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'Zero Dark Thirty' emotionally honest and moral work

By The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This article was published January 10, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.

Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty is threatening to become more than a movie — already three U.S. senators have weighed in on this thriller about the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Some people have even called Bigelow an apologist for torture — and last week the cultural critic Naomi Wolf equated Bigelow to Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl.

But our critic Philip Martin, while acknowledging that the movie engages in a kind of brinksmanship — insisting on fiction’s license while maintaining its roots in journalistic inquiry — finds it an emotionally honest and moral work that exposes the gears of a relentless, if not always precise, machine and is more likely to make the gut-wrenching reality of extreme interrogation techniques explicit where they had been abstract. And Jessica Chastain is remarkable in the only real lead role.

On the other hand, Gangster Squad exhausts an interesting premise (one also founded on historical fact) in a dull and dumb shoot-’em-up.

In other news, Hitchcock works as a diversion, but Martin can’t quite call it a good movie, and Marjane Satrapi’s Chicken With Plums arrives at Market Street Theater. Read Martin’s positive review of that one on blooddirtangels.com.

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