WHILE WE WERE LINING UP INTO groups, the line monitors kept reminding us not to engage with any protesters. I thought it was ironic since we were about to stage a protest march. There were thousands of people maneuvering into place; I had two friends with me in my group. The volunteers who were chosen to be the line monitors were handing out a list of safety tips to everyone who walked into the staging area, along with reminding us to stay hydrated. Every group I could see from my location had people in them holding banners and signs. While we waited for our start time, volunteers dressed in those yellow hazard vests kept walking by to remind us that this was a peaceful march. Since I was curious about what kind of protesters are we supposed to not engage with, I stopped one of the volunteers to ask him. He told me there was a group of protesters who were known to instigate physical encounters so they could then file legal suits against individuals, protest organizers and city officials in the hopes of getting money either by winning the lawsuit or agreeing to a settlement. I was appalled by this and had to ask how these protesters incite reactions. He said they shout out a variety of vulgarities to rile up a person, besides spitting at them. I was not looking forward to crossing their path. WE WERE ALL IN PLACE BY our start time. There was a certain energy in the air that felt exhilarating to me. Being in the middle of a mass of people with like minds was heady; each of us were there to focus on a common issue we all shared. The beginning of our walk was easy to navigate as we had quickly moved from a park to a main thoroughfare. There were photographers and news reporters scurrying back and forth as they were trying to document and catch a perfect moment. It was not long before I heard a different tone of sound coming up ahead. I was used to the different chants and sayings being uttered around me; however, this sound had an ominous note. A line monitor was shouting reminders to not engage. There up ahead was the group of protesters we were warned about. They were pointing at individuals in the march, yelling obscenities at us. The homemade signs they held in the air depicted vile images. The level of hatred being displayed was unsettling to me. We were protesting for better rights and these people were wishing us dead; it made no sense to me. It was so extreme that I could not wait to pass them by. I did not think I would see such extreme behavior on display ever again, but that was not the case since I watched this eye-opening documentary. WHILE ELECTED OFFICIALS WERE INSIDE THE capitol to certify the presidential election, a mob of people were outside trying to get in. Directed by Jamie Roberts (The Fires That Foretold Grenfell, War Child), this film used a variety of footage and recordings from both the individuals inside and outside the capitol building. I am sure most of us have seen footage shot on January 6th; but I must tell you, the scenes and conversations I saw in this movie were a different level of disturbing for me. It did not appear as if the movie studio tried to sway the story favorably to one side or the other; it just came across as a series of live events that got captured on camera. While I try to avoid any political debate, I just want to say I still cannot get over the level of extreme emotions I saw in this picture. It left me sad that there seems to be absolutely no middle ground in this country. I will keep my personal feelings to myself and simply say I am not comfortable seeing hatred at such an extreme level.
3 ¼ stars
THERE was a parked delivery truck in the middle of the street blocking my way. By backing up I was able to turn into an alley that would take me behind the block so I could continue on my way. As I carefully drove down the alley, dodging garbage bins and bushes, I came up to a garage that had a swastika spray painted across its door. Here I was driving through what looked like a pleasant, well maintained neighborhood and came up to a sign of hatred behind what appeared to be to me the street side facade of peacefulness. I looked at the garage door and did not want to believe someone filled with hate or anger took the time to come out and spray the door as an expression of their feelings. THERE have been so many things I have come across where I did not want to believe they were real. Seeing a mass shooting at a school, an oil spill, toxic drinking water or a hotel bombing; the world is filled with awful events and it seems like there are only more taking place. Maybe I live too much time in my fantasy and film fantasy world, but the fact that I can still be surprised by a variety of dastardly deeds/actions tells me I still have my humanity. When friends or colleagues tell me the true story behind certain events, both personal and international, I am reminded that I may be too naïve because I tend to take everything at face value; trusting or hoping people would lean towards goodness instead of badness. So we now come to today’s movie and if any of it was based on true events I am more afraid of the world than I was before. KNOWN for her killer instincts lobbyist Elizabeth Sloane, played by Jessica Chastain (Crimson Peak, The Martian), pitted herself against a tough opponent. It was one that happened to know her. The cat and mouse game that ensued could easily destroy one of them. This dramatic thriller soared on Jessica’s acting skills. She was the main character and she was incredible. All the actors, such as Mark Strong (The Brothers Grimsby, Before I Go to Sleep) as Rodolfo Schmidt, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Free State of Jones, Beyond the Lights) as Esme Manucharian and John Lithgow (Interstellar, Love is Strange) as Congressman Ron M. Sperling; were excellent, but the women ruled this picture. The world of lobbyists is unknown to me so I enjoyed the story, finding myself periodically surprised with several scenes dealing with the methods used in lobbying influential figures. As for the script I thought the first and last parts of the film were the strongest; the middle of the movie lost me a bit because I felt too much time was being used to remind us of Miss Sloane’s intensity. Personally I would have enjoyed the writers digging deeper into her actions and motivations as well as some of the other characters. With that being said I will tell you I loved the twists in this story. If this movie was based on any truth regarding lobbyists, the world really is a scarier place.
2 ½ stars
I do not know what you would call it exactly, but there is a certain freedom in being able to say anything I want when reviewing a movie. All I am doing is expressing my opinions and feelings, the same as any other reviewer. No matter what I write, I know there will be no retaliation from the movie studio. It would never occur to me that someone associated with a movie that I rated would go after me or a member of my family. I am fortunate to live in a country that gives its people the right to speak their mind. I have to tell you though, after seeing this film I am not that sure anymore. It was one thing to be familiar with the story when it actually was in the news; but it was another to watch the story unfold on film. In the capable hands of director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith), this political thriller was frightening to me. Using each of their books as a basis; Doug created a taut suspenseful film about CIA operative Valerie Plame, played by Naomi Watts (The Impossible, J. Edgar) and her American diplomat husband Joe Wilson, played by Sean Penn (Gangster Squad, Milk). After Joe wrote a disparaging article, critical of the current political administration, government officials decided to expose Valerie’s cover. Naomi and Sean were so good in their roles and in their relationship to each other; I felt they were channeling the real individuals. By showing the couple’s home life with their children, it only added more intensity to the horror of their situation. After watching this movie I was left thinking about what life would be like if no one was allowed to speak their mind. We would be left with what George Orwell told us about, a world ruled by Big Brother.
3 1/4 stars — DVD