“The End of Poverty?”– The Problem Persists

End of Poverty

Global poverty did not just happen. Yet the overwhelming magnitude of poverty seems unsolvable.  Can we really end poverty within our current economic system?

In this award-winning documentary, narrated by Martin Sheen, we see the historical foundation that, for over five centuries,  laid the groundwork for today’s financial crisis.  It began with military conquest, slavery and colonization (often in the spirit of missionary zeal) that resulted in the seizure of land and  minerals and in forced labor. Today, the problem persists because of the structuring of debt, trade and tax policies.   The “End of Poverty” (2009) reveals  a co-dependency in which the southern hemisphere provides cheap resources for the northern hemisphere without a way out of  financial indebtedness and towards economic independence.  The dependency is necessary to prop up the industrialized nation’s standard of living.

The film begins with the premise: since 20% of the planet’s population uses 80% of its resources and consumes 30% more than the planet can regenerate,  the northern hemisphere lifestyle mandates that more and more people have to sink below and remain below the poverty line.

For anyone wanting to understand not only the US economic system but the foundations of today’s global economy, this is a phenomenal documentary without the eyeball-glazing snooze of economists’ jargon.

Instead of trying to shock you or force you to  a specific conclusion, “The End of Poverty” leaves the viewer with images and personal accounts. It is not about poverty as a whole, but poverty in Third World countries.  It is an  educational opportunity to become aware of the history of global expansion, trade and the role of religion in the commerce of modern times.


“The Fall” (mini-series) — “Prime Suspect” Revisited


In this Netflix Original production distributed by BBC Ireland, (not to be confused with the 2006 movie of the same name–see August 16, 2011 review),  the story unfolds, not as a mystery to be solved, but as a contrast between two obsessive personality types. One is Detective Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson of “X-Files” and “Bleak House” fame), called in to solve a murder.  The other is the psychopath leading a double life, not unlike “Dexter”. Interestingly, it is the seeming normalcy of the psychopath, Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan, soon to be  known as the actor in the upcomng “Fifty Shades of Grey”),  who appears to have the more balanced life: an effective  grief counselor with a supportive wife and two loving kids to whom he is devoted. The detective, meanwhile, is lonely, absorbed by her work even when eating,  and seems to engage only in brief sexual encounters with no emotional commitment (not unlike the unforgettable Helen Mirren’s character in “Prime Suspect”).  A strong and no-holds-barred dialogue about the hypocrisy towards women’s sexual behavior in contrast with that of men runs throughout.

The five-part series, set in the dark landscape of Belfast, explores the motivation and precise technical prowess of a sexual predator with a clinical voyeurism at once chilling and puzzling.  It is deeply disturbing to watch the antagonist shampoo his five-year old daughter’s hair after a sinister “kill” involving a bathtub scene.  Furthermore,  the little girl is subtly sexualized in a deeply unsettling way. Spector’s “normal” life of teacher conferences,  spousal harmony, and empathy for those he is counseling can be viewed in two ways:  as a life he would like to maintain because it could heal his many unknown wounds, or as the life which allows him to commit his notorious and heinous crimes.

In the chilling ending, after three murders and a cat-and-mouse game between Gibson and Spector, we are left on the edge of our seats at the inconclusive final scene:  unfinished business that may leave viewers dissatisfied.   This viewer would have liked either a tighter connection between subplots and murders, or at least a backstory on both of the main characters.  Neither happens, though the scenes and some of the dialogue are absolutely stunning.   Nonetheless, “The Fall” is riveting and addicting.

Netflix has another hit in this miniseries.   I can’t wait for the six-part Season 2, to be broadcast on Netflix this coming autumn!


Green Chalk Contemporary–It’s All About Fish

The year-old gallery, Green Chalk Contemporary,  in Monterey, is currently presenting “FRESH FISH “, a show of  over 50  artworks  contributed by local, national and international artists.  Emotionally resonant subject matter, expressive brushwork, vibrant colors, deep and rich paint and ink tones, mixed media, found objects and industrial materials all are evident in eclectic compositions.  Squid ink, seaweed, threads, epoxy and glass, and dried anchovies screamed out “FISH.” This exhibit ( part of the Lighthouse District’s Big Splash” events going on in various parts of Monterey, including the Aquarium) will be open until August 9.

David Higgins

While I would have difficulty selecting standouts in an exceptional show, the sculpture by David Higgins, “Ghost Fish”–hand built of epoxy– is a marvel and almost irresistible to refrain from touching.

Jerry Takigawa
Jerry Takigawa
Tom Nakashima

Jerry Takigawa’s photograph of the fluid movement of a fish into almost an abstract animated image is stunning.  Not to be missed is Tom Nakashima’s “It’s Natural”,  a whimsical oil painting of a school of sheephead, the fish that morphs from female to male.

Go and explore, engage the eye in some one-on-one fish gazing.   The opening reception featured fish heads and other corporal parts artistically laid out in an ice bucket at the front entrance to entice passersby to come in and take a look!  And mission was accomplished–this was a very well-attended event.

Green Chalk

[Green Chalk Contempoary, 616 Lighthouse Ave, Monterey, CA 93940]


“The Lunchbox”–Tidbits of Love




This 2014 Indian film is  a quirky romantic tale of two very lonely and desperate people attempting to find something to live for.  A psychological study of loneliness and hope, “The Lunchbox” masterfully questions how much an individual is willing to risk to change his or her life.

Saajan Fernandes is a fifty-something civil servant on the cusp of retirement and  resentful about it.  Long a widower, his life is now empty as he coldly but minimally interacts with others:   the children in his apartment complex to the young man assigned to be trained as his replacement.  Ila,  a beautiful young thirty-something mother, studies cooking from television shows and from her aunt, who lives in the apartment upstairs and coaches her to improve her culinary skills in order to please her husband:  the old adage about a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.  The problem:  it is not her husband whose heart is charmed by her cooking.   Ila lovingly prepares a  lunchbox for her husband, to be delivered by the complex yet typical lunch delivery system for  office workers.  It is mistakenly delivered to Fernandes.

This begins a series of lunchbox notes as Fernandes awakens from his sleepwalking existence, and Ila begins to feel affection for someone once again.  Through their anonymous communications,  they reveal their secrets and dreams, discovering a new sense of themselves.   The lunches become exquisite tokens of their warmth and mitigate their loneliness:  tidbits of love.

But “The Lunchbox” also devastatingly reveals the melancholy of entrapment with no way out.  It is a  missive in itself:  to love regardless– and perhaps, in spite,– of age.

“Sometimes the wrong train can take you to the right station” claims Saajan’s friend.  The ending is not a neat tying up of loose ends, and may leave some viewers frustrated.  Nonetheless,  this is a surprising film of depth, warmth, and character.  “The Lunchbox” deserves to be devoured, morsel by morsel, by a wide audience!