SITTING comfortably behind the steering wheel, cruising down the road, the celebrity driver was expounding on the finer things about the automobile. It almost looked like this was their main means of transportation. Now I do not care if a celebrity wants to earn income by doing a commercial; everyone deserves to make a living. Will this person persuade me to buy that type of car when I am in the market for a new vehicle? The answer is absolutely not. In fact that goes for any celebrity endorsement. Though I am a big fan of movies and such, I am well aware of the financial inequity between celebrities and let us say teachers. Not that there is anything wrong with making as much money as you can; however, I have a hard time with anyone who uses their position of wealth as a bully pulpit to tell everyone else what they should do. I have experienced this in my own circle of friends and family, where those who were financially well off starting acting like they knew everything and the rest of us were not as smart. That type of behavior is offensive to me. THE area where I can support celebrities is when they use their wealth and status to help a cause they believe in. I know about one celebrity who works with an organization to bring clean water to third world countries. I remember when parts of Louisiana were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. There were celebrities down there helping and rebuilding houses; they had the means and connections to bypass the red tape to get things done. With some celebrities their support of a cause may be due to personal reasons; they could be experiencing it in their own family, for example a celebrity with an autistic child. Whether you feel the same way or not, I admire someone who overcomes challenges in their life to then become a social activist against those very same tribulations. What I saw in this film festival winning movie, which was based on a true story, both stunned and amazed me. THIRTEEN year old Waris, played by newcomer Soraya Omar-Scego, had to leave her village in Somalia. What was done to her there would have a strong impact on her life when she made it to London. Before I talk about this biographical drama I want to say I have very little knowledge about the customs that were performed in this movie. They may be based on religious beliefs or native; I do not know and I do not want to offend anyone who believes in them. Starring Liya Kebede (The Best Offer, Lord of War) as older Waris Dirie, Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine, Happy-Go –Lucky) as Marilyn and Timothy Spall (Denial, Mr. Turner) as Terry Donaldson; the actual story had to be more powerful than what the script provided here. The back and forth between the young and older Waris dampened the intensity for me. I had a hard time watching some scenes because I could not believe what was being done. The acting was fine; I have always enjoyed Sally’s performances and Liya was perfect in this role. Honestly I still cannot get over that this custom takes place in the world. This DVD provided me with a whole new respect for those who overcome difficulties in their life and decide they want to do something about it.
2 ¾ stars — DVD
There was a time when newscasts were the place to get the news of the day. They were hosted by trusted individuals, who felt like family for some of us. Out of this group the most popular ones were Chet Huntley, David Brinkley and Walter Cronkite. When they retired a new breed came to the forefront, with names like Rather, Jennings and Brokaw. For me they were the last keepers of an era where news was meant to inform, not garner ratings. I will say I have the utmost admiration for today’s news reporters who risk their reputation, career or possibly life to get to the heart of a story. In this Sundance Film Festival winning documentary Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation magazine and author of the bestseller book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army; traveled to Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia to put the pieces together of a covert operation that led to collateral damage. In the movie there was a film clip of a television show where talk show host Jay Leno asked Jeremy why he was still alive and I felt the same way. It was nerve wracking to see Jeremy go into some of the most troubling hot spots in the world. Watching his reporting process was fascinating; he looked like a jigsaw puzzle master as he tried fitting together snippets of news. Some scenes did seem as if they were used for a dramatic effect, but the pacing remained consistent. There were some interviews Jeremy conducted that were unbelievable to me, regarding his ability to sit down and talk to those individuals. Considering the topic I felt there could have been more suspenseful and engaging scenes. If for no other reason, I have to give Jeremy credit for his courage in traveling to such places. Compared to him it is almost silly that I am afraid to go into some parts of my own city. There were several graphic scenes with blood.
2 1/2 stars