Mark Boal

USA PFC Bowe Bergdahl

In the time since U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl was released from the Taliban, his return to American society has been fraught with controversy. The details are still a little bit hazy on how it happened, but five years ago he was taken as a prisoner of war in Afghanistan. He was freed on May 31st of this year, when the U.S. government negotiated his release by exchanging five Taliban prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for the 28-year-old’s safe return. The deal has raised eyebrows and probably got you a few “FW:FW:FW:FW: AMERICA THE FREE?!?” emails from your aunt. If Kathryn Bigelow has any say in the matter, you’ll soon get to see the whole saga play out on screen. According to Variety, she and her Zero Dark Thirty writing and producing partner, Mark Boal, plan to bring the tale to life. It might be a little soon to be thinking about a movie — Bergdahl hasn’t even been back on American soil for a month, having only just returned to a U.S. medical facility in San Antonio for evaluation on June 13th — but there’s really no time like the present to snatch up the rights to an interesting and provocative story while the getting’s good, before someone else beats you to the chase. Especially when the real-life story is maybe as controversial and puzzling as Bergdahl’s.

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The Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty is currently in limited release and about to go wide, but while it’s unclear what the film’s box-office reception will be the critical one has been fairly unanimous. Unless you count the Academy Awards. Bigelow’s previous visit to the Middle East netted six Oscars including Best Film, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay (for Mark Boal), and like her new one, it faced its fair share of criticism over accuracy. Director and writer both sat down for a commentary track, and while they don’t comment directly on those claims, Boal in particular seems very aware of them. Keep reading to see what I heard with this week’s The Hurt Locker Commentary Commentary…

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Zero-Dark-Thirty

As dissent continues to flourish in this country, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that discordant responses to films is also on the rise. Divisiveness has always been one thing among film critics, with publications throughout the past decade loving to showcase opposing views of everything from Dancer in the Dark to Tree of Life. But it’s another thing for broader American society to not only disagree with one another but to really go at each other over a certain motion picture or movies overall. This is the year that a right-wing political documentary (2016: Obama’s America) outgrossed all but one of Michael Moore’s films, including the gun violence issue doc Bowling for Columbine. It’s also a year, now, when the notion that violent films may have an impact on gun violence more than guns themselves is being spouted by everyone from NRA leaders to actor Jamie Foxx. Does that make Foxx’s new movie, Django Unchained, one of the most dangerous films of 2012? It depends on whether or not you agree with that idea of films and video games being so influential. Also depending on your side of a debate, you might agree with those calling Zero Dark Thirty “dangerous,” as Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side; My Trip to Al-Qaeda) has now done. I haven’t seen the film yet, so I can’t offer any real opinion on the torture scenes provoking discussion, but here’s what Gibney has to say about it in a lengthy article he wrote […]

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Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 12.33.05 PM

A fair amount of critics are touting Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty as her masterpiece. While Bigelow has definitely directed films in her decades of filmmaking that are comparable to the overall quality of Zero Dark Thirty, it is great that between this and her Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, she is getting the acclaim that she deserves. What does set Zero Dark Thirty apart from the rest of the Kathryn Bigelow oeuvre is that is a far more deliberate and slower paced film that her others. At about two-and-a-half hours, it includes only perhaps two or three major “action/suspense” scenes, which are all impeccably executed in her usual fashion. Mostly, however, the film follows the mental unraveling and rise to power of CIA agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) as she follows a seemingly-circumstantial hunch, which results in her looking over Osama bin Laden’s body bag. The film certainly is successful in what it sets out to do. Through Chastain’s Maya, it is a more nuanced study of the disappointments of losing the war on terror against Al Qaeda and then fighting back, resulting in less of a fist pump of exultation, but more of a quiet recognition of accomplishment.

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Zero Dark Thirty

If you’ve somehow managed to avoid the massive praise that’s already been heaped on Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty – so far, they include four Golden Globe nominations, three National Board of Review wins, inclusion in AFI’s list of the best films of the year, countless critics associations nominations, and that’s just going top-of-the-head here – you’ve managed to stay insanely out of the loop on one of the year’s very best films. Congrats to you. Now let’s correct that. Sony has just sent out their final trailer for the Jessica Chastain-starring, Osama Bin Laden-killing, truth-based tale, and it may be your last chance to jump on the ZDT bandwagon before that train pulls out of the station (forgive these mixed metaphors). All aboard? (Shh, secret time, I didn’t even watch this trailer, and I already know it’s awesome.) Check it out after the break, as if you need a reason.

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Sure, this latest trailer for Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty is a lot of things: cool, collected, awesome, awesome, exciting, cool all over again, bold, vibrant, but it’s also dominated by one overwhelming force that encompasses all those adjectives. Jessica Chastain. Did we somehow miss that this film, Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal‘s true life take on the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden, was really The Chastain Show? Looks like it, and we’ve already got our ticket in hand. Check out the latest Zero Dark Thirty trailer after the break.

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After the Academy Award-winning success of their The Hurt Locker, director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal really only have themselves to beat when it comes to their next drama, a film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty (or as we all called it for awhile, Kill Bin Laden). So how convenient for them that the film’s first teaser trailer looks, oh, what’s the word? Awesome? It looks awesome? It looks awesome. The film stars Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain, Edgar Ramirez, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, Nash Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Harold Perrineau, and Frank Grillo. And this first teaser speaks for itself (occasionally loudly). Check it out after the break.

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Everyone is currently lining up to fictionally kill the mass-murdering asshole Osama Bin Laden (South Park) for Kathryn Bigelow. It’s obviously a wonderful opportunity for actors to work with the Oscar winner, especially considering how Jeremy Renner’s career blew up after defusing bombs for her. The good news is that all the names that are signing on the line happen to be worth their weight in statues. According to Deadline Destry, Jessica Chastain might continue her dominance with the now-untitled project alongside Mark Strong and Edgar Ramirez (Carlos). Meanwhile, Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) is now confirmed, and Joel Edgerton is double confirmed. Bringing on Chastain, Strong and Ramirez would be a strong move for the production. Bigelow is of course re-teaming with writer/producer Mark Boal for a project that will most likely be controversial due to the subject matter. They’re currently slated for a December release (a date conspicuously after the Presidential election). It’s possible that the date might be moved back due to a congressional investigation into whether the production was given information it wasn’t supposed to have, but December is what to watch for currently. And all of it sounds fantastic. The big question is how star-spangled this thing can get.

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According to the LA Times, Congressman Peter King of the great state of New York is urging the CIA and the Department of Defense to take a look into Kathryn Bigelow‘s forthcoming, still-untitled movie about killing Osama Bin Laden. Apparently, Mr. King thinks the government should have script approval. Why is he calling for such a probe? It’s not readily obvious that he has any evidence to warrant it, but the movie deals with very sensitive subject matter, and that, for Mr. King, seems to be reason enough. On the one hand, it’s absolutely important that the movie not contain any classified secret or top secret information on how the raid was carried out, but on the other, what Mr. King is insinuating is that government officials and CIA members that cooperated with the production may have given out secret information. “I’m very concerned that any sensitive information could be disclosed in a movie,” King told the Times. “The procedures and operations that we used in this raid are very likely what we’ll use in other raids. There’s no way a director would know what could be tipping off the enemy.”

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Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal continue to play in the political sandbox, and the recent killing of Osama Bin Laden has turned their attention back to a project they were already formulating. Their next task is to assemble an ensemble of men that are up for the mission, and according to LA Times Blog, Joel Edgerton is the first name on the team. It’s difficult to speculate at this point about the project, but Edgerton is a solid talent that can absolutely take on more physical roles. All in all, it’s a great call. What’s questionable is whether a movie about the event coming out so quickly will be cathartic or intrinsically problematic. As with most traumatic events, it will be a gamble as to whether this injures the real-world closure of the death or seems like a cashing-in of sorts. Fortunately, Bigelow is one of the better talents working in Hollywood, and her skill at creating true tension should come in handy here. Plus, maybe in thirty years, Tarantino can come along and cinematically fill Bin Laden with thousands of bullets instead of just two.

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The first woman to win a Best Director Oscar has decided to head back to the sand before taking her tropical vacation this Fall (in the most dangerous place in South America). Apparently, the comfort of home isn’t as appealing as the call to adventure. That’s a good thing for fans. We’ve reported that Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal would continue their collaborations with a thriller about a black ops mission in the Middle East, but according to Variety, they’ve now secured financing for the flick and should be casting within the month. We’ll wait until they cast Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie to start speculating about The Hurt Locker 2: Explosive Boogaloo. What does it all mean? That we might just have two action movies from Kathryn Bigelow in theaters, months apart from each other. If that doesn’t wake you up quicker than a cup of coffee, I don’t know what would.

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Kathryn Bigelow won the Best Director Academy Award as well as Best Picture for The Hurt Locker alongside the Best Original Screenplay win for Mark Boal. So it seems natural that they would want to team again to see if that winning combination can be repeated. As we’ve reported before, their next project is Triple Frontier – a film focused on the nexus of three South American countries where organized crime goes to do business with ease and comfort. Fortunately, Bigelow and Boal are hedging their bets by bringing on Academy Award winner Tom Hanks in one of the lead roles. He’s officially on board to star in the project. At this point, it’s a matter of seeing if Johnny Depp is insterested, following the filming beginning in March, and anticipating a late Fall release. Just in time for awards season. [Coming Soon]

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This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Brian Salisbury returns to the program alongside Scott Weinberg for an all-out, guns-blazing exploration of B Movies that you should have in your rental queue. Plus, Weinberg does his best Rocky impression, does his best Australian accent, and Salisbury does the entire show wearing a Spider-Man costume. Double plus, we find the time to review Piranha 3D. In 3D!

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Earlier today a very juicy email from an exec at Paramount was let loose into the world by the folks over at The Wrap. Within said email was details on a good number of projects currently in development. Insider notes — like the fact that producers are “very happy” with the recent draft of G.I. Joe 2 from Zombieland scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. That’s encouraging, to say the least. But perhaps the most interesting piece of news to come out of this whole debacle — save for World War Z being on track, which is awesome — is a project that would re-team Oscar winners Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) and pair them with an ensemble of very big names.

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It’s Academy Awards time again, and even though we all know the awards are basically an irrelevant exercise in mutual masturbation it’s still fun to watch. This year sees a wide variety of films gain entry into Oscar history via nominations for Best Screenplay, Original and Adapted. Some deserve the honor, while others are based on the novel “Push” by Sapphire.

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hurt-locker-poster2-header

Even though Kathryn Bigelow’s intense Iraq war thriller The Hurt Locker hit theaters back on June 26, that sure won’t stop me from writing about it — it is perhaps the best film that will hit theaters in 2009.

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thl1

Screenwriter Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow share the methods they used to create an intense, heartfelt combat film. We talk camera angles, mistaken journalists, and cleaning the dust off after coming in from the desert.

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The Hurt Locker

In a very real sense, this movie is the first of its kind. The first boots-on-the-ground Iraq War film. It immediately places the audience in the dusty streets of Baghdad and refuses to let anyone leave until the end.

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