Who’s ready to take on a ton of pressure? Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal certainly must have been. Not only did Bigelow and Boal have to follow-up their Academy Award-winning work in The Hurt Locker, but the pair chose the most challenging material to do it with – the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
Forget all the required research, possible political scrutiny and delicacy of the material; making the project even more demanding, bin Laden was actually killed just a short while before Boal completed his script detailing the failed hunt for bin Laden in the Toro Bora mountain range.
While participating in a press conference in New York City, Bigelow recalls, “While Mark was working on the screenplay, actually quite far along in the screenplay, May 1, 2011 happened and we realized, after some soul searching, that it was going to be a little difficult to make a movie about the failed hunt for Osama bin Laden when the whole world knew that he had been killed.” And so the plan changed and Boal refocused his script on the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad – the raid that ultimately resulted in his death.
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Using his experience with an American bomb squad to develop a fictitious story for “The Hurt Locker” is one thing, but writer Mark Boal’s decision to tackle the death of Osama bin Laden takes journalistic moviemaking to another level, one that comes with an immense amount of societal and ethical pressure, on top of the challenge of just making a good movie. But it’s a good thing Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow were the pair to take on that challenge because it’s highly unlikely any other duo could have pulled it off quite like them.
“Zero Dark Thirty” focuses on Jessica Chastain’s Maya, a top-notch CIA analyst sent to Pakistan to join a team tasked with tracking down high-ranking members of Al Qaida, with an ultimate goal of taking out Osama bin Laden. At first, Maya doesn’t take to the CIA Black Site’s brutal interrogation tactics, but as the years go on and colleagues lose their jobs and, in some cases, their lives, Maya’s determination peaks and she does whatever it takes to gather solid intel.
“Zero Dark Thirty” is a heavy-duty piece and Bigelow wastes no time putting the audience in the appropriate headspace. The film kicks off with a montage of 9/11 phone calls playing over black and the sequence is cut perfectly, rousing the heartache of that day through a sense of hysteria, but also by giving certain audio clips time to breathe, establishing a personal connection. By the time the film hits the “2 Years Later” title card, your heart is already pounding through your chest.
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Contagion begins with Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow), a woman on her way back from a business trip in Hong Kong. She isn’t feeling too well and opts to point a finger at the usual culprit, jet lag. However, just days later her symptoms intensify, she has a seizure and passes away. This is no common cold or even a freak contraction of the bird flu or contact with anthrax; it’s a new type of virus, one with the capacity to wipe out millions.
Apparently the subject matter of the film didn’t disturb the cast too much because a nice chunk of the gang shook some hands on the red carpet just the other night for Contagion‘s New York City premiere. Of the bunch Shockya had the pleasure of speaking with the promising young actress Anna Jacoby-Heron who plays Matt Damon’s daughter in the film as well as her on screen boyfriend, Brian J. O’Donnell.
Chin Han whose character assists Marion Cotillard’s in her effort to pinpoint the start of the pandemic stopped by to chat as did Elliott Gould who steps in as Ian Sussman, a doctor who joins the effort to find a cure. We also got some time with Dr. Ally Hextall of the CDC, played by Jennifer Ehle, as well as the film’s writer, Scott Z. Burns.
Check out what they had to say about their experience working on the film that’s not only guaranteed to give you the creeps, but compel you to wash your hands obsessively below.
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Contagion is the scariest movie of the year, and that’s coming from someone with a pension for horror films. Unlike most worldwide disaster movies, Contagion doesn’t sensationalize the issue on a grand scale in an effort to shock the audience, rather it tells the tale via a variety of intimate scenarios, both giving the audience that vast scope, but also putting you right in the middle of the disaster alongside the characters that are fighting through it.
After a business trip to Hong Kong, Beth Emhoff (Gwyneth Paltrow) isn’t feeling great. She assumes her sore throat and headache stem from jetlag and both she and her husband, Mitch (Matt Damon), dismiss her condition until Beth collapses on the kitchen floor. Almost instantaneously, she’s rushed to the hospital and pronounced dead, leaving Mitch a single parent.
An autopsy reveals Beth’s passing wasn’t due to a freak illness, the bird flu, anthrax or anything else this type of situation is usually attributed to, rather a new kind of virus with overwhelmingly powerful effects. In comes Dr. Ellis Cheever (Laurence Fishburne) of the CDC to assess the situation and take action. He sends field agent Dr. Erin Mears (Kate Winslet) to Minnesota to pinpoint Beth’s whereabouts since she’s contracted the disease to keep it from spreading. Regardless of her efforts, people all around town fall ill, reports pour in of clusters around the country and the world, and a global pandemic ensues.
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