Anyone who did not see “Zero Dark Thirty” on its opening night was smart, as it was mayhem in theaters everywhere. The film shot to #1 at the box office overnight and is there still, for the plain and simple reason that it’s a must see (no spoiler alert here because we all know at least a little about eliminating Osama bin Laden). Zero Dark features a razor sharp screenplay by Mark Boal, top form directing by Kathryn Bigelow, and higher than high stakes drama from start to finish.
This film, however, is sufficiently controversial that there may soon be Congressional hearings about it–Sen. John McCain and Sen. Diane Feinstein had it in their sites by day one. The charge is that Bigelow and Boal depict torture in a manner that glorifies it, by way of a plot that allegedly portrays the U.S. government/military eliminating OBL only via intelligence gleaned from full on, no holds barred torture. In my view they are innocent of this charge. The raging debate over the film is misdirected and could do better to be debating this country’s torture legacy rather than a film that deserves serious consideration for a best picture Oscar.
Like sausage, you don’t want to see links being made.
Nickel book reviews:
- The Victory Lab, Sasha Issenberg. So good I changed my course syllabus for January 2013 after reading this book in December 2012. Seth Masket [The Mifchiefs of Faction] has more.
- Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of belief, Lawrence Wright. Interesting and well-reported. Clearly chary of lawsuits, Wright’s investigations never cohere to a full-throated examination of the Church of Scientology. Nevertheless, generally recommended.
- Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War, Chris Bellamy. Even at 700 pages, this book occasionally feels superficial. A good overview, sometimes overly chatty. Better on the military than on the social or political side of things. Also recommended (not exhaustive): Death of the Wehrmacht (Citino), Stalin’s Wars (Roberts), Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar (Montefiore).
- The Org: The Underlying Logic of the Office, Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan. Breezy and interesting, but the first several chapters could be easily skipped if you’re familiar with either Coase paper. Useful for an early reading in an undergraduate course on organizational behavior.