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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

ZERO DARK THIRTY (2012)

It took only a few months for the shocks & controversies in Kathryn Bigelow's GET OSAMA pic to melt away. 'Picture of the Year' when it opened; blanked by Oscar® time, other than a lonely award for Sound Editing. Whatever happened? It now plays like an unusually lux cable movie, and with cable-ready acting by all concerned to go with it. Jessica Chastain is a special disappointment as the dogged C.I.A investigator and her adversarial pal, Jennifer Ehle, even worse. But then, it’s hard to think of any memorable female perfs in a Bigelow pic. The men are reasonably better, but it’s all impulsive action film stuff, hitting its nadir in a near parody of a Half-Time locker-room tough-talk rally by a frustrated C.I.A. boss to his staff. Fortunately, the last act comes briskly to life when James Gandolfini makes a surprise appearance as the new C.I.A. Director and pulls everyone up to his level. (It’s remarkable to watch the other actors rise to the challenge.) Then when the Navy SEAL operation finally commences, it seems to come out of a different/better film. Filmed largely in semi-darkness and with night-vision equipment, it plays like a Black Light fever dream. (SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Imagine Carl Dreyer’s VAMPYR/’32 as an action film.) So dark, you’re not always sure what’s going on. Which feels just right . . . at last.

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