sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty - Movie Review

I attended an advanced screening of Zero Dark Thirty and am offering my review based upon that feature film viewing and upon other accounts that are set forth below.

If you expect the movie to portray a genuine attempt to tell a real story, you will be disappointed because it doesn't even pretend to do that -- but as with most Hollywood efforts (ARGO comes to mind), there is a mixture of fact mingled with drama that meets the memes of the director and screenwriter who have a personal agenda. Every film and every book reflects the creator's own perspectives and it's not bad so long as you understand that IT IS NOT A DOCUMENTARY.

Warning - Contains Spoilers

Maya (Jessica Chastain)
In 2003, Maya (Jessica Chastain) is a young CIA analyst who has spent brief career focusing solely on intelligence related to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. She is reassigned from the Counterterrorism Center (CTC) to the US Embassy, Islamabad, to work with Dan (Jason Clarke), a case officer who is transiting between Pakistan and a "Black Site" where he interrogates Ammar (Reda Kateb), a terrorist. Ammar leads them to Abu Faraj, who the Pakistani police apprehend with CIA assistance. Maya interrogates Abu Faraj (Yoav Levi). 
COMMENTARY: This isn't the way that things happened historically and it's a departure from reality in a number of areas, but it's just a movie -- remember that.
Maya's adventures take a number of turns as she tracks Abu Ahmed, surviving when others around her are killed by terrorist attacks. Eventually she learns that Abu Ahmed is actually Habib Sayeed. Maya contacts Dan, now a headquarters gnome, and he helps her locate Abu Ahmed in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

You know the rest of the story, US Navy SEALs hit the compound and kill Osama bin Laden (and a few of his friends). There is some drama over whether or not bin Laden is there but it's very contrived and doesn't hold water if you want to know how things really work. But it's Hollywood and to enjoy the movie you need to suspend disbelief.
"The CIA is a lot different than Hollywood portrays it to be," reads an official explainer issued today by the Central Intelligence Agency - a thinly veiled attempt to continue debunking Zero Dark Thirty, the controversial Oscar favorite that its director admittedly hates. Referring to James Bond, the fictional MI6 agent, depictions of "shootouts and high speed chases," and scenes of "CIA officers chasing terrorists through the American heartland," the memo goes on to try and dispel an array of "myths" pertaining to the agency's operations, from its impact on foreign policy to its ability to spy on Americans.  
The effort follows a December 21 letter addressed to CIA employees from the agency's acting director, Michael Morrell, concerning the "artistic license" of Zero Dark Thirty. Today's release touches on the same themes: whether the CIA of our popular imagination corresponds to the CIA of reality, and how movies like Zero Dark Thirty (which isn't name-checked directly) blur the distinction between fact and fantasy. Should you believe the CIA's interpretation of Hollywood? (AtlanticWire)
The Washington Post carried an article by Jose Rodriguez, in part below:
Indeed, as I watched the story unfold on the screen, I found myself alternating between repulsion and delight. 
First, my reasons for repulsion. “Zero Dark Thirty,” which will open for Washington audiences Friday, inaccurately links torture with intelligence success and mischaracterizes how America’s enemies have been treated in the fight against terrorism. Many others object to the film, however, because they think that the depiction of torture by the CIA is accurate but that the movie is wrong to imply that our interrogation techniques worked. 
They are wrong on both counts. I was intimately involved in setting up and administering the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program, and I left the agency in 2007 secure in the knowledge not only that our program worked — but that it was not torture. 
One of the advantages of inhabiting the world of Hollywood is that you can have things both ways. In the publicity campaign for the movie, the director and the screenwriter have stressed that “Zero Dark Thirty” was carefully researched and is fact-based. When discussing the so-called torture scenes, director Kathryn Bigelow has said: “I wish it was not part of our history, but it was.” Yet when pressed about inaccuracies, screenwriter Mark Boal has been quick to remind everyone: “This is not a documentary.” 
What I haven’t heard anyone acknowledge is that the interrogation scenes torture the truth. Despite popular fiction — and the fiction that often masquerades as unbiased reporting — the enhanced interrogation program was carefully monitored and conducted. It bore little resemblance to what is shown on the screen.

Scamming at Sea

WHALE WARS is ENTERTAINMENT for the Green Agenda, 

Capt. Paul Watson
(TMZ) Paul Watson, the star of the reality show "Whale Wars" LIED about the fate of the show's most famous ship ... falsely telling the media it sank due to a crash with Japanese whalers, when in fact he secretly SABOTAGED the boat himself for publicity ... this according to a new lawsuit. 
Ady Gil, owner of the ship, Ady Gil, (see video above) sued Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Gil claims in his suit that he let Watson's organization use his boat, so long as they took care of it. Following the incident recorded by a Japanese whaling vessel (above), Gil says that Watson sabotaged his ship in order to generate more publicity (and to spur contributions to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society - and his own pocket book). As a result of the sabotage, the Ady Gil sank even though it was reparable.
(Fox News) Gil claims Watson’s motive was to spur outrage over the ship’s sinking and urge people to donate to his anti-whaling organization. Gil alleges he only allowed Watson to use his ship for “Whale Wars” under the condition that Watson keeps it in the best condition possible. Now, Gil is suing for $5 million saying the destruction of the boat violated their agreement. 
Watson recently resigned from his post as the head of the Sea Shepherd society.
Discovery announced on Saturday that "Whale Wars" would be renewed for a sixth season, according to Deadline.

For the record, I am personally opposed to whaling to harvest "sushi" for Japanese consumption. Whales and aquatic mammals do 'think' and whether or not they are fully sentient, I feel as if their slaughter is 'wrong' at just about every possible level.

However, the Sea Hippies/Sea Shepherds' conduct is usually so outrageous that I cheer for the Japanese whale killers every time I happen to drift across their program on the Discovery Channel when I'm surfing the airwaves. From what I saw in the video above, the Sea Shepherds stopped their tiny boat in front of a large Japanese ship underway in international waters in a situation where the Japanese vessel couldn't stop or turn fast enough so as to make it appear to be an intentional ramming.

Paul Watson and his coterie of "soft touch donors" such as television personality Bob Barker, and the late crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin, have collected an interesting group of volunteer 'sea hippies' to support his cause - and to enrich his personal fortune.

Who is Paul Watson?
(The New Yorker Magazine) When Watson is separated from land, he tends to behave like Captain Nemo, which is to say that he does what he thinks is right, even if it involves a violation of custom or the destruction of property. There are a number of rules belonging to civilization that outrage his sense of morality, among them the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which asserts that sovereign states alone are the ocean’s enforcers. If such rules interfere with his agenda, then, as far as he is concerned, rules be damned.
Japanese Whaling/Research Ship
A diplomat might say that the Japanese whaling fleet is technically complying with the rules of the I.W.C., and that to stop it one must first upset the status quo that permits the fleet to hunt whales. Watson, who cannot be bothered with the legal nuances of international regulations, insists that the Japanese fleet is breaking the law, and that, because the I.W.C. refuses to act, he and his crew must. He calls his fleet Neptune’s Navy, and he regards it as a law-enforcement agency. Moments before ramming a vessel, Watson will radio its captain and say something that sounds very official, such as “Please remove yourselves from these waters. You are in violation of international conservation regulations.” At times, he loses his cool. “We’re no protest ship,” he once told an intransigent captain. “Now, get out of here.” His sense of urgency, his impressive ego, his argumentativeness, his love of theatrics, his tendency to bend the truth, his willingness to risk lives or injury for his beliefs (or for publicity), and his courage (or recklessness) have earned him both loathing and veneration from those who are familiar with his activism.
And that reckless disregard for the law brought Captain Paul Watson to a decision to sabotage one of the ships in his fleet and sink it -- while blaming the Japanese. The strange followers of Watson stand on the high ground of their own personal morality which they feel trumps the rule of law. It reminds me more of Reverend Jim Jones and the People's Temple than it does any legitimate effort. One can only wonder if Watson's next move will be to offer his crew Kool Aid in lieu of grog so that he can blame their deaths on the Japanese fisheries vessels.

Paul Watson has a lot in common with former Vice President Al Gore, 'creator of the Internet' and the neo-champion of the green agenda, who just sold out his followers for a large check from Al Jazeera.