Film review: All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone (2016)

I recently watched this documentary that takes the first part of its title from the credo of legendary investigative journalist I. F. (“Izzy”) Stone (1907-1989) that every journalist should take to heart. Stone said that all governments lie all the time. He said that while governments sometimes told the truth, the burden was on them to prove that to you. The documentary discusses how following that belief made Stone one of the most influential journalists of his time and the inspiration for some of the best journalists who came after him. Although he started out working for newspapers and magazines, he is best remembered for the period from 1953 to 1971 during which he published his own newsletter I. F. Stone’s Weekly out of his home, with his wife as his business manager. The newsletter was considered a must-read by fellow journalists and by anyone interested in serious news. Marilyn Monroe (who in real life was not at all like the ditzy blonde of her film image) reportedly bought subscriptions for every member of Congress.
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Film review: Chasing Coral (2017)

I recently watched the above documentary that dealt with how the warming of the oceans is killing off the coral reefs all over the world. The filmmakers developed time-lapse cameras that they could place on the ocean floor to show how when temperatures rise even slightly, first the reefs get bleached white and then develop brown fibrous attachments all over them, giving them the look of ghostly apparitions. They focus a lot on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
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Review: Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich (2020)

I watched this four-part mini-series about Jeffrey Epstein. I thought that I knew the Epstein story pretty well but this series was an eye-opener mainly because it gave a voice to the many young girls who were abused and trafficked by Epstein. The number of such girls was astounding, way beyond what I had thought. Their description of how he groomed them and then took advantage of them were so disgusting that at the end of each one-hour episode, I actually felt dirty and had to watch some other show just to partially cleanse my mind.
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How big name companies aid and abet global corruption

The fascinating Netflix series Dirty Money explores the world of high-level corruption. I discussed in an earlier post an episode of season 2 of the show about how Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is a slumlord who preys on poor and vulnerable people. The show also examines how drug cartels launder their money. When it comes to laundering drug money the problem is always how to convert large amounts of cash in small currency bills collected on the streets into deposits in bank accounts without the authorities being alerted, where the money can be more easily transferred around the globe.
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Get Fuzzy is a funny cartoon strip that takes place in an apartment occupied by a loner Rob, his lovable but dimwitted and gullible dog Satchel, and a sociopathic cat Bucky who loves to torment and exploit Satchel and who often has his weird cat friends over.

I have not seen either the stage production or the film version of the musical Cats but know enough to decide that it is not to my taste and also appreciate the humor of this recent strip.

(Get Fuzzy)

Here is an actual performance of the song from the 1998 stage production.

The double reversals of Jane Roe

The landmark US Supreme Court decision that in 1973 legalized abortion in the US is Roe v. Wade where ‘Jane Roe’ was the pseudonym given to the woman who brought the case who feared using her real name given the highly charged nature of the case and the violence that was, and still is, directed against women who seek abortions, abortion providers, and supporters by anti-choice zealots. Over time, Roe’s name was revealed to be Norma McCorvey and she later created a sensation said in the mid-1990s when she said that she had become a born-again Christian and an anti-gay, anti-abortion activist. (She had been a lesbian for almost all her life.) This was treated as a tremendous coup by the Christian right who would parade her before any media microphone and indeed anyone who would listen.

But in a new documentary AKA Jane Roe made by the TV channel FX that is due to be released tomorrow, in interviews just before she died in 2017, McCorvey confesses that her religious conversion and change in attitudes was all a sham. She said that she was broke and homeless and that she was given a lot of money by the religious right to entice her to do what she did.
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Fred Willard (1933-2020)

Fred Willard who died yesterday was one of those actors you see all over the place in comedies. He was always in supporting roles, never the star, and sometimes those roles were just cameos. There was something intrinsically funny about him, a kind of appealing goofiness without being slapstick, combined with an ‘aw, shucks’ obliviousness that always made me smile whenever he appeared on the screen. He had a vast number of film and TV credits to his name and the chances are that even if his name did not register in your consciousness, you have seen him. I just learned that he was born in Shaker Heights, OH the town I lived in for thirty years.
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TV mini-series review: Unorthodox (2020)

Netflix has just released this four-part mini-series based on a memoir by Deborah Feldman about how and why she left the world of Hasidic Orthodox Judaism, though as is usually the case with film adaptations, the story has been changed in several ways. The film is about a very young woman Esther (known as Esty), who is a member of the Yiddish-speaking Satmar community that lives in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. As is the custom in the ultra-Orthodox community, she has an arranged marriage to a very young man. The expectation in such marriages is that the woman will start having babies immediately, as many as she can.
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