Zero Dark Thirty

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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Episode 310

“Good Night” was another transitional episode. Last week’s “One Last Time” had Brody shuttled from Venezuela to D.C. to Iraq, while “Good Night” focuses on the difficult border crossing from Iraq to Iran, where the former Marine is to kill General Akbari, the head of Tehran’s intelligence agency. Saul’s plan thereafter is that his “asset,” Majid Javadi, take over and work with the CIA, creating peace on earth and goodwill toward men in the season’s final two episodes just in time for Christmas. Though there were a few obligatory thinkpieces about the similarities between Homeland and Zero Dark Thirty when Kathryn Bigelow’s film about Osama bin Laden’s assassination came out last year, the two have never felt overtly similar until last night’s hour. Switching back and forth between the unpredictability on the field, the frustration within the control room, and the various political maneuverings to cover one’s own ass in the higher echelons of power in case things go south, “Good Night” borrowed liberally from Zero Dark Thirty‘s structure to construct a suspenseful, poignant narrative out of what is basically filler material.

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World Trade Center

On this week’s 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we’re dropping the usual format for an extended roundtable conversation about terrorism and September 11th’s effect on film and television. How has our consumption changed? What movie best captures the national spirit in the years following? How soon is too soon to directly confront a tragedy in fiction? We’re joined by Indiewire’s TV Editor and Filmspotting: SVU Podcast co-host Alison Willmore, Movie Mezzanine founder and editor-in-chief Sam Fragoso, and FSR’s own associate editor Rob Hunter. You should follow Rob (@fakerobhunter), Alison (@alisonwillmore), Sam (@samfragoso), the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. And, as always, if you like the show (or hate it with seething fervor), please help us out with a review. Download Episode #33 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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Zero Dark Thirty

This contest is now closed. Thanks for entering! Still trying to find bin Laden? Sounds like you need to revisit Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty. In celebration of the home video release of one of 2012’s finest films, we’re giving away two very cool prize packs. Each pack includes one ZDT t-shirt and one script book (you can read it while you watch the movie, you big nerd!), and one pack will include a Blu-ray of the film, while the other will include a DVD. So how do you win? Well, you’re going to have to find us! Ahem, on Twitter. Hit the break to read our very precise, years-in-the-making, social media-fueled instructions on how to win your very own Zero Dark Thirty prize pack.

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discs big picture

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. The Big Picture Paul (Romain Duris) is a successful lawyer with a wife and two beautiful kids, but something is amiss in his marriage. He envies his neighbor Greg’s casual freedoms, but when he discovers his wife has been loving Greg in some far more physical ways, a conversation between the two men leads to an incident that sends Paul running for his life. This French thriller is based on a novel by Douglas Kennedy, and as they did with Harlan Coben’s Tell No One, the result is a far more literate thriller than we would probably get from Hollywood. Duris is a fantastic actor, and he invests Paul with passion and emotional intensity as his mistake leads to a life he’s always wanted but was afraid to attempt. The supporting performances are equally solid including a brief turn by Catherine Deneuve. [Blu-ray extras: Trailer]

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Best Picture

Here it is: the Big Kahuna of the Oscar season. Bestowed upon the producers, the Best Picture award is easily the most memorable category of the Big Six. It often coincides with a Best Director win, but with almost twice the nominations than Best Director and some high-profile snubs, there’s always a chance for an upset. Best Picture is also one of the most divisive categories out there. To target a specific talent or role, it’s easy to zero in on one element of a film. A medicore film can have fantastic, Oscar-worthy cinematography. A film that has no shot at comprehensive awards can offer a scene-stealing performance for a Best Supporting Actor or Actress win. But Best Picture? That’s as comprehensive as it gets. Since the nominations have been made and all the complaints about why certain movies weren’t on the list (like the awards-forgotten Moonrise Kingdom) have been logged, it’s now time to focus on the nine films that made the cut. While the statuette is handed to the producer of the film, it’s an honor that everyone involved in the production can enjoy. Such a picture will either become a minor all-but-forgotten footnote in Oscar history (like The Last Emperor or last year’s The Artist), or it will become a well-known winner of cinematic legend (like The Godfather or Titanic). It will also serve as great marketing copy for any future DVD or Blu-ray release from now until the end of time. Read on for the nominations […]

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Best Film Editing

Just yesterday, word spread about a new iPad app that will offer professionals and hobbyists alike around 90% of the tools that an editor would use on a blockbuster movie. It’s an exciting technological development to be sure, but simply having access to a kitchen doesn’t make us all chefs. Francis Ford Coppola talked about editing in mythical terms,  calling it the “essence of cinema” and the “alchemy” that brought everything together. In other words, editing is the magic of movie magic. Because of that, there’s historically been a clear correlation between the flick that wins Best Picture and the one that wins for Best Editing. Namely, about 2/3rds of all Best Picture winners also snag the editing statue. Although the past two years haven’t seen that trend fulfilled — with wins from The Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo editors Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter — there’s a solid chance that Best Picture and Best Editing may be reunited on Sunday. To become a nominee, work must first pass through the professional gauntlet of the Editing Branch of AMPAS where a few hundred experts nominate their favorites. The 5 with the most votes make it to general voting where any AMPAS member can make their voice heard. Here are this year’s contenders with my prediction in red:

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Best Original Screenplay

The very foundation of any film is its screenplay. It presents the story that inspires the director’s overarching vision, and ideally it gives him or her a road map to follow on a creative journey. It creates human beings out of thin air, and it steers actors toward the motivations that will allow them to bring said human beings to life with an authenticity that makes them resonate. Adapted screenplays are often great, but there’s always an inherent compromise that comes with them. You’re taking material that worked in a different medium and trying to shoehorn it into film, even though it might have strengths or weaknesses that don’t translate to motion picture well. Thus, the award for Best Original Screenplay may be the most pure award when it comes to recognizing artists for their ability to create within the realm of cinema. Here are the original screenplays that the Academy feels best represent the potential of what film can be from this past year (with my predicted winner in red):

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Life of Pi

What does Best Picture say about who we are? On the one hand, nothing. It’s very easy to write the whole thing off as Hollywood congratulating itself, the height of cultural irrelevance. Plenty of critics write anti-Academy pieces every year, highlighting the limited scope of the nominees and the out-of-touch reputation of the voting membership. They aren’t necessarily wrong. Yet the Oscars are part of a larger picture of American cinema and society, and they reflect it. It’s been said that the raucous comedy Tom Jones was just what we needed at the Oscars in early 1964, only a few months after John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The Best Picture battle between Coming Home and The Deer Hunter was emblematic of the troubled legacy of the Vietnam War, which had come to an end only four years before. In recent years, the success of Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech and The Artist seems to hint at globalization and the importance of the international market. (A victory for Life of Pi would continue that trend.) So, what do we do with this year? If Lincoln wins, there will no doubt be plenty of writing around the connections between Honest Abe and President Obama. More than that, however, Steven Spielberg’s film is a work of profound faith in America and its institutions. In that respect it opens a dialog with the other films nominated for Best Picture, and gives us some insight into Oscar’s mood going into 2013.

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Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s awards season contender and recent winter box office champion Zero Dark Thirty was released wide on the coattails of considerable controversy pertaining to the film’s depiction of torture. Journalists Frank Bruni and Glenn Greenwald, critic David Edelstein, and documentarian Alex Gibney are amongst those who have criticized the film for seemingly forging a direct link between “advanced interrogation techniques” (better known as “torture”) and the actionable intelligence that lead to the death of Osama bin Laden. This controversy has gone far beyond the film community; politicians and CIA spokespersons have called the film out for alleged misrepresentation. After finally seeing Zero Dark Thirty after reading about this controversy for months, I wonder, did any of these people see the same film I saw? And are criticisms like these really what it means to be anti-torture in a post-Cheney America?

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ted_02037204

Once upon a time, the Oscar nominations were filled with titles unfamiliar to the regular Joe. Not unknown, necessarily, but at least not widely seen. But today, thanks to all kinds of home video platforms and theatrical distribution for even the short film nominees, it’s not always so impossible to see everything before the big night. To help those of you wishing to be completists, I’ve listed all of this year’s recently announced Oscar nominees and noted how and where you can see them, whether presently or soon enough. It may not be entirely doable, as some foreign films haven’t officially been released here, including one that doesn’t even yet have a date, and some titles are in the middle of their theatrical to DVD window. But there are a bunch that can be streamed right this moment on your computer via Amazon, Google, YouTube and other outlets, each of which I’ve marked accordingly courtesy of GoWatchIt. Only three are through Netflix Watch Instant, by the way (How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War and Mirror Mirror). And one short has been embedded in the post. 

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trailer_beasts of southern wild

Everyone calm down. The Oscar nominations are not a disaster. They actually make for the most exciting awards season in recent memory. I know that for many of us this took a few minutes to notice. I am, frankly, still pretty ticked off about Kathryn Bigelow somehow missing a nomination for Best Director. I’d rant about this, but Monika Bartyzel over at Movies.com has already done an excellent job breaking it down. Other things aren’t so much infuriating as they are irritatingly dull, like a Best Supporting Actor category full of former winners and a studio-dominated Best Animated Feature. Add that to the embarrassing jokes Emma Stone and Seth McFarlane threw at us at 8:30AM EST, and it’s not surprising Twitter turned into a mini-maelstrom of bitter resentment. However, there is much to be stoked about! There are the little things, like four nominations for my beloved Anna Karenina. There are littler things, like Quvenzhané Wallis becoming the youngest Best Actress nominee in history. There are the littlest things: PES’s Fresh Guacamole might be the shortest Oscar nominee in history with a running time of just over 90 seconds. Finally, the big picture is also a lot more intriguing than anyone would have guess just a few months ago.

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The Dowager Countess

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly quarrel with the boundaries of good taste. It’s a nightly column that took some holiday time off, but it now back for its third (we think) season of rocking your world with links about entertainment, non-entertainment and other wordy pursuits in-between. Downton? Damn Near Killed Her – As you should already know if you reside on the Internet, Downton Abbey is back for its third season here in the United States of America. And as has been the case in the past, we just can’t get enough of that elegant British melodrama. If we had to place bets on what really connects Downton with its hip young American audience, we’d say that it has something to do with Dame Maggie Smith. See the following video as exhibit A.

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Best Movies of 2012

Earlier this year, we organized a vote between a bunch of internet film critics (and a handful of filmmakers) to come up with what they would cumulatively exalt as the best movies of all time. It’s not like we had to pull teeth or anything (we left our hammer at home), but compiling lists of the best movies of 2012 was a lot easier. People have just been giving away their opinions over the past few weeks. While that was a large-scale project, this ones admittedly a bit fluffier. I compiled as many Best Of lists as I could from notable online movie outlets, assigned point values for the movies listed (#10 gets 1 point, #1 gets 10 points) and plugged everything into my TI-82. It took a while to compute since I was playing this awesome game where you’re a 3-pixel wide race car and you have to avoid slamming into stuff, but the results were…

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Megan Ellison

If you salivated over adult dramas and auteur filmmaking in 2012, you have a Hindu Goddess and a 26-year-old film school dropout to thank. The Hindu Goddess is Annapurna, the “mother who feeds” and the namesake for the film school dropout’s production company, and our filmmaker of the year is Megan Ellison, the Goddess of Nourishment for World Class Directors. Over the past decade, the big six studios all but gave up on adult dramas, period pieces without capes and anything that cost more than ten but less than one-hundred million dollars. Movie writers love to pontificate on whether something controversial like Rosemary’s Baby could get made today (Friday nights at the bar get heated), but there’s an even shorter conversation about something like Regarding Henry or Witness – mature stories that have no real chance at the studio system of 2012. Fortunately, that need is being filled in part by Ellison and her massive personal fortune. Which is probably why, when I asked editors for three major film websites to weigh in on what would never be the same after 2012, all of them wanted to talk about Ellison. Sure, the digital takeover was big; crowdsourcing was a game-changer; but it was Ellison’s name on everyone’s lips. So what exactly do we have to thank her for?

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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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mnad_burgundy

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the thing that tucks you in at night, ensures that not a creature is stirring and keeps an eye out for that chubby guy with the red suit. It’s on duty all year ’round though, so late nights get a little boring. Luckily there’s movie news to talk about. Anchor Date – Great news this week from the Channel 4 News Team. Ron Burgundy and his friends have set a date for their return. The long anticipated Anchorman 2 will hit theaters on December 20, 2013. Luckily, the world did not end today as planned. Suck it, Mayans. Now we get more of Ron, Brick, Champ, Brian Fantana and all the wonderful supporting characters that populate the Sex Panther-scented world of San Diego.

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Film Jockeys 2 - Snob Who Stole Christmas

Check out Derek’s porfolio His other webcomic “Northern Empires” And/Or the Film Jockeys Archive

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Lena Dunham

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the coolest movie column of the year. Most nights, at least. Coolest Person of the Year – It’s a fascinating thing, for Time’s Joel Stein to name someone like Lena Dunham as the “Coolest Person of the Year” for 2012. Here on the Internet, she’s been the subject of much derision. Her creation, the HBO series Girls, has been the subject of heated discussion. Is it terrible? Is it a gift from a place where more is expected from comedy? Or is it just awkward? No matter your take, it is interesting. And her bold sensibilities combined with the network shield of Judd Apatow has created something culturally relevant. She even lost her virginity to President Obama, or something like that. Either way, TIME is right. She is pretty cool.

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Kathryn Bigelow on The Hurt Locker set

Hanging with bikers, vampires and surfing bank robbers, Kathryn Bigelow has made a name for herself chasing after adrenaline. After mixed reviews and a bad box office break for her Soviet submarine flick K-19: The Widowmaker, Bigelow developed one of writer Mark Boal‘s articles into a television series for Fox called The Inside, then chose to work with him to turn his experiences embedded in Baghdad-patrolling bomb squad into The Hurt Locker. The film — which she never took to studios, opting instead for independent financing and freedom — was a marvel, earning a massive amount of critical love and earning both the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director for Bigelow. She’s a fierce talent who has weathered a decades-long career to emerge as an important modern storyteller who takes on difficult, true-life events and spins them into profound works. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from a woman who likes to blow things up for a living.

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published: 10.30.2014
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published: 10.29.2014
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published: 10.27.2014
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published: 10.24.2014
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