Movie Review – Official Secrets

TL;DR – A powerful exploration of what happens when all the institutions that are meant to protect us from abuse of power fail   

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Official Secrets. Image Credit: Universal.

Review

There are films that are perfectly timed in their release, sometimes it is the world shifting around you, sometimes you get lucky and just so happen to be shining a light on something that is about to come to the foreground, and sometimes it is always good to be reminded of speaking truth to power. Well, today we get a film that does all three of those as it explores the absolute mess that was the justifications for the Iraq War. A mess that America, UK, Australia, and others found themselves in through no one’s fault but their own.

So to set the scene, in 2003 the world was on the cusp of war as America in the wake of September 11 has set its sights on a new foe Iraq. Not happy to just sit and wait for the weapon inspectors to do their jobs, they were placing enormous pressure on the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution allowing the war. As this is happening, Katharine Gun (Keira Knightley) was working in the UK’s signal intelligence agency GCHQ as a translator, when she receives a memo from her superiors asking them to support NSA efforts to pressure UNSC diplomates to vote for the war. As this goes against her job and is quite possibly illegal, she takes a copy of the memo and gives it to a trusted friend to see if it is as bad as she thought it was, and well it was.

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Movie Review – The Laundromat

TL;DR – A film with good intentions that nevertheless ends up talking down to its audience rather than empowering them as it is trying to do.    

Score – 3 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

The Laundromat. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

I think it is a good description of the world at the moment that a couple of years ago one of the biggest leaks of information that changed how we look at the entire banking sector and we have kind of forgotten about it. The Panama Papers was this huge revelation but it is almost surprising that we have not seen anyone try to encapsulate it in media form before now. Well, today we look at a film that does just that, in a weird, slightly absurdist way.

So to set the scene, we open in on Ellen Martin (Meryl Streep) who along with her husband Joe (James Cromwell) is starting the celebrations of their wedding anniversary by taking a boat tour of a local lake. Tragedy strikes when Captain Richard Paris (Robert Patrick) misses a rogue wave and is not able to turn the boat in time causing it to capsize killing Joe and many others. Ellen’s grief is amplified when they find out while the boat tour company thought they were insured, it was all fraud, a fake company, based out of a shell corporation, hidden behind a trust. Leading her down the well of how the wealthy hide their money.

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Movie Review – Dolemite Is My Name

TL;DR – A film that reveals in performances even as you sit almost in shock with what they are covering     

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Dolemite Is My Name. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Comebacks are such a difficult thing to pull off because they rarely work, especially when you jumping into a genre that you have not been in for an age. However, if you are you need to commit fully and today we get to see a film that does just that. Full with powerful performances even as you go “They did not just say that!”.  

So to set the scene, in the 1970s Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) is a failed record star who now spends his days working at a record store and his nights MCing at a local club. He wants to succeed but he has never had a break. Well one day when he is shoeing one of the local homeless men (Ron Cephas Jones) from the store, he listens to one of his stories and finds his moment, a comedy record. From there things take off for Rudy is now Dolemite and nobody be messing with him.

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Movie Review – The Farewell (Bié Gàosù Tā, 別告訴她)

TL;DR – A truly emotional work of film that affected me in ways film rarely does.     

Score – 5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

The Farewell (Bié Gàosù Tā, 別告訴她). Image Credit: A24.

Review

Wow, just wow, I thought I had some handle on how this film was going to affect me when I walked in, but I had no idea. I didn’t know I would be tearing up in the first five minutes and that it would not stop until the credits rolled. It is a film like this that shows the power of the medium to tell stories that can affect us on our deepest human level.

So to set the scene, Billi (Awkwafina) is struggling to find her place in the world after failing to get the fellowship that she was after. While at her parents to use their washing machine she notices that her mother Jian (Diana Lin) and father Haiyan (Tzi Ma) are acting odd. Wounding the worse, Billi discovers that her beloved Nai Nai (Shuzhen Zhao) has been diagnosed with late-stage cancer, but also that the family has decided not to tell her. Using a wedding as an excuse the whole family is going over to China in part to say goodbye without actually saying goodbye.       

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Exploring the Past – Into the Wild (2007)

TL;DR –.A really frustrating film that nevertheless sucks you in and leaves you heartbroken. 

Score – 4 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene

Into the Wild. Image Credit: Paramount.

Review

Well, last night I noticed Into the Wild had come onto Netflix. I had heard some good things about it a couple of years ago and I thought it would be a nice relaxing film to put on before going to bed. Oh wow, did I ever get that wrong.

So to set the scene, Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) gets dropped off on an Alaskan trail and walks into the wilderness a lot less prepared than maybe he should have. Ignoring the concerns from the guy that dropped him off he begins the march into the wilds of the north until he finds an abandoned bus and uses that as a base of operation. When then jump two years into the past and see why it is Christopher set off on this journey.

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Movie Review – The Red Sea Diving Resort

TL;DR – A really ambitious film that unfortunately falls into the same traps as a lot of Hollywood films do when depicting Africa’s history.    

Score – 2.5 out of 5 stars

Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene but some pictures of the resort during the credits

The Red Sea Diving Resort. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

Tonight we take a look at a film that attempts to discover a part of our history that has not been explored at all. However, Hollywood has a very poor history in exploring Africa’s history with film after film glossing over the complexities for hero moments of usually a white protagonist saving the day. While The Red Sea Diving Resort attempts to step away from this past it can’t help but fall into the same traps.

So to set the scene, in the 1980s Ethiopia was tearing itself apart during a bloody civil war, a lot of the innocents were being caught in the crossfire, especially minority groups. One of those groups that were targeted was Ethiopia’s Jewish community. However, there is some hope with Israel’s Mossad sending agents like Ari Levinson (Chris Evans) in to help them get to refugee camps in Sudan. However, this is just a temporary measure, they need a way to get them out of the country. So a plan is set in motion to set up a fake resort on the coast of Sudan as a front to help them smuggle them out to waiting boats. However, this is not something that you can do forever without attracting notice, made worse when actual tourists arrive at the fake resort.

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TV Review – When They See Us

TL;DR – This is a series that I think is important for everyone to see because what we do has consequences and those consequences can be ruined lives.

Score – 5 out of 5 stars

When They See Us. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

When I loaded up this limited series, I kind of had an idea of what to expect. I had heard about the Central Park Five before and I thought I had a rough framework as to what happened and of course, having the blowhard-in-chief double down on it helped bring it all back into focus. However, while I understood what happened, it was an intellectual knowledge and not an emotional one. While I walked in here with what I thought was understanding, I now know I had no idea, none what so ever.

So to set the scene, one evening in April in New York City a group of young people of mostly African-American decent came together to have a bit of a raucous in Central Park. Soon the police arrived and brought a bunch of them in disturbing the peace after roughing more than a few of them in the process. However, later that night in the north section of the park woman was found clinging to life after being raped and assaulted. It is at this point that detective Linda Fairstein (Felicity Huffman) draws the connection between the two incidents. Soon Kevin Richardson (Asante Blackk), Antron McCray (Caleel Harris), Yusef Salaam (Ethan Herisse), Raymond Santana (Marquis Rodriguez), and Korey Wise (Jharrel Jerome) are dragged in front of the police, with no adults present. Soon the police would have their confessions, for assault and rape, confessions that looked dubious even under the most cursory inspection.

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