Brooks Barnes has been a media reviewer for 5 years with the New York Times, mostly focusing on financial and legal issues within the film industry, as well as focusing on the Walt Disney Company. Recently, he wrote a piece centered on Oscar winning director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) and her controversial new film, “Zero Dark Thirty.” The movie “Zero Dark Thirty” takes place primarily in Pakistan and is about the United States' hunt for Osama Bin-Laden. The film focuses on an incredibly controversial topic and has gained mixed attention due to its depiction of torture as an interrogation technique. However, after a brief overview of the film and its primary female role, Mr. Barnes quickly changes directions. This change occurs near the midway point of the article, and never truly looks back on the content of the film. It is clear that Barnes was trying to give readers a glimpse into the mind of the director as an individual, somewhat independent of the film.
A large portion of the review is derived from an interview with Ms. Bigelow and her screenwriter, Mark Boal. Using both his experiences during the interview and quotes from Ms. Bigelow’s friends, coworkers and acquaintances, Barnes paints the picture of a humble, driven and likeable woman, citing her generous nature as well as her adamancy that the success of the film is due to the brilliance of her coworkers. He makes a point of contrasting Ms. Bigelow with the other “masters of the universe” saying that directors are typically “me, me, me.” Ms. Bigelow’s personality seems like an interesting and refreshing focus, considering all the other attention “Zero Dark Thirty” has received. In fact, the review acknowledges the controversial torture scene with little to no opinion, and drops the topic almost immediately.
It is clear that the greatest evidence for Barnes’ assessment of Ms. Bigelow’s character comes from his own personal interactions with her. His honest impressions of her come through in his writing, and they are entirely positive. Not only does this article give a refreshing take on the film and the industry itself, it also allows the reader to make a more informed assessment about the film and its controversial nature, with the knowledge of the director’s relentlessly hard working and modest nature, and that is why it is important during the most critical time of year in terms of film.