Hollywood liberals

I didn’t see Zero Dark Thirty. It’s the same reason I didn’t see Quantum of Solace or Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, I just didn’t like the title. That, and I felt that after reading Andrew Sullivan blockquote Eli Lake’s reply to Matt Ygelsias’s argument that Megan McArdle was wrong to criticize Manohla Dargis’s review of the movie…I was just sick of the whole thing. Anyhoo, I thought this was interesting:

Zero Dark Thirty also twisted itself into knots, bent over backwards to make sure President Obama received as little credit as possible in this movie.

[….]

I’ve been in meetings where these kinds of political considerations overwhelmed the storytelling interest of a movie. It happens ALL THE TIME. When it doubt, Hollywood will ALWAYS @#$%^ out, even when it comes to having the back of a President they support. Hell, there’s money to be made.

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119 replies
  1. 1
    Lee says:

    I’ve got a question with regard to the movie for those that have seen it and also have a better memory than I do.

    As I understand it the movie portrays torture as instrumental in catching OBL.

    From what I remember, torture did provide some information that just corroborated what they had obtained without torture.

  2. 2
    Nylund says:

    My favorite part of this post is how you have Megan McArdle being wrong.

    As for the content, it reminds me of some of the stuff Phil Donohue said about working at MSNBC. They were a “liberal” station and he was anti-war, so obviously, that’s a terrible terrible thing, even in MSNBC’s view, so MSNBC made a rule that Phil had to have two conservative guests on the show for every one liberal. The “liberal bias” on the liberal network is to give twice as much airtime to conservative guests as liberal ones.

    This myth of liberal bias is so pervasive that even liberals will re-write history to downplay their role and will give extra voices to conservatives to counteract a bias that isn’t even there.

    I’m reminded of the line from the Usual Suspects, “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

    Somehow, in a world where print media, cable news, talk radio, and nearly every form of “media” is dominated by right-wing ideologues, it’s common knowledge that “the media” has a liberal bias that must be countered with even more conservatism. Verbal Kint / Keyser Soze would be proud.

  3. 3
    schrodinger's cat says:

    This movie was made too soon, we need some distance from an event to evaluate it properly and tell a story.

  4. 4
    The Dangerman says:

    As I understand it the movie portrays torture as instrumental in catching OBL.

    Instrumental? I didn’t get that from the movie…

    …what I got was a movie that tried so hard to show “both sides” of the torture issue that it’s still being debated in the press. I wonder if their original release date influenced them (though the original release date may have been a gambit to get some press; it was always getting pushed back to after the election).

  5. 5

    I know I won’t have many on my side, but I liked Quantum of Solace. People said it wasa too daark and not funny enough. My feeling is that if you want lighthearted and funny, you can always rent Octopussy or something…

  6. 6
    Lee says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Instrumental? I didn’t get that from the movie…

    Thanks I obviously have not seen the movie yet.

  7. 7
    jamick6000 says:

    if anything, I thought it gave the Bush administration a lot of credit implicitly because it falsely depicted torture as providing the key information in catching Osama. That’s why many of america’s top fascists like Liz Cheney were tweeting about how much they loved the movie.

    The only time Obama was in the movie was a brief moment when he was on the TV talking about how we wouldn’t torture people any more, prompting an eyeroll from the CIA people.

  8. 8
    Jim C says:

    When it doubt, Hollywood will ALWAYS @#$%^ out

    Not to sideline the discussion, but what is that cartoon swear supposed to be? I like to think my profanity vocabulary is almost comprehensive (at least in English) but couldn’t the word “chicken” have been typed out?

  9. 9
    Cassidy says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: But who needs logic when you can protray Navy SEALs sitting around doing cool guy things with guns!?

  10. 10
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Cassidy: ZDT was pretty much ignored at the Oscars, so many of Bigelow’s peers don’t seem to be that thrilled with it either.

  11. 11

    For some people’s tastes, the movie didn’t do a strong enough job of showing that torture didn’t help get him. There’s no moment where a major cat member turns to the camera, breaks the fourth wall, and says “torture it’s bad and ineffective.”
    But there’s also no line drawn in the story from torture to the SEALs ventilating UBL’s brain, either.

  12. 12
    Mnemosyne says:

    @The Dangerman:

    …what I got was a movie that tried so hard to show “both sides” of the torture issue that it’s still being debated in the press. I wonder if their original release date influenced them (though the original release date may have been a gambit to get some press; it was always getting pushed back to after the election).

    The TPM article is pretty interesting — basically, like the rest of the 1%, Hollywood executives were convinced that Obama was going to lose in November, so they were terrified of making a movie that would be seen as “pro-Obama” and cause problems with the new Romney administration.

    I kind of wonder if those executives feel like idiots now. Nah, I’m sure they’ve justified it to themselves and moved on.

    @Jim C:

    I’m guessing that it’s the word that refers to both female anatomy and kitty cats that starts with a “p.” I can’t post it here because it’s on FYWP’s list of naughty words and will be auto-moderated.

  13. 13
    cmorenc says:

    @Cassidy:

    @schrodinger’s cat: But who needs logic when you can protray Navy SEALs sitting around doing cool guy things with guns!?

    According to the real seals (including some on the mission itself) an eye-rolling howler about the portrayal of the mission in “Zero Dark Thirty” was how clumsily, excessively noisy the movie seal team was in going about their task. For sure, an incursion involving even “stealth” helicopters and gunfire cannot be ninja-silent, but the team members wouldn’t be shouting to each other, either. Query how many other scenes in the movie were spiced up in the interests of theatrical drama falsely parading as verisililitude.

  14. 14
    GregB says:

    At the end of the showing of Zero Dark Thirty at a Chunky’s Theater in Nashua, NH some man sitting behind my table announced loudly as the credits were rolling:

    Brought to you by President Barack Obama.

  15. 15
    JPL says:

    Zero Dark Thirty is a movie, not a documentary so characters are composites. Historically, it is important to portray the torture but why show so much and for so long. I did a little more research after watching the film and found an article about the character Jennifer Ehle portrayed. link
    In a way you could consider the article to be a spoiler, so you are fore warned.

  16. 16
    Petorado says:

    The worst part of this whole misadventure in storytelling is that conservatives swear the movie is a more accurate representation of the truth than the truth is. Hollywood is always an evil liberal bastion, unless the film is Red Dawn, Atlas Shrugged, or An American Carol, or the actor is Clint Eastwood or Kelsey Grammar — then it’s heroic and the truth.

  17. 17
    GregB says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    I was shocked, shocked that the Academy didn’t honor Leni RiefenstahlKatherine Bigelow with an Oscar.

  18. 18
    Mnemosyne says:

    For anyone who’s interested in the controversy, here’s what Kathryn Bigelow wrote about the torture scenes in response to her critics.

    I still haven’t seen the film, partly because I know I’m not going to be able to deal with the torture scenes, but what I’ve heard from people is that whether or not you can sit through the movie depends on how you personally interpret the first sequence, which cuts from audio of 9/11 to an al-Qaeda guy being tortured. People who think the sequence is justifying torture because of 9/11 hate the rest of the movie; people who think the sequence is showing that we overreacted and tortured in revenge for 9/11 are generally okay with the rest of the movie since, again, the film shows that finding OBL was due far more to old-fashioned police work and normal interrogation/questioning than torture.

  19. 19

    Oops. I got moderated for saying I liked Quantum of Solace, and that if you wanted lighthearted and funny–many people who didn’t like it complained that it was too dark–then you should rent Œçtøpüššý. That should keep me out of moderation.

  20. 20
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @cmorenc: Her previous movie “The Hurt Locker” was just as much a howler, ask anybody who has worked the Explosive Ordinance Disposal field.

  21. 21
    kooks says:

    I came away from Zero Dark Thirty with the impression that torture was useless and yielded no new information. They knew Osama’s driver was an important link, but none of their captives gave up information on him. They only found the guy when an old case file turned up. So, instead of torturing people for years, they could have been going through the files they already had and perhaps caught OBL years earlier.

  22. 22
    Roger Moore says:

    @Nylund:

    The “liberal bias” on the liberal network is to give twice as much airtime to conservative guests as liberal ones.

    Compare that to the Faux News policy of allowing liberals on only so they can be mocked and it seems very liberal indeed. It’s all about pushing the Overton Window.

  23. 23

    @Mnemosyne:
    Entertainment executives are famously superstitious, with all kinds of conventional wisdoms based on nothing but the talk that goes around their little circle.

    @Zapruder F. Mashtots, D.D.S. (Mumphrey, et al.):

    Œçtøpüššý

    I wish I could insert an applause .gif here.

  24. 24
    Lee says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    People who think the sequence is justifying torture because of 9/11 hate the rest of the movie; people who think the sequence is showing that we overreacted and tortured in revenge for 9/11 are generally okay with the rest of the movie since, again, the film shows that finding OBL was due far more to old-fashioned police work and normal interrogation/questioning than torture.

    Excellent I’ll keep that in mind.

  25. 25
    Cassidy says:

    @cmorenc: I haven’t seen it. I don’t watch movies that involve Iraq or Afghanistan. Some of it hits a little too close to home, but I also get pissed when they are inaccurate. There isn’t a blance for me yet. The only movie I’ve watched from that time frame is The Kingdom, and I felt that was really well done. I also enjoyed Stop Loss, but even the war scenes (as unrealistic as they were) were very tachycardic. So, I avoid them.

    BUt that being said, I have two things to add. 1) A well trained team that is comfortable working together doesn’t need a lot to communicate as long as they’re on the same page. This is true all the way from regular, conventional Infantryman to SOF forces. Also, everyone yells in the middle of the shooting. This is also true for everyone from regular, conventional Infantryman to SOF forces.

    2) In my experience, completely anecdotal, SOF guys (especially Army and Navy) tend to fall into two categories: really cool people or complete and utter douchebags. This opinion has been confirmed with friends and acquaitances of mine, fwiw. The SEALs tend to have a higher number of dbags, according to a friend of mine who did several missions with them; again anecdotal.

  26. 26

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Well, I really should have gone to the trouble to paste a ț from Wikipedia and make it, Œçțøpüššý, but I was too lazy. Your good wishes inspired me, though, so there it is.

  27. 27
    Roger Moore says:

    @Zapruder F. Mashtots, D.D.S. (Mumphrey, et al.):
    I didn’t like Quantum of Solace very much, but that was because I thought the whole thing was way to jumpy. The plot jumped around way too fast, and the directing and editing was very jumpy in a way that made the action hard to follow.

  28. 28
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @cmorenc:

    Query how many other scenes in the movie were spiced up in the interests of theatrical drama falsely parading as verisililitude.

    Probably all of them. The relatively tiny handful of people who have actually served howl at Hollywood’s depiction of military operations. In fact, nearly every profession depicted by Hollywood howls at those depictions…lawyers, doctors. The only ones who seem to like it are organized criminals, because they’re glamorized.

    Real life is, by Hollywood standards, BORING. This includes the military. SEALs do not yell at each other, they sign or use other silent means of communication, or rely on drill to establish procedure whereby everyone knows what everyone else is doing. This is not dramatic, does not film well, does not draw an audience in.

  29. 29
    hitchhiker says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    whether or not you can sit through the movie depends on how you personally interpret the first sequence, which cuts from audio of 9/11 to an al-Qaeda guy being tortured. People who think the sequence is justifying torture because of 9/11 hate the rest of the movie; people who think the sequence is showing that we overreacted and tortured in revenge for 9/11 are generally okay with the rest of the movie since, again, the film shows that finding OBL was due far more to old-fashioned police work and normal interrogation/questioning than torture.

    That’s exactly what I thought when I was driving away from the theater.

    One thing I’ve been wondering about is whether there’s any other American film that shows ordinary, sympathetic Americans viciously beating up prisoners as if it were just part of a day’s work? Haven’t the people who beat up prisoners always been insane Nazis or whatever?

  30. 30
    gogol's wife says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Add professors. I would really like (if I had the skills) to make a montage of scenes of university classes as depicted in films and television. It could be a hilarious ice-breaker at any academic conference. My favorite is Woody Harrelson teaching architectural history in Indecent Proposal.

  31. 31
    jamick6000 says:

    is the HOLLYWOOD LIBRUL thing still a thing? Feels like something that resonated in 1993, but not today.

  32. 32
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    DougJ, I think it was an okay call on “Quantum …” but “Nick and Norah’s…” is worth a look. Haven’t seen ZDT.

    @cmorenc: Hollywood gets military stuff wrong all the time. Some it is forgivable like putting soldiers too close together as they move through the woods on patrol is done to get the characters in the frame. Other things, like getting small details of the uniforms correct (precedence of decorations and medals for example), that would be so easy to get right are screwed up and affect one’s suspension of disbelief. Don’t get me started on how Hollywood fucks up the world of law. I assume it is the same for every profession.

  33. 33
    Cassidy says:

    @gogol’s wife: If they had all been like Robin Williams, I might have finished college.

  34. 34
    Roger Moore says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Real life is, by Hollywood standards, BORING.

    This. It doesn’t help that Hollywood is trying to compress an immense amount of stuff into a very short time. In ZDT, for example, they’re trying to show the entire hunt for Osama, from 9/11 through his death, in about the same amount of time that the raid on his compound took in real life (though a lot of that time was picking the place over after the shooting stopped). You can’t compress things that much without a lot of distortion, so the only real choice is what form the distortion is going to take.

  35. 35
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cassidy:

    My only encounter with SEALs was when I was on a mission with them in Honduras, in peacetime…they were tasked with doing some demolition work on a tree-choked river, and I went along to provide them with COMSEC material. They seemed to be pretty cool guys…the leader was a Navy LT (same pay grade as me at the time) and wasn’t a dbag, but I only had contact with a handful of them. He had an interesting relationship with his team members, one that would cause most officers to blanch, but that’s the nature of SOF small units.

  36. 36
    Opie_jeanne says:

    @cmorenc: one of the things that jumped out at me was the claim that Pakistan had scrambled some F-16s and they only had 15 minutes to get out of there. From what I’ve read they took a couple of hours packing up stuff and Pakistan never scrambled anything.

    Bowden’s book “The Finish” is better than Zero Dark Thirty. Funny, there are reviews on Amazon griping that it gives Obama too much credit.

  37. 37
    different-church-lady says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    SEALs do not yell at each other, they sign or use other silent means of communication, or rely on drill to establish procedure whereby everyone knows what everyone else is doing. This is not dramatic, does not film well, does not draw an audience in.

    The sad thing is that this could be amazingly dramatic, if filmed in the proper way. It’s only a deficit of imagination (laziness by another term) that keeps film makers from exploring it.

    I didn’t see ZDT, but I did see Argo: a really good film, but at the end when the Iranian militants start behaving like stock characters it screwed up my suspension of disbelief — up to that point I had been lost in a suspenseful story, and then all of a sudden I was just in a theater watching just another cliched action pic. And really, the only thing that caused it was overacting. That’s on Affleck — he’s in charge of that decision, and he took the lazy way out.

  38. 38
    Jim C says:

    @Mnemosyne: I guess you’re right about That Word, but I think it’s the first time I’ve seen it rendered as too explicit to be spelled.

  39. 39
    Mnemosyne says:

    @hitchhiker:

    One thing I’ve been wondering about is whether there’s any other American film that shows ordinary, sympathetic Americans viciously beating up prisoners as if it were just part of a day’s work?

    Dirty Harry. In fact, there’s a whole sub-genre of vigilante movies, most of which came out in the 1970s.

    The change is that in movies like Zero Dark Thirty, they’re not vigilantes who are rejected by the system like Harry Callahan, they’re operating within the system with the system’s full support. That’s the difference.

  40. 40
    Cassidy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I’ve never worked with them. We had some who lived on our base, but they kept to themselves. They were SEALs and not DevGru like in ZDT. I was always truck by how young they looked. In contrast, most of the SF guys would talk with us and answer questions. Some treated us like annoying children, but others were very honest and patient answering questions I’m sure they routinely get.

    My aforementioned acquaitance was a Ranger Medic who supported SEALs on JSOC missions and he’s the only person I know who has worked with them on any regularity. From what I gather, he’s supported the DevGru guys and, when he’s willing tot alk about them, the terms murderer(s) and douchebag pop up a lot.

  41. 41
    Cassidy says:

    @Mnemosyne: People love them some Charlie Bronson.

  42. 42
    different-church-lady says:

    @hitchhiker:

    One thing I’ve been wondering about is whether there’s any other American film that shows ordinary, sympathetic Americans viciously beating up prisoners as if it were just part of a day’s work? Haven’t the people who beat up prisoners always been insane Nazis or whatever?

    I’m thinking that most of the strong reactions people have to the film is due to the fact that Bigelow created this ambiguity very deliberately, and people just aren’t equipped to process ambiguity in their film viewing.

    We’re the good guys. Did we torture? If we did, did we do it for a good reason? If it wasn’t for a good reason, does that mean we’re not the good guys anymore? The film raises these questions and then refuses to answer them. American filmgoers can’t handle unresolved questions (unless they’re fun stuff like unseen glowing things in suitcases) and thus feel compelled to fill in absolute answers of their own.

  43. 43
    Cassidy says:

    @different-church-lady: I just think she’s not a very consistent film maker.

  44. 44
    different-church-lady says:

    @Cassidy: I suppose I’d have to actually see the thing to tell if you’re right. But it might be interesting to chew on the idea of how valuable “consistency” is to a film. On one hand the question might be, “Are the ambiguities deliberate and artful, or merely the result of sloppy storytelling?” On the other hand it might be a criticism based on the idea that for a film to succeed it must convey unambiguous moral positions.

  45. 45
    Raven says:

    And Argo was 99% a Canadian op, so what, it’s a fucking movie. Fawning over these stupid Hobbit movies is great fun but this, not so much.

  46. 46
    slag says:

    I went to an event at which Tony Kushner (Lincoln screenwriter) had the audience falling over laughing at his cracks about Republicans. He was refreshingly fearless. He made the non-Hollywood liberals at the event look like a bunch of $#*&@! <–whatever that word is.

  47. 47
    MikeJ says:

    @jamick6000:

    is the HOLLYWOOD LIBRUL thing still a thing? Feels like something that resonated in 1993, but not today

    Go read alicublog. Roy trolls through the sewer of right wing blogs so you don’t have to. They’re obsessed with the idea that there exist cultural artifacts that were not created solely to move forward the great revolution of conservatism.

  48. 48
    Raven says:

    In Saving Private Ryan they didn’t keep their intervals. OH NO!

  49. 49
    Raven says:

    And in Good Morning Vietnam Robin Williams talks to a bunch of GI’s on a convoy and, as they drive away, says “I’ll never forget you guys”. Horrywoooooood!

  50. 50
    Punchy says:

    after reading Andrew Sullivan blockquote Eli Lake’s reply to Matt Ygelsias’s argument that Megan McArdle was wrong to criticize Manohla Dargis’s review

    Christ, name-drop much?

  51. 51
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Raven: @Raven: Who pissed in your cornflakes this morning?

  52. 52
    Tom Q says:

    @different-church-lady: I completely agree. I don’t know how people can watch the last shot of the film — Maya’s exhausted/totally non-triumphant expression — and not understand the film is saying we did what we wanted to do (eliminate bin Laden) but what it cost us is very debatable and still being worked through.

    For what it’s worth, I thought it was a terrific film — leagues above the pleasant-enough programmer Argo — for the very ambiguity that seems to upset so many folk. And this is coming from someone who didn’t like The Hurt Locker much at all.

  53. 53
    Roger Moore says:

    @hitchhiker:

    One thing I’ve been wondering about is whether there’s any other American film that shows ordinary, sympathetic Americans viciously beating up prisoners as if it were just part of a day’s work?

    It was TV rather than a movie, but 24 was notorious for its favorable portrayal of torture as necessary to capture terrorists, to the point that conservatives cited it as proof that torture was necessary and effective. And there are plenty of police movies in which the cops heroically beat a confession (or some other critical piece of information) out of a suspect. For example, the Akroyd/Hanks version of Dragnet has a scene in which it’s strongly implied that Hanks’s character is torturing information out of a suspect, and like the whole movie it’s played for laughs.

  54. 54
    Cassidy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Someone’s bracket was totally shot this weekend.

  55. 55
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore:

    “Joe, wouldn’t a danish go really good with that coffee?”

  56. 56
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Cassidy:

    Damn 12th seeds getting to the Sweet 16.

  57. 57
    Cassidy says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Did UGA even make it to the NIT? At least the Gators made it to the Sweet 16. Someone from the SEC ahs to represent…all the time it seems. :D

  58. 58
    minutemaid says:

    So let me get this straight. DougJ of the BJ Doug’s, didn’t see 0dark30 but feels he is qualified to post others opinion pieces about it….rrrright.

    I saw 0dark30 and I didn’t like how it portrayed some things but that is because this movie was obviously being told from the CIA’s perspective. They used feedback from people inside the CIA (apparently) directly involved in this.

    I certainly didn’t think anyone was bending over backwards to give Obama as little credit as possble. They just didn’t want it to take away from the story.

  59. 59
    patroclus says:

    The film tries to portray both points of view on torture – the first 30 minutes or so is torture porn, in which the torturees eventually give up the “false” name of the courier, but not his real identity. For those who believe that torture works, this is the “key” to ultimately learning who he really was. The next hour or so is focused on “Maya,” the composite character who did/led the subsequent investigatory work, which involved quite a bit more than mere torture (electronic surveillance, luck, bribery, real surveillance, conjecture, logic, arguing, options etc…) – for those who believe that torture does not work, this is the “key” to finding bin Laden. The last 30 minutes is the raid itself, with completely different characters and like a completely different movie.

    Overall, while getting OBL is a good emotional payoff, the movie itself is disjointed and there really isn’t much of a plot other than “Maya” thinking she’s right and ultimately being proven right. It provides virtually no context for anything and all the characters are one-dimensional and like cardboard cut-outs in a comic book (er, graphic novel). Weirdly, the viewer is left not caring about any of them or anything – having been assaulted by torture porn, unintelligible dialogue, so many new characters and locations that it is difficult to keep up, it ends up more like an endurance test than a movie. Then, after all of that, we finally get the real film (the raid itself), but it’s covered too quickly (yet strangely laboriously, dwelling on odd yet useless moments) that one really doesn’t learn much at all about what really happened beyond the news reports.

    Obama and his team (James Gondolfini was decent as Leon Panetta in a brief role) should be glad they were left out of it. It shouldn’t have won/earned any awards. The very best part of the entire movie was the ending, where “Maya” starts crying because she doesn’t know what to do now – I felt the very same way after second viewing (after first viewing, I was still trying to piece it all together).

    I wouldn’t say it’s terrible, it has some moments. But it covered an important subject matter terribly, and it really isn’t worth spending $10 on it. Catch it on cable for free if you’ve got 2 1/2 hours to kill and you can stomach torture porn.

  60. 60
    opie_jeanne says:

    @minutemaid: I highly recommend you read The Finish by Mark Bowden. It affected the way I viewed ZDK.

  61. 61
    Jebediah says:

    @soonergrunt (mobile):

    major cat member

    I’m OK not seeing that on screen.

  62. 62
    El Tiburon says:

    Ha ha ha DougJ. I see clearly what you did there.

    Let’s see, you waste front space real estate on yesterday’s news to link to some guys opinion of a movie you did not see?

    Yet, embedded in that link is your money quote. Sadly, either nobody read the link or didn’t catch it.

    So, fess up. Outsourcing your trolling is very unbecoming.

  63. 63
    hitchhiker says:

    Thx for all the references. We have vigilantes (dirty Harry and cowboys) and cops (usually portrayed as frustrated by the system that keeps them from doing justice) and the special case of the idiot in 24 (WORST writing in the history of drama) who would do anything at all to Keep America Safe.

    In ZDT it’s the CIA. Attractive young white people with families who go out for a beer afterwards. They seem to have the most in common with the cop dramas — the big difference being, maybe, that when cops are shown over-reacting to some smug bad guy by beating the crap out of him, we all know that there’s a system in place to make sure it doesn’t become a routine thing.

    When you’re watching the CIA do it with the implicit permission of the president, it’s disorienting, like watching the floor fall out of a moving elevator.

  64. 64

    Zero Dark Thirty also twisted itself into knots, bent over backwards to make sure President Obama received as little credit as possible in this movie.

    Well, that’s utter bullshit. I actually saw the movie so I think my opinion is at least a little bit more valid than that of those people who never saw it. And let me say that the movie twisted itself into knots & bent over backwards to make NO political statement whatsoever. Obama didn’t get credit but neither did Bush. Neither did Clinton or anyone else. And that’s pretty fucking funny considering how all the wingnuts were just convinced that the movie was basically an Obama campaign ad, such that the film had to be released after the election. Just fucking hilarious how everyone has a problem with this film, y’know?

    I’m really sick of the butthurt over this movie. It started with liberal criticism that the movie was “pro-torture.” No, actually, it was not pro-torture. Now I DO agree with liberal critics that the movie showed torture as being an effective way to get intel, and that flies against everything we on the left have been saying. So yes, the movie did really did do that, and Kathryn Bigelow’s denials that the film didn’t apologize for torture are BS. I concede that point 100%.

    But is the film “pro-torture”? Absolutely not. One of the biggest plot points of the film revolves around the BAD intel they got from torture. And isn’t that what we on the left have always said was the issue with torture? You get bad info? Furthermore, there’s a point where they had to stop using torture — presumably this is after Obama was elected — and everyone was told to find another way to get the information. Quit whining and just get the info another way. And they did. THAT is when they found out where Osama was located. So if anything the movie makes the case that torture isn’t just dangerous it’s not necessary.

    Anyway, it’s an excellent film that tells a very complicated, nuanced story. And I wish people would STFU until they’ve actually seen it.

    Now, if you want to talk movies and torture, let’s discuss Les Miserables. Jesus fucking Christ but that was probably the second worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life, right behind “Incredibly Loud And Horribly Awful,” or whatever that movie was called. Every minute in Les Miserables was the worst ordeal I’d ever experienced. I tell you what, I’d have given up government secrets in a heartbeat just to get out of watching that fucking movie.

    So there.

  65. 65
    Raven says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: The Illini

  66. 66
    Valdivia says:

    @patroclus:

    thank you for this detailed analysis. I think it’s what I have found most helpful in helping me decide when/if to watch it.

    For me, the fact that it had all the torture cheerleaders making them feel like they had won, was already problematic. That programmed ambiguity is not about thorny moral quandaries and subtlety it’s about making sure you don’t offend the paying public who loves them some torture, as the email to Josh at TPM put it.

  67. 67
    gene108 says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The TPM article is pretty interesting — basically, like the rest of the 1%, Hollywood executives were convinced that Obama was going to lose in November,

    I think it has more to do with the fact right-winger throw better temper tantrums than those on the Left, when their fee-fees get hurt.

  68. 68
    minutemaid says:

    @minutemaid: Thanks for the suggestion. I will do that.

    Perhaps DougJ of the BJ DougJ’s can also not read this book and then post someone elses opinion about it while nodding his head in agreement.

  69. 69
    patroclus says:

    @hitchhiker: Not entirely white – there was an obligatory African-American techno-whiz who was Maya’s only willing helper (as usual in Hollywood moview, she had to fight the whole system to personally get OBL). There was also the chief torturer, who could magically grow beards after shaving them off who loved monkees and a few Arabian-looking white guys.

    The reason why it was a not-so-good movie is because there was no suspense – Argo was better because it manufactured suspense (which didn’t exist in real life – the airport scenes were totally made up.) A better movie would have taken advantage of the real suspense in the OBL raid – they didn’t even know if he was really there, so the decision to go was the real suspenseful element, which they more or less ignored. Also, when the helicopter crashed, there was real suspense (especially in D.C.), but the movie only dealt with that be showing a worried Maya for about a second or two.

    Hopefully, a better movie will be made on the raid itself and the decision to go, without all the unnecessary torture stuff.

  70. 70
    Elie says:

    @jamick6000:

    The movie did NOT show that torture was the source of the information that correctly identified bin Laden’s courier and his location. It was other information and the movie was quite clear in depicting the scene where an analyst gave Maya (the lead character played by Chastain), the folder and apologized that it had been overlooked. The information obtained by torture was WRONG. Please stop saying that the movie upheld torture as a way of getting accurate information. Indeed, it did the opposite.

    As for Obama being overlooked, I think instead it pointed out how incredibly risky his decision was — that up till the end, there was still plenty of uncertainty, and that was very very clear — incomplete information for which the audience was told there was no way to be absolutely sure — but it went forward anyway. Clearly, (at least to me), it was Obama who took that risk..Was it subtle? Only to those who can’t think while they are watching a movie. It would have been ham handed and stupid to make a big deal of Obama’s character being on screen to convey his approval to go ahead. It was unnecessary to do that…

  71. 71
    Raven says:

    @Cassidy: My first allegiance is always to Illinois. This isn’t about brackets it’s about a team that lost a first round draft pick from a club that totally collapsed last year. They had an up and down year beating Indiana, Ohio State, Gonzaga and Butler but only going 8-10 in the B1G. The played Miami in a great game and had a very difficult call go against them and cost them a shot to win. The coach, team and most fans handled it with grace. I’m not upset at the loss. I’m exhausted by the game and the fact that I couldn’t sleep.

  72. 72
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Southern Beale:
    You are dead wrong about Les Misérables.

  73. 73
    The Reverend Lowdown says:

    @Omnes Omnibus, I have either heard or read somewhere that there is some movie rule or code where they never make a military uniform in the exact likeness of a real one. Not sure if it is true or not, but I have noticed, over the years, lots of errors(medals, placement of patches, etc.) and always attributed it to that. Directors can hire military consultants so I’ve always assumed that it is a deliberate thing

    As a lowly private in the army, I worked with a couple Special Forces units, as a weapons tech. They were not at all what I expected. They were very professional and cool as hell. The first group even introduced themselves to me by their first names. As an E-3, and relatively new to the army, it was awkward calling a Staff SGT “Dave”. Another SF guy, noticed that I was reading “Crime and Punishment” at lunch, sat around with me after the inspection and talked Dostoyevsky for an hour or so. So much for expecting them to be Rambo-esque

  74. 74
    Cassidy says:

    @Raven: I hear ya. The best thing about being a Gator during March Madness? If we’re there, cool, if not, no one notices.

  75. 75
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Southern Beale:

    And isn’t that what we on the left have always said was the issue with torture? You get bad info?

    No. The issue with torture is that it is wrong. The fact this it produces bad info means that it cannot even be justified by those who say, “Yeah, it’s wrong, but….”

  76. 76
    Yutsano says:

    @Cassidy: I have only one thing to say to you…

    QUACK!!

    (Yes I have to root for the Fighting Fashion Atrocities. At least this hasn’t affected the basketball unis much yet.)

  77. 77
    Cassidy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’ve always felt that in Conservatives, especially men, torture appeals to them the same way rape does in that it provides power and control over something/ someone you fear. I think it says a lot about them that they’ll justify rape and condone torture in the same sentence. The psychosis is strong.

  78. 78
    Mike in NC says:

    “24” was a favorite of the likes of Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh, so it was by definition 100% bullshit. At one point they had to send Kiefer Sutherland to West Point to tell the cadets there that it was pure Hollywood nonsense.

  79. 79
    Raven says:

    @The Reverend Lowdown: YOu mean like DeNiro in The Deer Hunter in his greens with his SF beret and a fucking Goatee. . .stateside no less. I don’t think there is any such code, I just watched the Last Detail and Jack had the correct ribbon placement and the other swab didn’t. Besides, none of the services but the Army have patches and shit that make any sense. Ever hear of a Pogey Bait Marine?

  80. 80
    medrawt says:

    I haven’t seen this movie, largely because I wasn’t crazy about The Hurt Locker. But one thing that might be interesting to consider with people’s interpretations of the movie (and I should say that the accounts I’ve read arguing that the movie is ultimately, though not explicitly, against the way we conducted ourselves seem to me more persuasive and detailed than the ones that argue it’s pro-torture) is that it was already well into pre-production when OBL was killed. The reason Bigelow got the special cooperation from the government vs. other proposed film projects that immediately sprang into existence vying to tell the story is that hers was already underway and had significant established Hollywood talent attached to it, so it was a good bet and it was going to beat anything else to theaters.

    But remember that the movie, about the search for bin Laden, was going to be made at a time when we hadn’t found him, and perhaps never would. What would that movie’s perspective have been on torture? What would motivate a person to make that movie in the first place? I assume you make that movie from a perspective of, at the least, deep concern and ambivalence about the whole project, its worth and its costs. And it would be strange to me if the DNA of that conception and moral perspective didn’t survive into the final product, however executed.

  81. 81
    Chris says:

    @Zapruder F. Mashtots, D.D.S. (Mumphrey, et al.):

    I’m with ya. I’m one of those few people who thought QOS was good, despite the bad camera work and sometimes disjointed script. Conversely, after seeing Skyfall and having the “finally, another James Bond movie!” effect from the first time wear off, I thought that one was a bit overrated. Casino Royale is the last time the audience and myself have actually agreed.

  82. 82
    Joel says:

    @Southern Beale: I liked the movie myself, Bigelow did a pretty good job painting the ambiguity around torture. The scenes are brutal and unsparing, yet I could see how a lot of my fellow countrymen might find them perversely pleasurable. Such are the times we live in.

    My biggest bone to pick with the movie was Jessica Chastain’s character. She’s basically Nick Caraway, a convenient proxy for the author/filmmaker/narrator. However, unlike that character, she gets a whole shitload of facetime. It doesn’t work for a character with essentially zero depth.

  83. 83
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Raven: Denzel Washington in Courage Under Fire wears his uniform correctly. He does place his Air Assault Badge above his Parachute Badge (something unusual, but fine under the regs).

  84. 84
    Cassidy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Well, Air Assault is a much cooler way to handle business.

  85. 85
    Tokyokie says:

    @patroclus: Well I’m glad it wasn’t just me. I probably missed a good third of the dialogue in the movie, and I wrote that off to my diminished hearing. But that, combined with my inability to distinguish the bearded white characters from one another (not to mention the character who’s bearded, then shaves, then regrows the beard), really distanced me from the material. I was ready for it to end long before it actually did.

  86. 86
    Chris says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Real life is, by Hollywood standards, BORING. This includes the military. SEALs do not yell at each other, they sign or use other silent means of communication, or rely on drill to establish procedure whereby everyone knows what everyone else is doing. This is not dramatic, does not film well, does not draw an audience in.

    I know it’s science fiction and not remotely in the same ballpark as Zero Dark Thirty, but as I recall the soldiers on Stargate, whenever there was an enemy close by, usually communicated with hand gestures, occasionally coupled with exasperated facial expressions from O’Neill when one of his troops didn’t understand a gesture or tried to argue with it. Never really thought it took away from the show. All ZDT would have to do is throw in suspenseful “oh jeez OH JEEZ WHAT COULD BE AROUND THE CORNER?” music. Doesn’t seem that hard.

  87. 87
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cassidy: Maybe. But in my experience, one very seldom saw the dope on a rope worn above the ice cream cone. They are the same class of badge, so it doesn’t matter from an AR-670-1 standpoint.

  88. 88
    Chris says:

    @hitchhiker:

    Haven’t the people who beat up prisoners always been insane Nazis or whatever?

    No. Generally, the way it works is that the guy in the interrogation room, which the movie has already established is a bad guy, is a smug bastard who taunts the good guys with stories of how he’s going to get away with it, or threats to their families, or disparaging comments about a team member who just died, until the Good Guy, righteously indignant, beats on him. Occasionally it’s also done in order to beat information out of the smug bastard, a la The Dark Knight. And the way the movie or TV show is crafted, you’re generally left sympathizing with the cop/spy/solider/vigilante administering the beating than the guilty bastard.

    The only thing is that it usually doesn’t go past the stage of the good guy throwing a few punches, and it doesn’t usually last more than a couple of minutes. “24” mainstreamed the near pornographic depiction of torture, and from what I hear of SDT, looks like the phenomenon is here to stay.

  89. 89
    Chris says:

    @hitchhiker:

    (usually portrayed as frustrated by the system that keeps them from doing justice)

    Yeah, this is key. The portrayal of lawyers, Internal Affairs, and civil authorities as pond scum tying up The Heroes with red tape by alleging that “people” have “rights” has become the mainstream view in cop shows and others of the same kind. Sometimes it even bleeds over into lawyer dramas, even otherwise liberal ones – I remember one of the main characters in “Boston Legal” telling a story about how Dad was a civil rights lawyer who went in for idealistic reasons but burned out with conscience attacks at the thought that he was putting criminals back on the street.

    ETA –

    the big difference being, maybe, that when cops are shown over-reacting to some smug bad guy by beating the crap out of him, we all know that there’s a system in place to make sure it doesn’t become a routine thing.

    But the overall vibe it gives you is that that “system” is not a good thing, it’s a bureaucracy that’s shortsighted at best and outright treasonous at worst and in either case, Objectively Pro-Criminal, to use the Orwell phrase.

  90. 90
    patroclus says:

    @Tokyokie: Indeed. I ordered it on DVD just three days ago and, luckily, got it for two days. On first viewing, I really didn’t get much of the dialogue – on second viewing, I turned it up really loud and took advantage of the reverse function a few times. In my view, one really MUST see it twice or else it’s gibberish laden upon folderol twisted inside drivel. The beard-growing torturer dude really threw me on first viewing – I didn’t realize it was the same guy until the second viewing (the bribery with the Lambourgini was almost laughable). And it really was three movies wrapped into one – the torture porn movie, the Maya movie and then the raid movie itself; one of them could have been really well done, but they instead decided to do three. And, it was originally going to be a Tora Bora movie too – they might have just as well made it 4 movies and included that too.

    Aren’t producers and editors supposed to focus and narrow director’s multi-layered visions? It didn’t happen here. Like I said, it’s not terrible, but it could have been vastly better.

  91. 91
    Tokyokie says:

    @patroclus: If I were to watch it again on home video, I’d turn the subtitles for the hard of hearing on.

  92. 92
    Chris says:

    @patroclus:

    (as usual in Hollywood moview, she had to fight the whole system to personally get OBL)

    Oh man, do I hate that trope. (Practically ruined The Hunt For Red October movie adaptation for me. Sean Connery made up for it, though).

  93. 93
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gogol’s wife: What was that movie, Larry Crowne? About the community college? How accurate was that (aside from the comic exaggeration of the teacher character)?

    The silliest thing in that movie was the manic pixie dream girl but at least she had a boyfriend who wasn’t the protagonist.

  94. 94
    Chris says:

    @Mike in NC:

    The one thing I’ll say in defense of that show is that it was anti-Iraq War at a time when that wasn’t very popular – Season 2, when an oil cartel helps a terrorist group attack America and tries to frame several Middle Eastern countries for it in the hopes of starting a war they could profit off of. The season aired from fall 2002 to spring 2003, and ended with the president berating his cabinet with the novel idea that you needed solid proof before starting a war. I give them their props for that.

    Future villains would include a Republican president that they said they partly modeled on Nixon, and a cabal of Blackwater like military contractors. Of course, this being “24,” even when the villains were archetypically right wing like that, the solution would always be giving Jack Bauer a free hand to kill, beat and torture his way to the top of the conspiracy.

  95. 95
    Mnemosyne says:

    @different-church-lady:

    I’m thinking that most of the strong reactions people have to the film is due to the fact that Bigelow created this ambiguity very deliberately, and people just aren’t equipped to process ambiguity in their film viewing.

    This, also, too. I once tried to explain to someone that you can’t take the view that Amadeus shows of Mozart to be the exact truth, because Salieri is an unreliable narrator. I was talking to a pretty smart person, but he had a really hard time with that concept. There’s something about movies that read as “true” in our lizard brains no matter how hard the filmmakers work to convey that what we’re seeing may be all in the character’s head.

  96. 96
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Southern Beale: Now, if you want to talk movies and torture, let’s discuss Les Miserables. Jesus fucking Christ but that was probably the second worst movie I’ve ever seen in my life, right behind “Incredibly Loud And Horribly Awful,” or whatever that movie was called. Every minute in Les Miserables was the worst ordeal I’d ever experienced. I tell you what, I’d have given up government secrets in a heartbeat just to get out of watching that fucking movie.

    I’m sure it was better than anything the Wayans Bros or Adam Sandler have put out lately.

  97. 97
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Mnemosyne: So you are saying we will never get a good movie version of The Instance of the Fingerpost?

  98. 98
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Southern Beale:

    I think I love you after that comment. (Although I agree with Holocene that anything put out by Adam Sandler is almost certain to be several orders of magnitude worse then le Miz…)

  99. 99
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Chris: I remember one of the main characters in “Boston Legal” telling a story about how Dad was a civil rights lawyer who went in for idealistic reasons but burned out with conscience attacks at the thought that he was putting criminals back on the street.

    Must have been the unsung hero of the Irish community, helping them move beyond “cop, crook, or priest”. *daubs eyes*

    Anyway, those capers, they were just a lark, you know. No harm done.

  100. 100
    Cassidy says:

    I think some people are giving Bigelow way too much credit.

  101. 101
    dmbeaster says:

    @patroclus:

    Overall, while getting OBL is a good emotional payoff, the movie itself is disjointed and there really isn’t much of a plot other than “Maya” thinking she’s right and ultimately being proven right. It provides virtually no context for anything and all the characters are one-dimensional and like cardboard cut-outs in a comic book (er, graphic novel).

    This.

    The torture is played ambivelently in the movie, which as pointed out above, allows anyone to project what they want onto the film. But it is pretty damnded annoying to see something so wrong depicted with indifference. It does not make the case that the torture was unreliable as some suggest.

    The story of how the pieces were put to gether to find bin Laden is interesting, but the movie does not tell that story well — too disjointed and confusing, with too many distractions. The raid itself is interesting – its a nice set piecce of a raid that is not that dramatic unless the whole idea is foreign (which it probably is to most movie viewers).

    The Maya composite was depicted as adolescent and immature, which was very annoying. Her friend killed by the bomber was a real person and a real incident, but the whole point of the scene was drama having nothing to do with bin Laden.

  102. 102
    celticdragonchick says:

    @The Reverend Lowdown:

    As a lowly private in the army, I worked with a couple Special Forces units, as a weapons tech. They were not at all what I expected. They were very professional and cool as hell. The first group even introduced themselves to me by their first names. As an E-3, and relatively new to the army, it was awkward calling a Staff SGT “Dave”. Another SF guy, noticed that I was reading “Crime and Punishment” at lunch, sat around with me after the inspection and talked Dostoyevsky for an hour or so. So much for expecting them to be Rambo-esque

    Yep.

    The guys I met in SF when I was in Korea were always the most laid-back people in the room. The aura of coolness around them was almost palpable. It was like they had simply proven whatever they needed to prove and didn’t give a fuck about needing to prove anything else.

    An instructor pilot in our Cav squadron had his Ranger tab and his Special Forces school tab…and of course, he was also a helicopter instructor pilot! A classic over-achiever. He had me come over to his room all the time to talk about model kits. No kidding. He loved to build 1/35 scale tanks and he would loan me his compressor so I could use my airbrush when I was painting something I worked on. He and the other warrant officers were always borrowing movies from me…and it was hell trying to keep track of my copy of Monty Python & The Holy Grail.

  103. 103
    The Reverend Lowdown says:

    @celticdragonchick: A Cav Squadron in Korea? Camp Humphreys, by chance?

  104. 104
    Robert says:

    Zero Dark Thirty’s deepest flaw is not some Pro-Obama narrative, or a pro-torture narrative, or even a rah rah go us narrative. The biggest flaw is that the film refuses to take a position. It is a dry but suspenseful film where a female protagonist based on a real person is rendered emotionless, thoughtless, and devoid of personality in an effort to focus the film on the facts of the Bin Laden manhunt.

    The audience needs some kind of lifeline from some important character to invest beyond an animosity toward Osama Bin Laden. There’s a clear villain and no one to root for except for a flat audience surrogate who is routinely described as far more interesting by everyone else than she is ever allowed to be onscreen. She is literally the voice of frustration when nothing happens and the face of victory when any small step towards the raid is made. Otherwise, there’s nothing going on.

    That’s the problem with the film. Forget the torture, Obama, or arguable propaganda angles. The film has no voice and no character beyond revenge. Django Unchained could not have picked a better release date since it positioned itself as perfect commentary on why almost 3 hours of revenge drama, hunting down a terrorist without any character development artistic voice, is a futile exercise.

  105. 105
    celticdragonchick says:

    @The Reverend Lowdown:

    I was at Camp Mobil (right across from Camp Casey). 5/17 air cav.

  106. 106
    David Koch says:

    I saw it.

    it was boring as fuck. I literally started to fall asleep at the 2 hour mark and had to actively will myself to stay awake for the next 30 minutes.

    The torture was ridiculous and filmed from a sadist/pornographic perspective. You get the vibe Bigelow really likes S/M in her personal life and wanted to project it on screen. Torture is abhorrent, but it can play a critical role in a greater narrative, as was done by David O. Russell in “Three Kings” and Ed Zwick in “The Siege” (even by David LEan in “Lawrence of Arabia”).

    Bigelow is also clearly a PUMA

    She put up these very flattering photos of Bush and Clinton, along side a goofy photo of Obama. What the fuck? Obama looks like a movie star — you have to scrape around to find a bad photo of him, but she did. Bush is just the opposite. He really did look like a chimp. Yet she used a glowing portrait.

    That and she included 2 different scenes bemoaning that Obama had stopped torture, and pushed the looney notion that Obomber (aka: Judge Dredd with Dr0nez) was reluctant to go after bin laden.

  107. 107
    joel hanes says:

    @Southern Beale:

    Haven’t seen the movie.

    Saw the stage performance: meh. I expect that the movie is much more of the same: enormous resources, elaborate sets, tremendous stagecraft, sturm und drang all in support of a nearly-incoherent narrative.

  108. 108
    Mike Lamb says:

    @Southern Beale: I agree with a lot of this. When I sat down, I really expected an “America! Fuck Yeah!” type of jingoism, and I really didn’t get that. I thought the movie tried hard to provide a time line of events as objectively as possible without tremendous amounts of political commentary one way or the other. I thought it was pretty good, but was a bit surprised that it received such critical acclaim.

  109. 109
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Mike Lamb:

    I thought it was pretty good, but was a bit surprised that it received such critical acclaim.

    Bigelow is now an honorary guy in the boys’ club that is Hollywood (ironically thanks to the sponsorship of her ex-husband), so she gets the same consideration and critical passes that the other members of the boys’ club get.

    I would say that Allison Anders is pissed off right now, but she’s probably too busy making her own movies to really give much of a shit about who’s in the boys’ club and who isn’t.

  110. 110
    Cygil says:

    @Robert: The biggest flaw is that the film refuses to take a position

    As Orwell once pointed out (in an admittedly controversial context) there are times when “refusing to take a position” is objectively pro-position. I don’t think much of a movie that “doesn’t take a position” on the whole slavery issue, or on fascism. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I don’t think much of a movie that “doesn’t take a position” on something as traditionally abhorrent to American values as torture.

  111. 111
    Robert says:

    @Cygil: I guess my point wasn’t clear. The film takes no narrative or artistic position. You might as well have read an AP wire account of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden for all the style or perspective included in the film. The monkeys in the cage were better developed than the leads. That’s a problem in a film like this that rests entirely on one character’s shoulders.

  112. 112
    Ben Franklin says:

    @different-church-lady:

    I’m thinking that most of the strong reactions people have to the film is due to the fact that Bigelow created this ambiguity very deliberately, and people just aren’t equipped to process ambiguity in their film viewing

    Her job is to make money, theatre receipts, dvd and merchandising. Film is the most powerful propaganda, but the foremost propaganda is the shekels to be obtained.

  113. 113
    YellowJournalism says:

    @gogol’s wife: To add to the fun, throw college scenes from Bollywood movies. Many of them play like bad episodes of Saved by the Bell. Apparently, at all universities, whether they are in India or the USA, the biggest concerns of even the best students are who’s most popular on campus and who’s going to prom. There’s also no studying involved and professors teach all subjects like its the first day of middle school.

  114. 114
    opie jeanne says:

    @Amir Khalid: Tastes vary.

    Some friend of a friend just watched The Princess Bride and complained that Mandy Patinkin was the only one who bothered to do any acting. I’m still astonished by that comment.

    I haven’t seen Les Mis yet, but it looked interesting.

  115. 115
    opie jeanne says:

    @Joel: Did you laugh at the ending, where she’s on a C-something, the only one on the plane, and the pilot asks her where she wants to go?

    I realize what was trying to be conveyed, but it was silly.

    (Where do you want to go? Paris, but you might have given me a heads-up so I could pack appropriately. )

    Stupid, because you know she’s going back to DC.

  116. 116
    opie jeanne says:

    @Tokyokie: We picked up the DVD last week, watched it last night. 5 minutes in I turned on the subtitles.

  117. 117
    different-church-lady says:

    @Ben Franklin: And ambiguity is the thing that helps her do that?

    I’m beginning to believe you don’t put an ounce of actual thought into any of your comments.

  118. 118
    different-church-lady says:

    @Robert: This is the thing I’m finding mystifying: apparently half the world thinks it takes a pro-torture position, the other half thinks it takes an anti-torture position, and the sawdust (no personal insult, just a way of describing the small number of people who aren’t part of the sawed halves) thinks it doesn’t take a position at all. I’m at a loss to understand how all of this can be true at the same time.

  119. 119
    Bryant says:

    People read in what they want to read in. I’ll offer the following notes, though:

    The opening scenes of the movie are all about torture… and there’s a constant drumbeat of bombings following. I read that as Bigelow bringing the failure of US policies front and center. Yeah, we tortured people; no, it didn’t prevent terrorism. At all. Most directly, Dan (the torturer) is trying to get information out of Ammar (the detainee) to prevent the next bombing. And that bombing happens before the non-torture scene where they coax a name out of Ammar. Dan’s tactics didn’t work.

    Second, much later, Maya’s presenting her case for going into the compound. Dan’s there. And he’s the least supportive voice. The guy who performed the torture is the guy who’s the biggest asshole to the protagonist. Not an accident.

    It’s a better, tighter, more effective movie because Bigelow didn’t overplay the moral issues. I don’t think she needed to, any more than we needed anyone to tell us the Abu Ghraib pictures showed something bad happening.

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