ZERO DARK THIRTY

Jessica Chastain in ZERO DARK THIRTY
Jessica Chastain in ZERO DARK THIRTY

There’s truly something to be said about women in the film industry. Granted, they don’t have it as hard as they did, say, 50 years ago, but it’s a struggle. Women filmmakers have had a tough go of it in this male dominated line of work. Kathryn Bigelow, Academy Award winning director of THE HURT LOCKER, came out with another film about trouble in the middle east last year. I don’t know if it is just because her films cover material that is risky to get involved with, but she’s made waves throughout Hollywood in a good way. She’s taking chances and risking her reputation with these projects and she’s winning all the way.

I start to wonder… if Quentin Tarantino were a woman, would PULP FICTION exist? Would Stephanie Spielberg be as successful as Steven has been? Being a woman, I’m not a huge feminist. I think that we get to vote, we can eat at the same restaurants as men, we can rock a suit better than most men, and we keep the human race going. I’m pretty happy with all of that. Being an aspiring screenwriter, I’m not so confident. Will I have to put a man’s name on the screenplay? Probably not. But let’s look at the nominees for best director. Michael, Benh, Ang, Steven, and David. Let’s forget for the moment that Ben Affleck isn’t one of those names. My rage gets the best of me when I think about how he did the best work of his life with ARGO and didn’t get nominated. But Kathryn – Ms. Bigelow if you’re nasty – also got the snub. Incredible. How does a movie get 5 nominations and miss out on Best Directing? Sorry Kathryn, you can procreate, but no more Oscars for you. 

Oops, my inner feminist came out.

But let’s talk about the movie itself. ZERO DARK THIRTY is a nail-biting, edge of your seat, I know what happens but I’m still stressing kind of movie. Starting with September 11th and moving through several news-making terrorist attacks, ZDT follows a woman’s quest to kill Osama bin Laden. Maya (Jessica Chastain) is trying to stop al-Qaeda leader bin Laden as terrorist attacks happen literally all around her. Working for the CIA, Maya teams up with Dan (Jason Clarke) to find bin Laden and end his string of attacks.

I don’t want to chastise Chastain (I know, I’m an asshole) but I felt her “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar” thing throughout the movie was a bit much. This isn’t really fair to her, because not only did I love her in the movie, but she didn’t have very much to do. It was a lot of waiting around and close-up shots of her face when she got bad news. The parts in which she did actual acting were good, but maybe overshadowed by the fact that she had to fit a feature film worth of acting into like 30 minutes of real acting screen time.

Alfred Hitchcock said that if you can’t tell your story in under 2.5 hours, you’re not doing it right. ZDT exceeds that by 7 measly minutes, but does so gracefully. It doesn’t feel like it’s two hours and thirty-seven minutes long, and it tells the story of one of the most profound moments of the last decade. I’m sure telling that story wasn’t easy, and it’s not like she made it into three movies – PeterJackson. This movie is another achievement for Bigelow and while she won’t take home an Oscar, her work is still extraordinary. Even for a girl.

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