Friday, January 11, 2013

Phil sees ZERO DARK THIRTY at the Century 20 Oakridge-January 7, 2013

Today's review is about a film that has been billed as "the story of history's greatest manhunt for the world's most dangerous man." It has received wide critical acclaim and has already earned four Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. The film has also received a great deal of controversy for its "allegedly pro-torture stance and for allegedly obtaining improper access to classified materials." However, all this aside, director Kathryn Bigelow's latest film ZERO DARK THIRTY is one of the most astounding films to be released in 2013 thus far!!

The movie's official synopsis: Maya (Jessica Chastain) is a CIA operative whose first experience is in the interrogation of prisoners following the Al Qaeda attacks against the U.S. on the 11th September 2001. She is a reluctant participant in extreme duress applied to the detainees, but believes that the truth may only be obtained through such tactics. For several years, she is single-minded in her pursuit of leads to uncover the whereabouts of Al Qaeda's leader, Osama Bin Laden. Finally, in 2011, it appears that her work will pay off, and a U.S. Navy SEAL team is sent to kill or capture Bin Laden. But only Maya is confident Bin Laden is where she says he is.

First off, let me tell you something about the beginning of the film. Now what I am about to tell you isn't a spoiler or anything. In fact, consider this a warning. In the first hour of the film, there are several scenes that feature the brutality of torture. Now if this makes you at all squeamish, then you'd might want to skip this movie. There has been a lot of controversy surrounding the film because of the allege pro-torture stance. This will divide the audience and as a result, some will say yes it does, others will disagree. Too be honest, I'm still on the fence about this topic myself.

However, controversy aside, Bigelow shows us once again just how talented she is as a director. While I thought it would hard to surpass her last film, the Academy Award winning film THE HURT LOCKER, she does the impossible and creates a stunning, tense, procedural drama that cannot be classified as an action thriller, a war film, or in this a war drama. Bigelow is one of the few directors that makes films for just sheer entertainment; her films go beyond the term genre and transcend into the realm of art. Like her previous film, Bigelow crafts this picture with precision, clarity, and structure with moments of humor to release the tensions that it builds.

Bigelow and her writer Mark Boal (a former journalist) were working on a screenplay that was about the Battle of Tora Bora, where bin Laden was once believed to be hiding. However, once the news broke the news broke that bin Laden had been killed, they immediately shelved that idea and started from scratch. Originally filmed as For God and Country, the title was changed to ZERO DARK THIRTY, which according to Bigelow means that, "it's a military term for 30 minutes after midnight, and it refers also to the darkness and secrecy that cloaked the entire decade-long mission."

Actress Jessica Chastain did a fabulous job at portraying our main protagonist Maya. Head strong, confident, and resilient in her pursuit in locating the whereabouts of our antagonist Osama Bin Laden. Chastain appeared last year's THE TREE OF LIFE and THE HELP. Here she continues to play interesting, flawed, and relentless characters that are unique, thoughtful, and complex.

ZERO DARK THIRTY is one enriching, compelling, masterpiece of cinema that dares to be seen. Not for everyone's taste; it's slow pace builds up speed for the climatic ending; an ending we already know about. But in Bigelow's hands, this review found himself sitting on the edge of his seat. 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

ZERO DARK THIRTY is currently playing in theaters nationwide, including the Century Theaters here in the Bay Area. To view showtimes, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

No comments:

Post a Comment