Mudbound–Mired in the Mississippi Delta

 

Mudbound the movie

Set in the Deep South in1939 and then fast-forwarding to World War II, Mudbound is an epic of two families–one white (McAllan) and one black (Jackson)–who are severely constrained by the Jim Crow laws and customs in Alabama. The two McAllan brothers, Henry and Jamie, epitomize Cain and Abel. The Jacksons are sharecroppers bravely facing the disconnect between their dreams and the dangerous obstacles set before them.

Mudbounds main plot focuses on Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedland) and Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell), decorated war heroes who, upon returning, are misfits in their hometown. As their friendship grows tighter, so do the menacing threats surrounding them. One subplot moves into sibling rivalry between Jamie and his brother; another into Henry’s brutal and defeated temperament, which affects his marriage to Laura (Carrie Mulligan).

Mudbound challenges our concepts of friendship, family, and marriage. Sometimes the story is predictable, even clichéd. There are also difficult scenes to watch. Yet, the retelling of this story is crucial, lest we forget. The military, out of necessity, gave responsibility to both black and white soldiers, albeit in segregated troops. It is the “welcome home” racism that is portrayed in all its hypocrisy and disrespect for heroes of color. ln addition, the French and Belgian openness in attitude and behavior towards black soldiers are in stark contrast to what Ronsel Jackson has to face in Alabama.

A history to remember, Mudbound showcases superb acting from an ensemble cast of up-and-coming actors who engage us enough that we can overlook a script that should have been better. In an unexpected scene-stealing performance, Mary J. Blige, the queen of hip-hop and soul, is virtually unrecognizable, as Florence Jackson. She gives as much soul to her subtle, heart-wrenching performance as the best, more experienced actresses.   A Netflix Original, this new addition to the genre focused on racial inequality deserves to be watched by all interested in history and family saga.

The Florida Project: Finding the Magic Kingdom

 

The Florida Project

[Another great review by guest blogger:  Bill Clark,  award-winning photographer, printmaker, writer, political activist and proud grandfather of four wonderful grandchildren. See his first review: “Faces Places–A Journey of the Heart”, October 23, 2017]

My six-year-old granddaughter’s first e-mail complained that her older brother was telling everyone her “sekrids.” I wondered what kind of secrets a loved, well-cared for and healthy child could have. After viewing The Florida Project I now know secrets a child may have who lives in poverty near Orlando, Florida and Disney’s Magic Kingdom. The Florida Project is sad, funny, happy, heart-breaking and most of all, unforgettable.

Director Sean Baker deftly reveals the hidden world of six-year-old Moonee, the only child of her free-spirited single mom, Halley.   They live in an extended-stay motel, the Magic Castle Inn, targeting low-income families.

Moonee (brilliantly played by Brooklynn Kimberly Prince) leads her pals Scooty (Christopher Rivera) and Jancey (Valerie Cotto) through a series of adventures over the course of a summer – no summer camps for them. For example, they manage to cage money in front of a soft-serve ice cream joint so the three can share one ice cream cone. They thread their way through the garish souvenir stores that line strip malls along Seven Dwarfs Way until Moonee brings them to a pasture where cattle are grazing. “See! I brought you on a safari.”

Moonee takes her friend to a gigantic fallen cypress. Straddling the huge limbs, Moonee tells her friend a secret. “This is my favorite tree because it’s tipped over but keeps on growing.” This may be Moonee’s life.

Episodic without a traditional narrative arc, The Florida Project tracks the children from scene to scene demonstrating their resilience, independence, boredom and, occasionally, petty crimes. Moonee’s mother, Halley (a breakout performance by Bria Vinaite), loves Moonee, but unable to hold a job or manage her anger, Halley ultimately fails her young daughter.

Veteran actor Willem Dafoe plays Bobby, manager of the motel, who does his best to protect Moonee, and all the other impoverished residents. More the kindly innkeeper than harsh rule enforcer, Bobby desires to make the residents’ lives better, or at least bearable, as they live in abject poverty.

A beautiful ending sums up The Florida Project–an ending I won’t disclose.

 

 

“The Salt of the Earth” (2014) –Drawing with Light

Salgado's Iguana Hand
Iguana Marina

Sebastiao Salgado, the renowned Brazilian sociopolitical photographer,  is the subject of this emotionally harrowing documentary. The viewer witnesses photographs of heartbreaking gravity and human agony, both unprecedented and breathtaking. The 2014 Academy Award nominated The Salt of the Earth reveals Salgado’s masterpieces of portraiture, political journalism, landscape, and animals in a way that evokes strong feelings. A display of Ansel Adams this is not!

Perhaps the most startling experience in watching The Salt of the Earth is the beauty that is embedded in the tragic and cruel situations of his subjects. Here we see the evidence of his emotional response to what he photographs and frame by frame, in mostly black and white photos. Each black and white photograph is a meditation, not a representation and Salgado is keenly aware of this as he narrates each photographic series: “Workers”, “Exodus”, “Genesis”, and others.

The majority of The Salt of the Earth is extremely painful to watch–a testimony to violence, genocide, and holocausts beyond even the most grotesque of imaginations. Deeply affecting, this documentary visualizes the inhumane, abject conditions that much of the world’s population, particularly women and children, endure. The Salt of the Earth is a must-see. Courageous and compassionate, Salgado explains his photographs in elegant poetic form: “Our history is a history of wars. It’s an endless story, a tale of madness.” With soulful voice and unbelievably sad eyes, he is unflinching in reporting on the ugliness of human existence but also the beauty of those struggling to survive. The underbelly of human behavior is powerfully depicted, mostly in stark monochromatic photos, with the support of the extraordinary director Wim Wenders (of “Buena Vista Social Club” and “End of Violence” fame).

Blind Woman of Mali
Blind Woman of Mali

Anyone watching The Salt of the Earth will wonder how Salgado survived the horrors of what he witnessed,– the heart of darkness,– with his soul intact. “We humans are terrible animals” he says at one point. He himself confesses there were times when all he did was sob throughout the night. Photographing war and genocide may have brought Salgado to the edge of despair and insanity, but recently his projects have been redirected to renewing and restoring the planet.

Salgado is a living testimony to how art can be witness to truth.  His photographs and experience, his “drawings in light”, The Salt of the Earth is unforgettable. You cannot but be moved by this film!

Note:  Available on Netflix

 

Carmel Bach Festival–The Joy of Music

Carmel Bach Festival 2017 program

Now celebrating its 80th anniversary, the world-renowned Carmel Bach Festival has just begun its summer season! If you are in the Carmel, California area sometime between July 9th and July 29th, stop by and experience the exuberant classical and contemporary music masterpieces being featured.

A touchstone of music in scenic Monterey and Carmel, this world-class music festival offers more than 25 chamber concerts, traditional chorale recitals, and full orchestraI programs. Some of the Carmel Bach Festival concerts are free, often accompanied by lectures by the Art Director and Principal Conductor. Open rehearsals and workshops for emerging musicians are educational and thoroughly enjoyable too.

I was fortunate to listen to one of the first pre-festival concerts so far this season at the beautiful Carmel Presbyterian Church. The Circle of Strings Quartet–featuring the violin virtuoso Emlyn Ngai as well as three other exceptional chamber musicians–played two 18th century pieces (by Beethoven and J.S. Bach) as well as 20th century compositions by Reinhold Gliere, Samuel Barber, and Philip Glass. Ranging from soothing, calming and undulating movements to a humorous duet and then to the passionate and poignant finale by Barber, the five selections managed to be a microcosm of the evolution of music from its baroque days to the masterful works by Philip Glass (who celebrates his 80th birthday this summer too).

The Carmel Bach Festival is held in a wide-ranging selection of venues throughout the town as well. Some concerts are held outside on the patio under the Clock Tower of the Carmel Sunset Center (the city’s performing arts center) while others are held in beautiful churches in the community (including the Church in the Forest in Pebble Beach) and the historic Carmel Mission. Candlelight concerts are particularly enthralling as the audience imagines a Mozart quintet or a baroque piece in its original lighting of the period.

And as an additional attraction for art lovers, there is an art auction raffle of miniatures by local artists as a fundraiser for the festival. This year’s theme is The Joy of Music to celebrate the cultural and musical vitality in our community. Plan to visit either this summer or next–the Carmel Bach Festival always is scheduled in the month of July.

Carmel Bach Festival Art Raffle
My “Jellyfish” print for Art Raffle

Enjoy!

Note: For tickets and more information call 624-1521 or visit www.bachfestival.org Remember, there are many free events at this festival, including music, lectures and special events. Whatever your budget, you can enjoy this marvelous event!

 

“Dear Evan Hansen”–A Note to Loneliness

 

“Dear Evan Hansen” is “13 Reasons Why” meets “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” This original Broadway musical premiered this year and has received critical acclaim. At the upcoming 71st Tony Awards (this Sunday, June 11), “Dear Evan Hansen” is nominated for nine awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book of a Musical, and Best Actor in a Musical.

The title character, Evan Hansen, is a shy teenager almost incapacitated by some sort of cognitive or  social anxiety disorder.   Assigned by his therapist to draft letters about why each day will be good, one letter becomes the catalyst for the plot of the story. This letter was never meant to be shared, a lie that was only meant to be seen by the therapist. But for Evan a life he never dreamed happens as the letter’s impact unintentionally gains momentum and opens a portal for a chance to finally fit in. With unintended consequences, Evan Hansen’s letter reshapes events of a fellow student’s (Connor Murphy) suicide, resulting in both Hansen’s mom and Connor’s family experiencing heart-piercing grief. There is no justification for those left behind by a suicide and Connor’s death threatens the very existence of his family.

Deeply personal and profoundly contemporary, Dear Evan Hansen is about social media’s ability to unintentionally magnify “little lies” until they take on a life of their own. At that point there is no easy way out. As the lonely protagonist, Evan Hansen desperately wants to connect, even in cyberspace, but remains in an emotional abyss.   It’s also about how we project ourselves in our world, both physical and digital–but it’s not the “real you.” Our vanity metrics of “likes” become addictive and the dependency continues its hold on us.

The memorably soulful and emotionally resonant songs, by composers Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, based on a story from Pasek’s adolescence, strike the same complex notes that expose the tensions and conflicts of Evan Hansen.  The breathtaking stage design simulates social media’s continuous flashing and lightng, with computer screens in long hangings cascading behind and next to the performers on stage, reminiscent of the imaginative and Tony-award winning design for “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”.

“Dear Evan Hansen” is unforgettable, operatically emotional theater that should become a national sensation.

 

“A Royal Affair”

A Royal Affair
A Royal Affair

A Royal Affair, a 2012 historical Danish film based on a true story, is a surprisingly delicious introduction to court intrigue in 18th century Denmark. Starring Mads Mikkelsen (“Doctor Strange”, “The Hunt”), Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl”, “Ex Machina”) and Mikkel Følsgaard, A Royal Affair was nominated for both the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film.

A Royal Affair centers on a delicate balancing act involving the young mad King Christian VII (an astonishing Følsgaard), the royal physician Struensee (Mikkelsen) and the young beautiful, highly educated Queen Caroline Mathilda (Vikander). Part forbidden romance between the queen and Struensee and part bromance between the mad king and his devotion to Struensee, this gripping tale changes the course of Danish history.

Soon after the royal marriage, Queen Caroline Mathilda realizes that her passion for the arts will be quashed, as many of her favorite books–some involving revolutionary political ideas–are banned by the state. Moreover, King Christian VII suffers from severe mental illness and is horrifying in his brutality, resulting in a deeply unhappy marriage for both of them.

When the German doctor Johann Struensee is recruited to be the mad king’s personal physician, he is soon the king’s confidant. The Danish Council takes advantage of King Christian’s disabling mental illness, ruling by fiat to serve their own interests against the welfare of the general populace. Struensee quietly begins advising the king, writing speeches which advocate his own progressive views based on Rousseau. Several reforms are passed but Struensee has alienated the aristocracy and threatens their wealth. The King, on the other hand, is soothed and becomes a more gentle and engaged human being with Struensee’s encouragement and support.

The Queen and Struensee fall in love and begin an affair, while Struensee simultaneously continues to become closer to the King and is given the title of Royal Advisor. Ultimately rendered de facto leader of Denmark, Struensee abolishes censorship and torture, and reduces the serfdom and peonage inherent in the the aristocratic system of property Heartbroken by the secret life he leads as both the queen’s lover and the king’s confidant, Struensee straddles between the two: an impossible mix of allegiances.

A Royal Affair is an Oscar-worthy production with beautiful recreation of scenes and costumes, impeccable acting, and an original plot revolving around the machinations of power, a mad king, a depressed queen, and an idealistic and revolutionary physician who fails in his attempts to heal all wounds.

This Danish film is a cinematic treasure not to be missed.

Note: Available on Netflix as a DVD.

 

“Black Mirror (Season 3): Hacking and Hijacking

 

Episode: "Nosedive"
Episode: “Nosedive”

The third season of “Black Mirror” deftly picks up where Netflix left us at the end of season two (see my December 29, 2014 review of previous seasons) exploring themes of techno-paranoia, the ugly side of social media and its lack of consequences. Technophobia thrives!

Like the prior seasons, this season’s six episodes of “Black Mirror” involve at least one unwitting main character who is controlled by devices or inventions that are supposed either to enhance the quality of life or be a source of entertainment.   Personal freedom is threatened instead. Each episode tackles some form of hacking and hijacking.

The first episode, “Nosedive,” explores the obsession with smartphones. Personal lives become shattered by low star ratings and swiping left, with the ensuing online shaming leading to tragedy.

“Play Test,” reveals what happens to a world traveler who stumbles into a genuinely terrifying video game that is more real than virtual.

In “Shut Up and Dance,” an unseen hacker gains access to a teenager’s webcam and blackmails him. The anonymous hacker blackmails each subsequent victim to engage in criminal acts. Those who saw “Snowden” and now “Shut Up and Dance” will think more seriously about covering their webcam lens with a post-it!

The fourth “Hated in the Nation” is a bit like the classic, “Manchurian Candidate”. An investigator soon sees how murders advocated on Twitter with the hashtag #DeathTo, intersect with the decimation of the bee population.  Use of #DeathTo actually grows rapidly in popularity after users learn that the Twitter “game” is real and actually used to identify people who become public hate figures.

“Men Against Fire” is not your usual mini–war movie. To avoid PTSD after killing enemy combatants, the military embeds electronic implants into soldiers’ brains to dehumanize the enemy and avoid PTSD.

“San Junipero,” is a romantic encounter between two women who time-travel to unexpected places, some real and some virtual. They can choose to live as their younger selves forever, resonating a bit with the movie “Sixth Sense”.

Watching each episode of “Black Mirror” is like falling into a rabbit hole, where the world of the Cheshire Cat is ominous and not only a figment of the imagination. “Black Mirror” poses the question: Do our smart screens prevent us from authentic relationships and a shared reality within a wider community? Or have our moral boundaries been erased by the often tantalizing and addicting worlds our Wi-Fi connections make so real and so easy to pursue?

All six episodes are evocative and open a portal to seeing if our minds can be hacked and hijacked. Choose your own favorite episodes and post your preferences here!

Note: The episode “White Christmas” from the end of last season is quite a somber Christmas to say the least. Starring Jon Hamm (of “Mad Men” fame), I loved this one!

“The Crown”–Glory to Her Highness

the-crownThe anachronistic British aristocracy must sensitively negotiate its relationship with its public. “The Crown”, the November original series released from Netflix, is the story of a conflict between private and public, between the personal feelings of a wife, mother, and sister and the queen (Elizabeth II).

At its core “The Crown” is a character study and a family drama. Do you put personal fulfillment over political duty and obligation? That is the question. “The Crown” is a family saga, particularly between sisters. Conflicts with personal fulfillment and romantic love hide behind a curtain of pomp and circumstance. We are allowed behind palace doors to witness a struggle of personalities.

Elizabeth’s drama begins with the abdication of Edward VIII in 1936, which forces his reluctant younger brother George VI to ascend to the throne. His oldest daughter, Elizabeth (in a remarkable performance by Claire Foy from “Wolf Hall”), is a witness to all the regal drama. With the death of King George VI, Elizabeth must suddenly transform from a loving sibling and shy young wife and mother into a queen.

And at the moment of her father’s death, it becomes clear that Elizabeth — unlike her tearful mother and sister — is able to suppress her desires and emotions in order to assume the throne.

Perhaps the most compelling drama in “The Crown”, however, is the conflict between sisters. Her younger and more glamorous sister, Margaret, asks for permission to marry a recently divorced officer whose ex-wife is still living. This love affair, ironically, is similar in circumstances to that of her uncle (King Edward VIII) who was compelled to abdicate the throne for marriage to a divorced woman (Wallace Simpson). At that time remarriage under those circumstances was strictly forbidden by the Anglican Church. First promising to stand by her sister, Elizabeth is compelled by those in power to recant as she chooses duty as queen and defender of the Anglican Church over her love for her sister.

The popularity of “Downton Abbey” reveals an American fascination with the British royal family and aristocracy. Why is the monarchy this crucial to the nation? Queen Mary (played by Eileen Atkins), the grandmother of Elizabeth, reminds her granddaughter: “Monarchy is God’s sacred mission to grace and dignify the earth, to give ordinary people an ideal to strive towards, an example of nobility and duty to raise them in their wretched lives.”

A superb family saga with the machinations of politics as its undercurrent!

Remember–This is the Year of the Monkey

Monkey2016  For those of you who didn’t get a chance to read my Chinese New Year’s post on The Year of the Monkey–Anything Can Happen, here it is again!  This has been a crazy year — the most volatile in the Chinese twelve-year Zodiac cycle and who can argue with that after this Tuesday’s election.  Inauguration Day 2017 is January 20 and the Year of the Monkey officially ends on January 27, 2017.

“As the Year of the Sheep comes to an end and the Year of the Monkey arrives, 2016 will be a year of invention and improvisation, unpredictability and unexpected change. The Year of the Monkey is considered the most volatile in the twelve-year cycle.

The Monkey is considered intelligent, witty, and inventive. The ninth animal in the Chinese zodiac, the Monkey is also believed to be a magnificent problem-solver and independent high achiever. Clever and nimble, monkeys are playful, energetic creatures who move from activity to activity, swinging from branch to branch. Though honored in Buddhist tales, the Monkey is also famous as an irrepressible trickster.

All animals in the Chinese zodiac have a dark side too. The problem-solving in the Year of the Monkey can turn opportunistic and untrustworthy, unscrupulous and devious, capricious and misguided.

Some may gamble, speculate, take unnecessary and highly risky chances but for some there will be ingenious outcomes. Business can thrive in surprising ways under the Monkey’s optimistic and shrewd influence.  Anything can happen. Everything is in flux.

Communication also takes on a humorous, even mischievous and light-hearted side as an antidote to the stressful changes which will occur. Some risks will have astonishing results and unconventional solutions are needed to solve old problems. Daring to be different leads to success but  tremendous effort is also required. Now is the time for bold action; even the wildest ideas may succeed.

Remember this year will reward individualistic and highly original enterprises. A lot of global economic growth due to entrepreneurship can be expected in the Year of the Monkey. Also expect a lot of life changes. The Year of the Monkey 2016 is a good year to break free and take calculated risks as there is nothing more powerful or rewarding than following your instincts, passion and intuition. This is the best year for changing jobs in the next decade! Don’t look back!”

 

 

 

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“Bates Motel”–Season Four: A Masterpiece

bates-motel-3

“Bates Motel” continues to be A&E’s number one drama of all time. I think it is a modern masterpiece!

I’ve reviewed the first three seasons earlier this year (see my June 13, 2016 review, Bates Motel, Seasons 1-3: A Mother-Son Obsession) and thought there was nowhere else to go with the plot except to the classic Hitchcock film, “Psycho”.  I am so wrong. Continuing to push boundaries of what constitutes a dysfunctional, hypersexualized relationship between mother and son, in Season Four we see Norma (Vera Farming) and Norman (Freddie Highmore) play off each other’s damaged psyches in ways never seen in either cinema or television. As I’ve said before, Bates Motel “unveils the darkest side imaginable of a mother-son relationship gone berserk, familiarity dissolving into psychosis” not seen elsewhere. This controversial season takes us to where only the intrepid can bear to see such damage inflicted so ferociously on family. “Bates Motel” dares to touch the unspeakable in such a brilliant and fearless manner.

bates-motel-freddie-highmore-vera-farmiga-399x600While I’ve touched upon obsessive love and fear between parent and child in my first novel, Things Unsaid,  “Bates Motel” is an even more controversial story. The twisted relationship between Norma and her son –the heart of this disquieting narrative—is gripping, unsettling, and disturbing yet also riveting in how far it takes family dynamics. A masterpiece of raw and primal screams.  

Note: Seasons 1 -4 are available on both Netflix and A&E’s website. Season 5 is in development

“Bron”—The Original “Bridge”

 

bron

“Bron”—the original “Bridge” is a well written, well balanced story in which every episode is riveting, complexly plotted, and occasionally funny. The Bridge has earned the honor of two versions being produced: an American/Mexican and a British/French one (renamed “The Tunnel”–see my August 7, 2016 review).

With three seasons now completed and only the first imitated in the other versions, we are seeing one of the best narratives in a television series ever.   This detective series, in its second and third seasons, outdoes its own standard of excellence. The main character—Saga Noren (the incomparable Sofia Helin)—is a reserved, non-emotive personality. She is brusque where her male partners (two different ones—Season 1: Martin and Seasons 2 and 3: Henrik) are the emotional, sensitive policemen trying to understand her behavior and lack of social skills. And as the series progresses, the viewer comes to admire her professional drive and ache for the damage and horrific backstory that makes Saga who she is.

It is rare when the succeeding seasons are better than the first, but “Bron” is the exception. Season 3 is also the most complicated with parallel storylines running through and crossing over each other so that the subplots are difficult to follow at times.

The two leading characters –male and female, Danish and Swedish—dance in a dynamic that is an interplay of pain and release, over and over again. While neither is sympathetic most of the time, the viewer will see humor in their idiosyncrasies. Saga and Henrik will certainly rank as some of the most original TV detectives to date. This series was a joy to watch with so many twists and turns before learning the identity of the killer that I think I may have to watch Seasons 2 and 3 again, before Season 4 is released next year. Rent them on Netflix and binge view one of the best detective dramas developed to date.

Even if you don’t like subtitles, after the intensity and suspense build up you will forget about those little white letters at the bottom of the screen!

Trust me—this is drama at its very best!

“Snowden”—A Companion Piece to “Citizenfour”

 

snowden

In Oliver Stone’s new biopic thriller, “Snowden”, we see the humanization of a young 20-something US software engineer who is self-taught and brilliant in his deciphering the surveillance agenda of the CIA and the NSA in 2013. In what is now the most well-known disclosure of US intelligence and surveillance practices, Snowden has opened a window to how counterintelligence is carried out in the global arena.

“Snowden” opens with the naïve yet idealistic twenty-one year old going through Army bootcamp. Injured, Snowden is discharged, obtains his GED and a master’s degree online and then employed as a consultant for government contracts dealing with terrorism. Snowden (played in a subtle interpretation by Joseph Gordon Leavitt,) develops “Epic Shelter” for backing up multiple databases at the secret NSA underground facility in Hawaii. Accidentally he discovers that Epic Shelter is being misused for cyberspying on US citizens, and intercepting corporate data belonging to Google, Yahoo and other companies as well as foreign governments.   Outraged, Snowden is portrayed as an American patriot who has lost faith in his country. Concerned for his girlfriend’s safety, Snowden resigns from NSA and reveals thousands of classified documents to journalists at the Guardian (UK),  Washington Post and Laura Poitras, an independent filmmaker (for what would become the 2015 Academy Award-winning documentary “Citizenfour”. See my review, “Citizenfour”—“Big Brother’s Doppelganger”, March 24, 2015).

On June 21, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Snowden with two counts of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 and theft of government property. Two days later Snowden flies to Moscow hoping to seek asylum elsewhere but resigned to secret residency in Moscow after other nations refuse to offer a safe haven. For now, he is still living in an undisclosed location in Russia while seeking asylum elsewhere.

Snowden has been called a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a patriot and a traitor. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the last three years. His disclosures have fueled debates over government surveillance, and the balance between homeland security and citizens’ privacy. President Obama refused to grant him a pardon, Apple co-­founder Steve Wozniak called Snowden a hero, Secretary of State John Kerry called him a traitor, and Donald Trump called for his execution.

Oliver Stone has never been intimidated by politically charged stories (“Platoon”, “Born on the Fourth of July”, “Wall Street” and “JFK” to name a few) and this is no exception. No matter what you think of Snowden’s disclosure of classified documents, this epic story of why he did it and how he pulled it off makes for a compelling and exciting film. It should be seen along with “Citizenfour” which provides less of the idiosyncrasies of Snowden’s personality and more of his software genius as well as the motivation for his disclosures to Poitras, in particular. Oliver Stone recaptured some “Citizenfour” scenes almost in identical detail. This is a must-see for 2016!