If you’re going to read non-fiction (and you really should), you can’t do much better than Mark Bowden. Bowden is a master of taking extraordinarily complex situations and making them read like the most gripping page turner. His speciality is the overlap between military and government. He’s probably best known for authoring Black Hawk Down (which is one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read). This would all seem to lead right up his alley to chronicling the raid that lead to Seal Team Six taking out Osama bin Laden.
I came to this straight off of seeing Zero Dark Thirty and primarily wanting to know more. I also bought No Easy Day by “Mark Owens”, which is the only on-the-ground account of the raid from any of the Seals to date. Bowden’s take is almost completely opposite of the path Zero Dark Thirty takes to the raid, which didn’t help me too much with my quest to find out, did that really happen? Bowden begins at 9/11 looking at it through the eyes of the people who would make the decision and would travel into Pakistan a decade later to raid bin Laden’s compound. His path is more of a view from the Oval Office, rather than on-the-ground.
There’s nothing at all wrong with the book and it is a quick read. However, the reason it is a quick read is the problem I have with it: too soon. The tricky thing about history is that it is, essentially, fiction by the people who live to write their accounts. If you want the most accurate possible look at an event, your sweet spot is about 30-50 years after when people are still alive but not accountable (how revealing a quote was Obama going to give while running for a second term?) and documents start to become unclassified. You need perspective for history. We don’t have it on 9/11 yet. We certainly don’t have it on the bin Laden raid. I think Bowden was reaching and seemed to be uncharacteristically padding an already thin premise. It’s a worthwhile read and has extremely interesting subject matter, but for vintage Bowden, try Black Hawk Down, Guests of the Ayatollah or Killing Pablo.
On the eve of Sony’s Playstation 4 announcement, pictures have hit the Web of what is purportedly the New Xbox. The timing seems interesting and Microsoft has all but said an announcement on the new console was coming soon. The box indicates that of the numerous names bantered about, Xbox Infinity will be the console’s name. Take it for what you will, but I think once Sony’s buzz dies down, we’re going to hear an official release announcement from Microsoft.
Wonder what Bungie’s been up to since they said farewell to the Halo Universe? Well, they’ve not been idle. Their next game, Destiny, will probably be for the next generation of consoles, but it’s plan is to play out over a decade. A decade. Check out the reveal trailer. The scope is amazing.
A couple of years ago when The Tree of Life came out, director Steven Soderbergh said that he was going to retire because he just felt so blown away by it. Leaving aside how absurd a thought that is in itself, Side Effects is the last of the director’s commitments and he says he’s done. I thought Traffic was fantastic. I love the Ocean’s trilogy. But, after seeing Haywire, his last film, and now Side Effects, yeah. I’m cool with him being done.
The film stars Rooney Mara as a depressed patient with a husband newly returned from prison (Channing Tatum). She begins to see a psychiatrist (Jude Law) who, after consulting with a colleague (Catherine Zeta Jones) puts his patient on a new antidepressant. Following the gritty and harrowing look at addiction I’d just watched in Flight, I thought ok, well now we’re going to tackle depression, the pharmacology cartels who run our health care system, and really meaty stuff. The sorts of things that Soderbergh tackled in films like Traffic. But we don’t. There’s a sort of medicated haze (intentional?) to the entire film. It’s so detached from it’s actors, who seem as equally detached from the plot, which zigs and zags all over the place. It’s tonally odd. If you’d told me the guy who made complex and vibrant, signaturely directed films like Traffic and Ocean’s 11 made this, I’d have asked for one of whatever you were on.
This isn’t to say the film is horrid. It’s not awful. It’s just one of those movies where you sit there, credits roll, and you say….well that just happened. Disappointing. Good cast. Used to be a great director. Average end result. 5.5/10.0