Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chasing Zero Dark Thirty Reviews

Head spinning from trying to keep up with ZDT articles. Here are a few more, plus a new pic from the Sunday Q and A.

Michael Hogan and Christopher Rosen discuss the film and Oscar chances at Huff Post 
Rosen : “I have no trouble in saying it is, by far, the best movie I've seen in 2012. Kathryn Bigelow's "Hurt Locker" follow-up is superior in almost every way to that Best Picture winner” and says his current hunch for the 5th slot in the supporting actress category is " "Les Mis" co-star Samantha Barks, with "Zero Dark Thirty" co-star Jennifer Ehle and "Silver Linings Playbook" co-star Jacki Weaver running close behind"

In her Strong Women, Ambiguous Ethics Drive Bigelow's Oscar Pic review at Movieline, Jen Yamato wrote:  “Bigelow [...] gave Jennifer Ehle (Pride and Prejudice, Contagion) the film’s second strong female role, as a senior CIA analyst who shares Maya’s drive to unearth bin Laden.”

Sasha Stone, Awards Daily calls ZDT 'unflinching, uncompromising' and talks about Oscars and the film’s central character being a woman.
While Bigelow’s female lead doesn’t strap on the talking points from the feminist movement or even the Obama administration, it is telling that not once in Bigelow’s film does her lead stand behind a man, trust a man’s opinion over her own, or feel the need to strike up a romance with a man”

Jordan Hoffman at Screen Crushthought “This look at world’s biggest manhunt may be the best manhunt movie ever made.”  He also reveals more details about Jennifer's role than I've seen expressed before.  “Interestingly the only friction comes from another woman, played by Jennifer Ehle, who is quick to throw some odd facial expressions Chastain’s way. While the two later bond, she, a tragic character, is ultimately held up as someone who perhaps doesn’t quite have her act together. One can interpret this as someone too preoccupied with identity politics, which becomes her undoing. I may be reading too much into this, but when you consider the fact that Al Qaeda wants their women handcuffed to the kitchen, it’s impossible not to dwell on the matter." 
[Hmmm. Tragic? Can't wait to see those expressions, though!]

Jordyn Taylor in a backstage piece How 'Zero Dark Thirty' Was Cast shares this fascinating tidbit: ‘When casting director Gail Stevens auditioned actors for “Zero Dark Thirty,” she says she couldn’t let them read from the movie’s script. She couldn’t even tell them what they were auditioning for. “The script was very, very, very sensitive, and hardly anyone read it,” Stevens says. “We would get people in to read, [and] we would read from other scripts—films that had scenes that could have been used in that kind of area.”’

The confused state of best picture race is covered by Richard Rushfield in a BuzzFeed article.

Thelma Adams at The Reel Breakdown found ZDT "Engrossing. Complicated. Urgent. Spare." and says "There is not one moment of dead air or narrative padding."

Paula Puryear Martin at Revel In It was impressed, saying, “I was blown away, again and again, Bigelow and team’s ability to inject deep humanity into a story that could have been rendered in stark, us or them terms.” and calling it "a masterpiece".  She noted that it stars “the uber-talented Jessica Chastain, the tender and talented veteran actress Jennifer Ehle, and a revelatory Jason Clarke”

I saw hundreds of tweets from people who had seen the early screenings of ZDT. For some reason I was led to bookmark only one because I thought it just might prove to be a perfect 140-character summary of it. When I saw the tweeter’s follow-up later I had to laugh at the proof that I’d chosen very well (see the tweets below).
There is also another photo from the Sunday November 25th Q and A (credit to Mike The Fanboy who was there)



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Zero Dark Thirty News and Photos

More reviews and Oscar speculation.

Oscar speculations at cinemablend.  
“An even more gripping and thoughtful war film than The Hurst Locker, with an ensemble cast to die for”

Tim Grierson of Screendaily

Steve Pond at The Wrap

The Nightline interview via Reuters

Kyle Adahl Top Gun Critic (warning the post contains very strong language). 
“Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Jennifer Ehle, and Edgar Ramirez all deliver incredible performances which are sure to give this movie a lot of Oscar buzz.”

 Some bits from the Q and A via shockya. (No Jennifer quotes, alas)

Photos from another Q and A at SilverScreen Theater on Monday and one from last spring of Jennifer and Kathryn Bigelow on the ZDT set 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

More Zero Dark Thirty Reviews

Bombs Away?

Here are a few more reactions to the November 25th initial screening of Zero Dark Thirty.

James Rocchi's review at BoxOffice is worth reading for his descriptions and insights. He notes the "star-free (and talent-rich) ensemble".

[Take a look at the comments section at this article for a possible source for Jennifer's character as discussed there by Marc and Mathias.]

David Poland has a Movie City News review in which he identifies the film in three acts, saying:  Bigelow creates three quite different worlds for each act: the foreign war, the polite suited war that is Washington, and the last, where she takes one of the most well-worn tropes of the film world, “the raid”.  
It sounds, from this article and other hints, that Jennifer's character is seen in the first act (only?).  He writes:  "The supporting cast – and everyone else is supporting the one character with significance in each of the three acts – is flawless. Clarke and Jennifer Ehle and Edgar Ramirez and Mark Strong kill it in the first act."

Regina Weinreich at Huff Post calls the film “Girl’s Night Out”. She likes the casting, saying: "an excellent cast including Mark Strong, James Gandolfini, Joel Edgerton, and Jennifer Ehle, like Chastain, a fragile beauty. Although often seen in supporting roles, here Ehle is a CIA co-worker, a foil for the clear-headed Maya, who grows into her job. The casting is part of the brilliance of this movie, a sure nomination for Best Picture Oscar.
[So, it appears Jennifer's character is less than clear-headed! Less so than Maya, anyway. One of yesterday's reviews called her 'chatty' among other quirks. I think this is going to be really good to watch.]

Kyle Buchanan  lists five things you need to know, including that “Chastain is the unambiguous lead of this staggeringly large ensemble, with Jason Clarke (The Chicago Code) and Jennifer Ehle (Contagion) providing the most sustained support as fellow bin Laden hunters.”

Roger Friedman  has a bit of Oscar buzz going:  ‘As far as actors go, Academy voters, and everyone else, should keep an eye on  some new names in the mix, from Scott McNairy in “Killing them Softly” to Jennifer Ehle in “Zero Dark Thirty” to John Hawkes in “The Sessions.”’

In another HuffPost we're given a sort of FAQ for Zero Dark Thirty. There's no mention of Jennifer directly but I kind of like to guess that the following quote might be about her character, given some of the hints about personality in other reviews. 
 Zero Dark Thirty certainly isn't perfect -- most noticeably when a CIA agent who is meeting with an al-Qaeda source is way too excited about just how well this meeting is going to go. I mean, to the point that she's bragging that the president of the United States will have to be briefed after the meeting because of all of the wonderful information that's going to be shared. Needless to say, the meeting goes about as poorly as a meeting with a suspected terrorist can go."
[Could this be her character? It says ‘she’ and evidently isn’t Maya]

Enough hints have been dropped so far about Jennifer's (as yet unnamed) role to wonder about the mentioned exit, first act references, the possible source for the character, and a car exploding in the film's ad to speculate about a few things. Just sayin'.

Jon Weisman has posted a Variety review, along with award musings.
“Almost all major awards are in play: picture, director, original screenplay and lead actress, not to mention supporting actor (Jason Clarke) and supporting actress (Jennifer Ehle).”
[This reminds me a little of the talk around Contagion. It seems like she's due!]

Another photo from the Q&A

Monday, November 26, 2012

Zero Dark Thirty: First Reviews

Opening in limited release on Dec. 19 and arriving nationwide (US) on Jan. 11, 2013, 'Zero Dark Thirty" made its formal screening debut in both New York and Los Angeles on Sunday November 25th. The West Coast audience had a discussion with the director and some of her cast members (including Jennifer) immediately following. 

Some of those fortunate enough to have seen it have written reviews. I'm sure there will be more, for they've come fairly fast and furious tonight. Here's a sampling of what I've seen so far. The reaction is very favorable and we finally get an idea of Jennifer's role.

The Hollywod Reporter has an analysis of the film's place in the Oscar race, describing that Jennifer plays a female intelligence officer and is one of a "a team of solid supporting players" surrounding star Jessica Chastain.  Awards Daily and GoldDerby have something to say about the film's Oscar worthiness too.

The Hollywood Reporter also has a review of the film by Todd McCarthy
In it he says Chastain's character, Maya, "becomes tolerably friendly with a gregarious, chatty female colleague (the ever-wonderful Jennifer Ehle)".  He writes that it could well be the most impressive film Bigelow has made!

Time Entertainment's review The Girl Who Got bin Laden by Richard Corliss notes that "With the dense dialogue spread across more than 100 speaking roles, the supporting actors could be mere information carriers, but many make excellent use of their limited screen time" and includes Jennifer among them, playing "a warm, seen-it-all field agent".

At the Playlist blog, Rodrigo Perez describes the two and a half hour movie as dispassionate, clinical and grindingly thorough and also as gripping and riveting. Chastain’s character works "alongside other intelligence CIA officers in Pakistan played by Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle and Harold Perrineau (all of whom arguably have the most substantial parts in the film other than the lead)."

Helen Pow writes in the Mail Online:  "Ms Chastain and Jennifer Ehle dominate the men in the movie."
Roger Friedman  at Showbiz 411 agreed, saying:
"'Zero Dark Thirty' really stars Chastain and Jennifer Ehle, with the men of the film ... taking secondary but important roles."

"Boal’s screenplay isn’t so much about backstory for the characters (there isn’t any) but making them interesting enough to follow through this crusade."

"It’s to his and Chastain’s credit that Maya gets richer and develops more layers as the film progresses, particularly once Ehle's very brilliant agent exits the story. (I don’t want to give too much away.)"

"Chastain and Ehle are the standouts."

Ha! Could the lack of backstory explain why imbd hasn't (last I looked) filled out the character names? Maybe most of them have none assigned.

Kristopher Tapley in a write-up at HitFix likes the supporting cast, including Jennifer who "though not in the film for long, adds her own spark."

Also at HitFix Gregory Ellwood wrote a about the film, the showing in LA, and, of special interest, the Q&A following. "After two standing ovations, one for Bigelow and the other for Chastain, the duo were joined by Boal, Clarke, Ehle and Edgar Martinez for what turned out to be an entertaining 40-minute Q&A."  And in his review he mentioned Jennifer as one of the standouts of the supporting cast. 

Summarizing the gleanings ~
Her role:
female intelligence officer who is a gregarious, chatty, warm, seen-it-all, and very brilliant agent

Her performance:
solid supporting player
one of the standouts of the supporting cast
adds her own spark
"Ms Chastain and Jennifer Ehle dominate the men in the movie." 
"really stars Chastain and Jennifer Ehle"
"Chastain and Ehle are the standouts"

not in the film for long
limited screen time
exits the story

Some photos from the Q&A event  

Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle, Edgar Ramirez

With the dense dialogue spread across more than 100 speaking roles, the supporting actors could be mere information carriers, but many make excellent use of their limited screen time

Read more:
With the dense dialogue spread across more than 100 speaking roles, the supporting actors could be mere information carriers, but many make excellent use of their limited screen time

Read more:
With the dense dialogue spread across more than 100 speaking roles, the supporting actors could be mere information carriers, but many make excellent use of their limited screen time:

Read more:
With the dense dialogue spread across more than 100 speaking roles, the supporting actors could be mere information carriers, but many make excellent use of their limited screen time:

Read more:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Jennifer at Q & A for Zero Dark Thirty


Backstage Presents an Evening With...
"Zero Dark Thirty”
Followed by a Q&A with actors Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle, Edgar Ramirez, director Kathryn Bigelow, and writer Mark Boal
Sunday, Nov. 25 at 6pm
Pacific Design Center Silver Screen Theatre
8687 Melrose Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90069

More details at the link above.

Jennifer's TV series from last season is available at Amazon now.  A Gifted Man

Monday, November 19, 2012

Period Acting Video

Here's a clip from the period acting panel. Enjoy!  Link to YouTube

(Special thanks to Georgina, for finding it!)