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Thread: Zero Dark Thirty

  1. #1
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Default Zero Dark Thirty

    Trailer for Kathryn Bigelow's hunt-for-OBL / Neptune Spear film:

    http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/s...erodarkthirty/

    In theaters next month.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  2. #2
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Default A Review

    ZD30 is nothing short of the cinematic equivalent of what I imagine a methamphetamine rush is like; I spent 157 minutes twisting & shredding napkins, grinding my teeth, and shaking my leg. Kathyrn Bigelow and Mark Boal have created a masterpiece – easily one of the best films I have ever seen.

    Is ZD30 a completely accurate representation of what really happened in the hunt from Osama bin Laden? Of course not, nor should it.

    Like with any intelligence or counterterrorism operation in history you are going to have sources and methods that will need to be guarded with layer-upon-layer of lies, misdirection, and total bull#### for decades to come.
    I don’t think this is paranoia, I think this is the nature of the beast.

    In fact, if I were running things at CIA I would co-opt the movie writers into knowingly or unknowingly aiding in laying down this bodyguard of BS, and stirring-up controversy on both sides of the political aisle to misdirect the public discourse.

    Now that would be masterpiece theatre to rival Zero Dark Thirty!
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Two other reviews

    The film is yet to reach here and I've only seen a Tweet lauding Mark Bowden's review and denial that torture is approved by the film. Here is a taster:
    Zero Dark Thirty, by director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, is an extraordinarily impressive dramatization of the 10-year-long hunt for Osama bin Laden, one that I wrote about in far more detail in my book The Finish. Warmly praised by many film critics (The Atlantic's Chris Orr named it the best film of 2012) and so far a box office hit (it goes into wide release on January 11), it is sure to be in the running for major recognition during the coming awards season. But it has also been attacked by some viewers as a false version of the story that effectively advocates for the use of torture. Those viewers argue that the film, while brilliant, shows torture to have played an important role in finding bin Laden, which they say is not true. It is reminiscent of the late movie critic Pauline Kael's memorable putdown of director Sam Peckinpah as a virtuoso of "fascist" art.
    Link:http://www.theatlantic.com/entertain...orture/266759/

    The Atlantic's main film review ends with:
    With Zero Dark Thirty, Bigelow and Boal have produced a powerful, morally complicated work on an urgent subject. It is a film that deserves—that almost demands—to be seen and argued over.
    Link:http://www.theatlantic.com/entertain...e-year/266446/
    davidbfpo

  4. #4
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    David,

    I agree with Bowden that is hard to consider the movie as pro-torture. The film makes no explicit point about torture either way - which I think is critics biggest issue with the film.

    The opening scene is intense: dog collars, waterboarding, sexual humiliation, some gimp box thing - it's like John Yoo's wetdream. But the story shows that the torture does not yield information to stop an attack - in this case the 2004 Khobar massacre.

    The story also shows how smarter interrogation tactics prove more successful, and how the detainee program ultimately becomes radioactive.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default

    I would rather have seen the shelved movie about Tora Bora. The subject matter of ZDT obviously has more mass appeal, though, so I can see why it ended up being made instead.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  6. #6
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default ‘Disturbing’ & ‘Misleading’

    A review by Steve Coll:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/arch...gination=false

    Yes his focus is on torture:
    Zero Dark Thirty was constructed to bring viewers to the edges of their seats, and judging by its critical reception, for many viewers it has succeeded in that respect. Its faults as journalism matter because they may well affect the unresolved public debate about torture, to which the film makes a distorted contribution......public support for torture has risen significantly during the last several years, a change that the Stanford University intelligence scholar Amy Zegart has attributed in part to the influence of “spy-themed entertainment.”
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default

    I saw the film Saturday night and was underwhelmed. Like Coll, I had trouble looking past how the narrative was constructed. The relationship of the characters and the events is just so Hollywood-ish. For instance, the Camp Chapman bombing is chalked up to Jennifer Ehle's character's girlish giddiness to make a scoop that she hopes will get the President's ear. It is typical for the film, in which most of the successes and failures are individual rather than institutional.

    The movie wasn't all bad. Edgar Ramirez is great is always, and there are a few good one-liners peppered throughout the script. ("What do you think about Pakistan so far?" "I think it's pretty f*cked up.")
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Default The Zero Dark Thirty File

    http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB410/

    A wealth of information from the National Archives Zero Dark Thirty File.

    Zero Dark Thirty 's screenwriter, Mark Boal, has claimed that the film is "a movie not a documentary" and should not be treated as history. But the U.S. government's widely reported support and its official silence about the raid have made Zero Dark Thirty (the military designation for 12:30 AM) more than a mere thriller. Today, in an effort to balance the record, to the extent currently possible, the National Security Archive has collected, posted, and analyzed in one Electronic Briefing Book all of the available official documents on the mission to kill the notorious al-Qaeda leader. The documents include:
    • The earliest known official document mentioning Osama bin Laden, a 1996 CIA biographical sketch and his FBI "Most Wanted Fugitive" poster which spelled his name "Usama," but included his now ubiquitous mug shot.
    • A leaked memo from Guantanamo Bay, describing the "Autonomy of a lead" and how the CIA determined that Abu al-Kuwaiti, once Khalid Sheikh Mohammad's courier in Kandahar, may have escaped Tora Bora with bin Laden, and continued to deliver his messages.
    • The National Geospatial Agency's satellite images of the Abbottabad compound pre- and post-construction and the DOD's official conceptual illustration of its floor plan.
    And more

  9. #9
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Fasten your literary seat belt

    A long review, with praise and some acute barbs - from Rolling Stone magazine:http://www.rollingstone.com/politics...erica-20130116

    On the director's adjustment:
    There's no way to watch Zero Dark Thirty without seeing it as a movie about how torture helped us catch Osama bin Laden. That's why I was blown away when I read this morning that Bigelow is now going with a line that "depiction is not endorsement," that simply showing torture does not amount to publicly approving of it.
    On the wider context, which we've seen before:
    Zero Dark Thirty is like a gorgeously-rendered monument to the fatal political miscalculation we made during the Bush years. It's a clich but it's true: Bin Laden wanted us to make this mistake.
    The review cites another article, to make three points about the failure of torture to help - worth reading just for that. The other article, long is:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alex-g...b_2345589.html
    davidbfpo

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    Default Must watch!

    The torture scenes were totally disturbing, it makes me queasy even thinking about it!

    Like Bourbon said, there isn't a pro/anti stance regarding torture. It does show that the detainee program was successful at least in gaining intel that led to UBL. It makes me wonder how much intel is being lost due to the whole drone versus capture/interrogate strategy?

    Looks like the timeline and characters are mashed up a little bit. The COS of Khowst having having lunch at the Marriott in 2008 when the bomb went off?

    Some linguistic inconsistencies were there, such as Pakistanis screaming “yalla yalla” in Arabic after the attempted assasination in Ibad.

    The movie does a good job in portraying the uncertainties and risks surrounding the raid.

    Ill probably watch it again at some point.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Default

    I won't see Zero Dark Thirty. From the things I've read here and the linked reviews, it seems as if it just an another installment in the ongoing attempt by some segments of Hollywood to convince the Americans that torture is ok.

    This saddens me to no end because when I was a boy, the Hollywood movies I watched argued that a reason the totalitarian states were bad was because they tortured. They were right then. They aren't now. I breaks my heart that an important segment of the American cultural elite has surrendered its soul.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by parvati View Post
    there isn't a pro/anti stance regarding torture. It does show that the detainee program was successful at least in gaining intel that led to UBL.
    Yeah, but is there any reason to think that non-enhanced interrogation would have been any less effective therein?
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Default Non-enhanced more likely to be effective...

    I meant detainee program as a catch all phrase, and was thinking specifically about non-enhanced when I wrote about the successes leading to UBL. You can see the failure of enhanced depicted in the movie and needless to say in the real world.

    And yes, Mr. Ramirez was amazing! He even blended well on the streets of Pakistan, didn't he?

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    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by parvati View Post
    And yes, Mr. Ramirez was amazing! He even blended well on the streets of Pakistan, didn't he?
    Every now and again being ethnically ambiguous actually works to one’s advantage!

    My favorite scene in the movie was when the protagonist walks into the room with the two guys who are poured out on the couch too tired to sleep right after she has read Ramirez’s character the riot act about needing to get his team’s asses into gear.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

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    Haven't seen the film, but I found the paper on Kings of War interesting. On its face, it looks like a reasonable & sound film analysis. Be warned however that it may "spoil" the plot if you plan to see the movie:

    http://kingsofwar.org.uk/2013/01/the...ro-dark-thirty

  16. #16
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default As a movie, I enjoyed it. As history, it’s bunk.

    A NYT article by Ali Soufan:
    The film opens with the words “Based on Firsthand Accounts of Actual Events.” But the filmmakers immediately pass fiction off as history, when a character named Ammar is tortured and afterward, it’s implied, gives up information that leads to Osama bin Laden.

    Ammar is a composite character who bears a strong resemblance to a real-life terrorist, Ammar al-Baluchi. In both the film and real life he was a relative of Bin Laden’s lieutenant, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. But the C.I.A. has repeatedly said that only three detainees were ever waterboarded. The real Mr. Baluchi was not among them, and he didn’t give up information that led to Bin Laden.

    In fact, torture led us away from Bin Laden. After Mr. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times, he actually played down the importance of the courier who ultimately led us to Bin Laden.
    Link:http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/op...hollywood.html
    davidbfpo

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    Just arrived in NYC after living in the ME for the past couple of years, and got a very negative perspective from most of my friends here(yes, very lefty people).
    I support our troops!

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