That Buzz You Hear

The chatter in my insular little film-nerd world this week was all about who’s not directing James Bond movies, who’s the villain in the new Star Trek, superheroes, awards and top ten lists, and—a seemingly more serious concern—enhanced interrogation, or what most humans call torture. I’m not going to weigh in on most of that stuff. I will have a top ten list for 2012 eventually, but so far all I know for sure is that Django Unchained, Promised Land, Argo, Hitchcock, and Hyde Park on Hudson won’t be on it. Not because they’re terrible (although those last two are pretty atrocious), but because I have a bunch more to see before the year’s out, and I could still name ten films better than any of them. As for my favorite movies so far this year, Lincoln, Take This Waltz, and Moonrise Kingdom will probably make that list, along with the pro-torture movie.

I’m the Motherfucker that Saw the Movie, Sir

Ah, Zero Dark Thirty. What paroxysms of rage you’ve inspired in right-thinking people everywhere. People, for the most part, like Glenn Greenwald, who haven’t seen the movie. Now, a lot of what I do here for MovieMaker is write and make judgments about movies I haven’t seen (see below), but yeesh, when you’re talking about something, you know, serious, you might want to invest a little time and energy in checking things out before you pop off about them. It’s not even a book that you have to sit and read for a couple of days. It’s a movie. My views on torture are pretty absolute. I’m against it. There are a lot of first-hand accounts that indicate that it is not an effective way to gather information, it hurts America’s moral standing in the world, even more than most of the other things Bush did, and if you believe Adam Curtis (The Power of Nightmares), and I mostly do, torture is responsible for creating more terrorists than it stops. So how can I defend ZDT, Mark Boal, and Kathryn Bigelow? It’s simple: I’ve seen the movie. From my perspective, it’s a complex, morally ambiguous movie. It doesn’t come right out and say, “Torture is a bad way to gather information. Its Grand Inquisitor, Dan (a terrific performance from Jason Clarke), doesn’t break down at the end and apologize for all the wrong he’s done. But it can’t be a coincidence that it’s Dan, years later, with bin Laden still on the loose, who sits in a conference room and spews the Rumsfeld-esque, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” (“It’s a tautology,” he sheepishly explains.) ZDT depicts torture, but it doesn’t glorify it, and it doesn’t make the case that those interrogations led to the killing of Osama bin Laden, as it’s been accused of doing. I want to ask Greenwald if he saw the same movie I did, but he’s already acknowledged that he didn’t.

Michelle Williams Doubles Up

Now, can I go back to criticizing movies I haven’t seen? That haven’t, in fact, even been made yet? It’s what I do. According to The Wrap, wonderful actor and superb chooser of projects Michelle Williams is in talks to star in a remake of the Italian thriller The Double Hour. So it’s a remake of a movie I haven’t seen, which is kind of perfect. It’s about an ex-cop and a maid that meet at speed-dating and hit it off, but when they go back to his place, there’s a home invasion that she might have helped set up. Joshua Marston is writing and directing. I liked Maria Full of Grace a lot, and I will see his follow-up, The Forgiveness of Blood, in the next week or so, but I’m already prepared to say it’s great (especially the torture scenes), because that’s the kind of thing I do. Williams and Marston looks like a very strong combination to me, so I say do it.

Alex Karpovsky’s Double Life

Alex Karpovsky, who’s played creepy dudes in Lena Dunham‘s Tiny Furniture and “Girls,” plays an even creepier guy in his own movie, Rubberneck, in which he appears as an introverted lab technician who stalks one of his co-workers. I actually saw this one at Tribeca earlier this year, and it was a pretty solid, effectively unsettling work. Karpovsky has made another feature, Red Flag, a comedy in which he plays a filmmaker named Alex Karpovsky who struggles to promote his low-budget film (Karpovsky’s earlier work, Woodpecker) on the road tour with an old friend (Onur Tukel of Septien). I haven’t seen that one, but it sounds amusing to me. It played at the LA International Film Festival this year. Both films were picked up for distribution this week by Tribeca Films, so that’s a pretty good week. The plan is to release them both, theatrically and on pay-per-view, in February 2013.