Monthly Archives: March 2013

Departures (2008-2010)

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A travel show that is more than a tour guide. Departures combines the strange, endless features of the Earth and the disheartening reality of our limitations and freedom for an exhilarating hour of TV. This show is as real as it gets. Although originating from Canada and featuring a trio of Canadians, Justin, Scott, and Andre, Departures is extremely diverse. The breathtaking visuals, arduous endeavours, and social and political interactions from across the world will leave you angrily envious. Shaping the confidence and stamina of the group while inserting the travel bug deep in the viewers loins. The obscure and sometimes dangerous destinations prove to be the most rewarding. With Departures you’ll find that there is something for everyone. Touching down on every continent, odds are you’ll be exposed to something new and discover your next destination.

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Season 1: Canada: East and West, Jordan, India, Ascension Islands, Japan, Cook Island, New Zealand, Thailand, Cambodia, and Northern Canada.

Season 2: Morocco, Libya, Brazil, Cuba, Mongolia, Iceland, Zambia, Madagascar, Chile, Antarctica.

Season 3: Russia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Greenland, North Korea, Indonesia, Australia.

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From mountain climbing, scuba diving, and bungee jumping, the crew of Departures don’t know the meaning of intimidation. Never backing down from a challenge, Justin, Scott, and Andre regardless of illness, climate, or safety give it their all to bring a unique perspective of our planet. Whether it may be falling from great heights or entering an active volcano that is spewing lava, smoke, and poisoning the air, Departures is truly something else. The devotion, quality, and dedication of the show is never in question when the crew literally puts their lives in danger to concur their fears and accomplish their dreams. On top of the often ludicrous journeys and patience to acquire the picturesque grace of our cosmic home, the cast deal with their own turbulence outside of the airplanes. Gaining and losing relationships, altering careers, and times of severe homesickness, the Departures crew put it all on the line. Watching Departures you’ll get the strong urge to give yourself more of an identity. Become one with what you want and strive towards it. Departures is the spawn of realized dreams and we should all be more aware of what that feels like. The musical score sets the mood and adds a sense of eternity to a finite space.  Enlightening, funny, and richly atmospheric. Departures will cause you to reassess your life.

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Departures: 10 out of 10.

Argo (2012)

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Following up Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Ben Affleck’s Argo was released with seemingly insurmountable expectations. But the dark, satirical humour, unbearable tension, and outstanding performances by its entire cast is what separated Argo from a pack of dramatized history films in 2012. Argo further cements Ben Affleck as a force both on and off camera. A political thriller that had some tough competition in 2012, all heavily based on historic significance. However, despite this disadvantage, Argo was able to walk away with top honours at the Oscars. Featuring Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and a slew of supporting stars, Argo is sound from top to bottom. The retro look and immersive story make Argo glow and full of intensity.

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The American embassy in Iran was invaded and lost to Iranian revolutionaries in 1979. Numerous Americans were taken hostage. However, during the carnage and chaos, six managed to escape. The six Americans took refuge at the Canadian Ambassador’s house and stayed, waiting for the CIA to work out a way to bring them home. Tony Mendez (Affleck) with the help of Lester (Arkin) and John (Goodman), devised a plan to extract the six using a fake movie as a cover. The six Americans were to be various crew members and producers from Canada on a location scout. With the revolutionaries slowly beginning to realize Americans missing and the White House getting cold feet, time begins to run out.

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Depending more on the source material than making it appeasing. Argo is rewarded for staying true to the past, investing in the audiences tolerance, and choosing intelligence over appearance. In the lead role, Ben Affleck’s work ethic and exterior are impenetrable, exactly what they should be. You’d want someone calm and composed holding your life in their hands. Affleck is immovable and should have earned an Oscar nomination for his performance. Cranston and Goodman are equally as impressive in their supporting roles, but are an afterthought to Arkin’s Oscar nominated performance. With its strong cast and durable, yet entrancing script. Argo is proof that quality over quantity is the best policy, deservedly winning best picture.

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Argo: 9 out of 10.

Top 10 Memorable Uses of “F**K” in Cinema

A brief outline of the top 10. We don’t care if there is an “er,” “ing,” or “mother” before it or after it or any word you can think of associated with it. As long as those four letters are in the quote, it is fair game. Again, this is our personal favourites, so feel free to add any we may have missed or you think should have been included. This goes without saying, but for anyone who didn’t figure this out already. Warning: contains strong language.

10: Gangs of New York. “I don’t give a tuppenny fuck about your moral conundrum, you meat-headed shit sack” The Butcher. Robbed of an Oscar, one of the best villains in cinema ever. We will not deprive him of this honour.

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9: Wedding Crashers. “Mom, the meatloaf…Fuck!” Chaz. Classic.

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8: Tropic Thunder. “Take a big step back…and literally fuck your own face!” Les Grossman. The entire scene is worthy, but this line stands out the most.

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7: Taxi Driver. “Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?” Travis Bickle. Again, the entire scene is worthy but this is an absolute classic.

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6: Pulp Fiction. “Say what again…say what again…I dare you, I double dare you mother fucker…say what one more god damn time!”  Jules. Had to be in the top 10.

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5: Scarface. “You fucking cockroach” and “You fucking with me, you fucking with the best” Tony Montana.

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4: American History X. “You just fucked with the wrong bull!” Danny.

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3: Wanted. I’ll let the picture do the talking.

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2: Goodfellas. Again, check out the pictures.

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And

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“You mother Fucking mutt” Tommy.

1: 25th Hour. I don’t really feel like writing out the whole scene, but essentially if you haven’t seen it, go check it out on youtube. “Fuck you” is mentioned countless times and it is one of the best sequences in cinema history. Edward Norton makes the list twice.

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Here is the link.

The Raid: Redemption (2011)

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Seizing what it has to offer instead of overcompensating and confusing the plot, which is done all too often these days. The Raid: Redemption might be brainless action, but it accomplishes what it sets out to achieve and more. It’s impeccably and incredible choreographed violence is paced and ascending. Leading to a slowly burning, blood soaked finale that will leave you craving seconds. Blindly proceeding forward with its strong foot leading. The foundation, the story, is actually quite intriguing. Characters divided by morals but connected by roots, criss crossing in and out of compassion and resentment. The Raid: Redemption’s cast is thrown to indecision and seemingly cross the line between fiction and reality in their performances. Directed by Gareth Evans, who is putting his talent to good use following up The Raid by contributing to the popular horror anthology V/H/S’s sequel, V/H/S 2. With The Raid: Redemption, what you see is what you get, no mirage, which is an oddity these days.

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In Indonesia, an apartment building is the base for a cruel, criminal drug lord named Tama and his gang. One morning, Lieutenant Wahyu and Sergeant Jaka prepare their special forces team that includes Rama, a rookie and expectant father to raid the safe house. Tama and his gang manage to take out the majority of the special unit. Tama proceeds to announce over the PA system that the remaining members of the team are trapped on the sixth floor and whoever takes them out will be granted free, permanent residence. Now having to deal with Mad Dog, and Andi, Tama’s top henchmen, the rest of the gang, and building patrons, the team wholeheartedly fights back to take control of the building and destroy the gang.

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Upon viewing The Raid, you’ll get the feeling that you’re trailing behind the SWAT team watching everything unfold, it’s beyond exhilarating. Evans and crew did a lot of things right, but knew to do one thing better than the rest, and that is when to show something and knowing when not to. For example, you might feel deprived of unnecessary violence when near the beginning someone is murdered with an axe and nothing is visible. Be warned, what you’re asking for is brutality and gore. With The Raid: Redemption, you are rewarded for your bloodthirsty insanity, you just might have to wait a bit longer and work a bit harder. There is no masking of the simplicity or camouflaging what it lacks. The Raid: Redemption is an emotional tale that doesn’t need you to over think. Sit down, relax, enjoy the excessive carnage and the destructiveness of its ferocity.

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The Raid: Redemption: 8.5 out of 10.

Lincoln (2012)

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It might have a predictable plot and a calculable cast and director to boot, but Lincoln is ripe with outstanding visuals and dazzling acting. Every last detail is planned and constructed with historical accuracy, most importantly, the performances. Steven Spielberg was uncompromising in his choice to portray Lincoln and rightfully so. Spielberg’s rigorous efforts to secure Daniel Day-Lewis for the role of Lincoln didn’t need any explanation and if it did, Lewis’s representation speaks for itself. Also featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, and an accomplished supporting cast, Lincoln doesn’t lack in any aspect. The runtime, paced demeanour, and extended monologues are discouraging at times, but Spielberg and Lewis form a formidable duo that is near impossible to rival.
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In the year 1865, the American Civil War rages on as the U.S president Abraham Lincoln (Day-Lewis) continues his efforts to abolish slavery. Lincoln must accomplish his mission swiftly as the war may end at any time and if peace is at hand, the returning southern states will stop his attempts to rid the United States of slavery. Abraham Lincoln uses any means possible to obtain enough votes to secure the banishment of owning slaves. However, Lincoln faces his own conundrum, end the war and save lives, or end slavery.
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It appears that the only difference in the historical films released in 2012 is the directors. Imagine for a moment if Tarantino had gotten hold of Lincoln, or if Spielberg took the reigns of Zero Dark Thirty. Arguably, all three are very similar at their cores, it’s just the specific tastes and talents of the director that has separated them. Now, putting direction aside, simply put, Lincoln has a dream team both on and off screen, there is no debating that. There might be certain elements of the film that some will argue could have been handled better, but its incessantly hard to dispute a group as skillful and talented as Lincoln’s. It’s kind of like telling God how to create, it’s a battle you’re just not going to win. Lincoln’s personnel perfections aside, the film deserves its merit. Similar to Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln is a dramatization of history and facts. The difficulty that comes with putting a fresh, new twist on a event or figure that has been read and repeated for numerous years is exasperating. However, again like Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln thrives under pressure and is a magnificent feature. Lincoln’s ferocious bid for flawless might fall just inches short, but several Oscar nominations and wins is additional proof that Lincoln is a must see.
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Lincoln: 8.5 out of 10.

Frontier(s) (2007)

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It has its moments, but Frontier(s) tries to do too much with a non-sensical plot and teach too many lessons that it knocks out any interest you might have had. If it had stuck to a plain story with clear motives, even if they are familiar, been structured somewhat properly, and gave enough time to each aspect instead of jamming it all into a despicable mess, Frontier(s) would have been much better, at least half decent. It is another entry into the French extremist movement that is hit and miss. Martyrs and Inside being hits while Ils (Them) and Frontier(s) are misses (Ils not as far of a miss as Frontiers). Frontier(s) is an all night excursion with no horizon. Assembling parts from films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and draining political turmoil and sprinkling it throughout with no purpose. Frontier(s) doesn’t know how to translate conscious cinema, or create, nor convey enough scares and gore to encompass a genre.

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Riots and chaos ensue after a right-wing extremist is elected president of France. A group of teenagers who manage to steal a bag of money plan to escape the craziness by fleeing to Amsterdam. During a series of events, Yasmine’s brother Sami is shot. The group decides to split up. Alex, Yasmine, and Sami head to the hospital while Tom and Farid drive to the boarder. Tom and Farid decide to stop at a sleazy motel where they are offered a free room and sex. They call Alex to inform them of their location and to invite them to the inn. Soon after, they discover the inn is run by a family of Nazi cannibals trying to create a pure race.

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Karina Testa, the female lead is passable, but her incessant shaking is so frustrating. It is so genuinely annoying that you’ll find yourself yelling at her idiotic choices and unsanctioned mannerisms. I don’t know if it was the director, the writers, or Testa on her own who gave the go ahead on her continuous seizures, but it was definitely misplaced and overused. The build up didn’t even warrant a severe state of shock. The woman in Martyrs, hell, even Inside’s two leads went through more and took it better than someone who, for the most part is untouched. Yeah, you got your hair cut unwillingly, been hit a couple of times, seen some people die, but one of the girls in Martyrs was literally skinned alive and took it better and she was still able to make sensible choices, so honestly…suck it up. I know they’re trying to evoke a sense of empathy, but in reality you don’t really care what happens to any of the leads which is ultimately why Frontier(s) fails.

Frontier(s): 5.5 out of 10. The only reason they get a passing grade is some clever kills and appeasing gore. However, If this is your saviour and is the only reason you’re above 500, it might be time to reevaluate your picture.

Eraserhead (1977)

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The disturbing, controversial full length feature debut from David Lynch, Eraserhead is a grim depiction of unprepared, irresponsible adults struggling with sudden parenthood. Mixing elements of fantasy and horror, Lynch laid out his path of obscure filmmaking from the get go. Resembling the style of noir films, Eraserhead’s ominous score and abrupt, terrifying visions will leave your heart beating out of your chest. Eraserhead is relentlessly unnerving and will still scare you half to death 36 years after its initial release. Featuring Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, and a terribly deformed infant, Eraserhead’s cast knows how to chill the viewers very bones. I’ll issue a warning for this one. If you view it unprepared like I first did, it will definitely run up the electricity bill (because you’ll sleep with the lights on…get it?).

Henry (Nance) lives in what appears to be an abandoned apartment building surrounded by an industrial jungle. The mechanisms of these factories continually make defining sounds and the encompassing area appears to be an apocalyptic wasteland. Attending a bizarre dinner with his girlfriend Mary (Stewart), Henry receives some troubling news. She has bore a child prematurely and the infant is severely deformed. Returning home with the creature, Henry and his girlfriend’s relationship begins to fall apart due to the infants incessant needs. Mary leaves Henry to tend for the baby on his own. During his secluded time with the infant, Henry begins to hallucinate unsettling visions and behave strangely.

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For me, I saw Alien before Eraserhead even though it was released two years before it. The reason I bring it up is while watching Eraserhead, it reminded me a great deal of the first time I saw Alien. Both similarly have a deformed, bloody and puss riddled creature that screeches, but it’s more to do with the calm, often uneventful pace that lulls you into a false sense of safety. Then when you’re just getting comfortable, the film sends you into shock and you’re struggling to peel your eyelids apart. The mounting tension, apparent weirdness, and abominating visuals of Eraserhead are so well interleaved, each one feeds off the previous to create genuine fright. Half of the time you don’t even know why you’re scared, you just can’t decipher or connect with what’s on screen and it leaves you feeling abandoned and terrified. Lynch and Nance are so deeply on the same page that they’re getting paper cuts. Nance’s portrayal of a normal man beautifully struggling with his own mortality and passiveness is infectious. Lynch’s early form is much like that of Luis Bunuel but he is able to make this surrealist picture his own with a truly original and relatable tale at the films core. Eraserhead is a whole body workout and should be thoroughly prepared for before you trifle with it and wake the beast.

Eraserhead: 8.5 out of 10.

Django Unchained (2012)

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It goes to darker and more controversial places than Inglorious Basterds. Something that, by most was thought to be impossible. Django Unchained is another monumental entry in Quentin Tarantino’s remarkable repertoire and once again displays his confidence and comfort level handling questionable subject matter. One thing Tarantino deserves mammoth respect for is his ability to connect with his target audience and more importantly, never undermining their intelligence. Whether it is the use of several languages or rewriting historical events, Tarantino gives the viewers credit and is rewarded for his investments. Django Unchained’s cast is led by Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L Jackson, and Kerry Washington. Profane, violent, and incredibly entertaining, Django Unchained is a showcase of Tarantino’s unique brain and style as well as impeccably acted.

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Dr. King Schultz (Waltz), a former dentist, manages to track down and obtain the freedom of a slave named Django (Foxx). Upon learning that Schultz is a bounty hunter, Django is trained to become his apprentice. Schultz needs Django to help him hunt down a group of brothers to collect a bounty. After finishing business with the brothers, Django and Schultz shift their gaze to a ruthless plantation owner named Calvin Candie (DiCaprio), who owns Django’s wife Broomhilda (Washington). Concocting a plan to free Broomhilda from Candie and his conniving slave and friend Stephen (Jackson), Django and Schultz get more than they bargained for.

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With his last two outings, Tarantino has managed to turn even his harshest critics into fans. The reason being that no matter how his previous films struck you, Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained are ingenious and too well crafted to ignore. I know numerous people who absolutely appalled Tarantino movies up until 2009. The comedy, action, and pure, creative brilliance in Django and Basterds is impossible to dismiss. Earning several Oscar Nominations for Django Unchained both on and off screen. Tarantino, cast, and crew put their talents to work and don’t disappoint. Waltz is the MVP for the second straight Tarantino outing, winning his second Oscar in as many nominations. DiCaprio and Jackson battle one another in hilarious fashion and manage to outshine Foxx. Foxx who performs admirably is simply outgunned by his surrounding cast. It isn’t his fault entirely, it’s just that with these acting heavyweights, someone has to be the weak link,even if it is by comparison. Django Unchained is as brutal as it is fun making it a must see whether you’re a Tarantino enthusiasts or not.

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Django Unchained: 9 out of 10.

Top 10 Trilogies

1. a: The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Tied for first place, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is one of the most complete and balanced trilogies of all time.

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1. b: The Dark Knight trilogy. Being able to tie with quite possibly the greatest cinematic achievement ever, The Dark Knight Trilogy reshaped comic book films and shattered the box office.

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3. Star Wars trilogy: Episodes 4, 5, and 6. These original sci-fi masterpieces made the list without question.

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4. a: The Godfather trilogy. If it wasn’t for a shaky third outing, The Godfather trilogy would without hesitation be in the top 3.

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4. b: Bourne: original trilogy. Being tied with the Godfather trilogy should be incentive enough to give the Bourne trilogy the respect it deserves.

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6. Jurassic Park trilogy. An irreplaceable part of most generations childhood. The Jurassic Park trilogy may not be as strong from top to bottom, but its undeniably a thoroughly fun time.

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7. Indiana Jones: original trilogy. Spielberg’s masterful trilogy is without a doubt nostalgic, quotable, and an unmatchable thrill.

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8. The Terminator: original trilogy. Featuring Arnold in his prime. The Terminator trilogy provides a few good frights and is a shoot first, ask questions later roller coaster ride.

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9. The Matrix trilogy. The most sophisticated and intelligent trilogy on the list. The last two films may not be as perfected as the original, but still manage to grab the viewers attention.

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10. Vengeance trilogy. Chan-wook Park’s bloody and smart trilogy is definitely the most vicious on the list.

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Honourable Mentions: Die Hard original trilogy, X-Men original trilogy, The Evil Dead trilogy, Toy Story trilogy, Mariachi trilogy, and Alien original trilogy.

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

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A much more passionate labyrinth and overall refined offering than The Hurt Locker. Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal once again delve into the war overseas with Zero Dark Thirty and bring a fact driven theatrical adaptation of the most elaborate manhunt in history to the screen. Using familiar tactics such as tense situations and loveable characters, Boal and Bigelow triumph once again with Zero Dark Thirty. However, setting aside the similarities in the strain and showiness between The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Bigelow and Boal insert new facets like intellect and balance to make Zero Dark Thirty more effective, complete and full of intensity. Featuring Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, Joel Edgerton, and Chris Pratt. Zero Dark Thirty’s all star cast are layered throughout its multiple story lines and given enough purpose to fulfill their potential.

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A CIA operative named Maya (Chastian) is thrust into the war on terror. One of her first experiences is the extraction of information through any means necessary, understanding that this is the extreme needed at times to gain knowledge. Working with her partner Dan (Clarke), Maya quickly learns and adapts to life overseas. Over seven years, Maya is narrowing down her leads in hopes of finding Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. With the help of Joseph (Chandler), George (Strong), and numerous other, in 2011, her tireless efforts are about to pay off. Staying in contact with Patrick (Edgerton), Justin (Pratt), and the Navy team. Maya observes the mission to the suspects home.

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While the depth of the material Zero Dark Thirty is based upon is somewhat of a blur to the public eye. The surface of it has been broadcast from a far on every news channel since 9/11. Being able to produce such a definitive and enjoyable piece of cinema from an overseen and collated event years in the making is something Boal, Bigelow, and crew should be proud of. Jessica Chastain is the only actor to earn an Oscar Nomination for her performance in the film and deservedly so, she is incredibly pragmatic. Her natural essence and unrelenting drive fit perfectly into her role. Jason Clarke should have garnered more praise and a nomination in his supporting role to Chastain but was snubbed in my opinion. Clarke is intimidating and ruthless encompassing everything needed to be emotionless and feared. The rest of the supporting cast is equally as impressive, holding nothing back. Zero Dark Thirty is a smart, entertaining nail biter.

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Zero Dark Thirty: 9 out of 10.