Talking Points: Zero Dark Thirty In Theaters Wednesday

By December 17, 2012

Anyone left with a bit of cliffhanger anxiety over last night’s Homeland finale is not likely to find solace for another year, however, we will have a bit of a reprieve in the coming days.

Zero Dark Thirty hits theaters (in limited release) on Wednesday December 19th. Focusing primarily on one woman’s hunt that spans ten long years, Zero Dark Thirty is being described as an “ultimate” and “tense” procedural that leads up to the raid on the evening of May 1, 2011 that saw an end to al-Qaeda’s mastermind, Osama bin Laden.

While in production the film was targeted by some media sources that would have had you believe that it was a pro-Obama propaganda piece. It is now under scrutiny by various outlets for being pro-torture. Controversy has plagued the production since it was ever announced and especially when, during pre-production, the script was revised to incorporate the actual death of bin Laden. An event that was to be left unresolved in the original script, the writer and director came under fire for charges of having obtained classified information and documents that were supposedly an influence on the script. Those charges have yet to be proved, and probably never will be.

The accused writer and director are Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow, the Oscar-winning duo behind 2010’s Best Picture winner, The Hurt Locker. Boal, prior to his more recent successes, had been a freelance journalist with published pieces in The Village Voice and Rolling Stone, amongst others. It was a 2004 article in Playboy entitled “Death and Dishonor” that caught the eye of Oscar winning writer/director Paul Haggis, who used it as his primary inspiration for 2007’s In the Valley of Elah. That film got him a foot into Hollywood’s door and lead to his initial partnering with Bigelow. Bigelow herself has been a Hollywood player for years. Once married to James Cameron from 1989-1991, she gained a reputation all her own for her work on action pictures, some of them being the vampire entry Near Dark, cult classic Point Break and the near-forgettable and underperforming Harrison Ford vehicle, K-19: The Widowmaker.

Zero Dark Thirty will feature filmdom’s new favorite redhead, Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain as the lead, Maya, as well as her Lawless co-star Jason Clarke, his own fellow Australian Joel Edgerton, television stars Chris Pratt, Kyle Chandler and Mark Duplass, as well as character actor and Carlos star Mark Strong and Edgar Ramirez, respectively. The film was shot by the brilliant Greig Fraser, who framed this year’s Snow White and the Huntsman and Killing Them Softly. Putting his vast talents to great use and effect, he lit the bin Laden raid towards the end of Zero Dark Thirty with infrared lights, a light source invisible to the human eye, which was only seen proper after being processed with filters in the editing room.

Zero Dark Thirty has already taken top honors with the New York Film Critics, as well as the National Board of Review and has been nominated for four Golden Globes. It is gaining clear traction in the awards race and has thus far supplanted Argo as a Oscar frontrunner.

See the film for yourself and tell us whether you found the film to be a political platform, a genuine and unbridled entertainment, both or something else entirely.

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Jacob Hayman
Jacob's stomach often hurts and his mind often races. He prefers a good drink and chat to most other things in life, his OkCupid is far more active than his Twitter, and Brazil, Gremlins 2, Magnolia, Pather Panchali, and Roman Holiday are his favorite films. He lives in Los Angeles, where he was born and raised, and constantly considers taking up welding.