Reviews written by registered user
Kansas-5

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38 reviews in total 
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178 out of 190 people found the following review useful:
Superb acting,writing & three interwoven themes: government corruption, whistle blower retaliation, rare integrity, 13 October 2014
10/10

I drove 140 miles, round trip, in foreboding weather, to attend the nearest U.S. opening.

It was well worth it.

First some context.

I've freelanced for decades, including during a war, successfully exposed major governmental corruption, weathered concerted retaliation and have been regularly appalled at the weakness of corporate, bureaucratic and political weasels who abandoned ideals, professionalism and integrity, "going along to get along." I was aware of Webb's writing and vilification at the time they occurred, in the late '90s, but for over 50 years I had a front row seat for even pre-Nixonian "drug wars" through the "crack epidemic," genocidal American imperialism, and the treatment of many other reporters who dared challenge the status quo, who had the courage to painfully examine the quaint and naive notion of collective national decency.

Webb's story, so artfully recounted and performed, was unfortunately true. He was accused of distorting the actuality of Reagan-era hypocrisy, but his reporting was accurate. He never accused the CIA of intentionally destroying the social fabric of minority communities, but made it clear that Harlem and Watts and Chicago's South Side were victims of "collateral damage," the inevitable consequences of the abandonment of any pretense of morality ostensibly possessed by the Reagan administration.

Indeed, spurred by new information about the practice of questionable property seizures, Webb had once again picked at the scab covering the decade-old, gangrenous infestation of our government, later well described by Robert Parry in his October 2004 Salon piece, "How Kerry exposed the Contra-cocaine scandal." To get the story, Webb had exposed himself to blood curdling danger, both at his own home in the U.S. and on the scene, in Central America.

Perhaps the worst betrayal of public trust by this film is depicted in recapitulation of the collective response of the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, after being pressured by the CIA and the State Department. The papers' responded with hyperactive involvement in the personal destruction of Webb's reporting, reputation and life. Previously. the same papers, pressured by Reagan administration officials, buried Senator John Kerry's investigation, and shared subsequent malfeasance in their facilitating the Bush/Cheney administration's illegal and genocidal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The NY Times and Post had some odious history themselves. Reporters Ray Bonner and Alma Guillermoprieto were reassigned to boring beats after their courageous exposure of the incredibly savage El Mozote Massacre in El Salvador.

There, the U.S. trained, funded and armed Atlacatl Battalion murdered almost a thousand peasants, largely neutral evangelical Protestants, and mostly women and children, on December 11, 1981. Stanley Miesler's El Mozote Case Study, published in the Columbia Journalism Review, exhaustively documented their fates.

This film captured all those similar disgraceful elements. It needs to be seen by a wider audience just as it would be wise to make "Dr. Strangelove" part of a core curriculum in the formal education of American adolescents.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
The personal and grassroots organizational struggles of an extraordinary American, 31 March 2014
10/10

This fast paced film is simply riveting. Producer Diego Luna cast Michael Peña in the lead. Peña honestly portrays one of the most important leaders in American labor struggles. John Malkovich joins Luna, co-producing as well as in acting in a villainous role. He exquisitely plays a fictionalized composite, an exploitative Machiavellian grower, comfortable with manipulating family as well as local and national public officials to frustrate Chavez's organizing,and not above promoting lethal violence when it suited his agenda.

The movie tracks the dangerous and demanding path taken by Chavez in the decades it took for him and his compañeros to win dignity and living wages for mostly Hispanic and Filipino farm workers. It faithfully displays his courage, religious devotion, acumen and self sacrifice, and the alliances he built, as well as the political and public relations solidarity and coups necessary for success.

Only so much can be covered in a film of this length, but it fairly faithfully tracks his intense commitment to "la causa," and how that conflicted with his competing desires to be a father, husband and provider. It touches on his personal sacrifices that extended to long fasts and marches of hundreds of miles, and a willingness to be subjected to brutal physical and political attacks meant to defeat his efforts, but never abandoning Ghandian non-violence. His career, though longer due to Martin Luther King's youthful assassination, overlaps King's considerably in era, unwavering commitment, allies and methods.

Given the magnitude of the substantial task to portray such a major and complex figure and movement, the development of other important characters suffers. They include his brother Richard (played by Jacob Vargas), his career-long ally and foil, activist Dolores Huerta (Rosario Dawson) who has outlived and outperformed most of her contemporaries, and the late, long time United Farm Workers powerhouse attorney/negotiator, Jerry Cohen, though all deliver strong performances.

Absent from the screenplay are the equally demanding lettuce strike and most of the frustrations with the Teamsters Union and the UFW's eventual settlement with them.

This film recapitulates an essential part of late 20th Century American political and social history that legitimately deserves a wider audience than it will likely receive.

7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Was this movie made to provide investors a tax loss?, 15 May 2013
1/10

I was watching something interesting on another channel and went to this during unfortunately long and frequent commercials. I was only drawn to it because I was bewildered how anyone could possibly make and release a movie of such poor quality. It was like watching a real-life train wreck.

The acting was atrocious. The special effects were so amateurish as to be universally laughable, especially the supposed windshield hits from rearward gunfire.

The plot was something that might have been produced by low-functioning nine-year-old.

This had to be one of the most ridiculous movies I've ever seen. There was not a single 30-second segment I watched that was incapable of producing a violent emetic reflex.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Excellent story, splendid cast, deserved better reviews by critics., 15 May 2013
8/10

No exploding cars, no immensely expensive special effects, just a solid movie with an exceptional cast, well filmed. Perhaps that's why it seems to have attracted very little critical attention, which is a shame.

The actors playing the majority of the leading roles in cast were a little older than would have been representative of the Weathermen in their short period of activity, 1969 through the mid-70s. Redford especially, would have been 33 when the organization was formed by younger activists. Jenkins, younger than the rest of his supposed contemporaries was about the right age for his role and though Gleeson is actually too young for the part, he doesn't look it.

Some elements are a bit implausible. LeBouf's often rude questioning of sources would be unlikely to elicit a positive response from real life participants who would have been more likely to have been put off by his questions.

All these are relatively minor flaws, and the movie is a quantum leap more realistic that others of its genre. Though fiction, it's a decent treatment of a significant episode in U.S. political history.

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
The unvarnished story of the origins of the Zionist expulsion of Palestinians., 2 November 2012
10/10

This is an extraordinary film, documenting the carefully crafted, decades-long propaganda effort that prepared the West for acceptance of a Zionist, post-WW II, takeover of Palestine.

I lived in the Bronx, New York City, through the world war, the 1948 war on the Palestinians, and for almost a decade after the Korean war.

At the time there were a million Jews living in the Bronx, more than there were in the British Mandate of Palestine. The neighborhood I lived in was predominantly Christian and overwhelmingly white.

Television was in its infancy, so the only news of Palestine we got was through a press that was sympathetic to the immigration that took their land from the Palestinians.

I had no idea of the extent of the propaganda that has rationalized the oppression of Palestinians, went back that far. Through my childhood and adolescence, I saw no balance to reporting about that forced colonization. We in the U.S. were collectively ignorant as to the nature of the land seizures, that brutal exodus, the forced diaspora of the indigenous inhabitants. Golda Meir who had immigrated from Russia to Milwaukee as an eight-year-old, then immigrated to Eretz Israel in 1921, eventually becoming prominent in the Zionist government, was a folk hero to us.

The mechanism of telling this story is a brilliant instrument. It focuses simply on the produce that was the primary export commodity of an invaded land, using of contemporary film footage and photographs, including interviews with elderly Jews who lived in Palestine before the forced expulsion of a huge part of the Arab population. This film documents the true nature of what has been presented to us in the U.S. for over six decades as a legitimate response to Arab attacks.

That meme was clearly as fraudulent as Hitler's putative causus belli for the invasion of Poland; his Nazi soldiers dressed as Polish cavalry faking an invasion of Germany.

This puts the current cruelty to the Palestinians in the West Bank into a sharp historical relief. It is shameful that our government is so wedded to the myth, the one it subsidizes and allows to be further illegally financed, the one protected by our sole opposition to any restraint on Israel's expansionism in the Security Council, that this genocidal campaign can continue its expansionism, its subjugation and destruction of the native peoples of that land.

The Holocaust was the most horrific event in the past century, but it does not begin to justify in any remote sense such a eradication being launched by its victims against a people who had no part in its execution.

This documentary gives us a sorely needed alternative perspective in this age of public relations saturation that has successfully promoted a bogus historical story line that has been used to justify such draconian oppression.

13 out of 22 people found the following review useful:
Vastly overrated, 18 April 2011
1/10

I've heard of this movie since it was new. It came out about the same time as "The French Connection," a splendid movie with great acting, direction, cinematography, dialogue, story line and believability.

I always assumed this was a great movie, based on its reputation.

I was very misinformed.

I watched it on television, through all the bad cinematography, errors and lapses in continuity, absurd plot, hopeless screenplay, but after the scene with the judge and the D.A. in the latter's office, that was it. It was way too stupid to put up with it any longer.

I lived in San Francisco off and on from 1961 to 1982 and it didn't represent anything close to reality in criminal justice with which I was extremely familiar, during that period. It didn't even make any sense geographically, for instance with the bag man magically moving from one end of the city to the other in the absence of available transportation, and the same with the final bus scene.

This debacle was inspired, if you could call it that, by the Zodiac killer, who murdered individuals and couples in San Francisco and all around California. He was never apprehended and his identity remains unknown. This was an opportunity for a great movie that was completely wasted.

2 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Dumb and dumber, 16 January 2011
1/10

Dish TV gives free access to some channels each month as a come on.

This month the "E" channels are featured, eight of them, playing generally good movie, some great ones, sans commercials.

So my wife and I, attracted by the prospect of a piece with Samuel L. Jackson and Geena Davis, sat through this stinker.

It started off bad. That's usually enough for me to change the channel or to walk out of the theater, since stinkers rarely get better. My wife, a science fiction fan, was better prepared to sit through the progressively nonsensical plot deterioration.

Given a weekend without distractions I wondered if I could do a better job writing a screenplay on a single weekend despite the occasional interruption? Near the end, I wasn't wondering any more.

Toward the end it was so painfully awful I was having real trouble continuing to watch, but my wife wanted to see how it came out.

So how did it come out?

Badly of course, though in this case, that's an enormous understatement.

What a colossal waste of time and talent, money and perfectly good vehicles.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Eminently professional, 16 January 2011
8/10

I'd never heard of this but saw it on the E channel. What a wonderful surprise! It would be rare to find a film that had better acting, direction and writing.

Amy Adams, is simply riveting. A relaxed Alan Arkin comes across like someone you might want to take to lunch.

My only minor problem was with the casting of two roles. The main character, Adams, is supposed to have been a high school classmate of two supporting actors, but she was 34 and Amy Redford and Kevin Chapman were actually 38 and 41, when this was filmed in 2008.

Paul Dooley, an actor and former stand up comedian who has mostly done TV roles for over four decades, was 80 years old at the time of filming. He does as splendid if brief job, as a used car salesman.

1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Great cast!, 31 January 2010
1/10

So how could it have turned out so awful? How can you have Kline and Keitel, Steiger and Sarandon, Aiello, Rickman, Mastrantonio, and yet produce such a stinker?

Start with an awful script. 1,000 monkeys couldn't have done worse.

From there, proceed to unbelievably bad direction.

I kept waiting for it to get funny, since it was never going to get serious. It was never going to make sense. But the comedic talents of many of the cast were wasted as well.

I thought the actors might revolt, mid filming. I mean, after all, why have your name associated with this kind of a stinker? I kept thinking of "The Producers." The producers of this lemon must have sold 1,000% of the movie, right? They needed to have it go straight down the toilet so they could pocket the investors' money without having to account for it. There would be no "Springtime with Hitler" to save the day.

But Norman Jewison produced this. He's made a dozen great movies!

This doesn't belong in the vault at MGM. It belongs in a crypt at Forest Lawn. With a stake through its heart.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Beware the red herrings!, 20 May 2009
7/10

For all his personal foibles, and despite having (intentionally?) gone a bit flabby, Crowe is the consummate actor. He delivers another commanding performance, reminiscent of his powerful roles in "The Insider" and "Gladiator." The character development is largely confined to him, with increasingly less focus in descending order on co-stars Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams. Helen Mirren as a Katherine Graham-type character makes the briefest of appearances, a waste, given her considerable talent,with Jeff Daniels and Jason Bateman playing oleaginous blowhards. Robin Penn Wright is virtually the only other cast member with an important role. All others are essentially bit players.

IMDb's description of the "partnership" with law enforcement is a bit overstated.

Despite occasional lapses in continuity, i.e., "$26,000" and the questionable diversion of focus from a real and present threat to our national interests embodied in the thinly veiled corporate Eric Prinz/Blackwater and Halliburton-based presence, this remains a gripping tale, well worth seeing.

It might have been far better.


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