[Marxism] We Already Know “Zero Dark Thirty’s” Evil, But Is It Any Good?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Feb 12 16:22:37 MST 2013

Counterpunch February 12, 2013

Call Out the Vigilantes! Terrorism, Inc. Just Blew Up the Twin Towers!
We Already Know “Zero Dark Thirty’s” Evil, But Is It Any Good?

Okay movie fans, you’ve all heard about Zero Dark Thirty’s blasé 
attitude toward torture, blah, blah, blah, but what the hell?  Enough 
already, with the depressing shit—let’s talk about what you GET when you 
buy your ticket and a box of popcorn.

Well, first of all, you get Osama.  The Bin Man!  20,000 watts of the 
old Bin Laden Star Power.  This guy doesn’t even have to show up, and 
you already got the premise for a pretty crazy Man Hunt.  Forget The 
Joker, forget Doctor Octopus, forget the wacko in Skyfall!!!  Osama’s 
the Mama of All Super Villains.

Watching the Bin-ster read the Kor’an gave you chills, right?  Fuckin’ 
A.  The dude could read the Manhattan White Pages and make you shit your 
pants.  Somebody tell Freddy Kruger to put his finger-slashers in his 
pockets and slink outta here—America’s “Mister Nightmare on Canal 
Street” just became the Star of his own picture.  So let “The Greatest 
Manhunt in History” begin!  How’re you going to tell the final chapter 
of Osama story?

Well, right off the bat, you buy a few selected 9/11 emergency calls to 
the Nine-One-One operators—calls made by the poor victims in those 
towering infernos.  You open your picture by playing those calls—over 
what?  You play them over a fucking BLACK screen!

The screen is black so that you can HEAR them better! And when you hear 
them, it takes you back.  Back, back, maybe eleven years, to THAT DAY. 
Your guts start wriggling around in your stomach and your blood starts 
pumping in your neck and your head.  People are screaming for their 
lives, burning up.  This is REAL reality show stuff.

Then, the phones go dead.  The 911 operator says, “Is anybody there?” 
No answer!  Silence. The Horror of that day!  How will we EVER get over 
it?  Talk about PTSD.  Okay, fuck it!  We’re gonna get the Monster that 
did this, and we’re gonna blow his Muslim ass all the way to the Muslim 
Kingdom Come!

That is, if we can FIND the fucker.  He is so fucking evil and so 
fucking cunning, we’re gonna have to pull some serious strings to figure 
out where his hidey-hole is.  So, okay, black screen is over.  Next, we 
see an Arab-looking dude strung up with some serious looking ropes tied 
around his wrist bones, and blood and lumps on his face. Good!  Let him 
suffer!  Motherfucking Arab, probably knows where the fucking Arab 
Potentate Godfather “Binny” is hiding out!  Go, C-I-A!  Kick his fucking 
ass, make him squeal!

We’d all have to agree:  This movie is off to a flying start.  It’s 
really moving.  And we’re only into, like, three minutes of it!

So, okay, spoiler alert!  Now, some boring shit is about to happen. 
They torture the guy, he doesn’t talk; they torture him some more, he 
doesn’t talk.  It gets a little repetitious, if you know what I mean, 
UNLESS you’re into that pain-inflicting thing.

But never fear, the picture has another thing going for it—Jessica 
Fucking Chastain. Hottest Babe of 2012, maybe of 2013 as well.  SO hot, 
she made so-called “Professional” Film Critics cream their pants.  Just 
HOW hot is Chastain?  Hot enough to make these jaded old dudes get wood 

Here’s Kenneth Turan, film critic of the Los Angeles Times, no less.  He 
tells you this: The big-deal attack on Bin Laden’s compound AND all the 
hoo-hah about torture are (and I quote) “both overshadowed by the 
performance of Jessica Chastain.  She [Chastain's character, Maya] is a 
force among forces, and Chastain makes her frankly thrilling to behold.” 
  Chastain is not only Kenneth’s Playmate of the Year, she could be 
Playmate of His Career, “thrilling to behold”

Another geezer critic who dotes on Chastain is David Denby, of The New 
Yorker .  His horny praises are so moving, I have to quote him in a 
poetical form (word-for-word, I swear):

“There is someone else

At that interrogation session:

An observer,

Who wears a black hood

And removes it

To shake out

A glorious curtain

Of reddish-gold hair.”

“A glorious curtain!”  “Frankly thrilling to Behold!” And these guys are 
licensed Critics.

So far, then, the picture has two predominant advantages—Jessica and 
Osama.  Beauty and the Beast.  (And all those torture scenes, for your 
sado-masochistic friends.)

But is that enough to keep you sitting and eating your popcorn???  Let’s 
see.  After Maya and her teacher Dan torture the Arab guy, they go to 
the dark, dusty CIA office in Wherever-abad.  Now the picture starts to 
bog down again.  You get a lot of bullshit office politics, uptight CIA 
bureaucrats with no balls, but with the power to fuck Chastain over. 
They don’t even seem to get that she is the hottest fucking White Woman 
in all of Kissmybuttistan.

So here you got male-pig office politics dragging down the pace of the 
chase.  Then Chastain starts staring at torture videos.  And you know 
these videos are “real” because they’re super-fuzzy.  So: Office 
politics, torture videos, more office politics, more torture videos. 
Then, a terrorist attack they didn’t see coming, and more office 
politics (with more pressure—we gotta get those Terrorists before they 
strike again!) and more torture videos.  The only thing worth watching 
is Chastain watching videos.

Finally, they catch a Big Fish, named Faraj.  Now it’s Chastain’s turn. 
  She gets to torture a guy all by herself, “One-on-one, with Faraj,” 
her boss says.  And this is where you, sadly, begin to wonder if this 
All-American Beauty has any heavy-duty acting chops.  (I LOVED her in 
“The Help,” but that was cute, funny light-weight stuff.)  She has Faraj 
beaten up; she has Faraj water-boarded; she even has her 
torture-flunkies pour a thick brown stuff into a funnel that they stick 
down his throat.  Eeeeeeew!

But Faraj is tough; he doesn’t squeal.  So she uses more and more 
“measures” on him (but not on camera, sorry).  She tells her mentor Dan 
that, “Faraj is still withholding, and that’s using every measure we 
have.”  Finally she tortures him so bad, and so non-stop, that he dies 
of it.  We know this because one of the women in the office says, 
casually, like she’s giving Chastain fashion tips, “So Faraj went south 
on you.  It happens.”

And this is where, in spite of that glorious curtain of reddish-gold 
hair, and the perfect profile and the creamy spotless skin, Chastain is 
in WAY over her head.

It takes a certain kind of woman—a certain kind of person—to do what she 
(Maya/Chastain) does.  Which is cold-blooded murder of the most hideous 
kind, murder by torture.  The kind of person we’re talking about here is 
vicious, tough, cold, fanatical, ruthless and merciless.  Charlise 
Theron could go that deep, Halle Berry could; but not Jessica Chastain.

After Chastain-as-Maya commits these heinous crimes, nothing changes. 
You don’t see it in her face, her attitude, the way she carries 
herself—nowhere.  She just keeps truckin’ along, on that tricky trail of 
clues leading to the Trophy of All Trophies—Bin Laden in a body bag. 
Chastain’s idea of playing this demented CIA ghoul is to act like a 
college girl pulling all-nighters at final exam time.  By God, she is 
going to get straight fucking “A”s, even if she has to skip her daily 
shampoo and tooth whitener.

Don’t get me wrong.  Chastain is still beautiful—too beautiful, if you 
wanna know the truth—as the picture staggers along to the Big Shoot-out. 
  But now it feels weird.  We’re supposed to root, root, root for the 
home team and Maya, the under-rated short-stop.  But something’s off.

You schlubs never read Picture of Dorian Grey, am I right?  It’s a novel 
about a handsome young dude who does a lot of sick shit—gets down with 
depravity; messes people up, so they wanna kill themselves; drinks, does 
drugs and generally wastes himself—and still comes across as a handsome 
young dude!  Meanwhile, up in his attic, he keeps a painting of himself 
that gets uglier and creepier and more disgusting with every evil deed 
he does.

Well, I wanna ask the director of this picture (Katherine Bigelow), 
Where is the secret “Picture of Jessica Chastain” that should be getting 
uglier and creepier, with every evil, torturing deed she does?  Why 
don’t we see the Chastain whose soul is crawling with maggots???

Okay, maybe I’m nit-picking.  We should move on.  Fine.  Only moving on 
doesn’t move fast enough.  There’s more desk-top gumshoe “detective” 
work.  Bullshit, bullshit, they find a picture of the errand boy that 
was lying in a CIA file somewhere, for only eight years, bullshit, 
bullshit, they follow the guy in the picture until he leads them to 
Mecca, the Holy Grail, the Wailing Wall of great detective movie “finds” 
of the Century!  Osama Bin Bama’s home address!!!

Send in the SEALs, right???  Bang-bang, bing-bang.  Wrap it up, roll the 
credits, right?

Oops, sorry, but you can’t punch out quite yet—not until we give you 
another blood-pounding hour of bureaucratic bullshit.  Are you sure UBL 
is there?  (The “U” is for “Usama,” which the uptight CIA refuses to 
call him anything but.)  Are you REALLY sure?  Well, we can’t torture 
anybody anymore, so we can’t REALLY be sure, but the Redhead says SHE’s 
sure.  Blah, blah, blah, yak, yak, yak around the conference table.

Finally, the Director tells the President it LOOKS like UBL is REALLY 
there, so

unleash the SEALs!  Takes about another half hour for the SEALs to get 
warmed up and then—uh-oh.  Remember when it ACTUALLY went down, when it 
REALLY went down on CNN and CBS and NBC and MSNBC?  The real deal was 
two choppers full of the most pumped-up, most weaponized 
adrenaline-heads, with night-vision apps up their butts VERSUS what?  A 
tiny fraction of UBL’s Extended Family!

The real deal was like this: A full platoon of CRIPs and a full platoon 
of BLOODs with 30-round magazines in their assault rifles, unite 
together and bravely knock over a family candy store in Koreatown, Los 
Angeles, US of A.

And that’s the fucking climax of Zero Dark Thirty.

So how does Bigelow make you feel like all your waiting was not in vain. 
  Well, first of all, she shoots everything all green and very fuzzy, 
like you’re seeing everything through the SEALs’ night vision goggles. 
Sometimes she even makes the screen go black, so “realistic,” like the 
goggles fritz out and the poor SEAL is as blind as all the people living 
in the big house.  Black screen—SEALs whispering to each other—scary 
stuff very SUSPENSEFUL, so you won’t remember this was the easiest job 
any SEAL Team ever pulled since they first crawled up on shore, 
what—fifty years ago?

This is one hundred and fifty-seven minutes of your time.  And what 
would this picture be, without Osama, without the high-wattage charisma 
of The Man in “The Greatest Manhunt in History”?  Without “UBL,” you got 
three average-quality episodes of “Cold Case!”  If you cut out all the 
digital gumshoe garbage, you got one better than-average episode.  I’m 
telling you, the fucking Emperor is strutting around without a stitch on 
his fucking carcass!

And you blew $10 on this.  Maybe more.  Know who gets the Last Laff? 
You guessed it—ol’ Ozzy Bin Lozzy.  Fucker transformed America like no 
politician or CEO could ever have done—turned it into one big Chicken 
Shack, ruled over by Giant Mutant Foxes.  I swear he’s cackling in his 
watery grave.

[NOTE:  “Uncle Ray Birney” is a pseudonym.  Uncle Ray is an authority on 
any and all spectator sports, including the movies. He provides wisdom 
and erudition to his drinking buddies and to his and his wife's extended 
families.  A veteran security guard, he has plenty of time to read and a 
license to carry a concealed firearm.]

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