I fit in a few movies from on the United flight from NYC to Edinburgh. One was the Mark Whalberg / Catherine Zeta-Jones / Russell Crowe Broken City. It had some great (relevant) visuals as it was shot in NYC. The flim itself was dreadful. It was a purely one-dimensional morality tale pitting the cop archtype (label: good) vs. the politician (label: bad). Then social housing (label: good) was pitted against development (label:bad). It was the least subtle movie I’ve seen — this does not mix well with overtones of morality.
The only redeeming feature for me was that Russell Crowe is a long way from playing Maximus in Gladiator. He is now a splitting image of Prime Minister Stephen Harper — whose politics are a little more nuanced.
The other flick I watched on the plane was Zero Dark 30. The previous day I was at the 9/11 memorial so it was a fitting choice.
This is well reviewed by the great Roger Ebert of course: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/zero-dark-thirty-2013. It’s a tough-to-watch show in many cases. I’d heard that it could be interpreted as a morality tale — and I cannot disagree more. Yes, nice to have live by the sword, die by the sword justice, but I can’t fathom the state-sponsored mistreatment of prisoners. By engaging in this the US has done so much to endanger its people domestically and abroad. Lowering the bar is a frightening concept. State-sponsored abuse has been out of favour in the West for centuries. I was at the Edinburgh Castle’s jail where they’d kept prisoners from the American Revolution and a number of the wars between France and Britain. Not luxurious accommodations but I was amazed by the daily rations per prisoner: 1.1 litres of beer, 0.3kg of bread, 1.0 kg of bread… it was not meant to be worse than it had to be.
So, interesting contrast. One bad film that was poor because things were black and white, and a better film that was terrifying because depicts something that should be black and white but wasn’t. Or isn’t.
Finally, and totally unrelated, James Gandolfini of Sopranos fame played a boss spook in Zero Dark. I’d tought of him taking the Amtrak from Newark to NYC — it’s a gritty industrial area much like the intro to the show. Good song and great visuals:
I got off the plane and saw that he’d died. Too bad. He’ll be buried in NYC.