January 8, 2013

"Zero Dark Thirty"

My review of the Get Osama movie in Taki's Magazine.

39 comments:

Jefferson said...

As they say on the streetz, Osama Bin Laden got smoked like a motherf##king joke.

OSS said...

As they say on the streetz, Osama Bin Laden got smoked like a motherf##king joke.

The joke is still on the US. Between how long it took us to get OBL, that he was camped out next to Pakistan's West Point and that we basically gave up on the hunt to jump into the Iraqi tar pit makes us chumps.

Off topic... Turkish deep state shenanigans?

http://intelnews.org/2012/12/28/01-1165/

Anonymous said...

An excellent review, except I would disagree with your characterization of Bigelow as "feminine". To me she looks like a classic example of a hard and angular "handsome" woman, not a soft and feminine one, and her career as a high-powered director also indicates her masculine qualities.

Steve Sailer said...

"a classic example of a hard and angular "handsome" woman"

Good point.

Usman Shakil said...

Zero Dark Thirty Movie Trailer

Anonymous said...

"Good point."

Thank you. The English poet Rupert Brooke (who died in WWI) wrote of America in his travel diaries: "Handsome people of both sexes are very common; beautiful, and pretty, ones very rare..."

Anonymous said...

Hey, which one of you put an excerpt from Steve's Taki review into the Wikipedia entry for "Get the Gringo"?

Anonymous said...

I'd be a lot more interested in this movie if the administration had managed to produce a body or at least recognizable pictures of a body.

The way things turned out, it's like watching a story about somebody who claims to have shot a bigfoot, but can no longer produce the body.

I'm not saying that I believe any conspiracy theories, but I don't want to blindly don't trust this administration's take on events. They have too much to gain and they destroyed evidence that could have supported their claims.

Marlowe said...

What Jen brings to the detective work is a deeply feminine understanding that al-Qaeda is a complex social organization assembled out of intricate personal relationships, many of them extended family ties of the kind that American men find hard to keep straight in their heads.

She became the Diane Fossey/Jane Goodall of CIA?

It brought to mind what some primate scientists told the philosopher Dan Dennett when he joined them on a field expedition studying a Vervet monkey troop:

It is not enough to just keep track of the monkeys as individuals. You have to know how they are related, what their rank in the group is and their recent history of alliances and confrontations. When I asked Robert if there was any background reading that would particularly prepare me for participating in the experience he had suggested-only partly in jest-that I refresh my acquaintance with the novels of Jane Austen. In fact, my first day or so of monkey-watching with Robert and Dorothy was full of the sort of confusion I often suffer when reading the opening chapters of a complicated novel of manners.

"Look," Dorothy would say, "that's Wormwood trying to supplant Tycho, who's grooming Amin, but here comes Holborn, who will no doubt side with Tycho-they're sisters, after all-but Picadilly outranks them both, and ..." -- I would flip back through my notes, utterly confused, muttering

"Isn't Picadilly Wormwood's aunt? I thought Wormwood and Sing Sing were sisters. No, wait, Marcos is Wormwood's mother and she's from a low-ranking family ..."

I wanted to go back to chapter one and get a reminder of who all the characters were.

Without a good fix on all these relationships, the significance of much of the communication and interaction is completely inscrutable (imagine trying to make sense of knowing glances and frowns-to say nothing of the words-in a foreign film without having any idea of how the characters were related to each other.)

"Out of the Armchair and into the Field", Brainchildren, Penguin Books 1998, p. 295

Anonymous said...

Bigelow is an ambitious filmmaker, but she is also a patriotic American who doesn’t want her countrymen targeted...

In contrast, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, an Irish-American political hack (formerly of Fannie Mae) who is unpopular with the military, is depicted as a supercilious twit who sports, for no discernible reason, an English accent...

But how about—now that we finally got Osama—if we torture and bomb less abroad and ethnically profile more at home?



Speaking of ethnic profiling: The Scots-Irish lobby chose an old English rag to weigh in with their opinion of all that hideous WASP patriotism & flag-waving & nationalistic boosterism:


A letter to Kathryn Bigelow on Zero Dark Thirty's apology for torture
Naomi MacWolf
Friday 4 January 2013
guardian.co.uk

...But to me, the path your career has now taken reminds of no one so much as that other female film pioneer who became, eventually, an apologist for evil: Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl's 1935 Triumph of the Will, which glorified Nazi military power, was a massive hit in Germany. Riefenstahl was the first female film director to be hailed worldwide...

NOTA said...

I would very much like to know why OBL was allegedly buried at sea. I've never heard of such a thing being done before or after, his branch of Islam is apparently not at all given to shrines for dead martyrs, and the "trust us, we shot him and disposed of the body" line is coming from some very untrustworthy people. On the other hand, I find it almost impossible to imagine Obama and company claiming he's dead if they had the slightest thought that he might actually show up somewhere. My first guess is that there was something embarrassing about the body--marks of torture, dialysis shunt providing ironclad proof of Pakistani complicity in hiding him, Obama '08 tattoo on his bicep--something worth hiding by disposing of the body. Alternatively, we took him captive, and are torturing him somewhere to try to get more information from him, or did so till he died. The official explanation just didn't make any sense to me.

The movie looks like pure propaganda. Just like the public view of WW2 was very effectively created by US movie makers' propaganda, to the point that people routinely talk like the war where we allied with Joe Stalin and firebombed and nuked cities full of people was the "good war," with none of the moral ambiguity and pointless bloody brutality on our side of modern conflicts.

One thing you always have to remember: most people don't really pay much attention to news, history, or politics. So even when the "party line" that appears in headline news and movies and TV show is known to be horseshit by everyone who's paying attention, that still leaves a huge number of people, many of them voters, who know only the horseshit they have been told. Movies and TV news and TV shows shape peoples' picture of the world far more than most anyone understands. A movie like this will viscerally re-enforce the party line consensus story about what happened with OBL--including the notion that torture was critical in finding him. This is how you get the idea of history in peoples' heads even when it may not be at all correct. (For another example of this, my knowledge of the demise of Julius Caesar is mostly due to Shakespeare, who was definitely not trying too hard to get every detail right historically.)

There has been a large propaganda effort in our war on terror, giving us all kinds of stuff: TV shows, movies, news reports from intellectually-captured reporters, etc. And one result is that almost nobody knows a damned thing about it, but lots of people who *feel* like they know a lot about it.

BB said...

The fiction seems more credible than the oficial account.
We were supposed to believe that a very sick Bin Laden was fighting US troops to death somewhere in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, then
he´s located living in the ´burbs of Karachi near a military academy. And then
he´s executed in a telegenic special operations raid. Yeah, sure.
I hope it makes for an interesting film.

Truth said...

" "Handsome people of both sexes are very common; beautiful, and pretty, ones very rare..."

H'een never been to Miami Beach in August.

Anonymous said...

"I would very much like to know why OBL was allegedly buried at sea."

I guess it's hard to make a pilgrimage to the sea.

One of the biggest mistakes after killing Che Guevara was taking photos of him and turning him into a Christ-like figure.
It's best to just get rid of the body asap.

Anonymous said...

"Bigelow is an ambitious filmmaker, but she is also a patriotic American who doesn’t want her countrymen targeted.."

Patriotic? I dunno. I think she admires tough characters, and in this regard, she has something in common with Walter Hill. It doesn't matter what side the men are on.
She made K-19 that featured Soviet naval crew as heroes. She featured a tough bitchass black ho in STRANGE GAYS. NEAR DARK was kinda admiring of crazy vampires; they were badass.

While Bigelow certainly has loyalties, I don't think she is admiring of only one side.
It's like Athena sided with the Greeks but also admired the Trojans in her own way; she later even punished some Greeks for acting like louts in the sacking of Troy.

Anonymous said...

"As they say on the streetz, Osama Bin Laden got smoked like a motherf##king joke."

That may be, but US may still lose the war in Afghanistan if, after US departs, Taliban comes back to power.

Anonymous said...

Is this like SEAL UNCHAINED?

pat said...

You seem to buy into the notion that the role of the director is something special. You're smarter than I am so maybe I should accept that. But I have doubts.

It wasn't always that way of course. The movie luminaries used to be the producers - Selznick and Zanuck come to mind. In the studio days even a great director like Michael Curtiz just took his assignments from the front office. He didn't call the shots.

I think it changed with Andrew Sarris and his theory of the director as the auteur and with Alfred Hitchcock the first director who's name meant anything on the marque. We are told it takes a village to raise a child, maybe so, but it is certainly true that it takes an army to make a movie. Sarris watched the end credits grow longer and longer and despaired of ever being able to condense all those contributions into an intelligible analysis. So he decided to ignore every other participant and focus only on the director. Somehow across a myriad of styles Sarris could see the hand of John Huston in all his movies. This in spite of Huston's efforts to vary his style to suit the material.

Hitchcock went the other way. He deliberately sought stardom. He popped up in his own films in unexpected places. You would think that breaking the illusion of a film's verisimilitude by these personal cameos would be criticized. But no, it made him a famous. Now we have to endure the faces of Stan Lee and M. Night Shyamalan right along with the other product placements. Directors don't have to be anonymous faces behind the cameras. Now they can be celebrities.

How hard is it to be a director? The first generation of course came from all sorts of backgrounds. Today we have film school graduates like Spielberg and Lucas. They have formal credentials but are they successful because of their credentials or is it like the requirement to have teaching certificate to teach in the public schools?

Lately we have seen a number of former or current actors become directors. Actors are not I suspect quite as stupid as they appear from their public political statements. They are about average I'd guess. But as a class they seem to always succeed directors. There have been many famous movie flops but not from Eastwood, or either of the Afflicks. Almost any actor it seems can step into the director's role and do well. They have seen cameramen and sound-men working on the set. They may not know one lens from another but the DOP does so it's not much of as problem. The modern movie set has an army of highly trained specialists. It looks to me as if the army's success isn't very dependent on it's general. They win by attrition not by maneuver.

The role of director has ascended also because the role of the producer has descended. Watch a big high production values TV series today and you will see dozens of producers, executive producers, and assistant executive producers in the credits. Producers are like French wines - the shorter the title, the higher the quality.

The editor is still an obscure role only recognized for a few minutes each year at the Oscars. Some movie experts insist that the editor is the role that contributes the most to the final product seen on the screen. They make important decisons thhat regularly involve them in disputes with directors and producers.

Personally I think the critical role in movies and TV is the writer. We know that famous novelists were hired by Hollywood and treated like scum. Mozart ranked below the Third Pastry Cook in Joseph II's household. Similar story.

TV runs a kind of natural experiment to help us. In any big production series by the second season they are rotating the directors and the writers. The stars remain constant as do the lighting, sound and other technical people. Episodes vary in quality as a function of the writer. The director seems much less important.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

This guy is interesting.
Steve Pieczenik - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Pieczenik

He is a Harvard educated shrink who is a member of the CFR, and worked in various administrations in defense and anti-terrorist related departments.

I checked the CFR membership list that was posted on the CFR web site and his name was on it along with Kissinger, Cheny, and the rest of the big wigs.

He has claimed in an interview with Alex Jones that Osama was dead for years and the whole thing was staged...

Does anybody know if this guy is legit?

...for a member of the CFR he does not seem to be toutng the company line (also apparently thinks 911 was fishy or so I have heard he has suggested).

Anonymous said...

I love Leon Panetta. A Nixon Republican who switched parties and managed to get the Santa Cruz hippies and Fort Ord military types to vote him into Congress, the dude looks like an Italian grocer but is the closest thing to non-ideological, get shit done competence the American political class produces.

Whiskey said...

Naomi Wolfe is old and tired. She had a modicum of following when she was moderately young and attractive, but her expiration date has long passed. That's what happens when all you have is looks and being "the hot chick" see Elizabeth Wurtzel.

I would not say that pretty much anyone in Hollywood is patriotic. I would go farther than Charles Murray in speculating that we have a "hollow elite" in that we have a decadent one, as decadent and full of contempt for ordinary people AND THE NATION as the French aristocracy in 1788. Rather, as an action-director Bigelow saw a market niche not being occupied by say, Tarantino, and used it (stories about brave soldiers basically).

As for bin Laden, who knows? There have been so many lies, weird things, and other stuff that you can't tell. The Pakistanis were weirdly blase about our violating their sovereignty, no one made a big deal of Obama allowing them to shelter bin Laden, no body, no proof, no leaked photos (which alone are worth, about $50 million at least which is what tabloids would pay for them and at least one person would be likely to say hey, "I LIKE money!" but who knows). At any rate I'm deeply suspicious.

As far as WWII being a "good war" it was an absolutely necessary war, fought on desperate terms because the US pursued pacifism stupidly in the 1930's. Japan fought what amounted to a mutual race war against us in the Pacific, and Germany had plans for the US that were remarkably ugly and desperate. All of which could have been avoided had FDR built about 25 Aircraft carrier groups; the US ended up building more than 60. No one ever kicked sand in Arnold Schwarzenegger's face at Venice Beach, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

What Jen brings to the detective work is a deeply feminine understanding that al-Qaeda is a complex social organization assembled out of intricate personal relationships, many of them extended family ties of the kind that American men find hard to keep straight in their heads.

WASP American men, you mean. The CIA is full of them, being unable to trust anyone the slightest bit ethnic. Italian- or Greek-American men would have no problem with all these family ties. Think of CIA agent Gust Avrakotos in the Russo-Afghan War, and how someone else like him would be invaluable dealing with today's Afghanistan.

She became the Diane Fossey/Jane Goodall of CIA?

More like one of those humans hired by a society of robots in order to teach them how to understand humans.

Paul Mendez said...

The official explanation just didn't make any sense to me.

Way back when we were hunting OBL in the Tora Bora mountains, I thought that if I were OBL, I'd record a bunch of vague pronouncements and exhortations to my followers on audio tape. Then, I'd have someone shoot me, burn my body, dissolve the ashes in acid, then bury the sludge at the bottom of a 30-foot deep hole and roll some big boulders on top. That way, my ghost could haunt the infidels for eternity.

So, maybe that's what OBL really did and the CIA took 10 years to figure it out. Rather than admit they'd been taken and try to convince the Arabs that OBL had been dead all along, they made up the entire Abbottabad raid & burial at sea.

If a drone "accidentally" takes out a middle-aged guy in Maryland a few hours after this is posted, you'll know I was on to something.

Anonymous said...

Huh - Evil Neocon leads with the Naomi MacWolf apology.

What a strange coincidence.

Kibernetika said...

Suka pliad! Perhaps this movie is a bit over-the-top PC, what with the focus on the singular, red-mopped top Jen character -- setting s**t straight for the silly male operators and all (an agent Starling, she), but at least one generation of young Amis will go gung ho now, something that this movie wouldn't have accomplished with a Repub in power.

The reality was probably much more mundane, with normal men and women at a table, deciding best courses of action, weighing all sorts of crap.

Anonymous said...

But to me, the path your career has now taken reminds of no one so much as that other female film pioneer who became, eventually, an apologist for evil: Leni Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl's 1935 Triumph of the Will, which glorified Nazi military power, was a massive hit in Germany. Riefenstahl was the first female film director to be hailed worldwide...

I think "Nazi military power" was virtually nonexistent in 1935. IIRC, the film was mostly about restoration of order and social solidarity under NS rule. Guardian should review the social, political and economic history of the Weimar Republic to get a clue.

fnn said...

Speaking of ethnic profiling: The Scots-Irish lobby chose an old English rag to weigh in with their opinion of all that hideous WASP patriotism & flag-waving & nationalistic boosterism:

Isn't the British left-i.e., the left slightly left of the hegemonic left-heavily indigenous British white-especially when you include the Celts.

TontoBubbaGoldstein said...

If a drone "accidentally" takes out a middle-aged guy in Maryland a few hours after this is posted, you'll know I was on to something.

Paul?

Paul??

PAUL???

PAUL??!!!

Anonymous said...

@ OSS

"a clandestine ultra-nationalist organization with secularist and anti-Western objectives."

Cool

Anonymous said...

I don't see why it should be so hard for the CIA to recruit people who can pass for Muslim and/or speak Arabic.

The U.S. has more than three million Arab-Americans, two thirds of whom are Christian. They're bound to hate Al Qaeda at least as much as the average American does, and probably more because now they're called terrorists and their kids get beaten up at school.

I would imagine that the CIA has been aggressively recruiting Arab Americans over the last decade, and if they haven't, what's stopping them?

Risto

TGGP said...

I'm going to agree that Naomi Wolf was abandoned by most liberals/lefties a while back.

Pu Ekaw said...

Damn why does anyone believe the government story lines. They've been lying to us for years about EVERYTHING and still people lap it up like slaves.

Osama was CIA from way back. Your average 'Murican can't handle basic truths. Tell any 'Murican that CIA created Al Qaeda in the 70's in order to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and they can't process it.

The way to get things done in this world is to create radical opposition. If existing opposition can't be radicalized then you invent it from scratch.

Anonymous said...

PAUL???

I bury Paul.
With his guitar.

Snippet said...

Takimag is getting awfully conspirilicious (or maybe this topic brings it out the latent conspiro-philia.).

Too bad. The world needs a non-crazy repository of genuinely challenging ideas that tend to be marginalized elsewhere, but which enjoy some factual support and which really shouldn't be.

If only there were one out there somewhere...

If...

Only...

Can you recommend any, iSteve?

Snippet said...

>>> I would very much like to know why OBL was allegedly buried at sea.

To prevent the possibility of his burial site being discovered and treated as a holy site.

Anonymous said...

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2013/01/france-and-politics-of-movies.html

Mr. Anon said...

"Pu Ekaw said...

Osama was CIA from way back. Your average 'Murican can't handle basic truths. Tell any 'Murican that CIA created Al Qaeda in the 70's in order to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and they can't process it."

Just when - in the 70s - did the CIA create Al Qaeda? Between Christmas and New Years? The Soviets invaded in December of 1979.

The CIA aren't the only people who know how to use people. Arabs can too. They used the CIA, just as the CIA used them. Arabs and Afghanis have long histories of temporarily allying themselves with people they hate - perhaps even more so than most peoples, but certainly no less so.

Harry Baldwin said...

I just saw this movie. If your problem with James Bond movies is that they make spy work look ridiculously exciting, this is the movie for you! For two full hours, spy work is presented in all its mind-numbing tedium. I kept glancing at my watch.

The action sequence at the end is strangely flat and unexciting. A lot of it is poorly lit.

I don't know, I was prepared to love this movie but I'm underwhelmed. Also, in a lot of the scenes the actress who plays Maya, the main character, looks like Macaulay Culkin in his wasted-adult phase and that threw me.

Steve Sailer said...

Yeah, nobody can accuse me of not being a big Kathryn Bigelow fan, but I didn't see any injustice in leaving her name off the Best Director nominee list this time.