Film review: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015)

This is an excellent documentary that deals with a complicated and troubled period in American history and the role in it of an organization that is still shrouded in controversy. The documentary covers the six-year period from 1967 to 1973 that saw the rise and fall of the original Black Panthers. It uses archival footage, mixed with current interviews of former members who look back on those events and provide perspective.
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Standing up for the things that matter at the time they matter

Watching the film Trumbo that I reviewed yesterday brought to mind a very old post of mine that quoted Trumbo extensively from a moving letter he wrote to a friend in 1967 that was published in the March 2004 issue of Harper’s magazine (subscription required). It asks us to reflect on what is really important in life, what is worth making a stand for, and how people use the flag and country to shift blame away from themselves for their unprincipled behavior.
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A test of the power of boycotts

Some states, including Ohio, like to give tax breaks and other forms of subsidies to film companies to make their films there. The case that is made is that making the film in the state brings jobs and revenue that more than compensates for the giveaways, and in addition the state gets lots of free publicity and visibility. At one time, states seemed to be in a bidding war for film companies, much to the latter’s delight.
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Film review: The Big Short (2015)

This is an excellent film. It is a lightly fictionalized version of the events that led up to the financial crash of 2008 due to the housing bubble. It focuses on several individuals who looked closely at the way that housing prices were rising at a far faster rate than the rise in people incomes would predict, looked closely at the mortgages that were being handed out that enabled people to pay ever-increasing prices for the same homes, and came to the conclusion that the whole system was rotten with no accountability and was destined to crash.
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Film Review: Macbeth (2015)

I had been really looking forward to seeing this film because of the strong reviews it had received, such as this one. Macbeth is my favorite of all the plays of William Shakespeare and because it had excellent actors in Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard in the lead roles, I expected a lot. I tend to like his tragedies and histories a lot more than his comedies and this story is a timeless morality tale of a once-honorable man whose ‘vaulting ambition’ turns him into a ruthless and disturbed monster, egged on by an even more ambitious wife and led astray by deceptive promises of success and invincibility.
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Film review: The Martian (2015)

Although I am not in general a fan of the disaster/survivor genre of films, I enjoyed The Martian though I think that at 2 hours and 20 minutes it was a tad too long. The film deals with a NASA mission to Mars in which the six-member crew finds itself suddenly hit by a massive dust storm that not only seems to have killed one of them (played by Matt Damon) by being impaled by an antenna and buried under dust, but also threatens to wreck their return vehicle.
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A medical show without the gross medical scenes

I don’t watch medical dramas because they dwell too much on what takes place inside the surgical rooms and I am not fond of scenes involving blood and gore, which is why I tend to also avoid US police dramas. So I was interested in this comedy TV series called Save Me by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that apparently deals with the sequence of events that lead up to the 9-1-1 call and not so much after that.
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