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Who We Are In The Dark: Zero Dark Thirty & Torture…

That Zero Dark Thirty should come under fire for its use and portrayal of torture is not surprising. The film deserves to spark debate about how we respond to these sorts of threats, and critically examine our claim to the moral high ground. However, the debate seems overly simplistic. It has been suggested that the controversy over torture cost director Kathryn Bigelow a Best Director nomination, and that’s a shame. The fact she’s felt to the need to respond to these relatively shallow commentaries is less than heartening.

Zero Dark Thirty has a lot to say about torture. It’s a lot of thoughtful and insightful and nuanced stuff, and Zero Dark Thirty actually gets to the nub of the issue, very clearly condemning the culture of “enhanced interrogation”, in a way that is much more effective than any of the commentators seem to realise.

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Watch! Dark Zero Thirty Trailer!

So far, Dark Zero Thirty has been a bit of an unknown quantity in the end-of-year Oscar race. Following the team responsible for assassinating Osama Bin Laden, Kathryn Bigalow’s movie has to be on the short-list for awards contention. It received a fairly radical change of course yesterday, meaning that it might not open in the States as early as expected. Instead, it looks like it might be pushed back to January for a wide release, following a more traditional Oscar pattern. It’s a roll-out strategy that was worked quite well for contenders in other years.

Reportedly, the film’s release had been considered for the November elections, but it may now open wide in the States only slightly early than it opens here. (The notion of being used as a political volleyball in various election-related op-eds was probably less-than-appealing to the film.) It releases in Ireland on 25th January 2013, and we have the new trailer below. Bigalow has assembeld one hell of an ensemble, with some fantastic actors putting in appearances. I am very much looking forward to this one. Enjoy.

Putting the “-ess” in “Sexist”: Why Do We Have a Best Actress Award?

The fact that no woman was nominated for Best Director (after Kathryn Bigelow became the first female to win last year) has caused a stir at this year’s Oscars. I’m not an excessively politically correct individual (just read the blog), but I like to think I’m sensitive to issues like that. Presumably the presumptive female directing nominees would have been either Debra Granik for Winter’s Bone or Lisa Cholodenko for The Kids Are All Right, and – to be honest – I don’t think either was better than any of the five existing nominees. The continued snubbing of Christopher Nolan bothers me far more.

As I thought about the complaint more and more, part of me wondered when the gender of an individual becomes important for awards like this – my gut feeling is “never.” The best is the best, why should we handicap or install quotas? Except for the fact that we do have gender quotas for certain awards. This train of thought led me wonder why we still have a Best Actress and a Best Supporting Actress category… And, to cut a long story short, I really couldn’t think of a good reason.

Are we kidding ourselves?

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