be a true story based on firsthand accounts and presents itself as following the facts closely, which it does for the most part. The one huge liberty they took with the truth was to falsely portray the torture as leading to the courier who led to Bin Laden. The movie depicts torture not only as being an effective means of gathering actionable intelligence, which all our actual top interrogators are on record as saying it absolutely didn't, but actually suggests that torture led us to Bin Laden which is in direct conflict with the actual true story the movie is supposed to be telling. The controversy isn't that torture is shown, no one thinks that didn't happen, it's that it's shown as working and leading us to Bin Laden, justifying it in the minds of many, when that didn't happen at all and if anything the false information we got from torture actually led us off Bin Laden's trail for years and set us back. Senators weren't writing angry letters and journalists weren't in a tizzy because they think torture wasn't used, they know it was, they've read all the classified reports detailing exactly what happened, they were pissed off because Bigelow and Boal were apparently afraid to depict the ugly truth and show the futility of the torture we inflicted on people or are just pro-torture themselves for some reason (their darling protagonist was a torturer) because they chose to falsely present torture as helping find Bin Laden when that couldn't be further from the truth and that's about the only significant point at which they stray from the truth. They're not making a documentary, but they've gone on and on about their commitment to the truth and the journalistic nature of the film so making that choice does make the film a piece of ahistoric propaganda, no matter how much you love everything else about it.

Last edited by QUENTIN; 01-12-2013 at 08:07 PM..
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  #44  
Old 01-12-2013, 08:20 PM
I've been staying away from reviews, controversy, spoilers, etc. before seeing the movie, but now that I've seen the film, I'm interested in reading everything that I've missed. Your post is an interesting way to kick off that reading, QUENTIN. Has Boal discussed whether this was intentionally used as an artistic license or whether he actually interviewed someone who led him to believe that this should have been included in the script?

Last edited by Bourne101; 01-12-2013 at 08:24 PM..
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  #45  
Old 01-12-2013, 08:51 PM
Just a little back-up to what I was saying:

From Jane Mayer of The New Yorker, one of the foremost experts on the Bush torture program:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blog...#ixzz2HosyD5qt

Quote:
...

Bigelow has portrayed herself as a reluctant truth-teller. She recently described the film’s torture scenes as “difficult to shoot.” She said, “I wish it was not part of our history. But it was.”

Yet what is so unsettling about “Zero Dark Thirty” is not that it tells this difficult history but, rather, that it distorts it. In addition to excising the moral debate that raged over the interrogation program during the Bush years, the film also seems to accept almost without question that the C.I.A.’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” played a key role in enabling the agency to identify the courier who unwittingly led them to bin Laden. But this claim has been debunked, repeatedly, by reliable sources with access to the facts. As the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent first reported, shortly after bin Laden was killed, Leon Panetta, then the director of the C.I.A., sent a letter to Arizona Senator John McCain, clearly stating that “we first learned about ‘the facilitator / courier’s nom de guerre’ from a detainee not in the C.I.A.’s custody.” Panetta wrote that “no detainee in C.I.A. custody revealed the facilitator / courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts.”

The Senators Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat and the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, have undermined the film’s version of events further still. “The original lead information had no connection to C.I.A. detainees,” they wrote in their own letter, revealed by the Post last year. Feinstein and Levin noted that a third detainee in C.I.A. custody did provide information on the courier, but, importantly, they stressed that “he did so the day before he was interrogated by the C.I.A. using their coercive interrogation techniques.” In other words, contrary to the plotline of “Zero Dark Thirty,” and contrary to self-serving accounts of C.I.A. officers implicated in the interrogation program, senators with access to the record say that torture did not produce the leads that led to finding and killing bin Laden.

Top senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee have amplified that position in additional interviews this week. Speaking with the Huffington Post, Feinstein said of the movie’s narrative, “Based on what I know, I don’t believe it is true.” Republicans, too, criticized the movie’s plot. “It’s wrong. It’s wrong. I know for a fact, not because of this report—my own knowledge—that waterboarding, torture, does not lead to reliable information … in any case—not this specific case—in any case,” said John McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, who was himself tortured during the Vietnam War. The Huffington Post also quoted South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, another Republican member of the Armed Services Committee, saying, “I would argue that it’s not waterboarding that led to bin Laden’s demise. It was a lot of good intelligence-gathering from the Obama and Bush administrations, continuity of effort, holding people at Gitmo, putting the puzzle together over a long period of time—not torture.”

As Scott Shane wrote in the Times on Thursday, so little is publicly known about the C.I.A.’s erstwhile interrogation program that it is nearly impossible for outsiders to assess the facts with total confidence. But for the past three years, Democratic staffers at the Senate Intelligence Committee have been compiling six thousand pages of records related to the secret program, and in doing so they have found little to celebrate. It is hard to understand, then, why the creators of “Zero Dark Thirty” so confidently credit the program.

In addition to providing false advertising for waterboarding, “Zero Dark Thirty” endorses torture in several other subtle ways. At one point, the film’s chief C.I.A. interrogator claims, without being challenged, that “everyone breaks in the end,” adding, “it’s biology.” Maybe that’s what they think in Hollywood, but experts on the history of torture disagree. Indeed, many prisoners have been tortured to death without ever revealing secrets, while many others—including some of those who were brutalized during the Bush years—have fabricated disinformation while being tortured. Some of the disinformation provided under duress during those years, in fact, helped to lead the U.S. into the war in Iraq under false premises.

At another point in the film, an elderly detainee explains that he wants to coöperate with the U.S. because he “doesn’t want to be tortured again.” The clear implication is that brutalization brings breakthroughs. Other ways of getting intelligence, such as bribing sources with expensive race cars, are shown to work, too. But while those scenes last only a few minutes, the torture scenes seem to go on and on.

The filmmakers subtly put their thumb on the pro-torture scale, as Emily Bazelon put it, in another scene, too. A C.I.A. officer complains that there is no way for him to corroborate a lead on bin Laden’s whereabouts now that the detainees in Guantánamo all have lawyers. The suggestion is that if they are given due process rather than black eyes, there will be no way to get the necessary evidence. This is a canard, given that virtually all suspects in the American criminal-justice system have lawyers, yet their cases proceed smoothly and fairly every day.

Bigelow has stressed that she had “no agenda” when she made “Zero Dark Thirty.” Unsurprisingly, though, those who have defended the brutalization of detainees have already begun embracing the film as evidence that they are right. Joe Scarborough, the conservative host of MSNBC’s show “Morning Joe,” said recently that the film’s narrative, “whether you find it repugnant or not,” shows that the C.I.A. program was effective and “led to the couriers, that led, eventually, years later, to the killing of Osama bin Laden.” My guess is that this is just the beginning, and that by the time millions of Americans have seen this movie, they will believe that, as Frank Bruni put it in a recent Times column, “No waterboarding, no bin Laden.”

Perhaps it’s unfair to expect the entertainment industry to convey history accurately. Clearly, the creators of “Zero Dark Thirty” are storytellers who really know how to make a thriller. And it’s true that there are no rules when it comes to fiction. As Boal, the screenwriter, has protested in recent interviews, “It’s a movie, not a documentary.” But in the very first minutes of “Zero Dark Thirty,” before its narrative begins to unspool, the audience is told that the story it is about to see is “based on first-hand accounts of actual events.” If there is an expectation of accuracy, it is set up by the filmmakers themselves. It seems they want it both ways: they want the thrill that comes from revealing what happened behind the scenes as history was being made and the creative license of fiction, which frees them from the responsibility to stick to the truth.
The letter from Senators Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, and John McCain to Sony about the false, misleading depiction of torture in the film that runs counter to the historical record:

http://documents.latimes.com/feinste...o-dark-thirty/

Quote:
Mr. Michael Lynton
Chairman and CEO
Sony Pictures Entertainment
10202 W. Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195

Dear Mr. Lynton:

We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie Zero Dark Thirty. We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden.

We understand that the film is fiction, but it opens with the words "based on first-hand accounts of actual events" and there has been significant media coverage of CIA’s cooperation with the screenwriters. As you know, the film graphically depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees and then credits these detainees with providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the Usama Bin Laden. Regardless of what message the filmmakers intended to convey, the movie clearly implies that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information related to a courier for Usama Bin Laden. We have reviewed CIA records and know that this is incorrect.

Zero Dark Thirty is factually inaccurate, and we believe that you have an obligation to state that the role of torture in the hunt for Usama Bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film’s fictional narrative.

Pursuant to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recently-adopted Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program, Committee staff reviewed more than 6 million pages of records from the Intelligence Community. Based on that review, Senators Feinstein and Levin released the following information on April 30, 2012, regarding the Usama Bin Laden operation:

• The CIA did not first learn about the existence of the Usama Bin Laden courier from CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques. Nor did the CIA discover the courier's identity from detainees subjected to coercive techniques. No detainee reported on the courier’s full name or specific whereabouts, and no detainee identified the compound in which Usama Bin Laden was hidden. Instead, the CIA learned of the existence of the courier, his true name and location through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program.

• Information to support this operation was obtained from a wide variety of intelligence sources and methods. CIA officers and their colleagues throughout the Intelligence Community sifted through massive amounts of information, identified possible leads, tracked them down, and made considered judgments based on all of the available intelligence.

• The CIA detainee who provided the most significant information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.

In addition to the information above, former CIA Director Leon Panetta wrote Senator McCain in May 2011, stating: "…no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means."

We are fans of many of your movies, and we understand the special role that movies play in our lives, but the fundamental problem is that people who see Zero Dark Thirty will believe that the events it portrays are facts. The film therefore has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner. Recent public opinion polls suggest that a narrow majority of Americans believe that torture can be justified as an effective form of intelligence gathering. This is false. We know that cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners is an unreliable and highly ineffective means of gathering intelligence.

The use of torture should be banished from serious public discourse for these reasons alone, but more importantly, because it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, because it is an affront to America’s national honor, and because it is wrong. The use of torture in the fight against terrorism did severe damage to America’s values and standing that cannot be justified or expunged. It remains a stain on our national conscience. We cannot afford to go back to these dark times, and with the release of Zero Dark Thirty, the filmmakers and your production studio are perpetuating the myth that torture is effective. You have a social and moral obligation to get the facts right.

Please consider correcting the impression that the CIA’s use of coercive interrogation techniques led to the operation against Usama Bin Laden. It did not.

Thank you for your assistance on this important matter.


Sincerely,

Dianne Feinstein
Chairman
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Carl Levin
Chairman
Senate Armed Services Committee
Ex-Officio Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

John McCain
Ranking Member
Senate Armed Services Committee
Ex-Officio Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Bourne, Boal has only briefly and snarkily responded to his critics and as far as I know has not directly addressed the question of why he decided to change the facts to depict torture as leading to Bin Laden. The Senate is actually officially investigating the CIA's involvement in the movie, but while some of the people Boal interviewed would have obvious self-serving interest in suggesting the torture they inflicted was effective, I think it would be tough to impossible to have actually misled him because he wasn't just interviewing one or two people, but rather dozens if not hundreds and had access to official records and nearly all of that would incontrovertibly demonstrate that not only did torture not work generally, but specifically and unambiguously had nothing to do with us finding the courier that led to Bin Laden which makes up the bulk of the narrative. It's worth noting again that for the most part the film really does stick to the facts or to a fair and reasonable approximation of the facts, minor changes are the usual stuff of compressing time/characters, etc. for adaptations so it makes the fact that it is so misleading and directly counter to the truth in its handling of torture particularly stand out as troubling.

Last edited by QUENTIN; 01-12-2013 at 09:08 PM..
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  #46  
Old 01-12-2013, 09:10 PM

Why are we splitting hairs on this topic on a movie board ?

"Officials maintain that the intelligence wrung from terror detainee Abu Zubaydah (whom the CIA waterboarded "at least" 83 times, according to an an agency document released by the Obama Administration) led to the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — the self-proclaimed architect of the 9/11 attacks. His capture, in turn, helped prevent future terror strikes, they maintain; Mohammed himself, the memos revealed, was waterboarded a startling 183 times in March 2003 (a May 2005 memo from a CIA lawyer said waterboarding could be used on a detainee up to 12 times daily for as long as 40 seconds per event). Then-CIA director George Tenet, in his 2007 memoir, says that tough interrogation of al-Qaeda members — and documents found on them, he is careful to add — thwarted more than 20 plots "against U.S. infrastructure targets, including communications nodes, nuclear power plants, dams, bridges, and tunnels." A "future airborne attack on America's West Coast" was likely foiled only because the CIA didn't have to treat KSM like a white collar criminal."

Does how the dominos exactly fell when leading to Bin Laden really matter in a dramatic interpretation? Enhanced interrogation has indeed worked in the past and if it "led to a guy that led to another guy that led to us watching that guy" then why can't a director cut the fat for the sake of a drama? This is NOT a documentary.

I can't wait to see the film for myself this week.
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  #47  
Old 01-12-2013, 09:33 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by QUENTIN View Post
I'm not sure what to say except that with all due respect, it seems like you genuinely didn't get what the controversy was about.
You're right that I missed the actual point of the controversy, after having a quick convo about it on twitter, and glancing through the NY Book Review article, it felt like the point was that people didn't believe torture was used. So I jumped on that. Thanks for clearing that up Quentin, I'll edit my review as well.

I'm thankful that I didn't miss the point so completely to make me jump fences. The film doesn't depict that they got the information through torture. The biggest thing everyone seems to be crying about is that Zerk Dark Thirty "advocates the use torture" which is pretty ridiculous to me. They show that torture was used in the film, but the tortured person didn't break

Spoiler:
they instead got the information through manipulation and lies, by using the fact that the enemy hadn't slept for 90+ hours and didn't know vital information so they fooled him into believing that he already told them something he didn't. Unless you think that same kind of advantage wouldn't be used in real-life, I don't see the issue here. I wouldn't be so quick to trust people in power on this issue, they'd like to cover it up as much as possible. The film used the idea of torture as a manipulation tactic but it didn't feel like torture was the key reason they got the information. It was actually Maya's cunning. Is cunning a torture method?


Everyone's jumping up and waving their hands in protest for nothing.

Last edited by DaMovieMan; 01-13-2013 at 01:32 PM..
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  #48  
Old 01-13-2013, 12:50 AM
Is anyone seriously coming away from this thinking that:

a) Torture worked/led to the discovery of Bin Laden
b) This is all some big jerkoff session for the people involved with the operation

It's The Hurt Locker: Intelligence Edition. I think Bigelow's fixation on people in defense has more to do with how people are able to live under constant stress/pressure than some sort of fascist or propagandist drive. I didn't finish this movie thinking that the use of torture was condemned or supported in it, and it annoys the shit out of me that people act as if the movie needs to pick a side.

I did like the movie a lot. Bigelow is an example of a workmanlike director who is really fucking good at their craft (unlike some other directors).
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  #49  
Old 01-13-2013, 12:54 AM
And what DMM said about how the torture in the film doesn't really get results

Spoiler:
Sure, the sleep deprivation helped them pass off the lie but it was the lie that got them Abu Ahmed's name. And even then all it got them was a bunch of dead ends. What really got the ball rolling was Maya finding out about the department's "human error." I feel really fucking dumb breaking this down because even now I can see how the impact of torture on the investigation is pretty muddled. The implication that it's giving a thumbs up/making torture a vital aspect of getting Bin Laden or that the movie should have explicitly showed the ineffectiveness of torture only shows that people are not getting this movie at all.
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  #50  
Old 01-13-2013, 01:13 AM
Also: For DMM, Quentin, etc. here's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky's review of ZDT. As much as I find him annoying he's still a damn fine writer and this is a fantastic piece.

http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/the-m...ro-dark-thirty
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  #51  
Old 01-13-2013, 01:30 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by QUENTIN View Post
Bourne, Boal has only briefly and snarkily responded to his critics and as far as I know has not directly addressed the question of why he decided to change the facts to depict torture as leading to Bin Laden. The Senate is actually officially investigating the CIA's involvement in the movie, but while some of the people Boal interviewed would have obvious self-serving interest in suggesting the torture they inflicted was effective, I think it would be tough to impossible to have actually misled him because he wasn't just interviewing one or two people, but rather dozens if not hundreds and had access to official records and nearly all of that would incontrovertibly demonstrate that not only did torture not work generally, but specifically and unambiguously had nothing to do with us finding the courier that led to Bin Laden which makes up the bulk of the narrative. It's worth noting again that for the most part the film really does stick to the facts or to a fair and reasonable approximation of the facts, minor changes are the usual stuff of compressing time/characters, etc. for adaptations so it makes the fact that it is so misleading and directly counter to the truth in its handling of torture particularly stand out as troubling.
Thinking about it even more now, the way the torture is used in the first portion of the film (you'd think by reading those complaints from "the worried parties" that the whole film is just about torture methods used to find Bin Laden) is exactly the kind of condensed/cinematic way a story like this could effectively portray it, but it seems that people who are so sensitive on the subject (i.e. those that don't like to talk about it even though detainees are waterboarded over and over again) saw the torture scene, realized that only one person was shown tortured and he gave them the first big "clue" and started claiming that "torture was clearly effective". It actually, really, wasn't and I'm surprised at how much dust has been raised over this.

So I don't see how grossly misleading it is and "directly counter to the truth" since everyone agrees there has to be a certain degree of artistic dramatization and condensation for the film to work cinematically and within a limited time frame. Point is, torture wasn't the key to getting Bin Laden and the film doesn't show that it was.

Quote:
Originally Posted by someguy View Post
Also: For DMM, Quentin, etc. here's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky's review of ZDT. As much as I find him annoying he's still a damn fine writer and this is a fantastic piece.

http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/the-m...ro-dark-thirty
Nice, thanks. That is very well written and I love the astute connections he makes with Holy Motors and The Master in there.

Last edited by DaMovieMan; 01-13-2013 at 01:44 AM..
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  #52  
Old 01-13-2013, 02:13 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by rustysyringe View Post
Renner's Sgt James absolutely blew me away and I wanted more of that. Talk about a great character, ranks up there with Daniel Plainview IMO.
Sgt James was a pretty good character, but I have to disagree with you on him being as great a character as Plainview. Plainview would probably be considered one of the most memorable characters of the last 20 years, while, (IMO) Sgt James is barely a blip on the radar by comparison. There are plenty of characters that have appeared in the last ten years of cinema that are more memorable then Sgt James, even though The Hurt Locker would probably make the list of the best films from the last 10 years. The Hurt Locker is more memorable as a powerful experience than as a film that had standout characters.
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  #53  
Old 01-15-2013, 10:47 AM
I think many people are too young to remember that when Osama bin laden was killed practically everyone had forgotten about it. it would have been a great triumph if they would of killed him 2,3, even 4 years later but 10 years later it's hard to feel like justice was served. I mean, did anyone feel safer when he was killed? and it's weird how they found him in a place we all knew he might be. I think his whereabouts were known but no one did anything about it. that is until Obama got to the white house and he okayed the raid.

that to me would of been a more interesting story. the one where politicians in Washington ignored Osama bin laden's whereabouts and instead went after suddam hussein for reasons still unclear.
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  #54  
Old 01-15-2013, 11:17 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by silentasylum View Post
I mean, did anyone feel safer when he was killed? and it's weird how they found him in a place we all knew he might be. I think his whereabouts were known but no one did anything about it. that is until Obama got to the white house and he okayed the raid.

that to me would of been a more interesting story. the one where politicians in Washington ignored Osama bin laden's whereabouts and instead went after suddam hussein for reasons still unclear.
There's not really any evidence or "first-hand accounts" that say we knew where OBL was post-9/11. Much more interesting to me is that fact that small but passionate contingents in the intelligence community relentlessly tried to convince their superiors to eliminate/kidnap him before 9/11 -- as early as 1994.

As for the torture aspects, I'm pretty much with Q, especially with this:

Quote:
It's worth noting again that for the most part the film really does stick to the facts or to a fair and reasonable approximation of the facts, minor changes are the usual stuff of compressing time/characters, etc. for adaptations so it makes the fact that it is so misleading and directly counter to the truth in its handling of torture particularly stand out as troubling.
Yep. For me (and I liked the film overall more than Q did, admittedly) the most effective scene was

Spoiler:
the suicide bomber at Camp Chapman


largely because I was well-informed about the incident due to having read some articles and such about it. And aside from the name-changes, they made everything in that scene identical to the official accounts of it, right down to the specific things said and even the clothes being worn. To exploit that for suspense and then waver on other facts seems off to me.

I will say that I don't think Boal has/had an agenda. I think (as Q hinted at) he simply chose to take the account of the limited few who said torture led to OBL because he found that storyline more interesting, or potentially controversial, or whatever. And regardless of the morality of that choice itself, it points to his desire to shape the facts around his story and not the other way around.
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  #55  
Old 01-15-2013, 01:37 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by QUENTIN View Post
I'm not sure what to say except that with all due respect, it seems like you genuinely didn't get what the controversy was about. No one thinks torture wasn't used, that's widely known and public record, I don't think anyone has a problem with the torture that was used being depicted either. The controversy is about the fact that the film purports to be a true story based on firsthand accounts and presents itself as following the facts closely, which it does for the most part. The one huge liberty they took with the truth was to falsely portray the torture as leading to the courier who led to Bin Laden. The movie depicts torture not only as being an effective means of gathering actionable intelligence, which all our actual top interrogators are on record as saying it absolutely didn't, but actually suggests that torture led us to Bin Laden which is in direct conflict with the actual true story the movie is supposed to be telling. The controversy isn't that torture is shown, no one thinks that didn't happen, it's that it's shown as working and leading us to Bin Laden, justifying it in the minds of many, when that didn't happen at all and if anything the false information we got from torture actually led us off Bin Laden's trail for years and set us back. Senators weren't writing angry letters and journalists weren't in a tizzy because they think torture wasn't used, they know it was, they've read all the classified reports detailing exactly what happened, they were pissed off because Bigelow and Boal were apparently afraid to depict the ugly truth and show the futility of the torture we inflicted on people or are just pro-torture themselves for some reason (their darling protagonist was a torturer) because they chose to falsely present torture as helping find Bin Laden when that couldn't be further from the truth and that's about the only significant point at which they stray from the truth. They're not making a documentary, but they've gone on and on about their commitment to the truth and the journalistic nature of the film so making that choice does make the film a piece of ahistoric propaganda, no matter how much you love everything else about it.
I see your point here, but speaking as someone who had pretty much zero knowledge before seeing the film, I can't say that the film communicated to me "torture caught Bin Laden". Not even close. The film depicted 10 years of hard work, trying just about EVERYTHING - including torture - to collect and piece together tiny little tidbits of information which eventually led to Bin Laden. If the film-makers somehow had as their agenda to promote torture, there would have been much clearer ways to communicate that to the audience (just watch any episode of 24).

I suppose the film - like most art - can be interpreted as one wishes. But as an impartial observer, I certainly don't at all feel that it was torture that caught Bin Laden after having see it.
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  #56  
Old 01-15-2013, 02:25 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by someguy View Post
Spoiler:
Sure, the sleep deprivation helped them pass off the lie but it was the lie that got them Abu Ahmed's name. And even then all it got them was a bunch of dead ends. What really got the ball rolling was Maya finding out about the department's "human error." I feel really fucking dumb breaking this down because even now I can see how the impact of torture on the investigation is pretty muddled. The implication that it's giving a thumbs up/making torture a vital aspect of getting Bin Laden or that the movie should have explicitly showed the ineffectiveness of torture only shows that people are not getting this movie at all.
I think this sums it up pretty well. The impact of torture on the investigation is very muddled and it never made me think "Boal is saying that torture is a very successful method of obtaining information". The sleep deprivation helped them pass off the lie, but the result of that ended up leading them to torture more people and get contradictory answers (like the guy who said he was dead). If anything, the film seems to be showing how even by the rare chance that torture leads to a piece of information, you can never tell if the information is any good. There will be another detainee giving contradictory information. And even though the lie was successful, it was reliant on another attack taking place. That's not exactly the most efficient or effective way of finding information.

I can see where QUENTIN is coming from though. If the events depicted in the first 45 minutes are completely fabricated, why not include what actually happened? I think you get the same result, but it would get rid of some of the ambiguity that is (apparently) present and prevent some individuals from misinterpreting the film. I think it's fine as it is though.

Last edited by Bourne101; 01-15-2013 at 06:29 PM..
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  #57  
Old 01-15-2013, 07:46 PM
People will see what they want to see. There are those (more informed than the layman) who will walk into this movie ready to question absolutely everything that's put in front because it's a retelling of an actual event that got a lot of media attention and is a very important piece of history. Plus, Boal and Bigelow went on record about the research and the film is based on first-hand accounts.

So when something like the sensitive issue of torture (just as an aside: I love how many people are so sensitive about torture and yet torture is used in war, has been and always will be, but anyway..) is brought up as part of the story, people's ear perk up and their eyes open wider and they look for every and any little thing to make sure that it's not depicted falsely. (For example, someone on another forum said that Dan's comment about "being the last to hold the dog collar" is somehow indicative of a torture apologist mindset...the fuck?)

And yet, it seems to me like it's only the really well-informed people who are noticing that there is some kind of issue or saying that ZDT advocates torture, or clearly shows that Bin Laden was captured by successful torture methods. For others who are not that informed (like me and abishop for example, and users from different sites) it's the last thing they would think. But the worried parties are raising up all this dust precisely because they don't want the uninformed people to walk away thinking that torture was effective, even though it seems like they are the ones who are only thinking that? It's all very ironic.

It's pretty clear to me that torture wasn't the reason they caught Bin Laden, and that the way the torture scenes were filmed, the way the actors played the roles and EVERYTHING about those first 45 minutes screamed an anti-torture ideology, clearly depicted torture as an evil that is being seen by the U.S. as "necessary" but actually being used in excess because it doesn't get you any substantial kind of information to get to your target. Boggles my mind that some people can actually walk away thinking "guess we had to use torture otherwise we'd never get Bin Laden!". People see what they want to see.
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  #58  
Old 01-15-2013, 08:56 PM

9.5/10

There’s no doubt about it; this is flat out a well-constructed and a riveting procedural drama. I love the fact that it really is ambiguous and doesn’t even try and send any sort of over-the-top political message. It also tackles the subject matter in a serious and proper way. Opening on a black screen and hearing a sample of 9/11 but seeing nothing is exactly the right way to start the film. Closing the way they did by not “spiking the football” or showing any American celebration was also the right move in my opinion. We all know the images from those two events. They are not needed. There’s enough emotion to carry what was depicted as is. Jessica Chastain is amazing as the lead and now I understand her Oscar nomination. It’s well deserved.

The torture issue is clearly depicted for what it is and (as mentioned above) the viewer can make up their own mind about how effective it was and could be in the war on terror. The movie does a fine job of saying how things changed over the years but does so with a boots on the ground approach. Again, great choices and handled so very well. A remarkable movie any way you cut it.
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  #59  
Old 01-15-2013, 10:26 PM
JoeChar...

you are beginning to redeem yourself for your awful views on Django Unchained.

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  #60  
Old 01-16-2013, 02:59 AM

I thought it was great. Now that I've seen I think it's a real bummer that Bigelow was snubbed a best director Oscar nod because her direction is the best thing about the movie. Much has been said about the movie's final 30 minutes in which the raid in Bin Laden's compound occurs. It's a strong scene, but not the highlight I thought would be. Indeed, Bigelow actually manages a strong sense of atmosphere throughout the entire movie. She does a great at generating and sustaining a real sense of unease and dread. The characters that inhabit the movie have such dangerous jobs and are in such dangerous locations that it feels like something bad could happen at any moment. And there are scenes throughout the movie that are startling. One scene in particular that got me was Chastain and a coworker played by Jennifer Ehle are enjoying their dinner one moment and the next there is massive explosion outside of the restaurant and at the hotel they are near. Scenes like that make it so that you can never get too comfortable because then something bad around the corner could happen. That's what makes the movie great. Of course the entire ensemble cast, headlined by the terrific Jessica Chastain, also bring a real sense of authenticity to the proceedings. But as terrific as the acting is, the real star is Bigelow and her incredibly taut direction.
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  #61  
Old 01-16-2013, 11:19 PM
So, I enjoyed the movie, but I wouldn't say that I loved it. It felt very cold and distant to me. It was a methodical procedural that was very well made, well acted, etc., but I felt no real connection to the movie. Maya came off like an emotionless robot most of the movie, and I know that was kind of the point. I just couldn't get too wrapped up in it.

It is definitely worth seeing, even if just for the last thirty minutes.
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  #62  
Old 01-17-2013, 07:29 PM
Bigelow wrote a response to the criticism and in her response she said:

"Those of us who work in the arts know that depiction is not endorsement."

That choice of words leads me to believe that whoever Boal's main source was for this part of the film indeed claimed that Abu Ahmed's name (or nickname) initially came up after enhanced interrogation techniques.

Either way though, whether Boal's account is based on what someone involved claimed or whether Boal was condensing it for cinematic purposes, I do not think the film advocates torture. I've been reading some articles from people who are saying that the film is advocating torture, and it really seems like some of them haven't seen the film. Even if it is historically inaccurate, it's not advocating torture.

Last edited by Bourne101; 01-17-2013 at 08:16 PM..
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  #63  
Old 01-17-2013, 07:53 PM
Two things.

First, I enjoyed this film, but it's the kind of film you watch once... and is essentially held by the last sequence which was done well.

Second, Bigelow needs to stop fucking Boal and tackle another genre of films, like in her early career. Strange Days was wonderful and I loved Point Break. I hope her third film isn't war/politics related. She's awesome for making "guy-driven" films but I'd love for her to not get stuck in Oscar bait filmmaking.
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  #64  
Old 01-18-2013, 02:36 PM
This certainly isn't a feel-good movie, despite that it's about finding and killing the most wanted asshole in the world. I enjoyed the movie for what it was - a step-by-step story of how the CIA found Osama Bin Laden, and what it went through to do so. In the movie, you see the procedures, the struggles, the dead ends, the frustrations, and the hard work that went into the search. While it's hard to connect or relate with the characters in the movie, it was fascinating watching how committed they were to completing this mission - screaming at their boss, bribes, assassination attempts, losing co-workers, and insomnia. Jessica Chastain plays the lead in the movie and she gets better as the movie continues showing all the emotion and drive you'd expect from somebody who's been after this guy for as long as she has. It's a tense and suspenseful movie and you're along for the entire ride, including the mission with the SEAL team when they get the bastard.

8/10
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  #65  
Old 01-18-2013, 02:53 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Digifruitella View Post
Second, Bigelow needs to stop fucking Boal and tackle another genre of films, like in her early career. Strange Days was wonderful and I loved Point Break. I hope her third film isn't war/politics related. She's awesome for making "guy-driven" films but I'd love for her to not get stuck in Oscar bait filmmaking.
It's apparently going to be "Triple Frontier", which is going to take a look into the drug cartels in South America (Boal was attached to write it, not sure if he still is).
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  #66  
Old 01-19-2013, 11:17 PM
4.5/5

a great drama. the last act was great intensity.
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  #67  
Old 01-20-2013, 01:59 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Digifruitella View Post
Two things.

First, I enjoyed this film, but it's the kind of film you watch once... and is essentially held by the last sequence which was done well.

Second, Bigelow needs to stop fucking Boal and tackle another genre of films, like in her early career. Strange Days was wonderful and I loved Point Break. I hope her third film isn't war/politics related. She's awesome for making "guy-driven" films but I'd love for her to not get stuck in Oscar bait filmmaking.
How is Zero Dark Thirty Oscar bait filmmaking?
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  #68  
Old 01-23-2013, 11:11 AM
I saw the Oscar nominated film a couple of days ago and really enjoyed it. I remember when I first saw the teaser trailer for this film, I rolled my eyes at the thought of Hollywood cashing in on an event that's still very fresh in American history. I assumed the film was going to use patriotism as a crutch of sorts to fill the seats. Instead we have what I believe to be a great procedural film. While the dialogue seems a bit over the top and out of place at times, the film has a well developed script and good direction. Definitely worth checking out.
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  #69  
Old 01-27-2013, 09:53 AM
9/10. Very beautifully shot and tense look into the "cogs of the machine." It pisses me off quite a bit how the media is trying to politicize this film but you'll always have that. Also, on the torture front, it CLEARLY does not provide information in the context of the film, so I don't get the fuss there, personally (nor am I attempting to get a whole new discussion going on this aspect, but to me, the film portrayed it as another failed attempt to elicit information--that it's just part of the process). What works in the film, is the lying and manipulation.

Also, LOVED the closing scene and the raid was tense as hell.
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