Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty Or 50 Shades Of Awesome

I simply appreciate when a moviemaker does not push his or her political agenda down my throat ~

Jessica Chastain being awesome

When I think of movies I think of unforgettable masterpieces I later relate to whatever was happening to me when I first watched it and what kind of “message” (for lack of a better term) I took from it, whether or not the director, writer, producer etc. made the decision consciously or not to embed the movie with any philosophical seeds or moral lessons per se. However, I usually find myself trying not too read too much into anything, after all, it's just a movie. I especially contain myself from preaching the message I took from the movie since the experience of understanding a film should belong to the viewer. Always.

I heard that some moviegoers and critics had decided to see a lot of pro-torture propaganda in the latest Kathryn Bigelow flick. Some even said this movie would not be a major Academy contender because of the somewhat “negative” message, which prompted the question: are these people insane!?

I instantly felt I needed to see this one, as fast as I possibly could, to try to understand why in the world anybody in their right minds would make any kind of movie supporting torture in this day and age.

Boy, were these folks wrong!

What I realized by watching this film is that these critics were not only “reading too much into it”; they were experiencing a crisis of perception. Really. When a movie maker states in the very beginning of the film that the following story is based on nothing but first-hand accounts of facts, all you really have to do – as a viewer – is to take the filmmaker’s word and go with it. Clear up your mind, bro - you may learn a thing or two about the perks of not being so uptight about every freaking thing you consume.

With that being said, let’s talk about the movie:

This is a no-brainer, for me at least. Zero Dark Thirty is a great example of what simple story telling, straight-to-the-point execution and poignant performances can do to an audience. Yes, you guessed it, films like that make people think. In spite of the lack of any character development, this movie accomplished what Argo also did in 2012: it was politically neutral.

In a time when Hollywood has shown its teeth by ferociously sticking with the Obama supporting majority, one would have guessed that most movies being pushed into production would end up being one-dimensional, politically speaking, but that hasn’t been the case with Zero Dark Thirty and Argo.

Although I must say I’m impressed, I’m not exactly convinced people understand the importance of this film’s neutrality. When Bigelow and Mark Boel decided to recount the “greatest manhunt in history” without picking sides, they did us all a favor by exposing the process in which the so-called independent intelligence agency arm of the United States government operated and how it continued to operate in spite of any “change” D.C. saw throughout the period the movie portrays.

They chose to let us understand that, promises are only words when uttered by politicians and that we are better off not letting our emotional chunk take over when we are looking at facts and not some cheesy soap that has been running now for way too long.

When an artist, be him or her a musician, a painter, a photographer or a filmmaker, decides to simply recreate the facts of the period in which they live without picking sides, they are making a strong and significant statement, they are allowing the viewer the pleasure and full responsibility of understanding their art (and history) their own way and not letting politics (machinations, maneuvering, opportunism, which are all definitions of politics) set the tone.

Don’t get me wrong: I like discussing politics. Current political affairs are a constant in my social exchanges but I do appreciate when a moviemaker does not push his or her political agenda down my throat. I like to think for myself and trust those who feel the same way.

Now, when it comes to what I personally took from this movie, I must say I learned a thing or two about not overestimating obstacles, enemies etc. Yes, I did learn by watching Zero Dark Thirty that, the solution to the problem was simple and it was obvious but those in power decided to, wait for it… read too much into it (!) and ended up making the manhunt a much more complicated puzzle than it truly was.

SPOILER ALERT: At some point of the movie, the big guy wants “tangible proof, like a picture or something” of the big ol’bearded terrorist in order to act. Having detailed info concerning an unknown male with a wife and kids in constant contact with bin Laden’s main message carrier hiding in a fortress without ever using a phone wasn’t enough! END OF SPOILER.

Well, I guess humans will always want to complicate matters, especially when it comes to seeing more subliminal messages in movies about governmental agencies than they should. ~