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Zero Dark Thirty

If Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty is one of the most exciting and important movies of this year, as press response seems to indicate, it’s also one of the most troubling, and perhaps most dangerous, in a long time. (It was premiered last month to qualify for awards, but it’s only reaching general audiences now.) It may also be fundamentally dishonest, but it’s harder to adjudge the degree of self-awareness that informed it.

Gangster Squad

Any movie buff is sure to feel a happy frisson seeing the Warner Brothers logo at the beginning of Gangster Squad. Warners was the studio that made its name in the 1930s with crime stories starring James Cagney, Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, and Paul Muni that were as hard-hitting as the output of rival MGM was glossy and ephemeral. Many of those films were loosely based on the careers of real gangsters of the day. Gangster Squad may use real names, but it’s pretty much as fictitious as those thrillers of 80 years ago.

The Impossible

A few years ago, at a roundtable interview with novelist Kazuo Ishiguro for the adaptation of his Never Let Me Go, someone asked him why the characters in his story—children raised to be organ donors—tolerated their fate when they could have escaped. Ishiguro said that some people would certainly fight that fate, but this was a story about people who did not.

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