March 31, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow, 2012


The C.I.A. is working tirelessly to track down the world's biggest fugitive, Osama bin Laden. Intelligence is pulled from anywhere and everywhere, and Maya (Jessica Chastain) is at the forefront of the pursuit. This film is a reunion of director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal, who won 6 Oscars for their work on The Hurt Locker in 2008. Very much like The Hurt Locker, this film is set in the Post-9/11 Middle East.

Jessica Chastain is introduced immediately, and you really witness the progression of an innocent bright eyed intelligence agent to one who becomes affected, sleep-deprived, and unwilling to regress. A woman who will stop at nothing to track down the #1 target. Maya is the movie version of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) from Homeland. Shes a type A personality who similarly wouldn't be able to maintain a romantic relationship because she is so heavily committed to her occupation. Chastain bears a resemblance to Bryce Dallas Howard, but she separates herself from her beautiful red-headed counterpart with her distinct acting chops.

The camera work in Zero Dark is near-perfect. A lot of impressive shots behind things, camera sitting on a desk, shots with corner of building in the right frame, birds-eyes of daylight marketplaces. Some of the cinematography early in the film reminded me of Soderburgh's style of clean shots in narrow spaces. These clean shots are constantly juxtaposed with some gritty images of torture huts, back-room offices. Some of the most impressive work came at the climax. While film-making is usually dependent on adequate lighting I have no idea how they were able to work with such an absence of it. When they descend upon the Pakistani Compound, you feel like you are there with them. I was literally standing up watching these events unfold. You obviously know whats going to happen, but knowing almost creates this noticeably pronounced anticipatory feeling. The brilliant application of tension in Zero Dark is very reminiscent to the techniques used in The Hurt Locker.

While I believe some of the elements in the film are fit for criticism (the intelligence gathering in the middle of the film seemed to get a bit monotonous), it still returns to form quickly. The story of killing Bin Laden is so compelling that it deserves the cinematic treatment. It's a story we'll be telling our grandchildren we witnessed. The assault on Bin Laden's compound is the modern-day equivalent to Hitler's Eagles Nest.

No comments:

Post a Comment