Saturday, January 5, 2013



It took a woman to catch the world’s most dangerous man Osama Bin Laden.   Zero Dark Thirty is the story of one woman’s perseverance and determination.  Conviction.  One woman stands up to a barrage of male CIA members who challenge her beliefs.  Her core.  Her raison d’etre.   The search for OBL had become Mia’s mission.  She was determined to see him dead. Her reputation within the CIA was of a killer.   Don’t underestimate the powers of a woman.  We will never know our heroine’s name.  But we know Kathryn Bigelow’s name.  Another heroine, a female Oscar winning director who tells war stories better than most men.  Wins an Oscar for film about war in Hwood also a male dominated Boys Club.   Slowly Bigelow single handedly is changing that.  This is not to say Navy Seals Team 6 did not do heavy lifting and save the final day, but if it had not been for the mysterious heroine at the center of this saga, there would not have been a body bag filled with Osama Bin Ladin, the founder of al-Qaeda responsible for September 11.
We all know this story, but it is the details which director Bigelow surrounds us with that set this film apart from many other Oscar contenders.  The actors are not superstars. It is better this way. We are able to watch the story without focusing on individuals. 
But there is Jessica Chastain (Maya) who is magnificent as the unidentified member of the CIA who did the stalking of bin Laden.  I do not fault Bigelow for showing torture scenes which were necessary for the capture and the kill.  My only qualm with the film was Chastain’s eye makeup.  This is not Chastain‘s fault but rather the makeup people and ultimately Bigelow.  Here we have a role where a woman is challenged by men to be listened to and to be respected.   Not viewed as an object.  Yet she has black eyeliner on in some shots and her hair pinned back on one side like Veronica Lake.  Chastain is such a beauty that she doesn’t need  makeup and certainly if she were traveling the globe in search of a terrorist and not just any terrorist but OBL she would not be vain or worry about her appearance, I understand hair pinned back on one side is to keep long hair from blocking an actresses face from the camera, but please this was such an important film, couldn’t Chastain be told to cut it or offered to do this herself.  Ann Hathaway had the right idea for Les Miz and had her hair cut on camera while she sang.  Dedication to a part is an actresses duty.  Chastain was more concerned with her appearance than the role she was portraying and this film carried with it such gravitas.  After all it was about the importance of killing a figure of so much evil to our western world and it was about the greatest manhunt ever.
But about her acting, Chastain’s (Maya) performance has just the right edge and energy in all the right places. She is restrained when in a board room with the top CIA brass when James Gandolfini, the CIA director, ignores her and another member says, “I’d like Maya’s opinion if bin Laden is in this structure.”  She was the only person in the room who had the courage of her convictions to say, “I do.   100%.”  Fortunately she presents her argument and is listened to and her knowledge is acted upon without proof.  There were no photos of OBL in his residence in Abattabad, Pakistan where he was captured.  
The screenplay by Mark Boal was at rare moments predictable as when a bomb was about to explode, but this did not ruin the suspense.  Bigelow keeps her creative team of writer, director and producer close to her vest as she collaborated with Boal on Hurt Locker.  The cast was enormous and it is sad to say that many of the fine actors cannot be credited because of the size of this team.  And it was a team effort.  Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Harold Perrineau are some of the wonderful actors.
This film begins with a blank screen and only sounds of the horrific September 11 attack of al-Qaeda. Then moves chronologically through time to show the CIA’s struggling to find OBL.  This movie is an example, a tribute to the fact that the audience may know what happens in a story, but it is how it is told and portrayed as to how much a viewer cares.  I must say I was on the edge of my seat.  At my screening there was applause and I was one of those clapping 

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