I realise I have been MASSIVELY negligent with the site recently so please accept my apologies, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, hope you've still keeping your resolutions and so on...
Anyway now that's out the way; one comes to you with a topic for great discussion and it regards Kathryn Bigelow's utterly masterful Zero Dark Thirty which was theatrically released in the UK last Friday. This is probably a fucking dumb thing to say seeing as we are only 28 days into 2013, but this is undoubtedly the best picture I've seen this year so far and I'm actually glad I didn't get to see it in 2012 or my top 10 list would have been turned upside down, and I could not be dealing with that shit...
If you've left the house over the past fortnight, chances are you would have read an article or overheard a discussion regarding Zero Dark Thirty and whether it is either pro-torture, a propaganda piece or a means to glorify war violence. All of these three things are utterly false and incredibly incorrect, but that hasn't stopped the media jumping on Bigelow's film like a pack of hungry, politically-correct wolves. Here are just a few titles from a quick search on Ask Jeeves...I mean Lycos, I mean....Google.
|No, this image has not been edited. I can assure you of that.|
So yes, there are massive speculations and suspicions, with many batting against the film rather than for it, but as previously mentioned, these comments are not factual nor essentially correct, they are actually rather misjudged opinions.
During the opening 20 minutes of Bigelow's near three-hour spectacular, there are some scenes of torture; nasty, painful scenes. Scenes which will make you grimace, scenes which showcase the psychological and psychical horrors of war. An early interrogation presents viewers with water-boarding followed by involuntary stripping and being shoved into a small box for umpteen hours. This is a tough pill to swallow, but that's the whole fucking point. None of these things sound remotely fun and are not projected in any ways to seem desirable or entertaining, they are merely a dramatisation of recent cultural and political history.
In a film that's deemed to be 'propaganda', you'd expect Jessica Chastain's Maya; a woman who dedicates ten years of her life to finding Osama bin Laden, to have a huge blow-out when the Navy Seals finally get the bugger in May 2011. Perhaps she and her pals would take a dump on his body and burn it before getting slaughtered in some dingy Pakistani bar...yeah, that's not what happens. I've seen propaganda films, in fact I've seen so much Nazi propaganda it's worrying, and one can tell you categorically that Zero Dark Thirty is not a project of this calibre - bin Laden's death is handled with great respect and grace; he is merely part of a job that needs to be 'completed' for lack of a better word. Nothing offensive or provocative is screened, nothing ill or judgemental is presented.
However it isn't just the media who have been cruel to Bigelow, the Academy voters have too by not nominating her for Best Director at the 85th Oscars this year, and this must be partially down to the torture debates. How could a group of United States voters not want to award a woman who has captured on film their biggest political and public safety achievement in recent history? It's utterly insane. Plus Zero Dark Thirty is one of the best examples of directorial cinema for many-a-year. Most filmmakers would be proud, better yet honoured to touch the towering heights Bigelow smashes with her exceptional procedural drama. Film classes and schools around the world will reference this great work long after all this hype dies.
In some respects, the controversy surrounding the film is probably doing it favours; more people are talking, so more people are watching, which equates to more money and more essentially free promotion, but I hope those visiting their local multiplexes are going because they want to see this fascinating, arresting and completely captivating film rather than just hoping to jump on the bandwagon of backlash.
In the war on Bigelow, I'm proud to stand by her side and confront the oncoming storm.
Zero Dark Thirty is in cinemas nationwide now.