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From Fly on the Wall to Instagram Activist

14 Sep

The Way I See It posterAfter the last week and a half of news — heck, the last four years of news — the arrival of the new film The Way I See It serves as a welcome reminder of how things used to be.

Not that we needed it, of course. But Dawn Porter’s documentary provides a bright and enjoyable look back at the Barack Obama presidency through the eyes of former Official White House Photographer Pete Souza. Like Souza’s active Instagram account, in which he trolls the current president* by sharing photos from his predecessor’s term, the film celebrates what we had and makes viewers long for a simpler time when our leader was a more noble sort of person. Continue reading

This Year for My Birthday, There’s One Thing I Want

7 Jun
light at the end of the tunnel

A light at the end of the tunnel. Photo by Adrien Olichon / Unsplash

Today is my birthday.

If there’s one lesson to be learned from the past three months (and to be sure, there are plenty), it’s that every day is precious, and we should not waste a moment to celebrate and enjoy.

In the past year, I did a lot of traveling, I got a new job, I saw a bunch of concerts and good movies, and generally, up until recently, I had a lot of fun. In spite of everything, I’m still finding reasons to be happy every single day. This birthday should be celebrated.

And yet … Today is not a day for celebration. Not when so many people’s lives have been lost in recent weeks, and when people around the world are taking to the streets during a global pandemic to fight for equality and justice, and when supposed leaders in the highest rungs of government are promoting division rather than bringing people together. Clearly, celebrating can wait.

So I just wanted to quickly acknowledge the day here, and move on to what’s more important — taking action to bring about change. Continue reading

Looking for the Light in a Very Dark Year

29 Dec

Charlottesville: “We replaced you.” (Photo credit: Casey Kilmartin)

So, let’s just get this out of the way: 2017 sucked.

As bad as 2016 was, 2017 was, in many ways, even worse.

We had a new President*, and he set the tone for the year. Trump used his bully pulpit to anger, frustrate, provoke, frighten, threaten, belittle, and mock ethnic groups, other world leaders, the press, and many others all year long in his tweets and unscripted remarks, and through his actions (or inaction). He undid as much of President Obama’s forward-thinking legacy as he could. And he displayed virtually no warmth, compassion, or leadership — just a lot of callous self-centeredness. As hard as you may have tried to avoid him, he — and the effect he had on everything — was inescapable.

There were events like those in Charlottesville, where newly emboldened hate groups took to the streets and a young resistance protester wound up dead. There were the shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, and no action taken to prevent others in the future. There were deadly and destructive hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico that left many without power, food, or necessary, essential supplies — even now, months later. There were multiple terror attacks in London and elsewhere. And there were all those revelations of sexual harassment and assault by those in Hollywood, the television media, and Congress, among other places.

The political scene and cultural moment this year forced us to do a lot of soul searching. To reckon with parts of ourselves and the country’s wounded psyche we don’t like to deal with, and to confront racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and unsavory acts from people we know, like, trust, and admire. It wasn’t easy, and it was often exhausting.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, we lost legends like Tom Petty and Mary Tyler Moore, among others. At the start of the year, two of my own friends passed away unexpectedly, and way too soon. Over the summer, Ari Schultz, the five-year-old son of two friends of mine, was taken from us. And other friends and colleagues lost family members, friends, and people close to them.

No, by any definition, 2017 was not a good year.

But now that we’ve covered all of that, can we move on? Continue reading

Blood’s Been Spilled to Afford Us This Moment

9 Nov

After a long, grueling election cycle, it’s good to see a movie that takes our mind off it entirely.

A movie about a leader trying to unite a divided nation, who seeks to free a section of the country’s population, and who must fight against stubborn and backwards-leaning political opponents to accomplish that goal.

One that has absolutely nothing to do with current topics of debate.

If you couldn’t tell, that’s intended to be sarcasm. Affectionate sarcasm.

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln puts the spotlight on the political scene in 1865, when the President (Daniel Day-Lewis, giving a predictably good performance) waged a tricky political battle in order to end the Civil War and slavery. Doubted by even his most loyal supporters, who told him he could do one or the other but not both, the film shows how Lincoln shrewdly persuaded members of both parties to support the 13th Amendment, and how that lead to the end of the war.

Continue reading

Let’s Win This Thing for America

10 Aug

Election years are always great times for comedy, so much so that the reality is often funnier than any scripted bits that Hollywood can produce.

But what fun would it be if we left all our political humor to the politicians?

That’s right, none.

So let’s give thanks for the new movie The Campaign, which stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis as two doofus political candidates battling it out in a small North Carolina town for a Congressional seat.

If that premise doesn’t tell you enough about what kind of movie this is, then know this: The film begins with a quote from one-time Presidential candidate Ross PerotContinue reading

Clooney for President?

17 Oct

That all in politics is not as it seems is hardly breaking news. Alas, in the film The Ides of March, that’s exactly the theme.

In George Clooney’s latest writing and directing effort, Ryan Gosling plays Stephen, the junior campaign manager for Presidential candidate Mike Morris (Clooney). Over the course of the week leading up to the Ohio primary, Stephen goes from devoted fan and supporter of Morris to, well, let’s just say he gets a reality check.

Young but hardly naive, Stephen is a fast-rising player in the political arena, and his drive to get ahead and protect his candidate leads to some less than ideal decisions. As a result, Stephen’s boss, Senior Campaign Manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), begins to question whose side Stephen is really on: Morris’ or his own. Continue reading

Nobody Wins Today

19 Jan

Truth be told, I wasn’t planning to vote today. And that’s a real shame, because just 14 months ago, voting was an activity I got really excited about. This election just didn’t engage me. I didn’t vote in the primary back in November, and I felt no real attachment to the candidates as we were approaching Election Day today. Frankly, I just didn’t care. Continue reading

Greed Is Bad

11 Oct

God bless Michael Moore.

When he gets going making an argument, there’s just no stopping him.

He’s got such a knack for making persuasive — and entertaining — movies that clearly push an agenda but aren’t like sitting through a thesis presentation.

Films like Fahrenheit 9/11 and Bowling for Columbine presented Moore’s worldview regarding the Iraq War and gun control, and regardless of what you thought of Moore’s arguments, he made them convincingly and with passion.

Now Moore is back with Capitalism: A Love Story, a treatise about how our economic system is flawed and only benefits a small fraction of our country.

Moore benefitted from having the economic collapse happen while he was making the film last fall, and he takes full advantage of the situation. Continue reading

A Funnier Film Is Unforeseeable

18 Aug

During a radio interview, a British government official says that a proposed war in the Middle East is “unforeseeable.”

Thus begins the movie In the Loop, a hysterical political farce about U.S. and U.K. relations, and how this simple comment escalates into a possible declaration of war.

To spoil the film would be impossible — I dare say it would be “difficult difficult, lemon difficult.”

There are so many great lines, a ton of great insults, and some splendid profanities that you may need to see the movie a second time to make sure you heard it all (check out the brilliant trailer below for a sampling). Continue reading

Stronger and More Impulsive

8 Mar

Back in December, Barack Obama was playing it cool. Now he’s getting angry. And you may not like him when he’s angry. (Actually, you probably will.)

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