-JJ-

What new movies have you seen?

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"What's your sin of choice? Computers. Well then, [Edward Snowden] you've come to the right brothel house [another word is used that rhymes with score to describe a prostitute, but I cleaned it up for the forum's PG audience.]" 

 

"You've got a little Snow White in ya, which makes me feel like the wicked witch bringing you the poisoned apple...Which people are you [the intelligence community] watching? The whole kingdom Snow White." 

 

"Secrecy is security & security is victory." 

 

"Did you access an unauthorized program I didn't know about?...I can assure you [Edward] that your girlfriend Lindsay is not cheating on you." 

 

In my old movie thread, I reviewed an Academy Award winning documentary for Best Picture called "CitizenFour," which dealt with former CIA & NSA operative Edward Snowden who had high level spy clearance tasked with keeping American citizen's safe after 911 & Bin Laden's attack on US soil at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, & a failed attempt on the White House. Well, now director Oliver Stone in 2016's "Snowden" motion picture gets a fictionalized crack at his assessment of whether he feels Edward is a quisling/traitor or a patriot concerned about the protection of individual liberties in the face of terrorist threats to our nation as a whole. 

 

Look, let's get this out of the way right now. I love Oliver as a filmmaker. Do I believe in his conspiracy fetishes? Of course not, but his twists & turns are always fascinating pieces of cinema to watch as entertaining pieces of vivid imagination from "JFK," to "Nixon," to "W.," to "Born On the 4th of July" & my personal favorite "Wall Street" starring Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen, & the best embodiment of pure, unadulterated greed I have ever seen on screen Gordon Gekko played by Michael Douglas. Oliver Stone is a rebel by nature who likes to shake things up & ruffle establishment feathers as often as he can in order to evoke lasting change or better oversight of the Federal Government & shed light on officials, both elected & appointed, who abuse their authority under the umbrella of national security. You have to remember that Oliver is a child of the 60's with free love, drug experimentation, the draft, the birth of civil rights, & backlash against the Vietnam War & the WaterGate Hotel break in. Stone always has the same central themes in all his pictures: Minimal oversight leads to abuse & corruption on a widespread scale, whistle blowers are to be praised for their courage to speak truth to power even if it means death, torture, financial ruin, or lifelong imprisonment; who watches the watchers? & to quote, Founding Father Benjamin Franklin: "Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

 

We basically follow Edward Snowden's journey for a period of 9 yrs from 2004-2013. Be warned--This is a very long feature film in duration. 2 hours & 14 minutes to be exact so be sure to empty your bladder before hand & get all your snacks & tasty popcorn ready from jump street since this flick drags a little bit about say 45 minutes in. The other problem with this picture is that Edward's [Joseph Gordon-Levitt] relationship with his girlfriend Lindsay Mills [Shailene Woodley] lacks genuine chemistry & feels strained or forced at times. We as an audience have a hard time believing that a pretty photographer & pole dance fitness instructor would fall in love with this awkward, anti-social computer geek, follow him around the world on assignments, & miraculously help her new lover sudden come out of his shell simply because she smiles, giggles, snaps shots of him, & showers him with affectionate kisses at first sight. It's overkill & not realistic in real life at all. This scenario may be every nerd's secret desire to have an attractive, sober female aggressively pursue them socially. However, relationships never start out this way once you literally meet face to face no matter how much correspondence has taken place prior to that actual meeting itself. 

 

In any event, we start out at Fort Benning, Georgia where Edward, a high school dropout, is inspired after the 911 attack to serve his country by joining an army special forces unit. He doesn't survive the basic training requirements due to a genetic medical condition that gave him a brittle bone structure & an honorable discharge from his company. Shortly after this devastating blow to his psyche, Edward undergoes a series of interviews & he is recruited by the Deputy Director of the CIA, Corbin O’Brian [Rhys Ifans], to be trained at a facility in Virginia called 'The Hill' to combat cyber terrorism online & protect America's infrastructure & sensitive communications domestically & abroad overseas.

 

It is here on 'The Hill' where Edward stumbles into the office of Hank Forrester [Nicolas Cage]. Nice. As you would expect, Nicolas Cage plays a screwball, inventor/encryption expert with a background in naval intelligence who serves as a springboard mentor for Snowden that gives him the courage & bravery to blow the whistle on the depth & scope that both the Central Intelligence Agency & National Security Agency will go to illegally capture & monitor the phone & internet traffic on unsuspecting US citizens without their knowledgable or approval courtesy of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA]. FISA is essentially a secret court of judges that permit the monitoring of bad terrorist groups as a means to take out sleeper cells via drone strikes before they can mount a bombing or mass shooting against innocent civilians living in North America. Here's the problem though: What if the evidence against an alleged sleeper cell is weak or dare I say obtained unconstitutionally resulting the the death of people who might not have been part of any terrorist cell at all, let alone commit an illegal act of any kind against US citizens? Or even better, Why is it necessary to accumulate tons of cell phone & search engine user data & FaceBook traffic on US citizens who have no idea their privacy is being violated at any moment simply because the intelligence community is protecting her citizens under the banner of national security? Hmmm...A legitimate question with troubling consequences to be sure. This takes the Fourth Amendment & safeguards against illegal searches & seizures & turns that Constitution right inside out. Think about that for a second & what those FISA implications really mean. 

 

I should also mention to my audience that the vast majority of this film begins in 2013 at the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong China & uses the device of flashback to document & describe what motivated Snowden to use a rubik's cube to hide classified documents on a storage device designed to shed light on the magnitude of illegal American surveillance against US citizens as well as ways in which to conceal malware metadata written to literally shutdown electric grids, water plants, & all communications in other countries like Japan, Germany, or Israel should those nations ever decide to make themselves an enemy of the United States Of America.   Edward Snowden while on assignment is Switzerland is shocked to learn from another CIA colleague that a program called PRISM, created by British Intelligence allows spies & folks with high level military clearance as private contractors to literally turn on laptop, desktop, & cell phone cameras & see everything a person is doing anywhere in the world like a global stalker. For this reason, he always placed a small piece of tape over his computer's camera to keep his privacy intact at all times. Do you ever strip for your boyfriend on Skype while he's away on a business trip? If so, there's a distinct possibility that someone from the CIA or NSA has seen that performance without your consent or awareness BTW. 

 

In addition, according to the film, another program written by Snowden while in Hawaii called Epic Shelter used SIM cards in a terrorist cell phone to track & kill leaders in the Middle East with drown strikes. Here's the problem though: What about the legal quagmire of say a terrorist son or daughter picks up the wrong cell phone by mistake & Uncle Sam takes out the wrong target or say murders a person with say dual US & Pakistani citizenship? Hmmm...Finally, Snowden creates a program called "HeartBeat"--A gigantic database that collects a mountain of never ending data on American citizens & all their associates & family more then Chinese & Russian hacker threats combined on a monthly basis. Why is big brother watching all her American children like they have already committed treason in order to protect us when no criminal act has been established yet without any conclusive evidence of wrongdoing? Hmmm...

 

A lot of the Snowden story in Hong Kong with reporters from the Guardian newspaper assembled to dissect how Verizon just handed over customer data to the federal government or keyword search engine inquires from say Yahoo & Google we are already familiar with. Therefore, there is no need to cover that ground again here. Did Snowden violate an oath or a promise never to hand over sensitive material to individuals without the proper clearance? Sure, he did. Would the Federal Government via the Intelligence Community have ever told the public the privacy it was violating & invading daily without Snowden deciding to go to the press? Absolutely not. So, that leaves us with this question: If absolute power corrupts absolutely over time, what safeguards can be put in place to ensure that civil liberties are protected & citizens have a way of knowing within reason when they are being tracked or monitored online? 

 

Eventually, Edward is permitted to fly out of Hong Kong China & granted asylum in Moscow courtesy of Vladimir Putin for 3 years. The ironic thing now is that Putin, the leader of Russia, has offered President Trump  Mr. Snowden in exchange to "curry favor" with this new administration. Essentially, that means that Edward charged with violating the Espionage Act will face extradition back to the states, where I presume, Snowden serves out the rest of his life in a SuperMax prison now. It's only a matter of time & paperwork that is. Grade wise let's roll with a B+ since I admire Oliver Stone's ambitious undertaking here. 

 

 

I like this band from Copenhagen, Denmark called Volbeat. Their new single "Seal The Deal" symbolizes Snowden as a boxer fighting a fight he can never win. The end is a foregone conclusion. Snowden will never see his girlfriend or family again & he knows it the minute he took classified material offsite I'm afraid...

 

 

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"Writers don't retire. We either drink ourselves to death or blow our brains out. And which will it be for you? After this interview maybe both." 

 

"You know what I look for in a woman these days? A heartbeat & a full set of limbs. You know, most people lower their standards as they age. You've actually raised yours." 

 

"Your the only guy I'd risk my life with. I want you to know that & the only caboose hole who can get me out on a ledge in the middle of nowhere. I'm sorry we lost touch. Yeah, me too." 

 

"Hurry up [darn it]. She's gaining ground! [on us]."

 

The following quotes listed above are taken from the 2015 midlife crisis movie directed by Ken Kwapis called "A Walk In The Woods." The storyline is based off a outdoor book written by Bill Bryson in 1988. Essentially, this cinematic tale is a rekindle your fountain of youth, best buddy picture. Now, these friends have lost touch with one another both men hovering around the late 60 something range. One lives in New Hampshire while the other  lives in Iowa. They're both grouchy, stubborn, & set in their ways. They feel obscure, outdated, & out of place like the world has flown by them now & left them in the irrelevant dust for awhile now. 

 

I need to say this. I've always liked Robert Redford as an actor probably because he has a quiet confidence & presence about him. Hades, I wish he was my neighbor man because he cares about the environment, leaving this planet in a better condition than when he first arrived here, & he started the Sundance Film Festival in Utah that gave aspiring screenwriters & directors a shot to have independent films seen worldwide when financing is so difficult to secure outside of Hollywood, California. In addition, I think Bob can relate to female actresses trying to be taken seriously for something else besides their beauty or appearance. You need to remember that Bob himself is a handsome man from his early "Sting" movie days & he remembers how difficult it was to be taken seriously as a solid actor beyond a good looking face & body, which makes him uniquely qualified to understand sexism based purely off of superficial looks. Redford appreciates talent & can go beyond surface nonsense & respect contributions based on skill & talent regardless of gender & I truly admire that about him as a man who has tremendous power & influence in the world utilizing it the perfect way. Not to mention the guy is cool as hades. He's just is because he's a good listener who appreciates silence & he has no compulsion to dominate scenes. Instead, Bob wants other actors to shine & he plays off them & what they do on screen. 

 

Basically, in a nutshell, here's the plot: Bill Bryson [Robert Redford] has moved back to the East Coast with his wife Catherine [Emma Thompson ] after living overseas in the British Isles & Europe writing travel books. Bill is restless though. He wants to do something adventuresome again like say stroll the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine as way to feel young again. His spouse hates this idea & keeps printing out computer articles from the internet about bad things that happen to hikers on the trail like bear attacks, broken legs, falling off cliffs, & mysterious abductions etc. etc. She loves him dearly. Catherine just wants Bill to realize that he's not a spring chicken anymore. Finally, Catherine gives him permission to go on this over 2,000 mile journey if he can find a chaperon to go with him for safety reasons & peace of mind concerns. Whose Bill's partner in crime you ask? Why a mangy looking dude with arthritis, bad knees, & a recovering, out of shape alcoholic named Stephen Katz [Nick Nolte]. Did I mention he was Bill's best friend growing up? The reason for their falling out over the yrs is never fully explained & it really doesn't even matter. Perhaps, time, location, & circumstances drifted them apart. That happens a lot in life actually. 

 

Katz is the perfect rebel or counterpart to Bill. Nick Nolte plays a mean harmonica too & I love his raspy, smoker voice who is actually a sweet guy once you peel back the guarded layers of his exterior. He's a gentle giant whose bark is worse than his bite. Despite his advanced age, Katz is always trying to sweet talk brawds whenever he encounters them in restaurants or even laundry mats for that matter. He pretty says whatever pops into his head with no filter whatsoever. I love guys like this, especially when you pair him up with Redford who is refined, polished, & never says the wrong thing to anybody. It's like an Ivory tower Rhodes Scholar going on a nature road trip with a blue color, disheveled dude with no plans, no goals, & he just approaches like via instant gratification & the seat of his pants. Katz approaches life with no expectations. He just takes life as it comes & rolls with the flow accordingly. 

 

Watching Bill & Katz argue is pretty funny. Despite all their time apart, these still love each other like a bro mance or siblings who would literally die for the other one. Cool. Their bond is that they are both tired of being bypassed in life by the younger generation & getting old sucks with aches & pains because you're one step closer to death & your grave & what individual legacy will they leave behind that they actually mattered in this fast paced, crazy world? 

 

Some of their best comedic moments together are when Kratz runs away from a guy who happens to be the husband of a full figured women he slept with at the laundry mat. The woman forgot to mention that vital fact BTW. Details; details. It's like watching 2 seasoned men run from the cops for crossing a taboo from their youth. Bah! Ha! It's hilarious man! Or disputing whether a map is to scale documenting that they have walked very far on the trail. Or when they stumble across a know it all female hiker named Mary Ellen [Kristen Schaal] who is super energetic & refuses to shut the hades up. Son of a...They even hide in a ravine & hold their breath to lose this overzealous, fitness buff. 

 

There is even a tender moment where Nick Nolte's character dumps out a whiskey bottle he carries with him as a reminder not to drink. In the wrong hands, this scene would have been a disaster, but luckily Nick & Bob play the gravity of this just right, which makes it believable & authentic to it's audience. They get stranded on route & eventually rescued & based solely on the exchange that Bill & Katz have with each other we know they will never lose touch again. Once back home in New Hampshire, Bill is inspired to write a new travel book on his latest adventure called A Walk In The Woods. Nice.  

 

Man, it's hard to grade this picture since I have a soft spot for Robert Redford. It's not a tremendous picture since the plot is so predictable & straightforward. It's really a C+ flick, but since Bob is the man, I will give it a B. It's a decent, rainy day flick to kill a mundane day. I like ornery old buddy films though like Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau in "Grumpy Old Men" because it reminds me of holidays with my own family, but I digress. 

 

 

Rebellion & going against the grain always appeals to me, which explains why independence & making your own path always makes me smile I guess. 

 

 

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On February 16, 2017 at 4:06 PM, southwest1 said:

I like this band from Copenhagen, Denmark called Volbeat. Their new single "Seal The Deal" symbolizes Snowden as a boxer fighting a fight he can never win. The end is a foregone conclusion. Snowden will never see his girlfriend or family again & he knows it the minute he took classified material offsite I'm afraid...

 

 

I'm a fan of Volbeat!!!! Might see them this Summer, they're touring with Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold!!! \m/

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Hidden Figures 9/10 as it is about never giving up. Despite the odds against you!

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On 2/17/2017 at 10:21 PM, JPPT1974 said:

Hidden Figures 9/10 as it is about never giving up. Despite the odds against you!

Just saw this yesterday. Loved it. I love space and history so seeing two of them and being transported back in time was powerful.

 

My two issues with the story is 1. this didn't hit mainstream until more than 50 years later and 2. they made the movie a few years too late.

 

Only the main character is still alive (98 years old), and John Glenn just died a few months ago. Hacksaw Ridge's Desmond Doss died 10 years ago, and Unbroken's Louis Zamperini died 4 months before his movie came out (but he saw a rough cut and did have the book). I wish they were able to get the main stream recognition they deserve. They deserve the presidential medals, not the actors who portray them, although they do a great job. (Edit: Saw Obama gave the medal of freedom to Katherine Johnson in 2015 - way overdue, but thankfully she received one. Doss earned the medal of honor too, I just wasn't alive, my point being I wish they had been more known)

 

Also saw Moana this weekend. Not a Frozen level soundtrack (still great), or Zootopia level humor and cleverness, but Disney does it again.

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"Where'd you get it? [A dreamweaver hanging off a Kia Sorento's rear view mirror]. My ex girlfriend. Ex girlfriend? What happened? Was she cramping your style? Did she have too much [emotional] baggage? Did your mom hate her?" 

 

"I'm Coby Bryant. Coby plays basketball. Yeah, I know. I just meant that I was the Coby Bryant of tennis...If you never called it quits [Darren], you could have been as good as Tiger. Tiger Woods plays golf. I know. I just meant like the Tiger Woods of tennis." 

 

"Do you remember when I played with Dash Stevens? He was the worst. You're way better than him [brother]."

 

"Look at you...You still haven't made a move for her since the Fifth grade...You want me want me to hook you up with that sweet caboose?" 

 

The following quotes are taken from a 2014 comedy that revolves around the sport of tennis. Doubles Men's tennis to be exact called "Break Point" directed by Jay Karas. This 1 hour & 30 minute picture is self explanatory with no real left turns in it that will surprise or astonish you overall. Here, in a nutshell, is the plot: An older brother named Jimmy [Jeremy Sisto] is a wise cracking alcoholic & womanizer who desperately wants to return to the professional tennis circuit. There's only 1 problem: Nobody & I do mean nobody wants to coach or partner with Jimmy on the court. He's burned a lot of bridges. You submit a name & there's a good chance Jimmy screwed them over in some form or fashion. Actually, to be more specific, Jimmy needs to win matches as an amateur in Palm Springs, Florida to even get a shot at competing in the US Open as an unranked player. Hades, Jimmy even did a horrible thing to his younger sibling named Darren [David Walton]. He dumped his doubles partner & teacher for an instructor named Dak Stevens that Darren never saw coming several years ago so there's definitely some bad blood there or at least a huge unresolved grudge anyway. 

 

Darren is in his 30's, divorced, & a substitute teacher in NY City. Did I mention that an 11 yr old student named Barry [Joshua Rush] follows him around like a lost puppy on the cusp of Summer Vacation? What's funny is this kid is always grilling Darren with questions & my first quote at the start of this review is reminiscent of an expert on relationship advice except for the fact that Barry hasn't hit puberty yet. Barry lives with his grandmother since his biological mother can't raise her son or won't due to an addiction problem or she likes to party too much instead of being a responsible parent. Obviously Barry is looking for a father figure mentor in his life & he has chosen Barry to fill that rather large void. Darren reluctantly offers to teach Barry some pointers on tennis every Thursday afternoon. A tall undertaking since Barry's hand eye coordination appears to require considerable work. 

 

Jimmy & Darren's dad is a local animal veterinarian named Jack played by the always believable JK Simmons.  Jack's primary assistant is a pretty blond woman named Heather [Amy Smart]. Darren has always had a serious crush on Heather since he was little growing up in the same neighborhood. He just gets tongue tied around her using any excuse to avoid her. Heather has always had an attraction to Darren as well & she finds his nervousness around her charming & cute. You know the links Darren will go to not get flustered near her like listening to Billy Joel in his car. Stuff like that. 

 

Barry is a good kid who wears loud outfits with flamboyant colors on them. Jimmy, on the other hand, reminds us all of the legendary John McEnroe always complaining with judges & competitors over whether the ball landed in our out. I kept hearing that song by Asia 'Soul Survivor' in my head written about John's unlikely return from a devastating injury in his tennis career. 

 

"...And from the wreckage I will arise
Cast the ashes back in their eyes
See the fire, I will defend
Just keep on burning right to the end." 

 

Basically, we all know what's gonna happen here. Darren & Jimmy show Barry that his mother's erratic behavior isn't his fault, how to stand up for himself, & that some people just can't be saved no matter how much you try to help them or make things right. They, the brothers, don't make the US Open cut, but Darren finally grows a backbone & asks Heather out at match point with her no good, high maintenance boyfriend sitting right next to her. A bold, & yet never before seen jolt of public confidence from Darren that paid off in the end. Sweet. 

 

Break Point is far from sophisticated or even elaborate for that matter. I just liked it because of the 2 brothers & Barry. A motley crew that just works. It's just interesting to see a crass guy, a refined guy, & a naive kid with hardly any world experience hang out together & give 1 another a boost of confidence, self-worth, & testosterone. Let's roll with a B- here. 

 

 

 

I like this Joe Walsh/James Gang song "Walk Away" since Jimmy preferred to walk away from responsibility or hard work when obstacles presented themselves until about the last 25 minutes of this flick.

 

 

[One of the best drum covers I have ever heard actually really tight.] 

 

 

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If you haven't already figured it out already, I'm in one of my movie binges right now rolling through a ton of motion pictures lately so bear with me & strap yourself in for an adventuresome ride. As always, thank you all for indulging my longwinded reviews. Being concise has never been my strong suit. haha 

 

If "A Walk In The Woods" & "Break Point" were about male bonding as a brotherhood of sorts, then it only stands to reason that the female gender should receive appreciation for their sisterhood or sista bonding correct? Seems only fair to me anyway. Next on the docket is the 2015 chick buddy flicked called "Miss You Already" directed by Catherine Hardwick. Before I go any further, I need to say this. Some of the quotes I am about to post from the film may be considered provocative & dare I say blunt or racy. However, I like directors & actors who keep a devastating health condition "100" or as real as it gets without sugarcoating it. I will operate within the rules of this forum naturally. I just want my audience to know that I prefer dialogue that is authentic as you can get when the disease of breast cancer tragically kills so many women per yr annually. You'll see what I'm driving at in a minute. Here we go...

 

"I'm in mourning. Who died? My t*ts...Can I ask you something? [to the local bartender on duty at a local pub]...[She flashes him] Are these breasts you wanna touch? Yes. It means a lot. Thank you."

 

"I've always wanted to be wanted. I've always needed to know. If I turn around in the street, someone is always looking at my caboose. [Sex appeal/physical attractiveness is a vital part of Milly's identity & losing that trump card is an enormous blow to her & countless females identity who suffer from breast cancer or a double mastectomy procedure designed to stay alive.] 

 

"I'm superficial & I have a huge ego. I'm gonna look like a mutant. Who's gonna give a crap about me then? Me."

 

[2 husbands feel alienated & intimacy deprived since 1 wife is on fertility hormones to conceive a child & the other spouse is undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatments to kill cancer cells inside her.] They have this exchange alone as disgruntled husbands which made me roar with laughter: 

 

"You know, it would probably be better if you & I just started having sex. [Joking of course] Do you know how long I have been waiting for you to say that?" Bah! Ha! Ha!

 

See, it's hysterical because the audience knows we all have a need to be loved, but we need to balance those desires against fears of our own mortality & not coming across as a complete colossal jerk insensitive to the needs of our spouses who need reassurance that everything will be okay even if nobody in the room really believes it. You need to say it out loud for their own peace of mind. 

 

Plotline: We are located in the UK. London to be exact & Jess [Drew Barrymore] is giving birth to her first child while her husband Jago [Paddy Considine] is away working on an oil rig to pay for the expensive fertility procedure so they can raise their newborn son in 9 months time. Jess isn't thrilled about the idea of refusing morphine earlier to alleviate her excruciating pain at the moment. Let's backup for a second shall we. Jess around 30 or so has a best friend with blond hair named Milly [Toni Collette]. Jess is a brat military kid who moved overseas where her dad was transferred to London & Milly took Jess under her wing like a protective mother hen & soon they became inseparable doing everything together as a girl power dynamic duo from drinking, to sex, to parting excessively when they were young & free from any real responsibility yet. 

 

Milly is the rebel & really funny promiscuous one of this alliance while Jess is the reasonable & grounded one. Milly's husband Kit [Dominic Cooper] is some sort of business mogul I guess. There's a priceless scene once Milly has informed her family of her cancer & begun her chemo sessions. She's back at home trying to get her children ready for school & her son attempts to jump on her back. Milly collapses on the ground due to her fragile body & immune system. Her husband Kit rushes to help his wife up replying "I thought you said you felt better dear?" To which his young 10 yr old daughter snaps back, "You really don't know women dad" rolling her eyes at her father. Translation: Milly was lying & trying to put up a brave front as she feels weak & can't anything down you fool. Can't you see that dude? I know; I know. Cancer is an adjustment period for everybody. I get that. 

 

There is also an interesting dynamic with Miranda [Jacqueline Bisset] Milly's mother who tries her best to make her daughter feel like an alluring woman to her husband Kit & babysits her precious grandchildren but secretly she's jealous of Jess whose always had a closer relationship with Milly than she's ever had. No matter what Miranda tries to do for her only daughter Miranda always feels like she can't do anything right in Milly's eyes. Toward the end though once we learn that Milly contracted an inoperable brain tumor; Miranda pulls a daring escape from a hospice center with her daughter in a wheelchair so Milly can help Jess give birth in the hospital as moral support. Cool. 

 

We see it all. The shaving off of Milly's hair before she loses it; The wig maker & hair designer who makes her feel briefly sexy again, the atmosphere of jokes to keep the severity of the situation light & as carefree as humanly possible...Oh, did I mention the devious ploy Milly pulls over on Jess to travel to a distant inn in England so Milly can commit infidelity with Ace [Tyson Ritter] the bartender she flashed months earlier? Look, I understand why Milly crossed this line. I don't condone the move, but I understand the motivation behind it--the root of it. When a woman gets a double mastectomy, she doesn't feel desirable anymore. She's not a woman anymore by society's social norms. It would be like if a doctor said to a guy "You have life threatening cancer in your body & the only way we can save your life is to cut your private member completely off. Sound good. Bull bleeping crap man! It doesn't even matter if you're not a ladies man or smooth with the female front man. Just the notion of losing the 1 thing that determines 1 gender from another sends shivers down peoples spines. It truly does. Therefore, the need to be with a stranger who isn't repulsed by your naked appearance is a huge boost to Milly's self esteem when you realize that Kit, her husband, had no idea what to do once it dawned on him that Milly's breasts were actually gone in the bedroom. Kit wasn't being an caboose hole. He was just used to something being there that wasn't there anymore & Milly felt rejected & burned for the 1st time in her sexual existence as a flesh & blood female. 

 

As you would expect, Milly needs to mend fences with Jess & Kit, which she eventually does. Was it cheating? Was it wrong? Yes, it was on both counts, but when an entire person's existence prior to breast cancer or a tumor was her ability to make men notice her & want to be with her that's 1 hades of a drop off when reality is driven home & sometimes people will do anything just to feel alive & desirable again regardless of the impeding fallout & collateral damage. It makes perfect sense in a twisted, skewed, illogical way. 

 

The toughest part for me as a viewer was when Milly told her daughter & her son that Milly was gonna die but that she would always be with them in spirit. The little girl ran away crying saying "I don't want your spirit. I want you mum!" & the boy simply crawls into his mother's hospice suitcase like a baby burrowing into a kangaroo's maternal pouch. I don't care how masculine you are man. When you see those 2 children scenes, you will get choked up claiming dust in your eye & that you need a drink of water since your throat feels dry for some reason. Trust me. 

 

Her death scene is hospice is very powerful & profound. Milly has Jess lie next to her in bed. They hold a finger wrapped around each other. Milly makes an afterlife request: "A vodka tonic. I'm ordering now from the bar upstairs [before I get there to Heaven like a reservation]. I love you." Milly closes her eyes. She's gone now. Wow. Talk about a scene where you could hear a pin drop. It blew me away. It really did. Silence done correctly is so much better than words. 

 

I gotta roll with an A on "Miss You Already" since loyalty, love, friendship, & death are universal themes that always resonate with people across all backgrounds, incomes, & walks of life. Be sure to tell family & friends how much they mean to you today because they might not be here tomorrow & there's nothing worse than regrets or moments you can never get back once they're dead & gone. 

 

 

This song by Paloma Faith called "The Crazy Ones" from the movie played as the credits rolled & I liked it...

 

 

 

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"We can't go to mommy's funeral. We have to do what we're told. Some fights you just can't win. The powerful control the lives of the powerless. That's the way the world works. It's unjust & unfair, but that's just too darn bad. We have to shut up & accept it. Well, bleep that. [Ben plays a cassette of Scottish bagpipes on a bus & replies, "So they know we're coming!'"

 

"S-T-O-P: Stay Calm, Think, Observe, & Plan." 

 

"What's wrong with everyone? Are they sick?...Everyone is so fat. Fat like hippos. Look! You can think that, but we don't make fun of people right dad? That's right." 

 

"Can you tell me what the Bill of Rights is?" 

 

The following quotes listed above are taken from the 2016 film about fatherhood called "Captain Fantastic" directed by Matt Ross. It's a long picture coming in at just 2 hours, but an exceptional one nevertheless. I remember my very first class getting my first Master's Degree in Library Science at UW-Madison. We were separated into small groups of no more than 5 people & each unit had to pick a topic to write a lengthy paper on & give a presentation for at the end of the semester or term. SW1's group selected the topic of Homeschooling. Myself, I could teach 3 subjects well right off the topic of my head given my background & educational training: English Literature, Grammar & Writing, & US & World History. My point here is this: Learning more about the unfamiliar topic of Homeschooling taught me to really respect initiative, resourcefulness, & arming young minds with critical thinking skills to approach any foreign situation with confidence, deductive reasoning, patience, & persistence overall. I also learned to admire what a huge commitment homeschooling was on behalf of mothers & fathers for their children. It's not as easy as it sounds--Teaching a subject thoroughly, accurately, while making it insightful & entertaining at the same time. Plus, teaching a subject forces you to really know it inside & out; backwards & forwards while keeping your audience awake, alert, hopefully enthralled, & god forbid not aloof; adrift, & confused. 

 

The reason why I mentioned homeschooling earlier is simple. Our main mentor & father of the household Ben Cash [Viggo Mortensen] lives in the Pacific Northwest [either Seattle, Washington or Oregon I'm not sure which] & he is raising 8 kids in the wilderness all by himself. Ben prides himself on teaching his kids self reliance, being respectful of mother nature taking only what you need & not polluting her; observing rites of passage from childhood thru adulthood using the sport of outdoor rugged individual hunting/fitness for the mind, body; & soul; & adhering to a philosophy that revolves around scholar Noam Chomsky, meaning a Socialist, anti-facist/anti-corporate greed code of daily life. In addition, I should also mention that Ben is a huge proponent of naturally grown food & vegetation without pesticides, human growth hormones, too much sugar, too much salt, & too many unhealthy preservatives that fail to provide proper nourishment for the human body. 

 

Ben & his children live in a plush, green landscape complete with tall trees, elk, ferns as far as the eye can see, & pristine streams rolling over natural rocks. The late John Denver would love an unvarnished oasis like this. He really would because Ben & his family live in modest huts, kill & devour only want they need to sustain live, give frequent presentations on books that they read; exercise regularly including rock climbing & survivalist defense techniques so that they can handle themselves in any situation they confront; and of course playing music on guitars, the harmonica, a wood block for drums that you sit on & slap with your hands; a tambourine, & a fiddle or two as well. It reminds you of stories of Country star Dolly Parton growing up actually. You know what I mean. Little money as a family dynamic, but they had each other & they are incredibly talented musicians to boot. Like God said, 'when you folks play, people will drop what they are doing & just listen quietly & intensely. I always marvel at that--Musicians who can pick up any instrument even their voice alone & leave their audience speechless with spine tingling goosebumps man. 

 

Plotline: Ben Cash [no relation to Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, just in case you were wondering] decides to go into town along with his oldest son Bo [George MacKay] via an old school bus that they turned into their own make shift camper in order to sell some homemade, wooden bird feeders, collect their mail, & replenish their supplies overall at a modest store. Here's the lay of the land: Ben's wife Leslie [Trin Miller] just died. Well, to be more specific, she was suffering from bipolar disorder & she committed suicide by slitting her wrist the night before in the hospital. Leslie was a Buddhist &, according to her last will & testament, she had no desire to be buried in the ground. Leslie wanted to be cremated. Her father Jack [Frank Langella] wanted nothing more than to see his only daughter undergo a traditional funeral with no controversial antics whatsoever. Ben, on the other hand, is stubbornly determined to see his wife's body transformed into ashes. Okay technically, Ben is afraid that his father in law will have been arrested if he shows up at the funeral with his unorthodox band of misfits otherwise known as his grandchildren. Look, Jack would love to see his grandchildren dearly. However, he blames Ben for accelerating Leslie's bipolar disorder & putting his other relatives at risk raising them wrong not preparing them for the modern, contemporary world. Translation: We the audience see the worlds of primitive isolationism & capitalistic; self gratification collide head on. Is Ben putting his kids in dangerous & precarious situations? Is he only teaching his children book smarts vs say street smarts? If these kids leave the woods, can they adapt, thrive, & flourish without getting tainted by corporate greed & superficial nonsense in short order? 

 

The quality about Ben that bothered me the most was this: He has this tendency to be way too elaborate or detailed when answering questions from his children regardless of how young they are. Let me give you an example...His youngest girl Zaja [Shree Crooks] no more than 8 yrs old at the most is confused when another family member on the bus is reading about a character in a book who was sexually assaulted. More specifically, Zaja has no idea what rape is or, in turn, what sexual intercourse is & Ben gives Zaja a very clinical definition of both terms off the top of his head as causally as delivering a weather forecast. Whoa dude. What the hades is wrong with you Ben? This kid can't comprehend that & there's really no need to get that graphic in your explanation man. Later on, Ben even gives Zaja a book called The Joy Of Sex. Ben she's 8?! This behavior is wrong on so many levels. I know you meant well, but darn dude. Shaking my head. See, Ben believes in brutal honesty which sounds great in theory, but not always prudent in reality though. 

 

On route to Leslie's funeral, Ben & the gang spend the night at his sister Harper's [Kathryn Hahn] place. While eating at the kitchen table Ben offers Zaja some wine after she wants to try some herself. Again, she's only 8 yrs old Ben. A big mistake since her brain is still forming. Ben also goes into elaborate detail about how Leslie passed away & what crack cocaine actually is. Sigh...Eventually, Harper & her husband tell Ben that his children should be enrolled in traditional school because what Ben is teaching them is irresponsible & dangerous not preparing them for life in the real world. Here's where it gets fascinating. Ben doesn't get upset at his sister. He just politely asks Harper's sons to tell everyone what the 1st 10 Amendments to the US Constitution are otherwise known as the Bill Of Rights. They can't do it. Then, he requests that Zaja do it. She does easily both reciting it & analyzing it as a document thematically as a whole. She even knows what Citizens United is. Wow,  talk about impressive! Most adults at random couldn't do that. Ben proved to Harper that traditional education from a student body perspective leads to little retention & deep comprehension overall. A very provocative & alarming lesson about what kids remember & deem important. 

 

Watching Ben & the gang show up at their deceased mother's funeral was a riot. Imagine a guy wearing a cheesy, crimson suit straight out of the Bee Gees disco era, flower children, & Zaja wearing a German WWII gas mask as they stroll casually into church like all this is normal. :lol: Their mission: Deliver a eulogy, slam organized religion as to quote Karl Marx as 'the opium of the masses,' steal the body from the casket; cremate it; & not get arrested by Jack in the process. A tall order there. Easy as pie right? LOL! I live for off the wall stuff like this because it's so unpredictable & fresh as in original man. 

 

There's also an intriguing side story between Ben's eldest son Bo, a girl at a camp ground named Claire [Erin Moriarty], & a rift between Bo & Ben over whether or not he should be allowed to attend college. You see Bo secretly received acceptance letters from Brown University, Harvard University, & Princeton University. Bo is angry through because his father taught him scholarly works & survival skills but he has no idea how to interact with a pretty girl or even engage in conversational dialogue since they don't even own a TV & are aloof about popular culture at large. Having no idea who Spock is from Star Trek in outer space for instance. 

 

One of Ben's children named Rellian Cash [Nicholas Hamilton] is furious at his dad for driving his mother mad & not getting her treatment faster that might have saved her life. Therefore, Rellian tells his father that he wants to live permanently with Grandpa Jack in his mansion from now on. A rescue/extraction is planned to retrieve him at night by force courtesy of his eldest daughter Vesper [Annalise Basso] who scales mansion walls & roofs like a Seal Six Special Forces squad. Darn. This girl could single handedly give Spiderman a run for his money man. Wow! However, slips on a Spanish roofing tile as she repels over her brother's window & proceeds to land harshly on a Jeep Cherokee parked in the driveway setting off the car alarm. Her spine is injured. Luckily though no loss of feeling in her lower extremities thank goodness. 

 

Recent events caused Ben to relinquish custody of his children to Jack, his father-in law for their own safety & wellbeing. It's difficult to watch Ben hand over his kids to Jack, but he knows it's the right thing to do for everyone involved. Ben eventually abandons his savageness by shaving all his facial hair off & becoming domesticated in the civilized sense. We actually feel horrible for the guy because deep down Ben is an awesome dad who loves his children immensely. Giving them up proves that. Ben isn't evil. Slightly misguided maybe, but he always had good intentions with no maliciousness intended at all. He just wanted Leslie's wishes respected that's all. 

 

Ben 8 kids conceal themselves in a stowaway compartment on the bus & then they proceed to help their Pop dig up their mother in the graveyard, cremate her, & say 'Goodbye Mommy' as they flush Leslie's ashes down an airport bathroom's toilet. The best part is when Ben & the crew hold a farewell ceremony for their mother singing their own acoustic version of Guns-N-Roses 'Sweet Child O' Mine.' It's very moving. See...

 

 

I like the organic, simplicity of it.

 

 

 

If this A+ film doesn't win at least 1 Oscar tonight at the Academy Of Motion Pictures, it will be a travesty. Fathers need more admiration & respect as mentors then they currently receive in my humble opinion.  

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Watched Hacksaw Ridge last night....WOW great movie, I can see why it's nominated for so many awards!!!! Highly recommend it, Mel did a great job directing it, especially the end of the movie that features the real life character and some of his comrades. Warning: Very graphic, think Saving Private Ryan Omaha beach scene X 10. 

 

And the the other movie I watched, which is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum......La La Land. I will start off by saying, I HATE MUSICALS!!!!! I really do, can't stand them. I was talked into watching this, and you know what? It was REALLY GOOD!!!! The singing/dancing was good, and it wasn't overbearing. There really was only three song dance scenes. It was very well thought out and put together. Plus Emma Stone is very easy on the eyes!!!!!!   Ryan Gosling is a solid actor, he did very well as his character. 

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One of the reasons I revere director Micheal Mann so much is that he understands the significance of musical scores in his movies to deliver emotional intensity to his audiences worldwide. In his 2006 film debut of 'Miami Vice,' Mann singlehandedly revitalized or brought back the music of legendary artist Nina Simone with a new, updated version of her classic hit song 'Sinner Man.' Micheal Mann through this soundtrack exposed fans of his work to an iconic artist they might not be familiar with & need desperately to acquaint themselves with as soon as possible. See, the idea is for Mann enthusiast to say "I love that Miami Vice film of his so much that I even bought the score too. Man, I really love that 'Sinner Man' track. I've never heard anything like that before. It literally blew me away. Who sang that song originally? Nina who? I seriously need to check out Miss Simone's entire catalog of songs now."

 

Ergo, when modern day filmmakers like Michael Mann borrow from extraordinary musicians & singers who have long since passed on; their work gets dusted off & is given a renewal, a new fanbase, & a 2nd or 3rd chance at fame & a new discovery by unsuspecting/unfamiliar fans. Cool. That way, artists not in the rolodex of popular music receive new legs, new expose, & new relevancy. That's how the pattern luckily usually works thankfully. Props to Micheal Mann who is the man. :D

 

No, I'm not here to discuss a new Micheal Mann film at the moment. Instead, I am here to discuss a biographical 2016 cinematic treatment of Miss Simone's 57 yrs on Earth from the 1940's thru 2003 simply called "Nina" directed by Cynthia Mort. It should also be noted that actress Zoe Saldana both stars as our central character & her name is listed as 1 of the executive producers of this picture as well. Let's address the elephant in the room straight out of the gate shall we. Many reviewers of this film have expressed disparaging comments that a light skinned black female [Saldana] looks out of place portraying a dark skinned jazzy, blues ballad & civil rights protest singer from the 60's that witnessed the assassinations of Malcolm X & Martin Luther King Jr. not to mention segregation in the South too.

 

To put it bluntly, some critics are uncomfortable with the makeup job done on Zoe to make her skin appear darker than it is in real life & therefore, making Saldana's appearance of Miss Simone seem laughable, non-authentic, & similar to derogatory connotations of 'black face' by whites to ridicule & mock their distorted & inaccurate views of another race in a negative/vicious light overall. Perhaps many critics felt that this role of Nina should have been played by another actress who better embodied the appearance & persona of the iconic, speak easy, piano player & singer herself. What's my take on this controversy you ask? Well, to be honest, the makeup on Zoe Saldana would never pass as a close facsimile of Simone's sure. No argument there, but it's crossing a line in my opinion to think that an actress cannot give a living legend credibility simply because their skin isn't dark enough to suit diehard Nina fans or something like that. Remember, actor Anthony Hopkins as President Nixon in Oliver Stone's film? After about 5 minutes, I believed Hopkins was Nixon or that Jack Nicolson was Jimmy Hoffa in Danny DeVito's picture. Translation: If the actor/actress is compelling enough, the audience will surpass the exterior & concentrate their attention to how well the actor becomes the person they are portraying so that by the end of the film; no one knows where the performance ends & the person being replicated stops on the realism front. In short, this criticism is unfounded or at least over-blown to epic proportions from my perspective.

 

"I would like my parents to have their seats up front...I'm not playing [piano] unless they do."

 

"Do you know who I am? Yeah, I think my mother listened to you. Good...Nothing is really keeping you here [in the hospital]. You should leave." 

 

"When you sing, I've never seen anything like it [Nina]. I've never felt anything like it. I mean it."

 

"Thank you for all you meant to my mother. I hope you'll play in America again. I'd like to see you [perform myself [Nina]. 

 

The director, Cynthia Mort, gives her audience whiplash jumping around so much location & yr wise throughout this film from North Carolina in 1946, to the Big Apple in 1965, to a radio interview in Paris in 1988 via Le Bon Plaisir; to San Francisco, California in 1971, A Chicago Blues club in the states, & finally a free concert in Grand Central Park in New York City around the early 2000's.

 

Basically, like most music docu-dramas based on a real life musician, we have the Los Angeles creative control of the master tracks scene where Nina confronts the record executive at gunpoint for ripping her off like fellow contemporaries Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, & Miles Davis did in an attempt to control their creative futures from a copyright perspective. All legendary artists that we know on a first name basis typically do this. In addition, fame & fortune also leads to drug & alcohol abuse in one form or another, which results in poor bookkeeping & near bankruptcy & debt until someone comes along & saves the artist financially, spiritually, & socially anyway. Johnny Cash had June Carter & Nina Simone [Zoe Saldana] had a West Coast nurse named  Clifton Henderson [David Oyelowo].  The storyline is simple enough to follow. Nina gets arrested & thrown into a California psych ward for pointing a gun at the owner of a record company & punching a police officer. Fortunately for her, a kind healthcare worker named Clifton looks after Nina in the hospital & she offers to make him his personal assistant back home where she resides in France. She even sweetens the deal with $2,000 per month plus free room & board in a country that treats African American citizens with greater dignity & respect than the United States does. Actually, I think Nina has a serious crush on Clifton physically.

 

As you can probably imagine, Nina drinks champaign like water to a fish. She rarely eats nourishing food that Clifton routinely prepares for her & she refuses to take pills for her bipolar condition too. Did I mention that Nina always has a lit cigarette dangling from her lips 24/7 as well? Uh huh with tremendous talent comes a warm & fuzzy personality. Erratic behavior, mood swings, self destructive patterns, & remarkable God given, landmark talent always go together like double stuff Oreo cookies & a tall, cold glass of thirst quenching milk. It's almost Manifest Destiny among legendary performers. You can darn near set your watch to it like clockwork. Clifton is essentially Nina's errand boy, indentured servant, & general cook, cleaner, chauffeur, & de facto case worker hired to keep Nina mildly sober, presentable, & able to perform at live gigs in small restaurants & bars around Paris. Clifton even asks Nina once "Why do you play in front of 100 people only when you should be playing in front of [at least] 20,000 [or more?] This fact bothers Nina internally immensely. Small crowds that talk over her performance or they ignore her talent entirely like she is a cheesy, lounge lizard act. Nothing could be further from the truth. Don't believe me? Check out this performance from the film that left me speechless...

 

 

I literally stopped fumbling through bills & focused all my attention on Zoe's performance sitting in complete silence and awe. It's incredible. 

 

Throughout this film, we see interactions on the phone with comedian Richard Pryor, Nina's reaction to Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination that spawned the song 'Why the King of Love is Dead;' her triumphant return to Central Park singing the classic "Feeling Good," & a moving scene where a fan sent Nina a version of 'Four Women' on cassette that this little girl played for her mother shortly before she passed away, which made Simone cry as she reflected upon her own loving memory of the woman who raised her since birth. I guess I have a soft spot for riveting live performances. I respect actresses like Zoe Saldana who push past stage fright & just give it everything they've got regardless of what criticism may face them later on once a project has been released & swallowed for public scrutiny & consumption. I admire guts & vulnerability a great deal & I always will. The outcome is secondary. Bravery is paramount in my eyes. 

 

Nina Simone died on April 21, 2003. She made 47 albums & created over 400 songs in her musical catalog. In 2000, she was inducted into the Grammy HOF. A few months before Nina passed away, she was awarded an honorary degree from the Curtis Institute, a renowned music school in Georgia that declined her entrance into their university in 1951 simply because she was black in the age of segregation & Jim Crow. Redemption is delicious & so is vindication. Nice. 

 

Clifton worked as Nina's talent manger for 8 years. No, they never slept together. They had a romantic waltz around her dressing room once, but that's it. Clifton felt sympathy for her. Nothing more. 

 

What grade should I give Nina you ask? Let's roll with a B- because performances like "I Put A Spell On You" are solid, Nina's advances toward Clifton are not acted upon meaning he remains a consummate professional; & I'm always fascinated how damaged people are so darn talented musically. Like some supernatural force said your time on this planet will be short, but you will leave 1 hades of a crater that no one will ever forget no matter how many decades fly by. 

 

 

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Not a new movie, but I re-watched one of the best horror films made, IMO: "Rosemary's Baby." There have been recent versions, but I'm referring to the 1968 film, starring Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes, Ruth Gordon and Stanley Blackmir. (sp?)  Directed by Roman Polanski, this movie doesn't have blood and gore; instead it is subtle suspense.

Premise: a young couple, Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into an apartment and find out that their neighbors Minnie and Roman Cassavet  (Ruth Gordon and Stanley Blackmir) , are involved in witchcraft. Guy (who's an actor) makes a deal with the devil in order to help his career. For example, he gets a highly regarded part in play when the original actor suddenly goes blind. Also, a good friend of the Woodhouse's tries to tell Rosemary that she's in danger, but then he suddenly goes into a coma and dies three months later.

 

When Rosemary finds out that she's pregnant, the Cassavets convince her to change doctors. The doctor they recommend, Dr, Sapirstein (Ralph Bellamy) , does Rosemary no favors. When she has a severe pain, he ignores it, says that it will go away. He also tells her not to read any books, take vitamins or pills.

 

Throughout the movie, the audience knows what is happening, and even though Rosemary is suspicious, there is nothing one can do to help her. Everyone is involved in this conspiracy, and Rosemary is left on her own. She eventually gives birth to what is the son of Satan. The baby isn't shown at the end, except for his strange eyes. But you still get the message loud and clear.

 

I give "Rosemary's Baby" an "A" Good acting, suspenseful where one really feels for the characters. If the movie does nothing else, it reminds you to be careful of new neighbors. :)

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"These books are for white folks. They're full of things your kind wouldn't understand. But, I do have a special book for you & guess what? It's the best book ever written [The King James Bible.]

 

"Where is he Nat [Turner]? Where's God now?"

 

Is there something you wanna say to these good [white, Christian people before you are hung Nat?] I'm ready [to reach Paradise & enter the Afterlife. I have no regrets over the insurrection I led in August of 1831.]

 

"Indeed, I tremble for my Country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever." -Thomas Jefferson. 

 

Our next film on the docket is a drama called "The Birth Of A Nation" based on historical events otherwise know as the Turner Rebellion on August 21, 1831 located in Southampton, County Virginia. One of the first slaves Frederick Douglass, who was taught to read & write, said that Nat Turner & his subsequent mutiny against plantation owners for freedom & human dignity were directly responsible for the catalyst that spawned Southern Confederate succession & the dawn of the Civil War from 1861-1865. This 2 hour picture is directed by & stars actor Nate Parker as Nat Turner--our central character as well. 

 

Before I go any further, I need to lay down some essential background & context from a historical perspective. In the 19th Century or 1800's travel consisted mostly on horse back, buggy, or covered wagon. Roads were primitive composed mainly of mud, grass, or gravel. Railroads until the Civil War were not utilized as extensively as they are now until President Lincoln & Union Generals finally figured out how vital railroads were useful in transferring bullets, rifles, cannons, medical supplies, food; & reinforcements to the front lines. Communication revolved around hand written letters delivered by the Pony Express & assigned military couriers on horseback. The telegraph & morse code was utilized too. However, if an enemy shot the telegraph wires or your morse code reader was shot & killed your ability to receive  messages in a timely fashion was severely compromised & screwed overall. 

 

Illiteracy, or the inability to read, was used as a cruel tool by white plantation owners to keep their coerced workforce in bondage in check, subservient, & intellectually dumb & uninformed on purpose in order to prevent slaves & indentured servants from rising up against their oppressors & murdering them. Denying slaves the inability to read also severed a 2nd more sinister purpose: To make their workforce think that only the white man knows what is best for them, prohibit the prospect of critical thinking, & make their predominantly black population believe that this is their lot in life--To service the white man in life & know their place as a piece of commercial property to turn a financial profit just for them alone & exclusively. The irony here is this: White owners wives typically allowed a few select African American children to memorize & read Holy scripture from the Bible & this familiarity with the word of God, Jesus, & his disciples caused black preachers to question why their white masters whip them, beat them, rape them, treat them like an animal/beast of burden, & tear their families apart by lynchings & the dreaded auction block, where women, children, & husbands are sold like a commodity on contemporary Wall Street. Here's the other thing to remember: Black citizens in bondage had no voting rights or civil rights or autonomy of any kind. Their entire existence consisted of picking either cotton, tobacco, or sugar cane for their white plantation overlords for revenue slaves never got to participate in. In other words, they were never permitted to enjoy the fruits of their own labor & hard work. Slaves were never allowed to own their own homes or property to fertilize & grow whatever crops they wanted. Plantation owners taxed their slaves fees for lodging living in rundown shacks, food, & if you engaged in a food strike of any type, they usually force fed you against your will. To the white owners horrifically, slaves were identical to say a mule & if you became sick or your production daily declined swiftly; they literally put you down with no emotion or empathy at all. Just frustration that you cost them money & needed to be replaced now as quickly as possible. 

 

Plotline: We are located in Virginia in the early 1800's. Samuel Turner [Armie Hammer] a white plantation owner has vast fields of cotton at his disposal. Naturally, his workforce consists of African American men, women, & children who pick cotton for several hours daily except on Sundays to attend church. Samuel's wife Elizabeth [Penelope Ann Miller] takes an interest in or a shine to a small boy named Nat [Nate Parker]. Elizabeth knows that Nat stole a book off the front porch. However, instead of punishing him she tells his mother that she admires his thirst for learning and ability to sound out letters. Therefore, Elizabeth decides to transfer Nat to the house & acquaint him with the Holy Bible. Nat learns the Good Book quickly & in short order, he is reading verses aloud in church in front of a caucasian congregation. Eventually, Nat becomes so skilled at reciting scripture from memory as a charismatic orator that by his late 20's he is encouraged to travel with Samuel around to neighboring Virginia communities to spread the word of God by other white plantation owners.

 

Remember: This tool is a mechanism to keep slaves calm & not think about defying their white masters who only care about the money that their illegal workforce is generating for them on a daily & monthly basis. There is a fascinating sequence in the film where Nat Turner has seen an owner chip away a slave's front teeth so he will swallow food by force & then turn right around & play the game of satisfying  his owner & the other owner paying Samuel that everything is A Okay & you should never defy, anger, or go against your white overlords keeping you in shackles. Think about that for a second. Nat is appalled by what he says transpiring around him but he must pretend all is well & tell other slaves to be obedient to their masters. Otherwise, his life will be put in physical jeopardy by his own owner Samuel himself. A heavy burden to carry internally. 

 

Seeing a young woman named Cherry [Aja Naomi King] get her dress ripped off in public & standing there naked as a jaybird like an animal on display with no dignity in front of other caucasian bidders for her services sexual & otherwise is very jarring to visualize. I can never grow accustom to that; nor should I no matter how many times I have seen it depicted on film as a professionally trained historian. This kind of degradation & dismissiveness always sickens me--That my country, my republic did this I mean. At any rate, Cherry is purchased for Samuel's daughter Katherine [Katie Garfield] as some sort of personal pet & play thing companion. Later on, Cherry & Nat Turner get married in their own separate wedding ceremony, a common practice among slaves to sample their own taste of freedom & independence no matter how tiny, small, or fleeting in scope. Cherry's & Nat's relationship is a sweet & caring one even if their introduction is an inhumane one on the auction block sold like cattle or a piece of meat. She attacks Nat shortly after being purchased & brought to her new home & plantation surroundings. Nat isn't upset at her though because he understands what it's like to be torn apart from her mother & family never to see them alive again. It should also be noted that Samuel Turner gets drunk a lot too because he is having a crisis of conscious--Making a profit under false pretenses & then using the illusion of religion to pacify them & keep the slaves in line & productive in the fields for other owners on their lands. 

 

Sexual assault & rape by white men is another sad chapter in our nation's history unfortunately. Both Cherry Turner & another black married female named Esther [Gabrielle Union] are violated in the most brutal method imaginable in this picture. A common travesty both Pre & post Civil War Antebellum South I'm afraid. Typically, what happens is this: Cruel white men with sadistic tendencies like Raymond Cobb [Jackie Earle Haley] a slave hunter/bounty hunter chases after fugitives on a manhunt designed to retrieve property bumps into an attractive black woman, demands to see her pass [or note from a white plantation owner], & when she has no documentation on her, she is usually beaten & raped. Or, a fellow owner is at a party & has a taste for the taboo of interracial intercourse & it makes no difference if the woman in question is married or not. That's when you feel powerless as a husband...When you can no longer protect your wife from assault, bruises, & unplanned pregnancies which later become field hands when they grow old enough. It is brutality like this that creates the climate for death, bloodshed, & rebellion against tyranny & excessive cruelty overall. 

 

The other final theme I need to mention is absentee fatherhood. It's not that dads don't care about the welfare of their wives & children. Quite the contrary, fathers do what they can to steal food for their families even kill wild animals in the forest or woods for example. The only problem is if a black father runs into the wrong vicious, armed white guy. Usually, a struggle ensues, men are murdered, & a massive manhunt with bloodthirsty dogs follows in toe resulting in African American girls & boys who grow up fatherless. 

 

According to the film, Nat Turner had unique markings on his chest as a child that a medicine man told his mother in the woods that this small boy was destined to do something great in his lifetime & that he would achieve salvation in the afterlife. Translation: God would embrace him in death, end his suffering, & unleash his wrath upon anyone who held his precious children in bondage & chains. Nat was told via Scripture to murder any white person who mistreated a black person in their lifetime by the sword & assassinate all false prophets standing in his way. Nat was only to wait for a holy sign from above, which turned out to be a solar eclipse. The reason Nat Turner has no national monument today is that he cut down & slaughtered caucasian women & children instead of just white men. This brings up a provocative question for debate: Are women & children who turned a blind eye to black brutality worthy of a pardon & forgiveness? They participated & perpetuated a system of class & powerlessness that provoked mass genocide among black people torn from their homes & families all in the name of the almighty dollar & pure greed. 

 

The straw that broke the camel's back was when Nat decided to baptize a white man in the river for his sins without Samuel, his owner present & accounted for. As a consequence, Nat was whipped viciously for compromising his owner's reputation & authority. Seeing Nat's back with cuts everywhere & his Nana applying stitches to his back is difficult to watch. The sheer tenderness in the face of such brutality is remarkable to witness secondhand as a viewer. We as an audience understand why Nat Turner killed his master Samuel as well as his entire family. Samuel looked the other way while friends in high placed sexually assaulted married female colleagues of him in bondage. You reap what you sow & karma good or bad is always returned to you in abundance. 

 

The 2 most moving scenes to me are when we hear singer Nina Simone sing "Strange Fruit" as he flees in the sanctuary of the woods. In case you are unaware, the song deals with black bodies suspended by rope from tall trees in the act of lynchings. After Turner's 48 hour Rebellion started, plantation owners hung countless slaves regardless of age to prevent them from starting their own pocket acts of defiance on their own. 

 

"Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin' in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees

 

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulgin' eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin' flesh

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop"

 

The final scene that resonated with me is when Nat Turner refused to beg for mercy in front of angry white people who saw him as a traitor. One boy in particular named Jasper [Kai Norris] who followed Nat's rebellion & later served in the Civil War on the Northern side took inspiration in Turner's death. His resolve for ending slavery was made stronger not weaker in how Nat died. Very similar to William Wallace in Mel Gibson's "Brave Heart" actually. Dismemberment & setting the body ablaze did not deter Jasper at all. That's what those in power are petrified by the most: No fear whatsoever anymore. What can you do to me that you haven't already done plantation owners? Nothing. Besides, the masters are all fat, drunk, lazy, & out of shape. They were totally unprepared for the axe coming their way in the dead of night. 

 

Here is a historical synopsis of the Turner Rebellion below: 

 

http://docsouth.unc.edu/highlights/turner.html

 

And let's not forget about the 52nd anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March this weekend in American History either shall we...

 

http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/selma-montgomery-march

 

"Birth Of A Nation" is an ambitious & admirable undertaking worthy of a B+ IMO. I'm not asking you to look past the bloodshed of the Turner Rebellion just to understand the conditions that made that occurrence inevitable that's all. 

 

There's a house butler named Isaiah [Roger Guenveur Smith] at the Turner plantation who is angry that Nat murdered Samuel & his entire family. He is scared because he has become totally dependent on Samuel for his stature, care, & prestige & he has no idea what he will do now. It's like releasing a zoo animal from captivity & forcing him to fend for himself now. He's been institutionalized to the system of slavery, another causality of bondage. 

 

 

What will your legacy be once you are gone? How would you like to be remembered? Just curious...

 

  

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"That's a familiar smell. Where were you? Did you go there? Please, you make it sound like I was with some woman or something. I would rather you were with some woman. I went to see an old [boxing] friend...I'm blond. I look great in black. I will make a very hot widow. Is that what you want? How many years do I have left? Ray these people [the American MOB] will kill you."

 

"Boxing is a mental sport. He [the military police officer holding a machine gun] behind the gate is in jail. Say it Roberto, he's in jail [mind over matter philosophy.]" 

 

"Roberto, grow up. Shut up. Not everything revolves around you. Come on." 

 

"I don't want to disappoint my countrymen tomorrow" [at the Sugar Ray Leonard fight.] 

 

The following quotes listed above are taken from the 2016 boxing drama called "Hands Of Stone" directed by Jonathan Jakubowicz. This 1 hour & 51 minute film tells the real life rags to riches story of a poor boy living in the slums of Panama City named Roberto Duran [Edgar Ramírez]. This tale also dovetails nicely with the construction of the Panama Canal, it's opening in 1914, & whether or not, the US Government would relinquish control of the canal back to the citizens of Panama on December 31, 1999. The short answer is no.

 

You see, Roberto & ordinary civilians in Panama were tired of America asserting her presence in that Latin American country for over 20 yrs. Mr. Duran wanted to display his national pride for Panama & the only way to achieve that was thru gloves & a boxing ring. By the time lightweight champion Sugar Ray Leonard [Usher--Yes, that performer & dancer Usher] fought Roberto in the early 80's at Madison Square Gardens in New York City. The collision was a battle of nations very similar to Rocky Balboa & Ivan Drago in Sly Stallone's "Rocky IV." Latin America vs North America. Spanish vs English. Affluence vs dirt poverty. Gluttony & greed vs hunger & starvation. Household fame vs nothing to lose & only 1 way to go: Up. 

 

From roughly 1972 thru 1982, Roberto Duran dominated the sport of boxing in his lightweight division class. He was nicknamed 'Hands of Stone' because when Roberto hit you ringside you dropped like a stone meaning he was 1 tough hombre that packed 1 hades of a punch like a sledge hammer colliding with your body, torso, & face. Duran's 2 primary trainers all his life were Plomo Quiñones [Pedro Pérez] & Ray Arcel [Robert De Niro]. The funny thing is this: This picture makes a nice pound for pound companion piece to his earlier cinematic masterpiece 'Raging Bull.' Except this time, De Niro takes on the role of mentor & teacher very similar to Mick or Apollo Creed. Translation: His character of Ray Arcel shows Roberto the importance of strategy, tactics, & an overall plan of action to dominate whatever opponent he faces for say 15 rounds of blood, sweat, & perseverance to become a world champion & wear a golden belt of honor & international respect & idolization by countless countrymen & women of Panama. 

 

Ray teaches Duran mental toughness specifically that luck is a mistress that you must bend to your will & seduce with confidence. A strategy Roberto applies to wooing over a young blond female named Felicidad Iglesias [Ana de Armas]. Felicidad is a girl of wealth & privilege from the other side of the railroads tracks who admires Duran's smoothness, bravado, & the way he carries himself with supreme self worth despite his modest beginnings from virtually nothing. Eventually, Roberto wins her over & they start popping out kids like a darn pez dispenser man. Jesus, how's he got an energy left to fight challengers man? LOL! Even though he was born illiterate who had to steal mangoes to survive as a child & share with friends like Chaflan [Óscar Jaenada], a middle aged mentor who made Roberto laugh, feel good about himself, & taught him street smarts  growing up. 

 

When Roberto Duran fought Sugar Ray the first time around 1980, he got under Sugar's skin by mocking Ray's commercial pitch man success in the states, slamming his soft, pretty boy, pampered persona in America, & referring to his wife Juanita [Jurnee Smollett-Bell] as a lady of the evening or hooker. The strategy worked with flying colors. Sugar, with a perfect afro hairstyle was flat footed & distracted enough to lose his title to Duran in the ring. Now, Roberto was a national treasure & Panama icon beloved by poor citizens in homeland forever. Well, at least, until the rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard anyway because Duran's heart wasn't in the fight & he surrendered to Sugar Ray in the middle of the confrontation anyway. Roberto was classified as a coward for the 1st time in his personal & professional life by the masses from his homeland. In his defense though, several factors messed him up internally before the re-match: His biological father introducing himself at a party, resolving abandonment issues from his difficult childhood; his country not retaining control of the Panama Canal some 2 decades later, having food, money, & creature comforts for the first time in his life; & losing his friend Chaflan via an automobile accident after he had yelled at him hours earlier for getting his new threads wet near his mansion's pool. 

 

Roberto was now rich, fat, a little chubby, & he had no desire to face Sugar Ray again. Unfortunately, his key promoter Carlos Eleta [Rubén Blades] negotiated a new TV deal on CBS with Don King guaranteeing him a fiscal purse of $10,000,000. More money than Duran had ever made in a ring his entire life. So, Roberto does his best to drop excess pounds, transform fat into muscle, & meet his weight class obligations. Panamanian reaction to Duran walking away from the fight & pulling a 'No Mas' ploy inside the ropes sparked disgust & outrage among native born citizens. Losing is okay as long as you don't give up early & throw in the towel early. Do that & Panama City will turn on you swiftly like a poisonous cobra in an instant & that's precisely what happened too. Not a pretty sight at all. 

 

To make matters worse, Sugar Ray toyed with Duran, humiliated him, & kicked his caboose with slapstick, windmill trickery making a fool of the former champion. Luckily for him, Ray encouraged Roberto to return to his first trainer Plomo who took him back to his gritty, jailhouse roots & as a result, Duran won his last match against Moore in convincing fashion permitting Panama City to embrace Roberto Duran as a beloved son once again. 

 

I should also mention that Ray Arcel was forbidden by Frankie Carbo [John Turturro], a made man in the Big Apple, from ever making a profit from a fighter since Ray tried to spread boxing as a sport outside the East Coast on TV as a lucrative revenue stream overall, which nearly cost him his life literally. 

 

I liked "Hands Of Stone" as a survival of the fittest story & along the way...Roberto acquired a trainer/father figure that changed his life forever; a wife that changed his life forever, & a city's admiration that beamed with Latin American pride at the mention of his name & glory inside the ring. 

 

"Put all your money on Duran & make a bundle. Leave me alone if he wins; Shoot me if he loses." 

 

A definite B+ in my book on the verge of an A, but not quite. Very close to the highest mark possible though. A tale of resolve in the face of poverty & nationalistic pride. Solid round depictions too that feel genuine & true, especially when you couple them with real life struggles away from the arena. Nice. 

 

 

 

 

 

Even in the wake of failure, resurgence is indeed possible. Duran is living proof of that fact.  

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"I don't see her with Omar...What do you think?...Will you miss Omar when he is gone? Do you love him? No, I don't love Omar. Why did you ask me that?...I thought if I was you [I'd run after a legitimate chance at blissful happiness.] I might love him. They're both leaving; I'm glad. [A bold face lie.]

 

"What's she like Deirdre? She's very determined. Very strong [A very smothering motherly personality.] She decides what must be done & does it. That's how I'd want to be. So would I. I suppose. I'll never manage [to achieve that]; Me neither." 

 

"Have you ever been in love? Passionately in love? See, you can't even answer me. Your not sure...Do you have a girlfriend?...Why do you want to know? Are you romantically involved?...So, it is Deirdre who changed your mind & what if you can't? She'll think you failed...Sometimes, it's good to fail. There's nobility in that. Your young. Are you sure you want your life to be that forever? That job, that career, that girlfriend? 

 

"You'll have to go to Uruguay...They said no. You know perfectly well you need their permission. There's no fellowship, no money, no biography, and no new contract with the university. Omar, you'll never get another teaching job and what else can you do? Nothing." 

 

The following quotes listed above are taken from the movie adaptation of the book titled The City Of Your Final Destination written by Peter Cameron. This 2 hour film directed by James Ivory set in Argentina South America is one of the best pictures I have ever seen regardless of it's 2009 cinematic release that went largely ignored by movie fans in the United States at large. To be honest with you, the only reason I ever stumbled across it is because Laura Linney is one of my favorite actresses around & I admire the authenticity she brings to whatever role she plays on screen or television. She doesn't act; she embodies characters making them instantly believable even if the screenplay & dialogue sucks.

 

The other component that appeals to me is traveling to distant places outside of America being exposed to a slower pace of life, cultures, landscapes, & cuisines etc. etc. even if you, the viewer, never actually leave your den or living room. It's the same reason whenever I see a film is produced & made by the Natl. Lottery, films shot in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, or Latin America I always smirk & get a little excited because these pictures remind me that the United States is not the center of the collective world & universe. Pictures distributed by the Natl. Lottery are never obsessed with speed, explosions, and gratuitous violence. They immerse themselves in ambiance, dropping the audience into an off the beaten path remote environment; exposing the central character to an epiphany or reflective state of mind to pursue their emotional compass rather than their rational, logical, & scientific one. They deal with deep meaning buried beneath the surface & the pursuit of raw emotion--love, death, identity, & what your version of individual euphoria really entails even if it takes an unforeseen journey to finally figure that reality for yourself. 

 

I suppose the real reason why this picture resonates with me is because I remember the hades of graduate school otherwise known as your written thesis phase & the hoops a person must jump through to satisfy the whims of your committee members---From the originality of your subject matter, to the accumulation of a multitude of primary & secondary sources, interviews, & getting the authorization to proceed by all the relevant personnel involved; & that's months before you even write your darn dissertation & are mandated to defend your final conclusions. We haven't reached the correction phase yet where professors tell you to re-write entire chapters yet & slide paragraphs around yet. Oh yeah, let's not forget that professors in your department on the same floor who seldom talk to one another directly that brings the progress of your dissertation to a screeching halt in many cases. Fun, fun fun! Where can you sign up for this mental torture right folks? LOL! :sarcasm: 

 

By the time you are weeks away from graduating with your Master's degree or Ph.D, you literally ask yourself who do I have to kill or screw to get pardoned from this expensive prison penitentiary & be granted sanctuary from this Ivory tower of higher learning? I'm half joking, but not really. Advanced degrees are like a war of attrition. Nobody wins. If you're lucky, you merely survive. I often say anecdotally that before I started graduate school; I used to think that there is a person who devoted nearly 10 yrs to honing their craft & professional discipline why are they so darn stupid with no common sense? It wasn't until I underwent graduate school twice that I reached my own epiphany: It's not that professionals with advanced degrees are foolish with no critical thinking skills at their disposal. It's just that once they let you out with your diploma you're lucky if you have any marbles left in your brain or skull at all. Crossing that elusive finish line takes a heavy toll. It's never whether there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It's whether that light gets brighter, dimmer, or just burns out entirely. 

 

Plotline: Omar Razaghi [Omar Metwally] teaches English Literature somewhere on the East Coast. The exact university is never specified & it really doesn't even matter. Omar has a huge problem. He is at the ABD phase. ABD stands for 'All But Dissertation' meaning if he doesn't complete this vital last step in his professional career he will never be awarded tenure & without his Ph.D. he will be prohibited from instructing students any longer. He knows what he wants to focus his dissertation on: A biography of a world renowned, reclusive author named Jules Gund. Jules Gund was a refugee from Germany who fled the NAZI's during the Second World War & took sanctuary in Uruguay, Argentina for his own safety & the protection of his own family as wealthy aristocrats from the Motherland. The wrench in the works for Omar is that he received a letter in the mail from members of Gund family estate declining their approval to write a biography on Jules. Son of a...If Omar can't do his dissertation on the late Mr. Gund, he is toast. Fortunately for him, his girlfriend & lover named Deirdre Rothemund [Alexandra Maria Lara] is undiscouraged, undeterred, & not phased by such a disappointing revelation. She wants to travel with him to this estate in Argentina & persuade all family members involved that it be wise for them to grant Omar the authorization to compose a biography on the life & times of Jules Gund. 

 

I feel compelled to point out that Deirdre wears the pants in this relationship. She's like a drill sergeant crossed with an overbearing & demanding mother--a dreadful combination in a girlfriend. Run Omar run! Seriously dude. I'm trying to help a Latin Brother out man. Deirdre is hurt & ticked off at her man that Omar wants to go to South America alone. Lighten up lady. Omar is like 30. He's not a newborn puppy for crying out loud. He can handle the situation without you holding his hand because Deirdre has an overwhelming need to call all the shots & control ever circumstance that arises. My sister Ellen is just like that too, but I digress. 

 

The funny thing is that Omar flies to Argentina & he gets placed on a bus filled with school children that transports him exactly where he needs to go--The Gund estate or mansion. Get this. The 8-10 yr old girl seating behind him named Portia [Ambar Mallman] speaks fluent Spanish, is very polite & friendly; & she is headed to the exact same location needs to arrive at too. What are the odds man? Like a billion to one? Pretty much. Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than prepared I guess. Portia is the daughter of Arden Langdon [Charlotte Gainsbourg], an attractive brunette that Jules Gund had an affair with several yrs ago & who now lives at the estate like a faithful sidekick that the rest of the Gund clan has accepted as an adopted family member of sorts. Well, let me rephrase that. Caroline [Laura Linney] a blond woman & the 1st wife of Jules Gund objects to Arden living there because Arden is bubbly, entertaining, a carefree spirit that is just refreshing to be around since she is so welcoming & kind to strangers & outsiders like Omar in general. 

 

Caroline has trouble making friends & she's a very cold & closed off person like a scorpion sting with venom in it's tale. Okay sure, Caroline is upset that her late husband Jules loved Arden more than her. Plus, it's tough to have a former lover of your spouse more well respected & liked by everyone else except you, which fosters bitterness, resentment, & contempt over how your life turned out. Therefore, Caroline spends most of her melancholy says painting pictures on canvases with oil based colors, getting her daily buzz from red wine, & doing whatever she can to undermine Arden's cheer, goodwill, & happiness. 

 

When Omar shows up unannounced, it is Arden & Portia that immediately put him at ease & we see as an audience genuine chemistry & sparks fly sublimely between Omar & Arden like love at first. Yeah, I know he has a girlfriend, but who cares man, Arden is sweet, easy on the eyes, & what's was the name of the ole battle axe again? Oh yeah Deirdre. We all know what's gonna go down here right? That God for some bees & Omar's allergic reaction to their stingers upon his skin which brings Arden & Omar even closer. It's no coincidence that bees in literature are synonymous & symbolically represent pollination & life itself for food & sustenance you know. Deirdre's arrival in Argentina after Arden called her & Deirdre's subsequent treating her man like a child wiping his chin with a napkin in the hospital after Omar's coma proves to him that Deirdre is not the right soulmate for him. Rather, Arden is. 

 

There is also an additional side story whereby Adam Gund [Anthony Hopkins] & his same sex parter Pete [Hiroyuki Sanada], a gardner, furniture maker, & jack of all trades technician of sorts born in Japan take a shine to Omar giving them their approval to write his dissertation under 1 condition: That he smuggle precious jewels from his mother back to the states in order to generate enough millions to allow Caroline to start a new life away from South America & permit Omar to write his book on Jules Gund. Luckily for Adam, Pete has contacts which will allow money to be made legally & nobody ends up in prison for smuggling forbidden contraband overseas. Everybody is happy now. Caroline gets to re-locate to Manhattan, NY, Omar dumps his controlling fiancee Deirdre for the soothing & relaxed Arden; Omar gets his Ph.D. & moves back to Argentina; Adam & Pete start renting out their lands for grape & vineyard access & financial security. Cool. 

 

I gotta roll with an A+ here on "The City Of Your Final Destination" because the relaxed mood of the whole picture just flows & clicks with surreal emotional precision. Out of hades [dissertation anarchy] euphoria emerges by pure serendipity especially when Omar felt trapped in his relationship & felt happiness would never truly show up on a South American doorstep. Nice.

 

 

 

  

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You know that Talking Heads song "Once In A Lifetime?" Well, it's used in a very creative way in our next film on the docket "A Hologram For The King," a 2016 midlife crisis film directed by Tom Tykwer based on a book with same title written by Dave Eggers. From the opening shot, actor Tom Hanks stars in a music video inside his own mind as his character named Alan Clay struts around, rides on a roller coaster, raps the following words out loud: 

 

"And you may ask yourself
How do I work this?
And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!...

 

Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...

 

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?...Am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself
MY GOD!...WHAT HAVE I DONE?" 

 

He wakes up in a cold sweat crammed into a coach seat on an airplane surrounded by Muslim passengers on route to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It's a nightmare folks. How in the hades did Mr. Clay get here man? As near as I can tell, it's about 10 yrs into the new millennium & Alan, whose old job as a Schwinn bicycle executive/top salesman, got either outsourced or bought out by the Country of China. That's a huge problem since Alan's ex wife is probably expecting a rather substantial alimony payment & his 18 yr old daughter Kitty or Kit for short [Tracey Fairaway] was forced to drop out of school for a semester since tuition is difficult to sign a check for with no source of revenue coming in at the moment. Kit loves her father & doesn't seem to blame his for his current financial limitations right now. His ex wife, on the other hand, thinks he's a dead beat dad of course. Well actually, to be more accurate, Alan isn't exactly collecting unemployment as we speak. His new boss sent him to the Middle East as an IT expert hired specifically to convince a King Of The Saudi Royal Family to buy a new lifelike projection 3D technology for entertainment purposes. If Alan's crew gets the winning bid, all his financial woes are solved. Kit goes back to school, no longer is required to be a waitress in a fast food restaurant, & his ex gets her monthly percentage relieving mental pressure off his back longterm. 

 

One of the funniest cats in this picture is a taxi driver named Yousef [Alexander Black]. Yousef actually went to college for 1 yr in Alabama several yrs ago. He's basically Alan's chauffeur in the Middle East since jet lag & the time difference always causes him to oversleep even with setting an alarm frequently. The reason that I like Yousef is because of exchanges like this with Alan sitting shotgun across from him. 

 

"I'm in a car that might explode?! Oh no, no, no...He's not a tough guy. He's just rich. It would only be possible if he hired someone [to install a bomb in my vehicle once I turned my key into the ignition.] You would have to hire a guy to handle that's screwing your wife yes? Bleep! Now, you've got me scared [Alan]haha"

 

Yousef also is also like a traveling DJ cruising down the road too. "Do you like Chicago? Not in the winter. No, the band & then he blares 'Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?' off his phone onto to the car's stereo speakers. And every morning when he picks Alan up because he oversleeps yet again or drinks too much alcohol the night before; Yousef says stuff like this: You like ELO? You like Elvis Presley? You like Reggae & Bob Marley? & he blares popular tracks from American bands early in the morning while Alan is hungry, drowsy, & hung over. It's freaking hysterical--the unorthodox daily routine & ritual I mean. Yousef isn't trying to be obnoxious. He's really trying to make Alan feel like he never left the United States & give him a taste of home. 

 

Where's Yousef take Alan every morning? To a remote tent in the middle of desolate sand where his team of co-workers has no air conditioning, no food other then what they bring from their hotel rooms, & no wi-fi signal at all. This situation just keeps better & better man. Crap! Alan puts on a brave face for his IT crew, but silently he is worried. If this deal falls through, his life is literally over. Did I mention that other IT companies were in Saudi Arabia too bidding for the same lucrative hologram contract as well to be utilized in a new Middle Eastern major city the royal family is building out of nothing very similar to Dubai complete with a business district, shopping malls, a cultural center, a university, & an entertainment district etc. etc. 

 

To make matters worse, Alan notices a strange hump growing on his back back at the hotel which is draining his energy level rapidly. Luckily for Alan, he crosses paths with a female Muslim doctor named Zahra Hadad [Sarita Choudhury]. It turns out that Zahra saves Alan's life by removing the cancerous camel hump on his back, she is also undergoing a rather unpleasant divorce from her spouse as well, & the 2 of them bond sexually & emotionally snorkeling in a corral reef topless. Is that written down in a Saudi Arabian brochure from the Bureau of Tourism somewhere? I'm just curious. What? It's called research & broadening my foreign horizons man. LOL! 

 

Alan loses the bid for the projection technology to China. It's alright though because Tom Hank's character gets recruited to sell luxurious condos to affluent Arabs in the Middle East & we know he will marry Dr. Hadad & finally have a reason to smile again. Plus, Kit his daughter can go back to school as well. A win; win for everybody. Alan's courtship with Zahara is a clever one. He thanks her for saving his life but he wonders whether or not she might have left something from the surgical procedure inside of him. It's a rouse to see her again & she knows it & finds it charming. My dad was a med tech during the Korean War & he told me that there were times on the table with a patient where doctors patched a person up & had to open them up again because they were missing a sponge at the conclusion of the surgery. Translation: As bizarre as that reality sounds, it does happen occasionally. 

 

"A Hologram For The King" is a cute foreign based film with minimal subtitles in it overall. Not spectacular, but slightly above average. Both Tom Hanks & Sarita Choudhury give compelling & subdued performances. Man Yousef cracks me up! My kind of dude. Let's roll with a B- here. There's a scene in the film where Alan agrees to guard sheep in Yousef's home village for a night, but he decides to not shoot a lone wolf with his rifle. I think the animal reminds him of masculinity & being the lord over his wildlife domain, which signifies that he's getting his mojo back & feeling strong & vital again as a man just my opinion. 

 

 

Paradise can be found in the most unlikely places, especially when you believe all hope is lost...

 

 

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On 2/10/2017 at 11:47 AM, \m/COLTS\m/ said:

Hoping to see the new "Logan" movie when it comes out, huge fan of The Wolverine.

 

 

Southwest- I love Westerns, my pops was a big John Wayne fan, have many fond memories of sitting next to him watching Westerns dubbed over in Spanish, lol. Recently rewatched the Clint Eastwood trilogy:

 

Fistful of Dollars

For a Few Dollars More

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

 

I love those Spaghetti Westerns!!!!

 

 

image.jpeg

Watched "Logan" today....WOW!!! Had me on the edge of my seat for most of the movie! It is definitely dark, explains the R rating, a lot more gore then the previous X Men movies. Loved it.....won't say anything more in case others want to watch it.

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The Shack 9/10 Really if you read the book as I am not a fiction reader, more non-fiction. But really a very touching movie.

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On 1/6/2017 at 6:17 PM, -JJ- said:

I locked the old topic due to size and long load time so started a new one.  Of course if SW reviews were a "bit" shorter ;)

 

To you colts_fan12 on agents of shield. pfffffft  :)

I just watched the first lord of the rings movie today with some friends for the first time of my life. I was pleasantly surprised it was an awesome movie, just long as #

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8 hours ago, Zalazar Elijahh said:

I just watched the first lord of the rings movie today with some friends for the first time of my life. I was pleasantly surprised it was an awesome movie, just long as #

I got the extended edition bundle on my apple tv for like $25 a couple years ago, you can't watch in one sitting since each are like 4 hours long but they are amazing.

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Anybody see Logan? It was awesome

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I recently saw "Arrival" on demand. I don't know why it got such great reviews because I wasn't that impressed with the movie.

Louise Banks (actress Amy Adams) is an expert linguist brought in when 12 spaceships land on earth. She is tasked with trying to communicate with the aliens. The main event takes place in Montana, where Adams and her team are located. The movie is mostly about Adams and the way she tries to talk to the aliens using signs and symbols of various kinds.  There are flashbacks about Louise and her daughter which was quite confusing. Apparently, her daughter had some kind of rare disease that had to do with the aliens, but I couldn't figure it out. Something also happened between her and her husband (divorced, separated), it never really told us.

 

The film was slow moving, boring and confusing. The aliens (which looked squids) were kind of cool, though. Overall, I'm glad that I didn't spend any money at the theater. Not recommended, although others might feel differently. It just wasn't for me.

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1 hour ago, bababooey said:

Anybody see Logan? It was awesome

Saw it yesterday..it was definitely awesome.....the little wolverine (Wolverina?) was amazing! I think we'll see her again.

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11 minutes ago, \m/COLTS\m/ said:

Saw it yesterday..it was definitely awesome.....the little wolverine (Wolverina?) was amazing! I think we'll see her again.

They let the movie ride on a child actor and it couldn't have gone more perfect. She was great.

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14 hours ago, Zalazar Elijahh said:

I just watched the first lord of the rings movie today with some friends for the first time of my life. I was pleasantly surprised it was an awesome movie, just long as #

I'm going to have to watch it. I've put it off thinking it is so popular it can't be that good- if that makes sense :)

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10 hours ago, bababooey said:

I got the extended edition bundle on my apple tv for like $25 a couple years ago, you can't watch in one sitting since each are like 4 hours long but they are amazing.

haha that's awesome my man. I would love to watch the rest of the films I just really need to clear my schedule out lol

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3 hours ago, -JJ- said:

I'm going to have to watch it. I've put it off thinking it is so popular it can't be that good- if that makes sense :)

Lol yes that makes sense I felt the same way like I wasn't really missing much people are probably just overselling it. But no I definitely recommend it it was an amazing amazinggg movie. 

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3 hours ago, Zalazar Elijahh said:

Lol yes that makes sense I felt the same way like I wasn't really missing much people are probably just overselling it. But no I definitely recommend it it was an amazing amazinggg movie. 

Sold :)

 

I did that with the Titanic..it was so popular I figured prolly goodie goodie typ. Finally saw it years later on TV--oh that was good:)

 

BTW- Camp X Ray was really good with Kristen Stewart. She's an MP in Gitmo.

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On 3/13/2017 at 10:36 AM, \m/COLTS\m/ said:

Saw it yesterday..it was definitely awesome.....the little wolverine (Wolverina?) was amazing! I think we'll see her again.

I saw it because I'm a wolverine fan in general and of Hugh Jackman in particular :heart:.  The little girl was pretty amazing but, I was disappointed in the film overall.  It leaned way too hard on some very gruesome violence. Also saw it in one of those dolby theaters where even the theater seats vibrate with the violence.  Sensory overload.

 

On the other hand, saw lala land and loved it. Very moving, especially the last song

 

 

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49 minutes ago, Nadine said:

I saw it because I'm a wolverine fan in general and of Hugh Jackman in particular :heart:.  The little girl was pretty amazing but, I was disappointed in the film overall.  It leaned way too hard on some very gruesome violence. Also saw it in one of those dolby theaters where even the theater seats vibrate with the violence.  Sensory overload.

 

On the other hand, saw lala land and loved it. Very moving, especially the last song

 

 

I definitely agree, very dark and gruesome....definitely not for kids. I don't think anyone else could have played the role of Wolverine as well as Hugh, he was amazing as well!

 

Talk about two films on the complete opposite of the spectrum, lol! I did think La La Land was a great movie...in fact I still catch myself humming the "City of stars" song from time to time! That last song was sad. And Emma Stone .....:heart:

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Just now, \m/COLTS\m/ said:

I definitely agree, very dark and gruesome....definitely not for kids. I don't think anyone else could have played the role of Wolverine as well as Hugh, he was amazing as well!

 

Talk about two films on the complete opposite of the spectrum, lol! I did think La La Land was a great movie...in fact I still catch myself humming the "City of stars" song from time to time! That last song was sad. And Emma Stone .....:heart:

I'll say, La La Land broke my heart. But, it was beautiful and real

Logan lacked the tongue in cheek humor I've come to expect from the X men and left me in sensory overload.  I literally closed my eyes through several scenes. Sad to see wolverine end that way.  

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I'm usually suspicious of any movie that critics rave about. I've seen too many movies that got great reviews and ended up being disappointments. Examples are "Arrival"; "Titanic" ; "Love, Actually" . All these were overrated IMO.

I did like "Lord of the Rings" movies, though. Also some of the "X-Man" movies were good. Haven't seen "Logan", however.

I'm not sure about "La La Land." The previews didn't impress me, but maybe one can't go by that.

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22 hours ago, Nadine said:

I'll say, La La Land broke my heart. But, it was beautiful and real

Logan lacked the tongue in cheek humor I've come to expect from the X men and left me in sensory overload.  I literally closed my eyes through several scenes. Sad to see wolverine end that way.  

I loved the audition song. I also like Sebastian's theme when he went off the christmas music and was in his own world playing.

 

Saw Passengers yesterday. Silly movie but my fiance got to see Chris Pratt's butt a couple times so she was happy.

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1 hour ago, bababooey said:

I loved the audition song. I also like Sebastian's theme when he went off the christmas music and was in his own world playing.

 

Saw Passengers yesterday. Silly movie but my fiance got to see Chris Pratt's butt a couple times so she was happy.

I saw Passengers.  I guess I'm with your fiance, I'll see about anything Chris Pratt is in. 

That plot had some holes but, overall, entertaining I thought

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"A date that will live in infamy." President FDR said that famous quote in reference to the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 that singlehandedly motivated the United States to get off the sidelines & join the allies against Germany, Japan, Italy, & Joseph Stalin's Russia for awhile anyway against the near total extermination of citizens of Jewish descent across Western Europe in the 1940's. You wanna know another date that also lives in historical infamy? May 27, 1942. On that fateful morning, the "Butcher Of Prague" & chief architect/mastermind behind the Final Solution in 1944 was mowed down when his Mercedes was littered with machine fire & grenades at 10:30 A.M. on a local street. The coordinated assassination plot to assassinate SS officer General Reinhard Heydrich [RH] was given a special code name: Operation Anthropoid. 

 

http://www.ww2inprague.com/operatin-anthropoid

 

Espionage thrillers like this 2016 picture called simply "Anthropoid" directed by Sean Ellis always fascinate me. I say that because I understand the gravity of what went down meaning the brutality of massive genocide at the hands of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich, the rise of the NAZI Party, & the significance of the Munich Agreement, which led to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia; the fall of Poland in 1939, & eventually the creation of concentration camps in Auschwitz complete with forced labor, starvation, & horrific scentific experiments under the guidance of SS doctors. 

 

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/munich-pact-signed

 

The film 'Anthropoid', basically in a nutshell, is the real life 2 hour tale of the Czechoslovakian resistance movement carried out by 7 parachutists dropped out of a plane in chilly December with snow on the ground. We are really only interested in 2 of these men as central characters in the movie. They are Jozef Gabčík [Cillian Murphy] & Jan Kubiš [Jamie Dornan] as well as their girlfriends named Marie Kovárníková [Charlotte Le Bon] & Lenka Fafková [Anna Geislerová] who help Jozef & Marie track the daily route of General Heydrich to NAZI headquarters stationed in Prague & pinpoint the perfect spot to cut him down. It should also be noted that General Heydrich was the highest ranking SS officer to be taken out in WWII. A nice bit of historical trivia there actually. A tremendous personal blow to the Führer. As I said before, this particular general of the NAZI regime was exceptionally vicious & cruel in his liquidation methods even killing Lenka's own father, an esteemed Czechoslovakian Army officer himself. 

 

"Cowards die many times; The valiant only once." 

 

"I fear Czechoslovakia will be wiped from the map. Yes, I'm afraid." 

 

"The point of the mission is to succeed yes? Whatever happens afterward isn't important."

 

[All participants involved in this operation know they will be slaughtered in retaliation for this action including members of their family & loved ones in response. Actually, over 5,000 Czechoslovakian men, women, & children to be exact.] 

 

"Marie [is young/naive. She] still has romantic ideals about the war. War isn't romantic."

 

A few other details to disclose first...Prime Minister Winston Churchill, prior to Anthropoid being ordered at the request of the London government, was suspicious of Czechoslovakian society capitulating so easily to NAZI occupied Germany without firing 1 shot in defiance against Hitler. Winston was initially reluctant to believe that their loyalties lied with Great Britain & America & as a result, this mindset against the Czechoslovakian people at large was widely seen as a historical betrayal of inaction to protect Prague from the German genocide that soon followed courtesy of the Allied nations during the Second World War. In addition, the 7 paratroopers died in a bloody battle of gunfire inside the famous Orthodox Cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Prague when the Gestapo discovered via torture that these men were seeking sanctuary right beneath this spiritual structure in a secret refuge; smuggling compartment of sorts. This place, the church I mean, is considered sacred ground in much the same way Gettysburg is, Auschwitz is, & Wounded Knee is...Probably because the men inside this church were either shot, committed suicide with a bullet to the temple rather then be captured alive, or drowned like rats with a firehouse as the water level rose & systematically consumed them. I did like the flashback Jozef of his deceased woman Lenka smiling & reaching affectionately for his hand in a nice hallucination sequence right before he killed himself. Quite dramatic & moving in a subdued way, if I do say so myself. 

 

That's what resonated the most with me throughout this whole picture...Fear of death courtesy of the NAZI's mixed with an overwhelming love of your homeland Czechoslovakia. How do you balance bravery, mortality, oppression, torture, & still muster up the courage to fight knowing full well that history might not know the sacrifices that were made in Prague to bring the Third Reich to it's knees with your last breath? Are you willing to swallow a cyanide pill to avoid a gruesome death at the hands of the SS? Can you blend into the background & then wait for the perfect moment to strike like a cobra knowing full well you & everybody else in the resistance movement will die today? That's commitment baby. Telling yourself that it's better to die liberating Czechoslovakia from NAZI occupation then to just stay silent & do absolutely nothing. 

 

The other component that stuck with me is this. The number of times machine guns jam at the worst possible moments. When Jozef needed the bullet to leave the barrel with General Heydrich standing up before him firing his own pistol at him in response. That happens a lot in history with weapons they don't perform under pressure when you need them to most. A history professor of mine named Dr. Ducksworth drilled that into our heads during a Military History class I took once & I never forgot that. She always used to talk about it. The reliability of firearms that never jam, recoil, misfire, & can shot through gravel, mud, & under water through all kinds of weather & temperatures overall. I realize this sounds morbid in scope, but trust me when a sidearm is the difference between breathing or not behind enemy lines it matters. 

 

"Anthropoid" is a long & at times, tedious film in terms of pacing. However, history buffs like myself found it very moving overall. I decided to lay out the context for my audience from an historical perspective rather then ruin the main big screen plot twists & turns. A necessary film that rarely ever gets told. Thank you Prague &  Czechoslovakian citizens for your vital role in demolishing the Third Reich. Let's roll with a B+ here teetering on a A since this story is so obscure & not widely known until now that is. 

 

"You ask forgiveness, I give you sweet revenge..." --James Hetfield

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the Church located in Prague below: 

 

1280px-Pravoslavny_katedralni_chram_sv._

 

 

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"It's not a test of your credibility but his. This case is happening to you, but it's not about you. It's the price you pay for winning." 

 

"I wouldn't say anything to David Irving. I would say something to the survivors & the murdered. The voice of suffering was heard."

 

Evening Standard [Newspaper headline in London.]: 'Irving Case Verdict: He Lied.'

 

Our next film on the docket is a 2016 film called "Denial" directed by Mick Jackson. This 1 hour & 49 minute flick tells the real life story of a lawsuit defamation case held inside Royal Courts Of Justice in 1995. Basically, in a nutshell a NAZI propaganda writer named David Irving [Timothy Spall] masquerading as a legitimate historian in the UK travels to Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in order to challenge Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, [Rachel Weisz] an expert on Jewish Studies, that the Holocaust never transpired during the Second World War. Deborah best known for her book titled Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory won a libel accusation leveled against her with a lone London magistrate named Sir Charles Gray [Alex Jennings] presiding in the courtroom.

 

Here are her professional university credentials BTW...

 

http://religion.emory.edu/home/people/faculty/lipstadt-deborah.html

 

The name of the precise case was David Irving v. Penguin/Deborah Lipstadt. Penguin, in case your are confused, is the name of Deborah's book publishing company. David was suing Deborah's publisher for inflicting damage against his professional reputation as a scholar. Remember, David is a fraud & NAZI sympathizer who is bringing a baseless accusation against a genuine professor of Jewish history for the express purpose of giving credibility to the Third Reich as victims of 20th Century & legitimizing & normalizing Anti-Semetic behavior that leads to an escalation of vandalism crimes against jewish synagogues across Europe, the United States, & abroad. And the perfect way to do that is to create the misguided impression that Adolf Hitler, the Chancellor of Germany from 1933-1945, never ordered the extermination of 6,000,000 Jews at Auschwitz by 1944. If David can find a scapegoat authority to lose in a court of law, then you set a horrible precedent that the Holocaust was an elaborate historical hoax & nothing more. You see the danger here? You create doubt, muddy the waters, & disrespect the dead who were slaughtered by mass genocide. It's like shaking a snow globe erratically so much that you lose your bearings & can no longer separate fact from fiction anymore. 

 

This case is fascinating one because we have Deborah, a person of Jewish descent herself who had relatives die in crematories or ovens at Auschwitz; who now must prove in a UK court that the Holocaust is real & not a figment of her imagination. The burden of proof is on her to validate that Hitler ordered the widespread extermination of Jewish POWS & she must demonstrate empirical evidence to show that David Irving is in fact intentionally lying on purpose. Think about that for a second. My first thought in response to a flipped burden of proof was this. Okay fine, the first thing I would do is ask why German guards & SS officers branded Jewish POWS with individual numbers on their arms? These aren't personal tattoos of butterflies, flowers, & favorite bands here. Next, I would look at demographic population statistics before WW2 & ask where did 6,000,000 people disappear to by 1944? Third, I would ask why the crematories/ovens routinely washed down regularly with soap, water, & bleach then? What I'm getting at here is graphic in scope--When large groups of people are poisoned in a confined space, you will see blood, smell urine & puke, & the stench of panic & fear will lead to a dislodge of various bodily fluids & other deposits for lack of a better word. If no fowl play occurred at  Auschwitz, then what's the bleach for? Usually, excessive cleaning is a sign that you are hiding something & that those who oversaw the concentration camps needed unsuspecting victims to believe everything was safe & showers were there to keep POWS healthy & stop the spread of disease & contagion from air born illnesses etc. etc. Fourth, how about eyewitness testimony from concentration camp survivors courtesy of say the Shoah Foundation? 

 

Deborah knows all the tricks used by Holocaust deniers & white supremacists groups to attack the authenticity of Auschwitz genocide statements. Usually, the protocol unfolds with questions like this: 1. No systematic system was utilized to murder 6,000,000 Jews across Europe, 2. Death toll numbers are exaggerated/overblown & can't really be proven; 3. There were no chambers or extermination facilities at  Auschwitz, 4. The Holocaust is a myth by people of Jewish descent to obtain fiscal compensation & further the clout of the nation of Israel; & 5. All races die in war. What makes Jewish citizens so special? All ludicrous & absurd proclamations designed to water down & dilute the brutality & sadistic tendencies of the Third Reich. 

 

Other then Deborah & David, we have 2 other central figures in this court battle. A case organizer or chief strategist named Anthony Julius [Andrew Scott] & Deborah's barrister or defense attorney named Richard Rampton [Tom Wilkinson]. Initially, as an audience, we have reservations about their justification approach. In other words, both Anthony & Richard don't wanna put Auschwitz on trial, but instead David Irving's biases about the Holocaust & anyone not white/Anglo-Saxon in his eyes. This means no eyewitness testimony from survivors will be used. There's a method to the madness here. Anthony doesn't want David to be able to humiliate Holocaust family members on the stand by questioning the exact layout of concentration camps & where doors & other facilities were located with exact precision. Any crack in their descriptions would allow David open season to doubt if the person under oath was telling the truth or not. Richard must be unemotional & methodically document why the gas chambers were built. He must pay attention to forensic, scientific evidence like residue in cement walls with a blue hue that prove cyanide was used to murder countless prisoners of war. He must show that David misquoted German SS Generals handwritten documentation on purpose. In addition, Richard used David's own words from his diary to prove that despite hiring a black maid to attend to household chores & raise her little girl; he taught his child racist nursery rhymes as acceptable codes of conduct highlighting the purity of the white race, which proved David's true state of mind. 

 

Richard also in a compelling cross examination sequence poses an intriguing question to David. Why are steel doors in this crematory facility so thick with an airtight seal with peep holes located on the outside of the door? What he's driving at here is that the thickness of the door was designed to kill whatever was on the other side of it once locked down like a submarine hatch about to submerge several thousand feet underwater.  And the peep hole was placed exactly where it was to ensure that all the naked bodies inside were literally dead before the carcasses were removed, thrown into a pit, & set ablaze. In response to this, David makes a ridiculous claim that Auschwitz might have been an air raid shelter or a fumigation facility of sorts. The judge finds these theories outlandish & with no merit at all. 

 

Prior to disclosing his verdict, the magistrate asks the defense barrister an alarming question: If Mr. Irving believes wholeheartedly that the Holocaust never took place in Poland, how can the defense prove their case that he is deliberating lying on purpose? Luckily for Deborah, Richard is able to put prominent scholars on the stand that confirm widespread genocide of Jewish citizens took place on a grand scale from roughly 1942-1944. Therefore, Auschwitz is no hoax, David is lying, & if anybody's reputation was tarnished unfairly here it was Dr. Lipstadt's. David is globally slammed & disgraced in the world wide press. Deborah is vindicated. 

 

The hardest part in watching this film was seeing Jewish citizens being petrified that if Mr. Irving wins their relatives were butchered twice for nothing & their stories would never be properly told. You never want to allow Neo NAZI groups the platform to spread their bigotry & prejudice with legal justification from a high court. Also, had Deborah lost, she would have been banished from her community for allowing a travesty of justice to dishonor the memory of the fallen. An enormous internal burden to bear. Wow. 

 

Let's roll with a B- on "Denial" since the current Commander-IN-Chief of the United States needs to let go of his Xenophobic tendencies himself & perhaps viewing this picture would help him see the value in celebrating diversity & never repeat this dark chapter in global history ever again. 

 

 

The carol is based on a folk chant known in Ukrainian as "Shchedryk". In America, it is better known as the 'Coral Of The Bells.' I included it because the last picture on screen is snow falling at Auschwitz. The singer is a woman named Katie Melua. 

 

 

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Before I dive into my next review, I need to issue this disclaimer: As all of my friends know, SW1 thrives on provocative material that challenges us as a society & makes us think & engage in critical thinking. Race relations is typically a dicey subject or land mine that most people choose to steer clear of. I, however, am not one of those people. Let's clear the air. I am not interested in blaming certain segments of society at all. Just examining stereotypes, misconceptions, & frustrations among black citizens, white citizens, asian citizens, & latin or Spanish citizens in order to walk in the other person's shoes for awhile confronting the trials & tribulations they face frequently in society at large. In addition, I am white & disabled myself & I will openly acknowledge that I am no expert on tensions that various groups may experience inside a university or college setting based on discrimination they may face daily for the rest of their lives, but I am always willing to listen & learn & dark sarcasm/humor channeled correctly goes a long way toward if not healing, then at least feeling respected as barriers & walls of communication get broken down for the better. 

 

Let me narrow this topic down a tad bit. Our next film on the docket is a dark, satirical 2014 love story called "Dear White People" directed by Justin Simien. At first blush this controversial 1 hour & 48 minute feature film might seem like a black panther 1950's & 1960's pre Civil Rights down with white oppression manifesto, but it's much deeper than that. A multitude of issues are touched on in this picture: Housing discrimination, segregation, class inequality, a compromised election, a pro gun mentality [Winchester University name], slave rebellion themes, illegal drug consumption/incarceration treatment questions; interracial dating; inflammatory gestures of bondage & 'Black Face' at a caucasian fraternity house on campus. 

 

"They'd see this white man & black girl & wonder what we were doing together. Even at 9, I'd feel their eyes on me...The thought of loosing him [terrified me]. I just feel so bad. How awful am I to do that to him? To somebody I love. I'm sure he'll forgive you. Think so? I don't know why I said that." 

 

"The lynch mob is still here. It just rebranded itself...You wanna know how the [conservative side] sees us? Bring up welfare, immigration, or gay rights...Bull crap your biggest athletes & President are black. I think the hardest thing to be right now is an educated, white guy. Hey, you guys still have Affirmative Action that's all I'm saying...What's a matter? Afraid of a little rebellion on the plantation?"

 

"What were dreaming about the Cosby Show again? My hair was so straight. My sweaters were so big." 

 

"Like jazz Lionel? Winchester [University] is just like jazz. Jazz is tension. The interplay of solos all creating one song [Melting pot vs isolated community]. You've got no instrument. No major; no affiliation. No solos son...Are you a sax or are you a trumpet? I don't like jazz...When your solos up, you better blow." 

 

Plotline: We are at an Ivy League fictional college called Winchester University as opposed to a historic black college meaning that all races, genders, & cultures are part of the vibrant, student body enrolled there. One black, female student named Samantha White [Tessa Thompson] is a Junior studying Media Arts. Sam is a biracial child. Her father is white & her mother is black. She's a hades raiser & provocateur who uses her DJ platform as a commentary on campus race relations called 'Dear White People.' Think of it like Malcolm X black pride hour mixed with highlighting white contradictions in society as a whole. Like Dr. Ruth, but with less sexual questions & more politically charged statements throughout.

 

What do I mean you ask? Lines like this: 

 

"Together, we can bring the black back to Winchester." Sam evokes Black Panther sentiments because she knows it makes white people feel uneasy. She's not diabolical. She just likes rocking the boat for fun. She gets a kick out of stoking white anxieties & mocking stereotypes overall. Did I mention that Miss White even published a pamphlet on campus called Ebony & Ivory: A Survival Guide To Keep From Drowning In A Sea Of White. The material inside this pamphlet contains strategies black students can utilize in daily life to counteract discrimination tendencies applied against them subconsciously. Let me provide you with an example. Say a black student sits down in a restaurant, orders, but his food is delivered to his table much later than other customers who came inside the joint after you arrived get there food first. What do you do? 1. Toy with the idea of stiffing her, but eventually give her the minimum customary tip rate, 2. Double the amount of the tip so that the next time you come in, you will served first no matter how busy the place may be at the moment, or 3. Way overpay the waitress's tip just to prove to her that you are affluent, self sufficient, & are not a struggling minority looking for a handout. The answers are split into 3 categories: 1. 100 as in keeping 100 embracing your blackness or culture with beaming pride; 2. Oofta: A 1920's jazz musician practice of catering to white stereotypes on stage to put folks at ease & rake in more dow. 3. Nose Job: Totally abandoning your native roots & doing your best to pass as white. The OJ Simpson/Micheal Jackson approach. The theory here is basically coding or role playing to satisfy whatever community is near you for financial gain, mainstream political power, & being viewed as non threatening by the white community so you can become rich, powerful, & a household name. 

 

Sam wears her symbolic rebellion badge of honor well. She even ran against her ex-boyfriend, Troy Fairbanks to be President of the Armstrong/Parker House--the only exclusively black living facility on campus & she won with a you guessed it black brotherhood & sisterhood message. Sam is opposed to Winchester's Fair Housing Act administration policy imposed by Chancellor Fletcher. She wants all races of color to live together in harmony without any white mixing or interference at all. The ironic thing though is this: Miss White is head over heels in love with a white man at Winchester named Gabe [Justin Dobies]. How can Samantha pretend to want nothing to do with white folks if she can help it; well at the same time loving her white Pop & caucasian boyfriend she met in film class? You see the dilemma here? How do you balance black power defiance with the hidden fear of what your African American friends will think of you once this secret gets unravelled? As if to pour gasoline on an open flame, Sam has another romantic suitor in Reggie [Marque Richardson], a dude who adores Samantha's tyrannical spirit, has a serious puppy love crush on her, & who hasn't figured out that her Malcolm X; alter ego persona is just an act. She's not really the angry, black, Godzilla chick. Samantha has only thrown down her barriers her armor for Gabe. Sam has only allowed herself to be totally vulnerable to him because Gabe reminds her of the unconditional love her father has always shown toward her ever since she was a little girl. The prospect of losing her dad to a triple bypass threw Sam's life into a tailspin & swift downward spiral. 

 

Winchester University is toying with the idea of hosting a reality TV show called 'Black Face; White Place.' The producer of the show wants to cast a strong female character who moves the needle & generates ratings. Sam White was originally recruited to occupy this role, but given her family turmoil, a dark skinned female named Colandrea 'Coco' Conners [Teyonah Parris] slides into this hot button love to hate fan favorite position instead. Coco wins this coveted spot on TV by M-cing a racist white, Halloween fraternity party at Ellington House where a rich, white kid named Kurt [Kyle Gallner] the son of Chancellor Fletcher lives. At this bigot based party, white frat boys cross the line by wearing black face make up, putting on President Obama masks, have punch bowls filled with purple drank; hang rope nooses everywhere; dress like rappers with gold chains & gold teeth repeatedly singing hip hop songs while shouting the N word frequently with way too much carefreeness in scope. Whoa. Privileged kids who have no idea what struggle really means should be ashamed at themselves, but of course they exhibit no shame whatever naturally. Luckily, Samantha White shows up with a small video camera to document the despicable surroundings. What's better though? Closet prejudice or seeing it exposed; unvarnished & out in the open? 

 

Okay sure, I get it. Not all white people are racist & yes, it is true that perhaps some oppressed minorities do milk the ancestral slavery angle or rely on that reparations sentiment too much. Another character in this story is a gay, black student named Lionel Higgins [Tyler James Williams]. He's an aspiring journalist student trying to fit in his new environment. He hates when white folks touch his large Afro like a show & tell petting zoo like he's some sort of alien novelty freak of nature. There's a hilarious scene where Lionel strolls up to a journalism conference room with upper classman inside, taps lightly on the glass wall, watches a white woman jump like 20 feet as if she spilled hot coffee on herself out of fright, & Lionel says casually with a familiar tone: "Don't worry, the black man [another word is used] isn't gonna rape you." I laughed at this comeback because I've been with my black cousin in elevators when white women clutch their purses tighter, store security follows him around in a store like he's gonna steal something without buying it first; or when people lock their car doors around us in a parking lot like he's a sexual predator or something. Sigh...Totally unfounded & outrageous man. 

 

There's also the jungle fever taboo angle discussed in this film as well. Troy Fairbanks at the start of this picture is dating Kurt Fletcher's younger sister. We all know the stereotypes being mocked here--Large anatomy member & arm trophy white woman visualization scenario. In addition, we also see income equality too. The black Dean of Students makes $200,000 less in salary than his white counterpart Chancellor even though both men gradated from Winchester University the exact same yr. 

 

What I really liked about "Dear White People" is the last sequence in the film where Samantha White is struggling to decide in which community, the black or white one, she belongs to or owes her most allegiance to. You know as a child she was criticized by both communities & not fully embraced by either one. Too light; not dark enough. Where does she fit? Luckily for her, her boyfriend Gabe gets her to see through almost losing papa white how much she loves her dad & that if a white guy made her momma happy; then Gabe can give her bliss too. Who cares how many people stare & think it's wrong. Screw 'em...Dear White People deserves an A+ in my book. 

 

 

"I could say that you were just a special treat; Though we both know that's not right." --Lake Street Dive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On March 12, 2017 at 4:38 PM, \m/COLTS\m/ said:

Southwest- I love Westerns, my pops was a big John Wayne fan, have many fond memories of sitting next to him watching Westerns dubbed over in Spanish, lol...I love those Spaghetti Westerns!!!!

Since you enjoy westerns so much as a film genre as I do & QuizBoy does, because he has mentioned in the past how much he bonded with his grandmother I believe watching them as a small child; I figured it was a good time to break down a 2016 one I saw recently a few months ago called "Outlaws & Angels" directed by JT Mollner. This 2 hour flick disappointed me though I'm sorry to say & I'll tell you why. This feature is based off a much shorter 2009 short picture titled '“Henry John And The Little Bug” by the same directer & there isn't enough material to justify stretching this cinematic experiment into a 120 minute exercise overall. It feels like a Quentin Tarantino knockoff except that Mr. Pulp Fiction & Hateful 8 writes clear, crisp, & clever dialogue on screen & he puts his central characters in mesmerizing predicaments in the storyline. Whereas, Mr. Mollner, on the other hand, relies too much on unnecessary bloodshed & gruesome sexual situations that the audience doesn't need to see quite that graphically or explicit on the silver screen. I suppose one could make the argument that the director was merely showcasing the gritty, unforgiving, social darwinism 'survival of the fittest' west meaning that the weak will not flourish or thrive in such a desolate place I guess. Let's proceed with my preferred quotes now & by the time, I finish my review you will grasp exactly what I'm driving at. 

 

"Where's it all begin? Violence? The Gun? The axe? How's it all start? We just all wanna make it--To live; to exist...We love if we're lucky. We lose if we are damaged;hardened. We do what we have to. What we're compelled to do." 

 

You've got 2 choices you son of a [rhymes with witch]. Humiliation or death."

 

"God may forgive you, but I don't."

 

"The innocence or the darkness? Which are we?"

 

Plotline: The yr is 1887 & we are in Cuchillo, New Mexico. Two women in dresses stroll leisurely down the dirt street path laughing about sexual encounters & which partner's friend was better in bed. BANG! All of a sudden a stray bullet collides with one woman's eye & the other screams frantically as blood splatters on her adjacent dress. It turns out that a small town frontier bank has just been robbed by 5 thugs in white sheet masks with holes cut out for the eyes, nose, & mouth. What did the KKK just do a stickup? It sure seems like it. One of the bandits is shot in the back by a long range rifle sharp shooter, but not before they cut down a US Marshal & personal friend of the governor. As a result, the highest ranking lawmen left on duty orders that a $8,000 dead or alive bounty be placed on the entire gang's head. Uh oh. No criminal squad wants that kind of heat hunting down their caboose.  

 

The gang leader is a man named Henry [Chad Michael Murray] & the first thing he does after fleeing the scene is ride to a secluded spot & murder Aunt Esther [Frances Fisher] & her husband who helped Henry set up this heist or bank score once he was told the size of the bounty on his head for killing a US Marshal. Right on the hells of these 2 homicides, a bounty hunter named Josiah [Luke Wilson] hired to mow down this crew by that community in New Mexico stumbles across a young girl named Lulu hiding in the bushes who is pretty distraught that her beloved Grandmother Esther is now gone forever. Lulu tells Josiah that she secretly overhead the bad guys say that they were fugitives on the run with bags of gold on the way to safety & refuge at the border of Mexico. To slow down tin stars or guys interested in the reward, Henry & company decide to travel through the white sands desert on foot even if their horses drop from a lack of sufficient water. 

 

Josiah & his loyal sidekick Alonzo [Steven Michael Quezada] are used to going after bank robbers & gunmen with methodical precision. Their pride themselves on almost always getting their man or whoever else they are paid handsomely to find, apprehend, & kill in cold blood. They view manhunts like a game hunter views taking down a bear, elk, or buffalo. It's just a job & they have no sentimentality toward captures or deaths at all. Breathing or not who cares as long as they get paid. 

 

Eventually, Henry & the gang spot a remote farmhouse in the distance. They decide to wait until nightfall before they carry out their home invasion & search for food, shelter, fresh horses; & female companionship by force if necessary. Little did the Tilderson Family know the hades & anarchy that was headed their way after sunset. Regarding the Tilderson Family themselves, it consisted of their mother Ada [Teri Polo]--a pious person obsessed with Bible verses & an overwhelming belief that if you are religious enough God will always provide. A preacher father figure named George [Ben Browder] who has frequent incest with his daughters Florence, Flo for short [Francesca Eastwood] & Charolette [Madisen Beaty] which their sick dad refers to affectionately as 'special rub downs.' Yikes! 

 

Well, anyhow, Henry & the boys scarf down down beans, grab all the firearms in the farmhouse, tell the family no harm will come to them if they stay calm & cooperate with the felons at large from the long arm of the law; & Henry begins to have a serious chemistry crush on the blond haired & blue eyed Flow who has a taste for danger; the dark side, & asking way too many questions about why they are sweaty, bloody; & what's inside the bags they watch like hawks? It turns out that Flow's father raped her at age 11; forced her to have a primitive, frontier abortion & she's always resented George because of it. In retaliation, Flow seduces Henry; joins his gang; shoots her sister Charolette in the head because she liked the 'rubdowns' from her deranged daddy; & she gets vengeance on her perverted old man by having her new boyfriend Henry order a heavy set henchmen decked out in a Civil War hat in his gang named Little Joe [Keith Loneker] literally perform sodomy on George Tilderson. Whoa...Does this act literally need to be that up close & personal director JT Mollner? Seriously dude, not even a distant long range camera shot? Oh boy...This scene is so inappropriate for your audience. Just hearing screams from the father would have been more than enough man. Why show this scene so vividly? Look, we get  that Flow wants her old man to pay dearly for violating her so viciously, but the same impact can be achieved without getting so graphic on screen. This is where the director totally lost me. 

 

It was fascinating to see such a cold blooded, female killer on screen though with piercing blue eyes who has no reservations about inflicting death with a gun. Are we to believe that being violated by her daddy while her mother looked the other way ruined something inside of her. Yes, that is exactly it I think. Flow convinces Henry that she is going to marry him. However, she is just bidding her time waiting for the perfect moment to strike thereby gunning down Henry & the boys; stealing their gold coins; & putting their decapitated heads into white sacks in order to collect the $8,000 dollar reward. "Hades hath no furry like a woman scorned" I guess right? 

 

The other thing that bummed me out about "Outlaws & Angels" as a finished product is that there is a fantastic song called "Devil's Girl" sung by a woman with a beautifully haunting voice named Melody Michalski & sadly, the tremendous number paled in comparison to the final film. Checkout this remarkable tune: 

 

 

 

The whistling & subdued, melancholy tone are incredible! Not worthy of an amateur western like this unfortunately. Look, as a picture, it had a few compelling moments, but it was way overboard graphically than it needed to be & the dialogue was very weak overall. 

 

 

 

So let's review, Outlaws & Angels was too long in duration; lost me completely at the brutal sodomy scene; needed a much better screenwriter to make conversations more believable....But Clint Eastwood's daughter Francesca who played Flow; made an exceptional psychopath though I can't lie folks. Grade wise let's go with a C- after all the dust settles.  

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3 hours ago, southwest1 said:

Since you enjoy westerns so much as a film genre as I do & QuizBoy does, because he has mentioned in the past how much he bonded with his grandmother I believe watching them as a small child; I figured it was a good time to break down a 2016 one I saw recently a few months ago called "Outlaws & Angels" directed by JT Mollner. This 2 hour flick disappointed me though I'm sorry to say & I'll tell you why. This feature is based off a much shorter 2009 short picture titled '“Henry John And The Little Bug” by the same directer & there isn't enough material to justify stretching this cinematic experiment into a 120 minute exercise overall. It feels like a Quentin Tarantino knockoff except that Mr. Pulp Fiction & Hateful 8 writes clear, crisp, & clever dialogue on screen & he puts his central characters in mesmerizing predicaments in the storyline. Whereas, Mr. Mollner, on the other hand, relies too much on unnecessary bloodshed & gruesome sexual situations that the audience doesn't need to see quite that graphically or explicit on the silver screen. I suppose one could make the argument that the director was merely showcasing the gritty, unforgiving, social darwinism 'survival of the fittest' west meaning that the weak will not flourish or thrive in such a desolate place I guess. Let's proceed with my preferred quotes now & by the time, I finish my review you will grasp exactly what I'm driving at. 

 

"Where's it all begin? Violence? The Gun? The axe? How's it all start? We just all wanna make it--To live; to exist...We love if we're lucky. We lose if we are damaged;hardened. We do what we have to. What we're compelled to do." 

 

You've got 2 choices you son of a [rhymes with witch]. Humiliation or death."

 

"God may forgive you, but I don't."

 

"The innocence or the darkness? Which are we?"

 

Plotline: The yr is 1887 & we are in Cuchillo, New Mexico. Two women in dresses stroll leisurely down the dirt street path laughing about sexual encounters & which partner's friend was better in bed. BANG! All of a sudden a stray bullet collides with one woman's eye & the other screams frantically as blood splatters on her adjacent dress. It turns out that a small town frontier bank has just been robbed by 5 thugs in white sheet masks with holes cut out for the eyes, nose, & mouth. What did the KKK just do a stickup? It sure seems like it. One of the bandits is shot in the back by a long range rifle sharp shooter, but not before they cut down a US Marshal & personal friend of the governor. As a result, the highest ranking lawmen left on duty orders that a $8,000 dead or alive bounty be placed on the entire gang's head. Uh oh. No criminal squad wants that kind of heat hunting down their caboose.  

 

The gang leader is a man named Henry [Chad Michael Murray] & the first thing he does after fleeing the scene is ride to a secluded spot & murder Aunt Esther [Frances Fisher] & her husband who helped Henry set up this heist or bank score once he was told the size of the bounty on his head for killing a US Marshal. Right on the hells of these 2 homicides, a bounty hunter named Josiah [Luke Wilson] hired to mow down this crew by that community in New Mexico stumbles across a young girl named Lulu hiding in the bushes who is pretty distraught that her beloved Grandmother Esther is now gone forever. Lulu tells Josiah that she secretly overhead the bad guys say that they were fugitives on the run with bags of gold on the way to safety & refuge at the border of Mexico. To slow down tin stars or guys interested in the reward, Henry & company decide to travel through the white sands desert on foot even if their horses drop from a lack of sufficient water. 

 

Josiah & his loyal sidekick Alonzo [Steven Michael Quezada] are used to going after bank robbers & gunmen with methodical precision. Their pride themselves on almost always getting their man or whoever else they are paid handsomely to find, apprehend, & kill in cold blood. They view manhunts like a game hunter views taking down a bear, elk, or buffalo. It's just a job & they have no sentimentality toward captures or deaths at all. Breathing or not who cares as long as they get paid. 

 

Eventually, Henry & the gang spot a remote farmhouse in the distance. They decide to wait until nightfall before they carry out their home invasion & search for food, shelter, fresh horses; & female companionship by force if necessary. Little did the Tilderson Family know the hades & anarchy that was headed their way after sunset. Regarding the Tilderson Family themselves, it consisted of their mother Ada [Teri Polo]--a pious person obsessed with Bible verses & an overwhelming belief that if you are religious enough God will always provide. A preacher father figure named George [Ben Browder] who has frequent incest with his daughters Florence, Flo for short [Francesca Eastwood] & Charolette [Madisen Beaty] which their sick dad refers to affectionately as 'special rub downs.' Yikes! 

 

Well, anyhow, Henry & the boys scarf down down beans, grab all the firearms in the farmhouse, tell the family no harm will come to them if they stay calm & cooperate with the felons at large from the long arm of the law; & Henry begins to have a serious chemistry crush on the blond haired & blue eyed Flow who has a taste for danger; the dark side, & asking way too many questions about why they are sweaty, bloody; & what's inside the bags they watch like hawks? It turns out that Flow's father raped her at age 11; forced her to have a primitive, frontier abortion & she's always resented George because of it. In retaliation, Flow seduces Henry; joins his gang; shoots her sister Charolette in the head because she liked the 'rubdowns' from her deranged daddy; & she gets vengeance on her perverted old man by having her new boyfriend Henry order a heavy set henchmen decked out in a Civil War hat in his gang named Little Joe [Keith Loneker] literally perform sodomy on George Tilderson. Whoa...Does this act literally need to be that up close & personal director JT Mollner? Seriously dude, not even a distant long range camera shot? Oh boy...This scene is so inappropriate for your audience. Just hearing screams from the father would have been more than enough man. Why show this scene so vividly? Look, we get  that Flow wants her old man to pay dearly for violating her so viciously, but the same impact can be achieved without getting so graphic on screen. This is where the director totally lost me. 

 

It was fascinating to see such a cold blooded, female killer on screen though with piercing blue eyes who has no reservations about inflicting death with a gun. Are we to believe that being violated by her daddy while her mother looked the other way ruined something inside of her. Yes, that is exactly it I think. Flow convinces Henry that she is going to marry him. However, she is just bidding her time waiting for the perfect moment to strike thereby gunning down Henry & the boys; stealing their gold coins; & putting their decapitated heads into white sacks in order to collect the $8,000 dollar reward. "Hades hath no furry like a woman scorned" I guess right? 

 

The other thing that bummed me out about "Outlaws & Angels" as a finished product is that there is a fantastic song called "Devil's Girl" sung by a woman with a beautifully haunting voice named Melody Michalski & sadly, the tremendous number paled in comparison to the final film. Checkout this remarkable tune: 

 

 

 

The whistling & subdued, melancholy tone are incredible! Not worthy of an amateur western like this unfortunately. Look, as a picture, it had a few compelling moments, but it was way overboard graphically than it needed to be & the dialogue was very weak overall. 

 

 

 

So let's review, Outlaws & Angels was too long in duration; lost me completely at the brutal sodomy scene; needed a much better screenwriter to make conversations more believable....But Clint Eastwood's daughter Francesca who played Flow; made an exceptional psychopath though I can't lie folks. Grade wise let's go with a C- after all the dust settles.  

Excellent review SW1! You have a way with words my friend! You ever looked into writing reviews for a living?

 

The way you described the movie, the gratuitous violence sounds a lot like the movie Logan. The violence, gore, and language was excessive, more then any other Xmen movie, and started within the first minute of the movie. That being said, I LOVED IT!  It made it seem more "realistic" if that makes sense....I know, how can a movie about a man who has adamantium claws and a bad temper be realistic? It just added a certain "edge" to it, Idk. I liked it so much I watched it again!

 

Anyway, back to Outlaws and Angels.....Really sounds like a movie I'd like to watch, minus the little Joe scene, barf! Idk, I really like movies where the plot involves payback  by someone who was wronged, vigilante justice, or street justice! I think it's really cool that some of Clint Eastwoods kids are following in his footsteps. I didn't realize he had seven children! WOW!!!

 

Thanks for the review, I might have to watch it.

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Ben Browder played Jon Crichton in the TV show "Farscape." and also had a role in the 'Stargate" TV series. Reading that he played such a perverted character in this movie doesn't set right with me. I'll never look at these shows the same way. Why, Ben? Maybe he needed the money or something.  

 

I didn't know that Clint Eastwood had 7 children.  A few of them have followed in his footsteps.

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