I never go to movies anymore. I can't afford them. I live on the poverty line, earning about $17,000 a year in my part time job. I have no "benefits".
I have no dental care and have the jack-o-lantern smile to prove it. I eat poorly and probably lack energy and drive as a result. I'm a financial
basket case, but fortunately live in circumstances that shelter me from some of the consequences of my feckless choices in life.
The world of the movies is something I can't relate to. I loathe the entertainment industry almost as much as I loathe mainstream politics and
mainstream media. I'm like a character out of Dostoyevsky, if you added a sense of humour to him.
Normally, I would never write a movie review. It is very difficult for me to communicate how much I loathe Hollywood. Reviewing movies, to me is the
equivalent of sifting through fecal matter looking for undigested kernals of corn and when finding one, shouting "Eureka!!" and holding it aloft for
everyone to see and exclaiming "Look! This one survived the process!".
If you want satirical commentary on the movies and on society in general as it relates to the movies, you have to go far outside the mainstream of the
movie industry to people who really do reflect the essence of popular culture in our times, people like Veronika Moser. It is hard to top Me, Hard
as a summation of most of what Hollywood has given the world over the decades.
Betty Grable with her legs, Farrah Fawcett with her "flip", Marlene Dietrich in a tux. I could go on listing some of the iconic images associated with
the great female stars of the movies, but I just want to make the point that this list is incomplete if it does not include the exquiste shape of the
undraped Veronika, from the back, standing in front of an ice cream cone heaped with some potent looking "chocolate ice-cream".
The reason I went to see Zero Dark Thirty
was that I wanted to know how "Hollywood" had treated the bin Laden episode. I realized that whatever
position was taken in this movie would wind up being the position that the mass of mainstream America would take on the story. Having researched the
bin Laden saga in the course of discussions of 9/11, I had a pretty good idea of the facts of the case, insofar as they are known to the alternative
I had a "professional interest" in this movie, one could say.
Katherine Bigelow is an excellent technical film-maker. She knows what to do to tell a story in a brisk cinematic way. She has a real gift for the
unexpected explosion or the surprise fullisade of bullets. She got me more than a couple of times with these surprises. I also liked the music in the
movie. It was quite beautiful. Compliments to the composer, whose name I don't know. There are also numerous scenes shot in the streets of India or
Pakistan. Fascinating stuff to someone like myself, tied culturally to the east, being Buddhist.
This movie is a strange thing. One can view it two ways. It can be seen as a straight propaganda exercise, even as a defense of torture in the pursuit
of punitive excellence. There is a very long series of scenes at the beginning of the movie involving the torture of some hapless prisoner.
Alternatively, the movie could be seen as an attempt to undermine the official narrative of the war on terror by exposing the public to a "watered
down" but still significantly disturbing picture of just what is involved in the "war on terror", that being "American terror", itself.
A neocon might think that the torture scenes were a little excessive, since they seemed to go on for perhaps 20% of the movie, at the beginning. It's
fine to defend torture as an investigative tool, wrongheaded as that might be, but to rub the audience's face in it, as this movie does is entirely
too responsible, from the neocon point of view.
Even Himmler was aware of the dangers posed to German soldiers from indulging in too much brutality. I'm sure Bush loyalists would have the same
delicacy in such matters as exhibited by Himmler himself, and would feel that referencing torture is fine, lauding it's efficacy (a highly disputed
notion by the way) is excellent, but wallowing in it is, as the French would say, "de trop"
From the point of view of a former Bush supporter like myself, however, who believes that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others should be doing time for
their crimes, the torture scenes are far too short
and so sparse compared to what actually happened. There is no Lynndie England, no pyramids
of naked prisoners, none of the florid sadistic fun that actually happened.
Serious, responsible sadism is portrayed in this movie and one might say that Bigelow's choice here was the correct one, after all, she is telling a
particular story that requires a narrowing of focus. Going far afield on a world's tour of American terrorism, with its various theme parks, like
Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, it's Lear jet renditions of the innocent and the guilty to foreign destinations, "black sites", where they could be
tortured, away from the heavily lidded eyes of the slumbering American media, would make the story unmanageable.
Fortunately, though, in the course of the story, Barack Obama became President and the winds of "political change" forced an end to the torture
regime, we are told
The movie makes the point very quickly in a couple of throw away lines of dialogue that "political change" has dictated that sadism as an
investigative tool would have to be set aside. Not moral awakening. Not the intelligence of seasoned investigators who know that torture elicits lies.
No. "Political change" necessitates the setting aside of torture. "Political change". And we all know how permanent political change is.
Bigelow sets the mirror up to nature in this movie. Yes it is a very tiny mirror that doesn't give a panoramic view, but if a mirror is true and
clean, even a small slice of the reality it reflects will contain enough truth for the discerning to make accurate judgements about it.
There is a lot of earnest vehemence in the movie. The red headed cutie that eventually pinpoints the house destined to be shot up by Seal Team Six,
wants so earnestly and sincerely to get bin Laden. One of her bosses has a great table thumping scene where he gets very angry at the lack of progress
being made in tracking down the "al Quaeda leader".
Truthers could only wish and hope that some of that sincerity and anger might actually be directed at the real perpetrators of 9/11.
On a technical level, this movie is made with a lot of competence and a lot of taste. Kudos to Bigelow on that score anyway. The bombing in the
restaurant is masterful. I'll never relax again.
In a truly wonderfully inclusive way, that really only Americans do with their great big "aw shucks" hearts, there are a couple of short scenes
included in the movie for the not insignificant number of people worldwide who might enjoy seeing an American bloodbath where actual American blood
was splashing playfully around in the tub.
I'm speaking of the attempt by a couple of jihadi
types to penetrate the ballistic glass virginity of the red headed cutie with their
Kalashnikovs. Sadly this comes to naught, but there is one brief shining moment in the movie where jihadis
, guns blazing, shoot up the Khobar
Towers in Saudi Arabia.
Didn't'cha ever cheer for the Indians in one of those cavalry massacres in a "western"?
That's part of the ambivalence of this movie. I started to think of it as an "eastern" and I started to cheer for the "Pakis". Was that the
intention? No wonder James Cameron divorced her. She's way too subtle.
This goes for the actual assassination of bin Laden as well. We never get a good look at the guy. Just as in real life, we never got a look at the
corpse. However, for the benefit of the audience, bin Laden's corpse was absolutely identified by the red haired cutie. She said it was him. The movie
makes it clear that the raid on the compound was conducted largely at her insistance and at her conviction that bin Laden was there, even though
everyone else only gave it a 60% or lower probability.
That's where the movie ends. On that basis, the movie is clearly a propaganda exercise.
We aren't told that "bin Laden' was buried at sea, without being shown to the world, begging the question "Was he really in the compound?" or was the
red haired cutie just covering her butt by identifying some unlucky dude as bin Laden?
We aren't told of the subsequent deaths, en masse, of Seal Team Six. Dead men tell no tales.
Basically, you have to know the story well to see this movie for what it is, propaganda drivel.
Katherine Bigelow is a top notch resident of the Hollywood whorehouse, but she doesn't have the moral integrity of Veronika Moser.
edit on 5-2-2013 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)
edit on 5-2-2013 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)