Triple Frontier, Review By Case Wright


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The heist movie or treasure hunt movie is always the same and always pretty fun.  It’s not supposed to be Shakespeare; it’s supposed to pull you in and be a thrill ride.  This iteration is all about the down and out Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who decide to seek their fortune the old fashioned way: ripping off a drug kingpin!  In true heist genre fashion, everything works out great!

The characters came across as real Veterans to me.  After some research, the writer- Mark Boal was embedded with a platoon in Iraq and he also wrote The Hurt Locker.  The characters in Triple Frontier were like the men I knew: strong, divorced, and liked to joke.  Ben Affleck’s character Tom struck me as especially realistic.  He loved his daughter, but there was a distance because he was just not suited for civilian life.  She wanted him home, but he always wanted to be away.  You could see on her face that she knew the moment his buddies came calling that he was already gone.

Oscar Isaac plays Pope who has a gig doing private security/law enforcement in South America.  He is in pursuit of Lorea, a drug boss, who is causing all kinds of problems. Yada Yada Yada.  Pope finds the location of Lorea’s hideout which has hundreds of millions of dollars stashed inside, but he needs a team to kill Lorea, Lorea’s men, get the cash, and get out of the country.  He turns to his former squad to pull off the heist.  They need a little cajoling, but they come around. There isn’t a lot of dialogue after they agree to the heist, which makes sense.  They committed and now transitioned to soldier-mode.  The heist starts off with success in sight, but it’s not long before everything goes wrong and they are in a fight for their lives.

The film is shot really beautifully and has some high-priced songs for a Netflix program. Everything seemed very real.  Even the way the characters carried themselves and flowed through Lorea’s hideout was seamless.   They moved the way we are trained to move through rooms.  I am always looking for that in action films.  Are they not having muzzle-awareness (pointing there weapon accidentally at a friendly)?  Are they holding the rifle close to their face? Are they aiming right?  The answers to those questions were yes.   J.C. Chandor should be really proud of himself for the realism.

What kept pulling me into the story wasn’t the action (which was excellent BTW); it was that these men were like the ones I knew.  The team itself was representative of who does our killing for us: salt of the earth…men.   I like seeing women in action films and I am already excited about Black Widow, but the infantry in real life is male.  They are regular guys who are asked to do terrible terrible things.  When those terrible things are done, we cast the men aside.  The story concludes a lot like the war itself did with a lot of loss and not a lot to show for it.  This film has a political statement between the explosions and it’s worth listening to it. 

* I included Mary Pop Poppins by the True Loves in my review.  The song embodies the heist genre like no other.  Also, they are Seattleites!!!!

Quick Review: Zero Dark Thirty (dir. by Kathryn Bigelow)


zero-dark-thirty-releases-a-uk-poster-121641-00-1000-100I’m hoping this won’t be the only review for Zero Dark Thirty. I just happened to view it earlier, and these are my thoughts. As other reviews come in, they will more than likely be in depth.

On May 1st, 2011, news spread around the United States as President Barack Obama announced that a successful operation was completed that resulted in Osama Bin Laden’s death. Academy Award Winning Director Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty is the story of the events leading up to that operation. This is by far one of the trickiest reviews I’ve ever had to write, considering this isn’t a fictional tale, but one based on actual events. Additionally, in trying to tell you about this, even though you know what happens, I’m leaving out tons of details so that the audience can be surprised. In short, Zero Dark Thirty is easily my front runner for Best Picture and Director this year (and this is coming from someone who enjoyed Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook this year). I enjoyed it so much that right after seeing it today, I went back in for a 2nd showing.

Zero Dark Thirty doesn’t apologize for anything that occurs in the film. There are actions that may have viewers wincing or possibly questioning the motives behind them. At the same time, it doesn’t really try to glorify anyone either. There are no congratulatory celebrations like you’d find in a Michael Bay film. There’s no one approving of nor condemning in this. There’s just a target, and the people are who are – by whatever means they can – trying to eliminate that target, no sugar coating required. I like to think it takes a bit of courage to throw that up there for audiences. I’m not really certain there’s any other way they could have told it without causing some kind of upset. Unlike Act of Valor, which favored the Military Forces presented on screen, Zero Dark Thirty kind of showcases Seal Team 6 as just a group of guys that need to go in and do a job. It may be considered the safe road in having the distance there, but I felt it worked over all.

Jessica Chastain carries the film as Maya, a CIA Operative who makes it her mission to get UBL. I’ve never seen Chastain’s other films, but she comes across with such ferocity in this movie as it process as it’s hard to ignore her and I’ll probably keep an eye out for her other work. Jason Clarke (Brotherhood) also plays an operative who works with her. Zero Dark Thirty has a great ensemble cast that includes Mark Strong (Green Lantern), James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), Chris Pratt (Wanted), Jennifer Ehle (Contagion), Edgar Ramirez (The Bourne Ultimatum), among others. It didn’t feel like anyone missed a beat on this.

The movie moves at an even pace. It felt long the first time I watched it, but considerably shorter the second time. Mark Boal’s script is pretty lean, moving from scene to scene with ease, which may actually be more to Bigelow’s credit. The first audience I saw the film with gave it tons of applause at the climax of the film – the actual raid done in a mixture of night time shots and night vision camera shots –  and at the end credits. The second group only clapped at the end credits. I imagine there’s going to be mixed responses all around.

Zero Dark Thirty is getting some serious praise from Hollywood and condemnation from political officials, from what I’m seeing online. Yes, the movie does contain scenes of torture, but perhaps my having seen too many horror films, I didn’t quite feel that what was displayed was really that bad.  As I saw the film without knowing any of the historical background of the actual events, the movie worked for me as a tense drama. It’s altogether possible that others may feel differently when viewing it, and that’s okay.

Overall, if you’re able to find a theatre that’s playing the film during this preview period, it’s worth seeing. The movie will open in wide release on January 11.

By the way, here are the Satellite Award Nominations…


In even more Oscar season news, the International Press Association announced their nominations for the Satellite Awards yesterday.  Les Miserables led with 10 nominations.

If you’re like most people who don’t obsess over film awards then chances are that you’ve never heard of the International Press Association.  And that’s okay.  The main thing to know is that it’s Oscar season and that means that everyone’s giving out an award.  The Satellites are a lot like the Golden Globes, just with less credibility.  As far as serving as a precursor is concerned, a Satellite win can help a film maintain momentum but a loss doesn’t really hurt.

That said, for the past few years, I’ve always ended up agreeing more with the Satellite Nominations than with either the Oscars or the Golden Globes.  For instance, back in 2010, the Satellites nominated Noomi Rapace for her performance in the original (and the best) version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

BEST PICTURE
“Argo”
“Beasts Of The Southern Wild”
“Life Of Pi”
“Lincoln”
“Les Misérables”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“The Sessions”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Skyfall”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST DIRECTOR
Ben Affleck, “Argo”
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Kim Ki-duk, “Pieta“
Ben Lewin, “The Sessions”
David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Kathryn Bigelow, “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST ACTRESS
Laura Birn, “Purge”
Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Emilie Dequenne, “Our Children”
Keira Knightley, “Anna Karenina”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Laura Linney, “Hyde Park On Hudson”
Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”

BEST ACTOR
Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
John Hawkes, “The Sessions”
Hugh Jackman, “Les Misérables”
Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
Omar Sy, “The Intouchables”
Denzel Washington, “Flight”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Amy Adams, “The Master”
Samantha Barks, “Les Miserables“
Judi Dench, “Skyfall”
Helene Florent, “Café De Flore”
Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables”
Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Javier Bardem, “Skyfall”
Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”
John Goodman, “Flight”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
Eddie Redmayne, “Les Misérables”

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
John Gatins, “Flight”
Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, “The Intouchables”
Paul Thomas Anderson, “The Master”
Roman Coppola and Wes Anderson, “Moonrise Kingdom”
Kim Ki-duk, “Pieta”
Mark Boal, “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Tom Stoppard, “Anna Karenina”
Chris Terrio, “Argo”
David Magee, “Life Of Pi”
Tony Kushner, “Lincoln”
Ben Lewin, “The Sessions”
David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
“Amour” (Austria)
“Beyond The Hills” (Romania)
“Caesar Must Die” (Italy)
“The Intouchables” (France)
“Kon-Tiki” (Norway)
“Our Children” (Belgium)
“Pieta” (South Korea)
“A Royal Affair” (Denmark)
“War Witch” (Canada)

BEST ANIMATED OR MIXED-MEDIA FILM
“Brave”
“Frankenweenie”
“Ice Age 4: Continental Drift”
“Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”
“Paranorman”
“Rise Of The Guardians”
“Wreck-It Ralph”

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
“Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry”
“The Central Park Five”
“Chasing Ice”
“The Gatekeepers”
“Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present”
“The Pruitt-Igoe Myth”
“Searching For Sugar Man”
“West Of Memphis”

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Seamus McGarvey, “Anna Karenina”
Ben Richardson, “Beasts Of The Southern Wild”
Claudio Miranda, “Life Of Pi”
Janusz Kaminski, “Lincoln”
Mihai Malaimare, Jr., “The Master”
Roger Deakins, “Skyfall”

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Sarah Greenwood, Niall Moroney, Thomas Brown, Nick Gottschalk and Tom Still, “Anna Karenina”
Nathan Crowley, Kevin Kavanaugh, James Hambidge and Naaman Marshall, “The Dark Knight Rises”
Rick Carter, Curt Beech, David Crank and Leslie McDonald, “Lincoln”
David Crank and Jack Fisk, “The Master”
Eve Stewart and Anna Lynch-Robinson, “Les Misérables”
Niels Sejer, “A Royal Affair”

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Jacqueline Durran, “Anna Karenina”
Kym Barrett and Pierre-Yves Gayraud, “Cloud Atlas”
Christian Gasc and Valerie Ranchoux, “Farewell, My Queen”
Paco Delgado, “Les Misérables”
Manon Rasmussen, “A Royal Affair”
Colleen Atwood, “Snow White And The Huntsman”

BEST FILM EDITING
Alexander Berner, “Cloud Atlas”
Jeremiah O’Driscoll, “Flight”
Chris Dickens, “Les Misérables”
Lisa Bromwell, “The Sessions”
Jay Cassidy, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Dylan Tichenor, “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Dario Marianelli, “Anna Karenina”
Alexandre Desplat, “Argo”
Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts Of The Southern Wild”
John Williams, “Lincoln”
Jonny Greenwood, “The Master”
Thomas Newman, “Skyfall”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Learn Me Right,” “Brave”
“Fire In The Blood/Snake Song” “Lawless”
“Love Always Comes As A Surprise,” “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted”
“Suddenly,” “Les Misérables”
“Still Alive,” “Paul Williams: Still Alive”
“Skyfall,” “Skyfall”

BEST SOUND (EDITING AND MIXING)
“Flight”
“Les Misérables”
“Snow White And The Huntsman”
“Kon-Tiki”
“Life Of Pi”
“Prometheus”

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
“Cloud Atlas”
“The Dark Knight Rises”
“Flight”
“Life Of Pi”
“Prometheus”
“Skyfall”

Trailer: Zero Dark Thirty


After the success Kathryn Bigelow had with her award-winning film The Hurt Locker it was just part of the norm that people began to wonder what she would do to follow-up the film which gave her the Oscar for Best Director. There was talk of her making an action thriller about the Tri-Border Region in South America that many intelligence agencies consider a major haven for global organized crime and terrorist groups of all kinds. This particular idea bounced around for months then nothing came of it. Then news came about around late-Spring to early Summer 2011 that Bigelow and The Hurt Locker writer and collaborator Mark Boal came upon the idea that would be Bigelow’s follow-up.

The film that the two decided upon would be an action thriller detailing the global manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but this decision became even more important once news broke out on May 2, 2011 that the hunt for America’s Most Wanted criminal was finally over and that Operation Neptune Spear was a success with the death of Bin Laden.

Zero Dark Thirtyis the title of Bigelow’s film about the details and backstory which led up to this special operations mission on May 2, 2011. The first trailer for the film has been released by Sony and it’s short on details other than some voice overs over satellite imagery. I’m sure there’ll be more trailers that will open up what this film will truly be about leading up to it’s December release date (just in time for awards season).

It’s going to be interesting how Bigelow will do with this follow-up to The Hurt Locker. If her history is anything to go by then it shouldn’t disappoint even if some of her detractors will be chomping at the bit to see it fail and further see her Best Director Oscar win as a fluke done to keep the award from her ex-husband James Cameron.

Zero Dark Thirty is scheduled for a December 19, 2012 release date…just two days from the end of the world.