I've decided to dedicate Monday's to reviewing the latest movies on the big screen. After all, if I'm asked to speak on anything when I travel, more times than not, I'm asked to help students and parents understand what's going on with Culture.
So here's to my New Year's Endeavor, it's MOVIE MONDAY (hear the movie monday jingle in the background, and crowds of electronic praise clapping for an AMAZING article. HA!)
This weekend I took my son to go see Zero Dark Thirty. He's interested in joining the military, so I'm always trying to find films and events that will help him understand the life of a military man.
It's rating was a little off for my teenage boy, but I thought it might be a good chance to talk through what's going on surrounding this movie that's about to claim a lot of awards during the award season, and has garnered a bit of controversy from politicians in Washington.
Just so you know, that's how we roll here in our family. We don't let our kids watch Rated R movies without knowing what's going on inside the film. And when we watch any kind of film beyond an animated feature, we always like to talk through the message of the film and how we need to be thinking about the direction the film makers want us to think.
On Movie Monday's I'll try to help you see how we do it. I hope it's a help for you, but please don't send me e-mails about how I should run what my kids see or don't see. I just don't have a whole lot of time to debate the method, but I do want to share some ways Media is Influencing our culture and how we can talk about it. On to the Movie
First, I was suspicious as I read through the reviews revealed by congress. I didn't quite understand why they felt threatened someone would make a movie about chasing down the most wanted man of all time, but I quickly saw why. The first hour or so of the movie highlights the detainee program America used to illicit information from wanted criminals. There's no shortage of torture and uncomfortable scenes, so if you have a queezy stomach, you might want to pass up on this one.
The methods and techniques used to find out who the bad guys are and who the good guys was interesting, and spurred on a lively debate at the end of the film. Overall, I felt the writers captured an honest discussion about how the tension of America was felt deep over the time post 9-11, and highlighted the heroic efforts of our Clandestine agencies to figure out how to route out evil.
The highlights of the military men and women were incredibly honorable. I watched my son as he took in the life of a Navy Seal when Team-6 was introduced. HIs eyes were about the bug out of his head with excitement, and I could tell he found the military a profound interest.
We all know how the movie ends, with Bin Laden dead and the house destroyed, but I was impressed how Kathryn Bigelow ended it. There was no political grandstanding, it seemed as though she was trying to tell the story all of us were interested in knowing. She didn't use violence to move the story, even though there were so many violent events. It felt more like a documentary than a Hollywood Blockbuster.
The acting was superb. The story was seen through the CIA agent played by Jessica Chastain, and she performed brilliantly. After spending some time in the Middle East, and hearing the stories of the hunt during the time period, I found it extremely interesting to watch the movie through the eyes of the CIA agent. Again, the story lent itself to a quick move from one scene to the next. I never felt like I was tired or bored, just interested to see how this all went down.
At the end, we had a long discussion. The boys I was with were interested in the special ops helicopters, training, and the guns used to take people down. And then we moved on to, Why would a Muslim in the Middle East back the whole Bin Laden operation?
We talked a long time about the implications of actions.
We talked about the value of life in the face of ideology.
We talked about torturing to find out enemy plans to save more lives.
We talked about people who dedicate their lives to their work without much else to make them human.
We talked about evil and whether it is necessary to assassinate someone to settle the score for innocent death i.e 9-11.
Overall, I felt like th boys were educated. They had a chance to see a story relevant to real life global events, and we sat down to talk about it. They had a chance to work through ethical decisions where the clear, easy answer wasn't available.
If you're concerned with language, there's a lot of foul language.
If you're concerned with violence, there are scenes that made my stomach turn.
If you're worried about sexual innuendos, I believe there were a few, but nobody got naked. (thanks Hollywood.)
Overall the action is high, the tension is thick, and the story runs fast. Thanks Ms. Bigelow for being the first to try and tell this story in a movie fashion. We'll see what those who follow you take from the film.
In the end, it wasn't as 'patriotic' as you might expect. No where near the Navy Seal movie released a couple of years ago. But it does dry into question why we do what we do, how we do what we do, and the necessity to have a conversation in an area of the world very few understand.
I left the theater proud to be an American, but knowing we live in a dark world in need of salvation.