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This documentary shines a very bright light on two fundamental issues going on in our country. The power of money and it's influence on profitable incarceration and ultimately perpetual slavery. I think it did a fabulous job of being virtually opinion free and making a point to stay focused on facts. That said, I think you have to be open to the information. By that, whether you lean right or left, it's best to digest this documentary with an open mind free of your own political thoughts and opinions.
It's foundation is about slavery and how it plays a role in modern events. It suggests that slavery never went away, it merely reinvented itself to "keep up with the times", always having financial gain being the catalyst for it's continued existence. It really shines when it presents it's case on how mass incarceration is today's slavery. The direct correlation between labor based slavery of yesteryear and labor based incarceration of today is frightening in regards to similarity. You can deny it if you choose to, but if you continue to do so after seeing this presentation, then it's simply because you deny fact.
When Colin Kaepernick protested the flag, though I'm a black man, I was offended by his stance. After watching this documentary however, I look at his point of view with a different lens. I don't entirely agree with his approach, but I have to admit that oppression in this country is still very alive and well. I think too many people look at oppression in traditional views like slavery and the holocaust. But in my opinion, you have to appreciate oppression as the complexity that it is, in order to acknowledge it's existence. Again this documentary does an excellent job of making that case. I won't delve too deep into why, I would just simply recommend watching it.
Word of caution however. This documentary doesn't pull it's punches. It's very dark, very disconcerting regarding politics and if it hits you right, it will make you angry and sad all at once. My two children stayed in the forefront of my mind while watching this, and my heart bled for them throughout, seeing what kind of world that awaits them. I tried to be optimistic about light being brought to this issue in such a well put together way, but I believe that we as a country, still have a ways to go, seeing that someone like Trump could get so close to being President.
Overall, this documentary is very important and should be seen by everyone able. Whether you lean right or left, you cannot deny some of the dirty deals made by politicians to keep their pockets lined via profitable incarceration. Real change needs to happen without question, but this documentary drives home the point that as long as "the almighty dollar" rules, don't expect much change anytime soon.
Stranger Things (2016)
Familiar but unique time machine
I'll start right out with my reason for 8/10 as opposed to 10/10. In my personal opinion one thing all stories should explain especially mysteries is the how and why. The how and why is murky at best which left me feeling a bit confused about a few things.
With that in mind, I watched this entire series in one day. For ten or so hours nothing mattered except bathroom breaks and snack refills. I kid you not, the very phrasing of the first chapter's title makes you feel like "Ok we're going on a ride here". Then there's the method they used to introduce the series title. Talk about a blast from the past! From then on, just be prepared to be transported to a different time. The set pieces alone are done well enough to give this a gander.
One thing this series did well was mixing "well known" actors with people you literally never heard of. It has a great pull where the Winona Ryders reel you in and the new comers keep you there, knowing you don't have to see the same old style from the same old people, but also knowing you don't have to invest a lot of trust into a whole cast of newbies. The kids especially do a phenomenal job. While a bit cliché at times, considering their age, they were fantastic. You'll see almost immediately that Millie Bobby Brown is in a class of her own.
Another thing I liked about this series considering it's a Netflix Original is that they didn't take advantage of the lack of censorship. There are no unnecessary sex scenes, every other word isn't a swear, and there's not a whole bunch of random drug use or killing. But not to the point where it seems like an after school special. It was simply done right.
Now the general vibe of the series is very familiar as it pulls from just about every 80s sci-fi/horror movie you can think of. What they did well with that however is taking that familiarity and molding it into something new. I don't wanna get on a soapbox, but man was it nice to watch a movie about teenagers and not have it be them glued to their phones. I think whether anyone wants to admit it or not we all can use a break from the strangle hold social media has on us right now. Now that I think of it, I think that's why a lot of modern horror films don't work these days. Technology is all around us, so it's hard to suspend belief when you know that theoretically the entire world is one tweet away from witnessing a mystery taking place. In 1983 that was a different story.
All in all I give it 8/10. Like I said, it locked me down for an entire day. The story is a good pace that keeps you interested. Some things probably could have been explained better, but who knows; as thorough as they were, some of the missing details was probably intentional. This is a good one for everyone. But if you're 30 and older and love a good nostalgia-esk experience, WATCH THIS SHOW!!
Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970)
Could have been perfect but...
Let me first say that this is one of the most accurate war movies I've seen to date (and I've seen a lot). I'm a stickler for authenticity when it comes to historical pieces and I also believe that stories about the likes of Pearl Harbor and Titanic are interesting enough without inserting an unnecessary love story. That's where this movie shines. The attention to detail spent on recounting the minute by minute events leading to the attack let you see how the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred. Interestingly enough, where this movie "failed" is to a point where Michael Bay's version shined. NOT the love story part. But during the attack in Bay's version, he accompanies the attack with well placed scores that pull you into the gravity of the situation. In Tora! Tora! Tora! It's well..just an attack. Some movies do really well without scores backing them (Saving Private Ryan) but typically these movies have brilliant visuals and cinematography that circumvent the lack of music. This movie IMHO desperately needed something to bring you into the film. As great as the visuals were for 1970, I just didn't feel "apart" of the attack. I didn't feel anything. It just kind of happened and then it was kind of over. Even as the varying commanders came to realize their blunders, that just watched in stoic fashion.
I think this movie is great. However I think far too much focus was put into being authentic that they forgot "we still need to make it entertaining" and simply put- it's not that entertaining. Interesting, but not entertaining if that makes sense. If you want action and sappy love stories watch Bay's version. If you want the detailed historically accurate version, watch Tora! Tora! Tora!
There are A LOT of WWII movies out there, some obviously stand the test of time and have become benchmarks in modern film, while others only succeed in doing a disservice to the brave who fought during that war.
Fury lands pretty much in the middle if not swaying a bit towards bad. The production design was amazing and really captured the look of war torn Europe during the closing days of the war. Outside of that, this film lacks in almost every category.
First and foremost-- the speaking in this film was horrendous. The lingo from that time period is hard enough to understand with people speaking clearly if you're not familiar with the era. The main characters in this film used some of the worst accents I've ever heard. It's safe to say that a good 60% of the film, you can barely discern what's being said.
Next was the music, I don't know if the director was going for a dramatic effect, but the score was terrible and way over the top. A well done drama about such an important topic does not need music as a crutch. At times I felt like I was watching a video game.
Last but not least, this movie literally had no plot. It went from scene to scene, with none being related to each other in any way at all. One scene takes up a large portion of the film and had nothing to do with the ending at all! There was no character development, no back story. Nothing. I don't even know what Pitt's character's name even was.
Bottom line, if you're debating on whether or not to see it, I say save your money. You're not missing much.
Chicago Fire (2012)
Insult to firefighters and paramedics
I'm a paramedic who also has had extensive firefighter training. That being said, it took about 5 minutes into the episode before I was laughing and shaking my head "no" as I was overwhelmed with the inaccuracies. Now I understand that it's TV so I know it's not going to be perfect. However I long had my doubts before actually watching it. The first thing that's wrong with it, is that it's on NBC, which means there's a foul language barrier. Anyone who knows real firefighters ESPECIALLY firefighters in Chicago; know that the majority of us can't say more than ten words without swearing or saying something vulgar. So the show pretty much has lost it's realism in the dialog alone. Now I don't argue that you can't make it work, because Third Watch did fine with it for a long time, however the focus wasn't only on firefighters in that show.
Taking that away there's still plenty wrong with this show. Really it's the little things that just build up and make you say "come on!" Now some of it are things only someone on the job would notice, but then there are the obvious. So here are some to name a few: A lot of these guys look like they walked off the cover of a magazine, especially the women. They show one of the ladies after a 24 hour shift and she's all dolled up. A paramedic on the box in Chicago; I'm positive has zero interest in looking all pretty in the morning on the way home!! Are there good looking firefighters and paramedics? Sure but not THAT many. You can have a good show without a bunch of models running around with their shirts off! Lots of the guys have some sort of chin hair. NO FIRE DEPT ON THE PLANET ALLOWS THIS!!! Facial hair interrupts the sealing of the face piece, making it ineffective and even dangerous to wear in a compromised environment.Then it's the lack of focus while responding to calls. Now I'll admit, when you've done this job long enough, certain calls hardly make your heart rate go past 70, but you will NEVER see a guy, on his way to a fire with his feet up, reading the paper...ridiculous! Next, one of the female paramedics is slipping one of the guys some sort of drug, I forget which. If I remember correctly it was a narcotic of some sort. Because of on the job drug abusers in the past, it's nearly impossible to steal drugs from an ambulance without pointing the finger right back at you! So then there are the locker room scenes. Wait I said that wrong, then there are the co-ed locker room scenes. I don't think that needs explaining. Moving on, one of the paramedics in one scene is doing a complicated (and very rare) procedure for whatever reason. They show the little girl's heart rhythm on the monitor even though she doesn't have a single lead on her body. Not a big deal but annoying nonetheless, also if she were that bad off, there'd be more than one paramedic back there at least to set up the non existent IV.
To pick at the actual story. It's painfully predictable and phony. If a fighter died in a fire, you're not gonna see the lieutenant (or anyone for that matter) just rest their head on the ladder as if someone brought then coffee with two sugars as opposed to one. Then the show bounces from character to character not really showing us anything. One guy has a name, that's not really his name, it's confusing what person is assigned to what, considering it's Chicago, the bosses are WAY too young. Especially the guy running the squad. But I digress.
So between all that, the cheesy lines, the sub par acting, and the predictable story lines, I'll say this: Whoever the technical adviser is needs to be fired, because he or she definitely lied about having any kind of background in thus field!! My suggestion: Don't waste your time with this garbage. It'll be gone before you know it. Just like that other show...oh right, "Trauma"!
Red Tails (2012)
Disappointing at best
I'll be the first to admit that as a huge WWII history buff, I set my bar high as far as expectations. So needless to say, I had high expectations for this film. My first problem with this movie is that the producers assume everyone has seen 1995's "Tuskegee Airmen". Neither movie really explains how the program came to be, but this one drops the story right into the skies of Italy. I was pretty much done with the film in the first 5 minutes. The acting is terrible, FULL of cheesy one liners and wannabe inspiring moments. They try to pull you in by throwing big names at you. Cuba Gooding Jr for instance. Great actor but highly misused in this film, his character he's playing is too old, and doesn't have enough screen time. Terrance Howard is decent, but he's the one pumping the movie full of wanna be inspiring moments. Then there's Ne-Yo. I literally cringed when I saw he was in this movie, and my cringe was warranted with his first speaking scene. I'm STILL trying to figure out if he had some sort of mental disability. As far as the storyline....well there isn't a storyline. The movie kinda just goes from scene to scene with no real connection. It literally has a little bit of everything from romance to gritty war scenes. If you want to learn about the amazing story of the Tuskegee Airman, watch a documentary. Neither one of these movies do those pioneering pilots justice. The only good thing about the film is the cinematography.