LOL, I don’t think I’ve attacked anybody and I don’t really know where Arti and Steve come from to spew such condescension towards Sio or me. Like, WTF. I’m glad I have liked this one a lot. Imagine what they’d be saying to me if I had hated it as much as I hated Amour!
I also liked the film and it is a great genre movie. No doubt. But I also don't think that demanding more varied perspectives or a more complete, deep political context (lack of which, if I remember correctly, few people here agreed even while defending the film) means to start including conspiracy theories. I think it was an exaggerated comparison just like the Nazi one made earlier. It is in fact simplifying.
Steve was specifically responding to the assertion that JFK tackled "political issues" (and the suggestion that it was superior to ZD30 in doing so.) That's all. Jeeze.
As for the lack of a "deep political context" in ZDT, I understand why some people say that the case against torture should have been explicitly stated in the film. Early on there certainly were CIA and FBI people at the black sites who threw a fit over what was happening, and none of this is reflected in the film. What Bigelow and Boal instead depict is how the torture became institutionalized and normalized and how CIA agents who were intially repelled by it (like Maya) came to effectively embrace it. To me, that makes for a stronger film than one which explicitly states the anti-torture arguments, but I can understand why others would disagree.
To go beyond the anti-torture arguments made in the field and include in the film the broader political context of how the Bush and Obama administrations made these decisions would have required a radical restructuring of the movie. In some films, like All the President's Men, politics is of necessity front and center--when you tell a story about how two reporters brought down the Nixon Whitehouse, politics is what the film is about. On the other hand, the lower-level CIA operatives depicted in ZDT aren't political appointees and are not invovled in high-level policy debates, so in order to include the political infighting, at least some of the focus of the film would have to shift to Washington. We do get a bit of the policy discussion when Maya returns to Washington and has meetings with the higher-ups, but that certainly is not the main subject of the film. Saying that the deeper political context should have been a focus of the film is in essence saying that Bigelow and Boal should have made a different movie; in general, I think the movie they did make is terrific.
I think in the case of THL it's more readily apparent why this would be a bad idea. You would be transplanting the experience of the film into a loaded political milieu that we all already recognize. James' experience would have been one element that, at best, would have been juxtaposed against against the broader political context. Instead, his experience is presented, cinematically, as our inescapable, suffocating reality. Our momentary break from that, in his jarringly-edited return to a recognizable "real-world" setting, inspired a whole lot more genuine thought and reflection in me than any broader "political" investigation would have. And that thought, in turn, influenced how I thought about the situation when I returned to my political perspective. How effective would that scene have been, had the "broader scope" version of the film already included the recognizable discourse we see on CNN? It wouldn't have to be preachy or professorial for this to entirely invalidate the point of the film.
We all here, with our office jobs and internet connections, are caught in basically an exclusively political paradigm when viewing these events. When news of Osama's death broke, there was a lot of nationalistic celebrating and a lot of people here discussing how it would impact Obama's chances of reelection. "GM is alive and bin Laden is dead," and all that. We hear about oil spills and genocides and civil wars and natural disasters and we immediately place it all into a political discourse.
And this seems to be the issue with ZD30, insofar as the people who go in looking for a recognizable political perspective. Whether they're going in like Glenn Greenwald with actual politicized check-boxes that they want to mark off, or whether they're just looking for "broader context," that perspective is specifically antithetical to the weight of the film, both cinematically and thematically. Maya's obsession is the film's bedrock, full stop. Any move to put the viewers "at home" in their political perspective would have entirely undercut the primary driving force of the film, regardless of being preachy. There's a reason the "politics" enters in only obliquely, with Obama's discussion of torture barely pushing in at the margins for only a moment. There's a place for that discussion, but it's not in this film. Not because it's a tight "genre" production, or whatever, but rather because its cinematic and thematic force is tied intrinsically to its suffocating perspective. Like Steve just said, institutionalization and normalization are key movers here.
So like I've said, there may be an interesting film to be made that explores the geopolitical and social ramifications of the hunt for Bin Laden, but it's not this film. This film achieves an aim (a more important aim, I think), it simply would not have had its scope been broadened. It's not hard for me to read all of the informative material that's been produced re: the politics of the hunt for Bin Laden and the war on terror. The perspective that this film manages to achieve is far more rare, and that perspective would have been ruined by the inclusion of our recognizable politics, in the same way THL would have.
But none of that means that this film doesn't have a political/social/moral core, or that it doesn't have anything to say about all these issues everyone seems to want it to comment on. On the contrary, it has plenty to say. It just requires the involvement of the viewer in order to say it, and in that respect I think it's far, far more effective than something like, say, JFK. Politically or otherwise.
Last edited by Sage; 02-06-2013 at 11:09 AM.
Stop being rude, Sage.
McT, I'm not going to respond to you because I don't think there's any room for agreement. Why bother typing paragraph after paragraph? I don't have enough free minutes in the day, sorry. I don't think you're stupid but I do think (for reasons Sage elaborates) that trying to turn this film into a geopolitical comment is not going to work. Making a geopolitical comment film about similar historical events is a totally different story.
Also I love JFK but it is not politically driven. It is a portrait of a time and place not a comment on Kennedy and communism or whatever you said.
So spare us your "Jeeze". Apparently everything the hardcore supporters of this film do is dandy and balanced and everything said against the film is treated as pure lunacy, from Buster to Sio and I. It seems that not even watching the film one can criticize it. Maybe now you'll close this thread too and open a new one in which the prerequisite to comment on the film will be not only having seen it, but considering it flawless and having given it not less than a 9 in the Best Picture Series poll? Maybe that way you'll have the thread it's obviuos you guys desire, the thread in which you all rejoice at how perfect and immune to critique this film is.
Good luck with that, I'm out of this jizz fest 'cos I didn't cum at the screen while singing the hossanas of Saint Kathryn Bigelow. Enjoy your criticism-free thread.
Yeah, McTeague, no one but you read it that way.
Calm the crap down, buddy.
If only you'd let Savior Chastain bury your sins in Saint Clinto's Mystic River so you could wash them clean, all would be set right.
First time I ventured into this place. I don't get the criticism of this as a triumphalist propaganda film, and Naomi Wolf's Leni Riefenstahl comparison was predictably over the top (and predictably attention-seeking).
So many people in government, in both parties, twist the truth to suit their political agendas that I don't know what the exact truth is on all these matters--and neither I imagine do the filmmakers--but I think the Reda Kateb scenes might cause some people who supported the torture to blink (the dog collar and the box on top of the water is all really brutal to watch). I really doubt anyone who opposed torture comes out of this film supporting it. Of course, inevitably a lot of people will just take out of it what they wanted to take out of it going in, such is life.
I think these are complicated questions. Is the drone strike program more moral than detention and torture program? Killing someone outright removes the lingering, festering issue of detention, but is it any more moral (especially when you have collateral damage)? Maybe this team will tackle drone strikes next.
Resolution of moral issues aside, I found this a fascinating and challenging film and I'm glad someone was willing to tackle this. I do think there's certain "payoff" factor in the assault on the compound finally, but it's filmed in such a muted fashion (they are so careful about only ever showing snatches of Bin Laden) it's more fascination than triumph I felt.
Was the very ending supposed to be triumphalist? I thought it was, once again, rather muted.
Of course it's easy to see why Argo is a stronger picture contender than this film. I imagine had there been five slots only ZDT would not have been nominated. It reminds me a lot of United 93. AMPAS really shies away from this stuff (though United 93 did get the director nomination, didn't it?).
Oh yeah, I have been following the Oscar bling so distantly this year I didn't even know that was Jennifer Ehle, lol. All through the film I was saying who is she then at the credits it was oh! Great job, Jen!
You know, I'll root for this film over, say, Lincoln. And I admire this movie more than some do. But I have to say it doesn't have the memorable impact that a movie like United 93 had on me. I kinda thought ZDT could well be a bookend to Greengrass' film, but it's a few weeks later and the movie doesn't quite stay with me the way U93 did.