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About Me

I love entertainment...

Sex: Female
Language: English
Relationship Status: In a Relationship
Interested In: Men and Women

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Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India


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    Highest Rating

      • 5/5 (2 votes)
      • Pacific Rim Movie Review : Pathetically Grim
        5/5 (2 votes)
        Pacific Rim Movie Review : Pathetically Grim

        Pacific Rim is a Guillermo del Toro film. Let me say that again because it’s little a hard to believe. Pacific Rim is a Guillermo del Toro film. The first time I saw the promo of this film, I said to myself it’s going to be...

      • 5/5 (1 votes)
      • Interstellar
        5/5 (1 votes)

        Nolan’s "Interstellar," about astronauts traveling to the other end of the galaxy to find a new home to
        replace humanity’s despoiled home-world, is frantically busy and earsplittingly
        loud. It uses booming music to jack...

      • San Andreas
        5/5 (1 votes)
        San Andreas

        In a match between a supremely catastrophic California
        earthquake and the former wrestling star turned movie action hero Dwayne
        Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock, aptly enough here I guess, although he’s not thusly
        credited), who are you going to bet...

        • Entertainer

          The Standoff at Sparrow Creek

          By Entertainer
          The first excellent film of 2019 is playing in limited release and on VOD right now in Henry Dunham’s thrilling debut “The Standoff at Sparrow Creek,” a film that really reminded me of ‘80s and ’90s David Mamet in how...
          • Entertainer


            By Entertainer
            Once you get over the icky feeling that making a movie about Brexit in early 2019 is kind of like making a movie about a raging wildfire before it’s been put out, HBO’s “Brexit” is an interesting examination of how we got...
            • Entertainer

              An Acceptable Loss

              By Entertainer
              No war is without a substantial cost that doesn’t deprive individuals or entire nations of certain human qualities. But where exactly does one draw the line, if there is a line to be drawn at all, when determining what a relatively acceptable...
              • Entertainer

                Arrow Releases First Must-Own Blu-ray of the Year in Crimson Peak

                By Entertainer
                Like a beloved piece of literature, Guillermo Del Toro’s “Crimson Peak” is one of those rare films that gets better with each experience of it. It’s a film I find myself drawn to every few months, and probably one I’ve...
                • Entertainer


                  By Entertainer
                  Noomi Rapace is the stoic center of "Close," a down-and-dirty thriller about bodyguard trying to prevent kidnappers from abducting an heiress. From the opening setpiece showing Rapace's character, a private security expert...
                  • Entertainer

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                    “Don’t Come Back from the Moon” murders its central metaphor with extreme prejudice, beating it into the ground until it is no longer recognizable. The gist is that the children of a small California desert town have a saying for when their fathers eventually abandon them: They refer to it as “going to the Moon.” Director Bruce Thierry Cheung cuts to shabby footage of the Moon whenever this terminology is invoked, and many, many times when it is not. Cheung sends the viewer to the Moon so many times that I began to question if Ralph Kramden had written this movie. With every trip, the concept becomes less effective, and since it registered as an empty conceit the first time it was invoked, it becomes an obnoxious tic by the tenth time.

                    Based on a book by Dean Bakopoulos, who also co-scripted with Cheung, “Don’t Come Back From the Moon” follows a young man whose father (James Franco), like so many other dads in the town, has abandoned his family by leaving this dead-end location for good. Franco’s Roman Smalley is onscreen about five minutes, first arguing with his wife Eva (Rashida Jones) about how the town has nothing to offer, then teaching the protagonist how to drive his vintage automobile. In the latter scene, cinematographer Chananun Chotrungroj executes the only worthwhile evocation of paternal desertion we’ll see by shooting Roman repeatedly disappearing behind the clouds of smoke kicked up by the donuts being made in the dirt by his car. Behind the wheel is his son Mickey (Jeffrey Wahlberg), who occasionally narrates the film with extraneous, unnecessary snippets of information.

                    It’s Mickey who repeatedly tells us about Daddies on the Moon, and not once does he make it sound like a place anybody would want to go. Late in his narration, Mickey tells us he imagines his father butt nekkid in a hot tub with beautiful Moon women. I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want to think about is the nude iteration of my Pops. But Mickey’s vision is in tune with the filmmakers’ unwillingness to delve inside the complex notions of fatherhood and whether they can be toxic. It would rather lean on male stereotypes involving fighting and virility. Making matters worse, “Don’t Come Back from the Moon” doesn’t think too highly of its female characters. The camera kind of leers at them, but not enough to be truly salacious. And the story treads dangerously close to the idea that a woman cannot raise a son successfully.

                    For example, Roman’s argument for uprooting his family makes a lot of sense as the town is dying and there’s no incentive to stay. Eva digs in her heels, however, and not once are we privy to her reasoning. Once Roman cruelly abandons Mickey and his younger brother, Kolya (Zackary Arthur) at a gas station (the scene is predictable but still manages to sting), Eva is reduced to drinking, staring at the TV and doing haircuts for the teenaged boys in town, one of whom she makes out with because, with no grown men around, the women in this town start auditioning for “To Catch a Predator”. “With the men gone, we became the men,” says 16-year old Mickey on the soundtrack.

                    Mickey has a bit of a romance with Sonya (Alyssa Elle Steinacker), whose father also went “to the Moon” and whose mother is nowhere to be found. She’s a bit wary about fully succumbing, like some of the guys, to outright paternal hatred. But she adopts the movie’s lunar metaphor, at least until her father suddenly shows up one morning. Without warning, she throws him out of the house. Never mind asking where he’s been or if he’s seen Ryan Gosling’s footprint next to a crater, she just screams “Get out!” Eventually, she discovers that her father went to Nebraska for work, and now that he’s gotten it, he wants her to move there with him. The filmmakers are so in love with their masculine viewpoint that they force Sonya to consider staying in town because she’s sweet on broke ass, aimless Mickey. Since we are not given any information, either in the visuals or in the performances, for the choices most of the characters consider making. It becomes nearly impossible to feel for anyone.

                    This exercise becomes so hollow that it began to feel like a PG-13 rated ABC Afterschool Special directed by Larry Clark. These are his kinds of characters—aimless, destructive and horny. But at least Clark has an eye for composition and would have leaned into this film’s numerous teenage drinking and partying scenes. Dirty old man leering aside, Clark might have made a more honest take on this material, or at the very least, one that appealed to the sense of hopelessness by way of debauchery.

                    But that’s just wishful directorial thinking on my part. “Don’t Come Back from the Moon” is predictable enough for us to assume that one of the male teen characters will ultimately make a run for the Moon himself. And we also know he’ll reject the trip halfway through. But notice the absence of the mother of his child in the scene where he comes back. For a movie that is supposedly about the consequences of absentee fathers, it sure has little of importance to say about the families they desert. The Moon deserves better symbolism.

                    By: Odie Henderson
                    Posted: January 18, 2019, 2:46 pm

                    • Entertainer
                      Entertainer published a blog post Adult Life Skills

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                      At first look, the main character of Rachel Tunnard’s feature debut “Adult Life Skills” has the makings of the quintessential millennial stereotype. Anna is adrift in her own world, works a dead-end menial job, lacks any kind of ambition and has almost no romance in her life. The biggest difference setting Anna apart from becoming a generational trope is that she doesn’t live in the basement of her mother’s home. She lives in a shed in her mom’s backyard.

                      Based on Tunnard’s 2014 short “Emotional Fusebox,” “Adult Life Skills” expands on Anna’s story in ways that don’t always work. However, the situations give Jodie Whittaker, the “Doctor Who” star who plays Anna in both the short and the feature, a chance to act out and act silly. Her performance humanizes the film’s troubled protagonist better than the story.

                      For the first half of the film, “Adult Life Skills” cloyingly hides a significant chunk of backstory from the audience for as long as possible. It’s something that made a profound effect on Anna, but even the other characters talk around what happened until much later in the movie. “Adult Life Skills” builds a guessing game around its quirky lead who likes to make home movies with her thumbs as characters. Are we supposed to laugh at Anna’s childish antics or cry with her?

                      The people in Anna’s life pressure her to grow up and to get out of her shed – a physical shell where she stockpiles all sorts of nostalgic memorabilia from her better days. Around Anna’s 30th birthday, her mother, Marion (Lorraine Ashbourne), pushes her to move out and find a flat. In the middle of this chaotic time, Anna’s old schoolmate, Fiona (Rachael Deering), returns to their small English town for a visit and tries to pull Anna out of her shed-shaped rut. For much of the movie, Anna rebuffs any flirting from Brendan (Brett Goldstein), an awkward realtor incapable of reading social situations. At work on a campground, Anna’s co-worker Alice (Alice Lowe) assigns her to watch over a fussy boy who wears cowboy duds, Clint (Ozzy Myers), so he doesn’t bother everyone else. He’s a bit of a menace, kind of like her, and the two become unlikely kindred spirits in their loneliness.

                      It is in these scenes that Whittaker gets to show some range. Her face bears a semi-permanent state of exhaustion and disbelief that her life is somehow still going on. Her clothes always look rumpled, and her hair hasn’t seen a comb in days. No matter the weather, the setting appears constantly overcast and the ground is never dry. The light behind her looks gloomy, much like her mood. She’s not suffering from millennial ennui but more likely from depression. But the movie holds onto a lighthearted tone, skirting around Anna’s issues.  

                      Whittaker’s performance finds a balance between the tragic and comic scenarios her character experiences. She can hold a serious conversation with a mysterious man in a scuba outfit, cry out when she’s finally overwhelmed by her world, talk candidly with the young boy now constantly invading her space, fight with her dissatisfied mother and reenact existential conversations with her thumbs. There are a few bumps on the way to get to that character, but it feels rewarding to finally meet her.

                      We’ve seen this kind of surprising performance from Whittaker before. With her first movie role in “Venus,” she starred opposite Peter O’Toole as a young woman capable of both cruelty and vulnerability. Now, she’s growing into her role as the Doctor on the long-running BBC sci-fi show, developing the beloved character beyond what her previous 12 (give or take) counterparts have done. Her performance saves “Adult Life Skills” from itself, its distracting backwards soundtrack and Michel Gondry-esque segues. She’s grown up, I just wish this film had as well.

                      By: Monica Castillo
                      Posted: January 18, 2019, 2:46 pm

                      • Entertainer
                        Entertainer published a blog post IO

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                        “IO” has some good and bad news about the Earth. The good news is that all of those in-depth news reports about Earth soon becoming uninhabitable were indeed not wrong. The very bad news is that Mother Nature finally brought out the Raid can on human kind and sent us fleeing the planet to a floating colony outside of Jupiter’s moon, IO. There, humans seek to find a new way to live, rationalizing that our trashing of the Earth was simply inevitable. 

                        Such is the setting for Jonathan Heplet's “IO,” which tells of a young woman back on Earth named Sam (Margaret Qualley). She has not lost hope, using extensive science to see if there is a new way to live on a planet that forces her to walk around the city in an oxygen mask, and casts an eternal smog over the art museum she loves to steal away to. Back at her countryside lair, Sam sends messages back and forth with her lover Elon, who is on the colony and begs her to take one of the few shuttles out of Earth left, which would mean that Sam was accepting that that Earth can no longer sustain human life. In various moody passages, which effectively establish the scope of her isolation and the specific world she's made for herself, we see the life she has sustained, while surrounded by her scientific equations and notebooks. Through a fair share of voiceover, Sam speaks in detail about her progress with different elements and lifeforms, and “IO” loads up on its science jargon as if trying to weed out any Netflix viewers who don’t desire gardening, beekeeping, and Nowak’s evolvability equation to be the primary weapons for a hero’s fight for survival. 

                        Anthony Mackie, playing a man named Micah, arrives on a hot air balloon about 25 minutes into the film. He wants to meet her famous scientist father (Danny Huston), whose voice we hear whenever she plays his tapes as a type of soothing mechanism, or protocol. Feeling less like his own mysterious being than a screenwriting tool, Micah helps hammer home what Sam’s father told her—“Don’t underestimate the power of human connection"—and talks whimsically about the time of "Before." Nonetheless, his arrival comes with suspicious timing: the last Exodus shuttle off of Earth is leaving within a few days, and soon enough he shares that he wants to take her on his balloon with him to the shuttle launch site, at any cost. But she doesn't tell him the truth about her father and he doesn't tell her why he actually is here. 

                        In the passages that follow, “IO” does not grow a remotely compelling story out of the dry seriousness it started with. And as capable as the film’s duo might be, they cannot make their characters’ elusive backstories curious or their pensive gazes magnetic. Qualley and Mackie struggle to find chemistry as two slightly less lonely people in the world, conversing with monotone line-readings while guarding their private denials. They most of all help the movie supplant the notion of having its own interesting ideas by reciting the likes of Yeats, Eliot, and Plato.  

                        However pure its intentions, “IO” is genre minimalism to a fault. It rhetorically asks questions like, “What if the only immediate narrative tension involved getting two people to a launch site?”, “What if these two characters always have secrets from each other?”, and more specifically, “What would it look like if a dystopian film was based on science, and had someone cryptically quoting Yeats through their oxygen mask?” Broad themes like staunch hope, and vital human connection, become cheap sentiments, vanishing into air. “IO” isn’t science fiction storytelling distilled so much as it is vaporized. 

                        By: Nick Allen
                        Posted: January 18, 2019, 2:46 pm

                        • Entertainer
                          Entertainer published a blog post The Last Man

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                          “The Last Man” is a thoroughly unpleasant experience from start to finish, and not even in an artful way. It is relentlessly bleak, smothered in more shades of gray than kinky Christian ever could have conjured and photographed with an oppressive sameness.

                          As a futuristic piece of film noir, Argentinean writer-director Rodrigo H. Vila’s movie is more annoying than profound, and much of that is because of star Hayden Christensen’s overbearing narration. Sure, it’s a genre device, having the hardened anti-hero explain to viewers what he’s thinking and feeling as he navigates a perilous world. But Christensen’s sullen Kurt, a combat veteran suffering from PTSD, offers an inordinate amount of monotonous exposition. And it is so dull – so very, very dull.

                          Brooding behind his bushy lumberjack beard, Kurt struggles to survive in an urban hellscape – a place where, in a mere 30 days, “environmental disasters and a global economic fallout sent everything into chaos,” he explains. However, as he also explains while we see him vomiting into the sink in a dingy bathroom, “Surviving is something I’ve always been pretty good at. But I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”

                          Thankfully, a street preacher named Noe (Harvey Keitel, given one note to play) has a prophecy that the world is going to end soon in the form of an apocalyptic electrical storm. “We are the cancer!” he proclaims, dressed in a cloak and standing on a pedestal, surrounded by graffiti and decaying high-rises under a blanket of ominous clouds. Is he just a wacky conspiracy theorist, or could he actually be onto something?

                          Not wanting to take any chances, Kurt begins building a bunker beneath his cramped, trashed apartment. But he needs money for equipment and supplies, so he takes a job at a shady security firm, where he soon begins an ill-advised romance with the boss’ daughter, Jessica (Liz Solari). The sultry redhead is your standard-issue femme fatale: a beautiful, lonely woman in need of rescue. When Kurt comments on the circular pendant she’s wearing, for example, she answers that she likes circles because they’re hollow and represent how empty she feels. This is the level of snappy repartee you can expect from “The Last Man.” Even the sex scene is boring.

                          But Kurt has another companion in Johnny (Justin Kelly), the best friend he lost in horrific fashion during the war, who has returned in ghost form to function as Kurt’s sounding board and an uncomfortable source of comic relief. (The ordinarily charismatic Omari Hardwick was stuck performing in a similar capacity in the recent drama “Sgt. Will Gardner.”) As if it weren’t bad enough that he’s dead and trapped wandering this dystopian wasteland, Johnny is also saddled with clunky monologues to explain more stuff to us, including Kurt’s backstory. It is not the most elegant screenplay.

                          Still, even when the tale takes a bit of a turn in terms of location and lighting – and makes us wonder whether all of this is a hallucination or perhaps the result of some intriguing twist – it remains a drag tonally. Christensen’s repetitive narration continues banging us over the head with obvious observations, spelling out what we can see for ourselves.

                          “Darkness lurks everywhere.” Yes. Yes, it does.

                          “I feel like the end is nearly upon us.” If only – there was still about an hour left at this point.

                          “It just feels like the same fire and blood and death.” Wait a minute, how does he know what I’m thinking? Maybe these characters do have psychic abilities after all.

                          By: Christy Lemire
                          Posted: January 18, 2019, 2:46 pm

                          • Entertainer
                            Entertainer published a blog post Fyre

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                            “He was unflappable but he was also entirely delusional.” This statement during the jaw-dropping “Fyre,” a new Netflix documentary about the disastrous 2017 Fyre Festival (and an interesting partner with the also-new Hulu documentary “Fyre Fraud”) really gets at the core of who Billy McFarland was during this entire crash-and-burn nightmare. There’s something to be said for people who forge on, pushing past adversity and jumping the hurdles placed in front of them by life. However, realism is also a virtue, and McFarland kept forging until he left literally hundreds of people in his wake, conning investors, getting free labor, and ultimately going to jail for his crimes. He is a modern Jordan Belfort, the criminal played by Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street”—the kind of person whose story is too fascinating to ignore but also heartbreaking when you consider all the great pain he’s caused. Chris Smith’s “Fyre” deftly understands this, never turning into the millennial schadenfreude it easily could have become.

                            First, a brief history. Billy McFarland was always a con man—it really just took the Fyre Festival to expose it. Before then, he developed a credit card company called Magnises, which promised discounts and exclusive access that it rarely provided. He was working on a project that actually might have worked called Fyre, which would alleviate some of the issues with booking high-end talent. Want Ja Rule to play your event? You don’t have to dig for contacts, you just go to Fyre and get a quote. While developing Fyre, McFarland got it in his head that he wanted to throw a massive party on an island in the Bahamas that was once owned by Pablo Escobar. Before even a minute of planning the actual event was undertaken, McFarland and his mates went down to the Caribbean and shot a promo video, complete with supermodels like Emily Ratajkowski and Bella Hadid cavorting in the sand in their bikinis. Come to Fyre Festival and party with supermodels on yachts while you listen to major DJs and other artists! The buzz became deafening when McFarland and his team convinced major influencers to tweet just an orange block, promising them villas at the actual event…which no one really had done any planning for at all. It's tempting to say that things went "predictably wrong" but they went wrong in unpredictable ways too.

                            “Fyre” is a document of a disaster, speaking to a number of the key players behind the scenes, although never McFarland himself (he is a part of “Fyre Fraud,” and this great piece by Scott Tobias details the controversy there). Instead we get a view of the naked emperor from his many, many servants and it’s incredibly damning to say the least. As people around him scrambled to put together a music festival that could never really happen in a matter of months, McFarland’s blind refusal to admit that it was going to be a disaster just amplified the inevitable pain. Nearly every interview in “Fyre” produces another WTF revelation from the gentleman who was asked to perform a sexual favor to get the water bottles needed to keep people hydrated through customs to the Fyre employees ordered to put money on wristbands that would ostensibly be used at the festival but were clearly offsetting rising costs. Billy McFarland bilked everyone he laid eyes on, even the people who were most loyal to him. 

                            Having said that, what’s notable about “Fyre,” and perhaps makes it an interesting counterpoint to “Fyre Fraud,” which I have not yet seen, is that it’s not Billy’s face that I remember. It’s that of a woman who runs a restaurant near where this entire clusterf**k went down in the Bahamas. As the chaos mounted, and people started to show up, she worked and worked, bringing employees in and forcing them to take all-night shifts in an effort to do something to keep people happy. And Billy left her high and dry, not paying her or her employees. I think about her tearful face and I’m fascinated by the ripple effect of models cavorting on a beach to this hard-working woman being taken advantage of. One doesn’t happen without the other. “Fyre” is a story of shallow excess—how we’re in an era in which how something looks is more important than what it actually is—but it’s also a reminder that everything still has a cost. 

                            By: Brian Tallerico
                            Posted: January 18, 2019, 2:47 pm

                            • Entertainer
                              Entertainer published a blog post Close

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                              Noomi Rapace is the stoic center of "Close," a down-and-dirty thriller about bodyguard trying to prevent kidnappers from abducting an heiress. From the opening setpiece showing Rapace's character, a private security expert named Sam, protecting journalists against rifle-wielding soldiers, to its many scenes of the character thwarting would-be killers with guns, fists, feet, and the knife strapped to her boot, it's clear that cowriter-director Vicky Jewson has conceived this project in the spirit of a no-nonsense, female-led bone-cruncher like "Haywire" or "Atomic Blonde"—movies whose heroines would drive cross-country alongside an crusty old Clint Eastwood character without a word passing between them, then tell friends it was the best vacation they ever had. 

                              And then the movie decides to "humanize" her in the most obvious way possible, and suddenly it becomes less special. You'll know the moment when you see it. It doesn't merely answer a question you never would have asked in a film about a similarly strong-silent male character; it lifts the veil of mystery that made Sam so fascinating. There's nothing fresh about the story, which is essentially "Man on Fire" remade as "Woman on Fire." But there almost never is in action pictures. The genre is mainly about the director's visual style, the fights and stunts, and the performers' attitudes. "Close" is strong on all counts, until it seems to lose its nerve and decides to explain a character who—as written by Jewson and Rupert Whitaker, and as performed by Rapace—was more compelling when the film let her be a lethal question mark. 

                              Despite that strategic misstep, this is a tight, tough film that gets right into the thriller part of the story and somehow manages to feel plausible even when Sam is mowing down foe after foe. The filmmaking splits the difference between Jason Bourne-style Cuisinart editing and the kind of lean stillness that you'll find in a fat-free Yakuza thriller like "Sonatine"—the kind where violence seems to erupt out of nowhere, and the hero survives by keeping his cool even as he's maiming and killing and setting things on fire.   director and her cinematographer, Malte Rosenfeld, see the geographical beauty in the landscapes that Sam and Zoe pass through, but they never linger on it. This choice feels right for a movie about a woman who enters each new space wondering where the exits are, and noting which ordinary household objects could be used as weapons. 

                              From the minute the opening sequence ends and the film whisks us back to the first meeting between Sam and her client Zoe (Sophie Nelisse), Rapace holds the screen simply by appearing on it. This actress is no stranger to intensely physical roles; this is clearly one of the most demanding, but neither Rapace nor the movie make the character's prowess seem like anything other than the byproduct of good training and discipline. Sam is loosely based on bodyguard Jacquie Davis, whose high-profile clients include Nicole Kidman, J.K. Rowling, and the British royal family. Davis is an expert in surveillance and rescue operations, skills that come into play here, along with the ability to stab a man with your right hand while using your left to blind a second man with wasp spray.

                              When Sam starts guarding Zoe, she still has multiple, freshly-healed cuts on her face from the opening firefight, a touch that speaks to both the movie's (and the actress's) disinterest in glamour. The script deftly defines her relationship with the teenager, a spoiled and depressed Paris Hilton-esque rich girl. She's still mourning the sudden death of her father, the CEO of the Hassine Mining Company, and hating her stepmother (Indira Varma), whose family started the company. Nobody around Zoe seems happy that she's suddenly become the majority stockholder in the company at a time when a Chinese rival was looking to merge with them. Situations like that tend to get resolved in stories like this via kidnapping, perhaps murder. 

                              "You're not my mom," Zoe exclaims early in the movie, after Sam physically intervenes to prevent her from going home with a handsome young man grinding with her on a dance floor. Of course, by the end Sam kind of is her mom—that's how films like this work, and it's how we usually want them to work—but it's all about how you get there. "Close" is aces when it's watching its star move through the world, silently checking everyone and everything out, hiding her mental math until it's time to kill some dudes. The action is frenzied but comprehensible, brutal but not wantonly sadistic. It loses a little something when it decides to explain her, but the character and the performance remain fascinating, and the bones never stop snapping. 

                              By: Matt Zoller Seitz
                              Posted: January 18, 2019, 2:47 pm

                              • Entertainer
                                Entertainer published a blog post An Acceptable Loss

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                                No war is without a substantial cost that doesn’t deprive individuals or entire nations of certain human qualities. But where exactly does one draw the line, if there is a line to be drawn at all, when determining what a relatively acceptable course of wartime action would look like? While hardly original, this is now and always will be a worthy inquiry for artists to make, especially amid the perpetual moral reckonings of the post-9/11 world. Joe Chappelle’s new political thriller, along with a title that spells out its intentions, is grounded in one such ethical dilemma—of a woman in governmental power, who has remorsefully signed off on a massive tragedy. It’s a gigantic topic, which the writer-director regrettably engages with through the most basic of means. While Chappelle neatly outlines the tragic events caused by his spiritually bruised protagonist, it’s hard to stay engaged with his philosophical query that divides arguments into distinct rights and wrongs early on, and only asks shallow questions.

                                We meet Elizabeth “Libby” Lamm (Tika Sumpter) when she takes over a teaching post at a Chicago-based college, while in the midst of a worldwide controversy. She is greeted by protests, silent, suggestive looks from onlookers and anxious colleagues hesitant to as much as shake her hand at first. Through methodically parsed flashbacks, “An Acceptable Loss” slowly unravels the scope of her dark secret—a former high-ranking government official in charge of national security advisory, Libby had approved a devastating military action in the Middle East that took the lives of nearly hundred and fifty thousand civilians, including children. She sleeps with a gun, doesn’t use a phone or email address (a most implausible detail) and is often confronted by random strangers, who helpfully remind her the consequences of her actions in various heavy-handed and overacted scenes. Meanwhile Martin (Ben Tavassoli), a political science graduate student, pursues Libby for unknown reasons, as Libby plans to expose the dirty truths of the coldblooded politician Rachel Burke (Jamie Lee Curtis), who masterminded the ruinous raid that was supposed bring an end to the war on terrorism.

                                Curtis and Sumpter (who is remarkable in the heartwarming “Southside With You” as Michelle Robinson on her first date with the young Barack Obama) are unsurprisingly the film’s most striking assets. Sadly, they seem overpowered by an overtly stern-faced story that feels more dutiful and obvious than thrilling and inquisitive. Chappelle’s script falls short on intricately building Libby’s inner trauma to make it relatable. As for Rachel, there is little that develops her character’s political villainy. Involved parties constantly fire off ideas on Americanism, the totality of the war on terror, the cost of safety, and so on, and yet, none of the prescriptively preachy text sticks a landing.

                                In sketching out his characters to examine human conscience and guilt through irreversible political decisions, Chappelle was reportedly inspired by two acclaimed political documentaries by the great Errol Morris: “The Fog of War" and “The Unknown Known.” His Libby and Rachel were apparently written with Robert McNamara and Donald Rumsfeld in mind, as these two key figures internally dealt with the aftermath of their wartime actions quite differently from each other. In that, Chappelle deserves acknowledgment for imagining females in these key roles. Except, he misses a big opportunity to investigate their impulses in a pre-dominantly male and in Libby’s case, white world. Throughout its numerous shouting duels among fictionalized political figures and dull cat-and-mouse scenes between characters driven by vague personal motives, there is startlingly little depth to be found in “An Acceptable Loss,” which feels gripping only if you compare it to a random couple of hours of C-SPAN.

                                By: Tomris Laffly
                                Posted: January 18, 2019, 2:48 pm

                                • Entertainer
                                  Entertainer published a blog post Brexit

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                                  Once you get over the icky feeling that making a movie about Brexit in early 2019 is kind of like making a movie about a raging wildfire before it’s been put out, HBO’s “Brexit” is an interesting examination of how we got here. How was a nation of people convinced that doing something as drastic as leaving the EU was in their best interests? Employing the same kind of quick-cut, explanatory style that Adam McKay uses in films like “The Big Short” and “Vice,” Toby Haynes centers the story of Brexit on the big brain of Dominic Cummings, played with clever aplomb by one of the kings of clever aplomb, Benedict Cumberbatch. Bringing a heavy dose of his Sherlock character to this behind-the-scenes mastermind of the Vote Leave campaign, Cumberbatch portrays Cummings as something of a political anarchist, someone who wanted to hack the political system and see what would come out of the chaos. And viewers are likely to draw the line between the way he weaponized fear and racism to the 2016 U.S. election of Donald Trump before the movie literally does so itself.

                                  With its editing style and to-camera narration, “Brexit” speeds through the tactics of the Vote Leave and Remain campaigns, the former headed by Cummings and the latter by Craig Oliver (an excellent Rory Kinnear), the director of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron. The film sticks to the timeline of summer 2015 to summer 2016 as Cummings assembled his team and strategies, striking true oil when he realized that changing technology could allow him to access the disenfranchised through social media in ways that had never even been attempted before. This wasn’t just targeted advertising, it was data mining (Cambridge Analytica plays a role), and Cummings used that data to come up with a campaign that played on people’s fears while promising them a better future. The Vote Leave slogan—“Take Back Control”—implied that leaving the EU wasn’t a drastic change but a reversion to a better time. Discuss how that slogan worked in a similar way to “Make America Great Again” among yourselves.

                                  What “Brexit” deftly captures is how Cummings sensed a growing majority of disappointment in his own country before the opposition knew how to bring those people back to their side. The script by James Graham literally compares it to oil pockets of energy just waiting to be released—the energy of people who felt like they didn’t have control over their own lives and that leaving the EU would return that lost control to them. There’s a phenomenal focus group scene in which a woman who supports Leave is accused of racism and she breaks down over how she feels like she literally has nothing left to lose. The idea that people can become so disenfranchised in their lives that they support anything that might shake it up has led political revolutions for decades, but people like Cummings and Trump found new ways to use modern technology and rhetoric to galvanize these people into action.

                                  Despite all the things that work about “Brexit,” there is sometimes the sense that this is a story half-told. With the Brexit drama still unfolding, one wonders if they shouldn’t have waited a year or two to discern how upcoming developments were influenced by what Cummings accomplished back in 2016. Historical dramas typically work better with a little more distance from the history they're dramatizing. 

                                  And there are times when the McKay-esque style works against “Brexit,” making it feel flashier than it needed to be. I found “Brexit” most interesting in its calmer beats such as the aforementioned focus group scene and a great one late in the film as Cummings and Oliver get a drink and hash out how their country got here. It’s a complex moment in which Cummings persuasively argues that the powers that be that Oliver represents didn’t understand their own constituents and basically took them for granted. Whatever comes of Brexit and Trump, not taking entire groups of people’s needs and worries for granted is a mistake that politicians are unlikely to make as easily in the future. We can hope. 

                                  By: Brian Tallerico
                                  Posted: January 18, 2019, 2:48 pm


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