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50 New Movies in 100 Days: Zero Dark Thirty

January 21, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

This is a film that everyone is probably more familiar with than the last three anyways.  Having just seen it a few hours ago, I can say that this is a very well put together docu-drama.  It walks a very fine line between the realism it portray while keeping the film moving along.  They give snippets of the timeline from 9/11 until Bin Laden was killed, and they give the times and places to keep the documentary feel, but you get more intimate moments like that of a drama.  While watching it, it didn’t seem to fly by like some films that I’ve seen recently, but because of the documentary feel I didn’t feel like it needed to.

As far as the plot, I won’t go into major detail, but what I’ll say is that it was put together to focus less on the raid on Bin Laden, but it focuses much more on the process of finding out where Bin Laden is.  There are scenes of torture and interrogations. It focuses on the nitty-gritty of what went on in the background and who died in an attempt to find out where Bin Laden is.

This film rocks when it comes to acting.  Jessica Chastain,and rightfully so, is getting tons of praise for her performance.  Her portrayal of Maya is well done, she develops her character as time passes, a level simplicity and innocence in her character which develops into an obsession which feeds on her.  I also have to give props to Jason Clarke.  His performance has a level of seriousness to it which is wonderfully done.  He has a few moments of comedy and levity, but you can always see that there is a seriousness and heaviness behind it.  There are many other solid performances, some of the detainees did a brilliant job, but I’m not sure who is who for recognizing them.

The direction of this film is spot on.  Kathryn Bigelow has done a brilliant job and from what I’ve seen, she should have been nominated for an Oscar for it.  It has a level of seriousness to it, very straight forward shooting of the film, pseudo-documentary at times.  She shows off the humanity of her characters well, while she doesn’t make it a character piece, she develops each of her characters beyond a simple level.  The locations are well shot, and in several suicide bomber scenes she pulls what I’ll loving refer to as a Joss Whedon, she doesn’t focus on it, she keeps it as part of the narrative, but there aren’t touching scenes where everyone stops and pauses.

This is a wonderfully constructed film and deserves every bit of praise that it is receiving.  Kathryn Bigelow has put together a great film, very serious, very well done.  It won’t fly by while you watch it, but compared to many war films it is so much better put together.  I am not a fan of war films or government espionage films in general but this one I approve of, because it doesn’t try to glorify, it doesn’t try to stylize, it simply lays out a compelling storyline and powerful set of action.

Critical Grade: A

Entertainment Grade: B

Overall Grade: A-

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