Corruption is the Root of Sensible Gun Control Inaction – Perspective

perspective

To not be moved to the core of our beings over the senseless slaughter of 17 American school children on a bright and beautiful, cheerful February 14th – the universal day of LOVE – is a litmus test that measures the depth of corruption in the GOP.

The fact that GOP lawmakers are more beholden to the NRA than they are to their own children, reveals how dehumanizing corruption is.

The GOP gladly accepted $17,384,437 from the NRA in the 2015-2016 election cycle. Trump was funneled $21 million from the NRA.

We’ve seen the way rotten trees fall in a vicious storm. The Oak may look high and mighty from the outside. But when the forceful winds howl, and consistent pressure is applied against the weakened trunk…that tree will fall. And when it does, the rotten center becomes visible.

“A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar with his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the heart of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic to that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.” ~ Cicero, 50 BC

So that’s where we’re at today, Sunday February 18, 2018. Corruption rots the body politic and becomes treasonous. We can either succumb and lose our country, or keep resisting to the max with everything we have within us.

Every corrupt GOP (any who received NRA $ that are now refusing to bring to the floor sensible gun laws) MUST be removed from office. Again, their corruption has become treasonous. And until they can be replaced, they must be quarantined so they can’t infect.

The only sensible next step following the #Parkland massacre is to reinstate the assault rifle ban. By March 1, 2018.

Copyright 2017 – 2018. ALL Rights Reserved.GOLD8small

Newton’s 1st Law of Motion – Passing Common Sense Gun Laws ~ Perspective

perspectiveNewton’s 1st Law of Motion – the Law of Inertia

“An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction, unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

The heart-wrenching trauma of a violent massacre in a suburban American high school in Parkland, Florida – the “safest town in Florida” – on Valentine’s day 2018 that left 17 innocent heroic Americans dead MUST be the turning of the tides.

Gun Violence, specifically massacres in American schools, has to stop immediately.

Reading and watching the first-hand accounts of students, dads, moms, teachers in Parkland brought me to uncontrollable tears. It’s the most powerful instrument for prodding inert lawmakers into action and passing Common Sense Gun Laws.

There are no adequate words to express the anger I feel toward cement-headed GOP who rationalize away all legitimate arguments for stemming gun violence. Their indifference to the trauma they inflict is the ultimate testament to the fallout of their altered reality. The fact that it’s the GOP lawmakers who have succumbed to this strange and surreal existence in an imagined universe, lawmakers who directly influence our quality of life, is a forceful wake-up call for all of us. We don’t have to settle for this. We can make sure they’re REMOVED from office.

If the Berlin was can fall, so can the NRA and the GOP. They are NOT a permanent barrier to gun safety.

The final straw for me yesterday, Thursday February 15, 2018, the day after the Parkland High School massacre, when all the first-hand stories began pouring onto Social Media, was the student who in the midst of the chaos and fear and mayhem, slipped on the bullet proof vest that his dad stuffed in his backpack. THIS, in the safest community in Florida.

A decade ago, the only thing that mattered was making sure our children had an iPod. Then we elevated to making sure our child had his or her iPhone. Now parents are running out and buying bullet-proof vests for their child’s backpack. GOP, WAKE-UP! And worst of all, the student actually had to rush to use it one beautiful cheerful afternoon, February 14, 2018.

GOP lawmakers hide behind their protective security checks installed in every Legislative Office building in every state, making them immune to their own inertia. All security checks must come down until Common Sense Gun Laws are passed. GOP lawmakers don’t get to hide away while we get slaughtered.

Of course we Americas can own guns. No one is against that. But as with everything since the beginning of time, gun ownership must evolve.

COMMON SENSE GUN LAWS, one step at a time, in order:

(1) Immediate ban on assault rifles, specifically AR-15. This ban was in force for a decade, 1994-2004. The GOP allowed is to sunset during all the chaos following 9/11, the War in Iraq, the War in Afghanistan, and all eyes on Guantanamo. Senator Feinstein revived the ban, creating a new Bill on November 8, 2017. It’s collecting dust on a GOP desk somewhere. We MUST demand it be debated, passed and enforced.

(2) Firearm ownership must have appropriate safety protocols: training/education, testing, licensing, and mandatory insurance. There’s no reasonable argument that can block this. It’s rudimentary.

(3) Ban bump stocks. Rudimentary.

(4) Close all loopholes in existing gun laws. Rudimentary.

(5) Limit all magazines to 10 bullets or less. Rudimentary.

(6) Reverse GOP’s new concealed carry reciprocity. Unconstitutional.

(7) Gun violence research. New Trump administration canceled the existing Gun Violence research being conducted by CDC.

Done. Basic. Simple. Easy. We MUST Make America Safe Again!

Copyright 2017 – 2018. ALL Rights Reserved.GOLD8small

Military Parade, Trump’s Ignorance is Monumentally Disturbing – Perspective

I was born into a military family that dates back to Pearl Harbor and beyond. My great uncle Gus was trekking to his plane the morning of December 7, 1941 when the bomb’s began to drop. He was injured, but survived, although his plane was destroyed.

One of my uncles graduated from West Point. Several cousins from Annapolis. A brother and many other cousins were ROTC. My ex-husband was an Air Force pilot. I’ve spent the better half of the past three decades enjoying the most phenomenal military events I could ever hope to experience:

  • Fleet Week Manhattan over Memorial Day Weekend (began in 1982)
  • Fleet Week San Francisco Bay
  • Thunderbirds and the US Air Force Air Show (x 7, these are annual events), Thunderbirds began in 1953
  • Blue Angels (dates back to 1946)
  • Twilight Tattoo at Arlington (Wednesday evenings at 7:00p May – August since 1961)
  • Sunset Parade at Iwo Jima (Tuesday evenings Spring – Summer, dating back to 1956)
  • And there’s many more annual tributes to our exceptional military forces

Trump appears to be oblivious to these annual national wonders. Based on his announcement last week of his desire for a North Korea style Military Parade in DC,  I was left with the impression that Trump has never had the good fortune of attending any of these time honored “American” traditions paying tribute to our heroic veterans.

How sad.

Further, based on the uncanny timing – midweek following the Nunes Memo that didn’t end up halting the Mueller investigation as Trump hoped– it’s reasonable to deduce that Trump’s mission was to use his North Korean style Military Parade to instill fear into the American citizens who oppose Trump and his alarming anti-American agenda…this would be the media, the resistance, all Democrats, protestors, and most importantly (as far as Trump is concerned) the Mueller Investigation itself.

I envision that perhaps Trump might have recalled (with glee) one lonely dark turbulent night last week, the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, latching onto this as his weapon of last resort as the Mueller Investigation closes in. This is the only explanation that makes reasonable sense after the confluence of so many extreme news stories last week, out of which flowed the Military Parade brainchild.

It’s clear these exceptional military events listed above date back many, many decades. So the explanation Trump provided for a DC military parade isn’t rational.

Sure, the expense is a very sound reason for the Legislature and the military to block it. So the point is probably already mute. But the real takeaway here is extracting Trump’s motive for requesting a North Korea style Military Parade. This way we can have heightened awareness about Trump’s state of mind.

I’m sure all of us have wondered from time-to-time how this nightmare will end. I for one am exponentially more alarmed today than I was a week ago as I factor in Trump’s disturbing thought process that lead to his decision to initiate a massive military intimidation parade in our nation’s capital.

Copyright 2017 – 2018. ALL Rights Reserved.GOLD8small

The Shape of Water – DoubleTake by REGGIE WOLTZ

The Shape of Water
by REGGIE WOLTZ

A Study in Teal

Movies can be used to tell all kinds of stories. From realist dramas to fantastical science fiction, the versatility of the medium is well-documented. Usually a certain genre prescribes a set of expectations to its plot. Romantic comedies have two people fall in and out of love, only to come back together in the end. Film noir sees its heroic detective tempted by a femme fatale in the midst of a tense investigation. Villains in horror movies kill the black guy first.  Oftentimes, filmmakers can blend genres to create their own presence, separating themselves from any expectations the audience might have.

Guillermo del Toro’s films exist on an entirely different plane. His movies don’t just blend genres, they redefine them. The best descriptor for his movies that I can come up with is “fairy tale filmmaking.” Now, these aren’t original projects so much as they are a unique spin on classic stories about things that go bump in the night. The Devil’s Backbone and Crimson Peak are del Toro’s modern retellings of ghost stories, Pacific Rim is his idea of a monster flick, and Pan’s Labyrinth is basically Alice in Wonderland, just set during the Spanish Civil War. To the naked eye, these films may seem just like the dozens of horror and fantasy movies that come out every year. But, beyond that, there is a depth to del Toro’s work that other filmmakers seldom, if ever, are able to match.

So what is the element in these movies that separate them from their counterparts? Well, it’s actually two elements: aesthetic and heart. Horror movies can scare your pants off just fine. We watch them for the same reason that we ride roller coasters, to get the adrenaline pumping and feel a sense of controlled terror that we can’t get from our daily lives.  Sure, del Toro can pull this off effectively, but he is ultimately interested in a more meaningful experience. He would rather draw us into a vibrant world with characters that are complex and worth rooting for, while delivering a moral for us to take home.

The Shape of Water is the epitome of these intentions. At its core, this movie is Beauty and the Beast with protagonists that can’t speak. However, the lush appearance of its setting, the personalities of its characters, and the incredible amount of heart behind it make the film so much more.

Just as Guillermo del Toro is an anomaly of a film maker, his characters in Shape of Water are also misfits. The magnetic Sally Hawkins plays Elisa Esposito, a mute janitor in a secret government lab, where she meets, falls in love with, and attempts to save a humanoid amphibian known only as “The Asset.” She is unable to connect with others to a large degree, making the relationships that she does have incredibly fascinating. Particularly her interactions with the Asset are little experiences of their own, culminating in a number of evocative scenes that are heartening and eye-catching in equal measures.

The dynamic between these two is an anomaly in its own right. Whereas most movies that center on a relationship will temper the beauty of love with the inevitable struggles that come with it, del Toro leaves his film’s romance pure and uncut. Rather than seeming unrealistic, this has the effect of allowing his film to remain emotionally potent throughout. Of course, if the two characters would have been able to talk, they would have broken up after three months of arguing over what kind of food to get for dinner. But that’s another story.

Hawkins is backed up by fantastic supporting performances from Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, and Michael Stuhlbarg. These characters really drive home the point of misfits trying to make their way through life.

Jenkins portrays an aged gay man in the Cold War-era United States, when alternative sexuality wasn’t exactly an accepted concept. Spencer plays a coworker of Esposito’s that serves as her sign language translator and treats her as a therapist, constantly talking Elisa’s ear off about her loveless marriage. Stuhlbarg plays a scientist in the government lab who works as a secret operative for the Russians but whose true allegiances lay in trying to learn from and protect his pet project at a time when everything must be done for the good of his nation and not himself. These characters are all oddities, stuck in a time that does not support their unique ideals, and yet they come together to create a happy ending for Elisa.

The holistic dedication to this theme is the true core of this film and the emotional satisfaction that comes thanks to del Toro’s efforts is what will stick with you after leaving the theater. But that is not to say that sensory experience of the film is any less effective.

The combination of Baltimore and the Cold War as a setting is not one that brings to mind a gorgeous atmosphere. And yet, del Toro creates just that through his imaginative use of colors (you have never seen teal like this before) and camera work. In a film where words are at somewhat of a premium, The Shape of Water’s visually storytelling picks up the slack and then some. The audience is hypnotically drawn in and carried on the shoulders of its characters all the way from the underground laboratory to the docks of Baltimore’s harbor until we are baptized in the beauty of the film’s conclusion.

Despite the brilliance of Pan’s Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro’s real magnum opus is The Shape of Water. It perfects what del Toro has been honing for years, telling a fantastical story with stunning visuals and enough heart to cause cardiac arrhythmia. Despite the predictability of its plot, you feel for its characters and are easily swept up in its visual splendor. It is a more beautiful and beastly Beauty and the Beast, and yet stands alone as utterly unique—just like the masterful filmmaker behind it.

Copyright 2017 – 2018. ALL Rights Reserved.GOLD8small

PRUITT’s Bad Judgement, Is It Murder? – Perspective

perspective

EPA Director Scott Pruitt was interviewed during an Oversight Hearing held by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Tuesday January 30, 2018 for 2 hours, 29 minutes and 15 seconds. At its conclusion, there was no doubt in any reasonable person’s mind that Scott Pruitt is the most significant threat to public health since the founding of our nation 242 years ago. Pruitt’s irreparable damage to our well-being, his sabotaging of the U.S. environment, and his undermining of one of our strongest and largest industries, the U.S Tourism Industry ($1.5 Trillion) will leave a massive swath of devastation that will take centuries to recover from, if ever.

During the Oversight Hearing, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) highlighted the 180˙ contrast between Pruitt’s strong “Trump is dangerous,” and “Trump’s abusive to the Constitution” stance in the spring of 2016, to the present “I don’t remember that,” and “I don’t echo that today at all” position on January 30, 2018. Translated, Pruitt is confessing to being “dangerous” just like Trump, and “abusive to the Constitution” just like Trump. They’re now in lockstep.

The cost to clean-up the massive amount of environmental damage is many trillions.

After Trump cut taxes for short-term benefit, shielding the public about the long-term negative consequences by attempting to blind us with neon lights and sparkles, while at the same time denying the mega financial toll climate change will have on our debt by simply denying climate change all together, (but the reality is, climate change will result in one devastating natural disaster after the next, causing financial ruin over and over and over again, turning our debt burden into Mt Everest…I’m growing more terrified with each word I click), we’re now tangled up in a tremendous confluence, and have to somehow simultaneously find a way to pay for the life-threatening Superfund Sites. Which brings us back to Pruitt.

There are apparently over 1,340 Superfund sites. New Jersey has the most with 116. New Jersey is also one of the smallest states per square-miles with a population of roughly 9 million, so the contaminated area overlaps with major population centers. Additionally, as Senator Booker pointed out during the Oversight Hearing,  New Jersey is prone to flooding, especially during hurricanes. A flooded Superfund site, is alarming from a health risk standpoint.

California is 2nd on the Superfund site list with 98 sites. New York is 4th with 93. Together, these three blue states, home to approximately 68 million people, have 307 Superfund sites.

EPA Director Scott Pruitt recently created a “Superfund Sites Targeted for Immediate, Intense Action” list. There are 20 of the 1,340  Superfund sites on the list.

  • 3 are in New Jersey
  • 1 is in California
  • 0 in New York
  • 2 in Montana

This is clearly bad decision making. Factor in the glaring fact that three of the densely populated top Superfund site states are blue states, all three of which are densely populated, and one of which didn’t have any sites make the list, leaves the impression that the Pruitt’s selection process was spiteful, which implies that Pruitt created this grouping with malice.

Again, sparsely populated red Montana, with only 16 sites, had two sites make the list.

So, when EPA Director Scott Pruitt, who unwittingly confessed in an Oversight Hearing to be “dangerous” and “abusive to the Constitution,” hones in on a very specific health crisis, one that causes many forms of cancer that result in death (by this point hundreds of thousands of deaths, perhaps even millions), and crafts a list of Superfund sites targeted for Immediate Intense Action, and taints the process by intentionally not selecting sites in specific areas that any reasonable person can deduce are the ideal, and instead chooses at least 2, possibly 5, that are extremely questionable…knowing that because he didn’t choose some of the “ideal” sites when he had the opportunity, people will die that otherwise wouldn’t…one can’t help but ask the question: is this first degree murder? Is it pre-meditated? Pruitt clearly put some thought into this.

© Copyright 2017 – 2018. ALL Rights Reserved.

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Three Billboards – DoubleTake by REGGIE WOLTZ

Reality Show

by REGGIE WOLTZ

The idea that art imitates life is a fairly simple concept. Artists seek to express themselves and their creativity, doing so comes as a reflection of their internal uniqueness and external environment.  Whether it’s a love song, Shakespearean tragedy, or landscape painting, art is a peek at the world through the eyes of its maker.

Movies have enormous potential in their capability to imitate life. The experience, being both visual and auditory, allows the viewer to more completely immerse themselves in the world of the filmmaker. As a result, many films are made as an escape from our real lives into a new reality with different possibilities. The popularity of superhero franchises, space operas, and animated films is an open-armed acceptance of this. While the widespread propensity to spend more time escaping reality than examining it is slightly unsettling, these movies are still tethered to real life by having characters with human qualities, just with their limitations removed.

And then we have Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, whose intention isn’t to fly you to another universe, but rather to bring you back down to Earth so hard that you’ll end up in the planet’s core.  The events of the film are essentially the continued aftermath of a rape and murder that has gone unsolved for six months. There’s no true conflict here, all villains are temporary, and the ending resolves to leave it all unresolved. In fact, the true journey of this film is the development of the characters as they live out their screen time.

Much of what makes this movie feel so genuine is its emotional impact. The character performances are beautifully entertaining and allow the movie to switch between equally effective streaks of comedy and tragedy. The tonal shifts between being light- and heavy-hearted were striking, culminating in certain scenes that hit like that of being thrown out of a second story window.

The remainder of Three Billboards’ effectiveness comes from the lives and personalities of its characters. Even extremely minor parts are given unique material from an outstanding script that also paints all of its leads in multiple dimensions. This film intentionally sacrifices having a tight focus with its themes to create the best portrayal of real life as it can. Reality is an open-ended flow of chaotic cause and effect, full of unique people experiencing joy and pain. That is also exactly what this movie is.

This point is perfectly exemplified in the film’s final moments. We get Frances McDormand’s Mildred and Sam Rockwell’s Dixon driving off to serve some sweet vigilante justice to a guy who definitely raped and murdered someone, although the crime was unrelated to what happened to Mildred’s daughter. The scene cuts after they admit their uncertainty about hurting someone and before any action is taken. The two characters are trying to give themselves a significant action to deal with their problems, but the real resolution is each of them finding someone to share those problems with.

Three Billboards is a great film because of how well it captures the essence of life. Everyone has their own pain and tribulations to go through. They come into conflict or harmony based on this, often in momentary interactions that transform each individual as time passes. The movie doesn’t seek to answer any deep questions up front, but does so between the lines. So, the ultimate question is: if art imitates life, what do we call something that virtually is life?

© Copyright 2017 – 2018. ALL Rights Reserved.

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Scott Pruitt Re-Invented, or is He? – Perspective

perspectiveOn Friday, February 2, 2018, the day of the release of the infamous Nunes Memo, and the intense media coverage that followed, New York Times The Daily veered off media course and featured a noteworthy interview with EPA Director Scott Pruitt. Pruitt struggled to answer Barbaro’s direct questions. It’s an amazing interview, well worth a listen.

Interestingly, Senator Markey (D-MA), sent a harsh letter to Scott Pruitt on January 18, 2018, rebuking him and demanding that he answer 41 vital questions and reply by January 24th. Further, Markey requested that Pruitt come in person to be interviewed be the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) on January 30, 2018.

Pruitt’s attempt to dismantle all of Obama’s environmental protection policies, and erase the scientific research at the EPA proving Climate Change, have been met with lawsuits. Dozens and dozens of lawsuits in 2017. The aggressive de-reguations agenda of Pruitt’s is now clogging the courts.

Perhaps Scott Pruitt has begun feeling the heat after decimating the programs that protect the environment and safeguard public health, and continuing his “Climate Change denier” position even after the catastrophic hurricane season of 2017. He seemingly became “inspired” after his meeting with Senator Markey and the Senate EPW Committee on January 30th, aired on C-SPAN …he announced today Monday February 5, 2018 that he invited Cabinet members to a meeting on February 15, 2018 to strategize about updating America’s water infrastructure.

The Washington Examiner outlined: “Lead poisoning is an insidious menace that robs our children of their intellect and their future,” Pruitt said in the letter, addressed to Cabinet heads including HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and others.

Just 8 weeks ago, before the tax overhaul,  Pruitt testified in Congress that he was concerned about the cost to replace the infrastructure – approximately $30 billion –  for “7 million to 11 million lines.” This seems to imply he’d never be able to follow-through with whatever strategy the Cabinet comes up with for eliminating lead from water during their meeting on February 15th.

Replacing 11 million lead pipe lines for $30 billion, which would drastically reduce lead poisoning, if not eliminate it all together, is less than half the cost of the $70 billion border wall that Trump is determined to install. We can’t forget that the tax overhaul is expected to generate a tax shortage of $1.5 trillion, which will likely stall each and every infrastructure program.

CNN stated that in 2016 Pruitt was supporting Jeb Bush, and commented about Trump: “I think he’s an empty vessel when it comes to things like the Constitution and rule of law,” Pruitt said on the “Exploring Energy” radio show on February 11. “I’m very concerned that perhaps if he’s in the White House, that there may be a very blunt instrument as the voice of the Constitution.” 

But in 2017, Pruitt claimed: “After meeting him, and now having the honor of working for him, it is abundantly clear that President Trump is the most consequential leader of our time,” Pruitt said. “No one has done more to advance the rule of law than President Trump. The President has liberated our country from the political class and given America back to the people.”

So this zig-zag, is Scott Pruitt, Director of the EPA. Someone to keep an eye on as long as he’s in office. “America the Beautiful,” national tourism, is a $1.5 trillion dollar industry. Poisoning our water and air for profit, chopping off breathtaking mountaintops to appease the Coal Industry, smashing monuments out West (Zinke), is a destruction campaign.

It’s encouraging to see the new Scott Pruitt. It took an army to get Director Pruitt to this fresh start. It will likely take an army to ensure he follows through. Apparently, pressure is a great motivator for Pruitt. But there’s a famous adage to keep in mind: “A man convinced beyond his will is of the same impression still.”

 

© Copyright 2017 – 2018. ALL Rights Reserved.

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Get Out – DoubleTake by REGGIE WOLTZ

The Risen Place

by REGGIE WOLTZ

*SPOILERS*

When you have seen enough movies, it gets easier to tell the difference between gold and pyrite. Sure, the quality of a film is hard to define from the ground-up. Because of the bevy of base components that movies have to work with (from sensory elements like visuals and audio to more cerebral tools such as story complexity, character performance and development, and creative narrative devices), they do not always operate on the same plane. But there has to be a way to equalize these works despite their differences in material and style. One of the methods that I use to achieve this end is to judge the intentionality in the films that I watch.

Get Out is an incredibly intentional movie. It has a sense of being obsessively well thought out thanks to the ample servings of detail in each scene. The re-watchable factor is strong here; the twists in the story beg you to go back and analyze the characters in a new light that completely transforms entire portions of the film.

Perhaps the best focal point for the second time around is Allison Williams’ Rose Armitage. She is the physical embodiment of a plot twist, so all of her scenes in the first half of the film become inherently significant. One example is when she stops the policeman from looking at her boyfriend’s I.D.—she isn’t doing it to stick up for him, but rather so that there would be no trail of evidence. It is little scenes like this, with definable double meanings, that elevate the story beyond the linear and noncreative narratives of its counterparts.

The fact that this movie holds up to reexamination without creating plot holes is great, but Get Out doesn’t stop there. It doesn’t want to be watched just twice, but as many times as possible before you start to feel like you’ve entered the sunken place. What keeps you coming back for that third time is the real strength of this film, its allegorical focus and clarity.

Director Jordan Peele isn’t exactly subtle in his approach to tackling the issue of race. He sets his tone from the opening scene, in which he turns what would be an innocuous setting for many viewers, an affluent suburb, into an unsettling labyrinth where only white people are safe. It is also here that he sets up his most potent thematic element with the diegetic song, “Run Rabbit Run.”

With the overhanging discomfort that comes from the interaction between Chris (played by Daniel Kaluuya) and Rose’s family and friends, it could be hard to create an undercurrent that deals with the race more poignantly. And yet, Peele does exactly this by juxtaposing the idea that black people are nothing but wild game to the whites with Chris’s sense of guilt over his inaction with the death of his mother.

This interplay is evident in a number of scenes, the most obvious of them being when Chris empathizes with the dying deer, the surgery pre-op, and when Chris hits the family maid (Rose’s grandmother) with a car and then decides to save her. These scenes ground Chris in the reality that the Armitages see him as prey, which he then transcends by dealing with his internal problems and finding the resolve to both kill and save—proving he is more than an animal. As such, Get Out gives proper trajectories to both the theme and Chris’s character and allows itself to end with a more direct message than just “White people are f****** crazy!”

For any director, let alone a first-timer, what Peele has pulled off is remarkable. Cutting through all of the noise with a definitive point is something that few movies attempt and even fewer accomplish. Furthermore, there are so many Easter eggs and smaller motifs in the movie that a viewer will be able to pick up on new things even after having seen it three times.

I really can’t say enough about this movie. Get Out blends suspense, comedy, and horror like none other. Peele gives his actors and actresses plenty to work with and draws great performances from each of them. The story is tight and yet filled with enough detail to make you actually want to re-watch it. And while the film may not have done much to reconcile the complex relationship between blacks and whites in America, it still did the impossible: gave us a reason to like TSA agents.

 

© Copyright 2017 – 2018. ALL Rights Reserved.

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Phantom Thread – DoubleTake by REGGIE WOLTZ

The Most Demanding Men

by REGGIE WOLTZ

Batman and Robin. Soda and popcorn.  Traffic jams and raised middle fingers. There are a lot of iconic duos out there. In the world of filmmaking, working with familiar colleagues goes a long way towards ensuring quality. High profile pairings are bound to repeat and build further hype upon each successive project. Some of the best movies in recent years have come out of tried and true relationships, such as those between Scorcese and Dicaprio, Cuaron and Lubezky, and Fincher and Sorkin. After seeing Phantom Thread, I believe it is time to anoint a new Hollywood power couple: Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis.

Just in case you were living under a rock in 2007, Anderson and Day-Lewis had previously worked together on There Will Be Blood–one of the last decade’s best movies. Their experience and camaraderie are palpable over ten years later, albeit in a film that couldn’t be more of a departure from its predecessor. Trading the oil fields of California for the ballrooms of post-World War II London, Anderson shifts from following the journey of a disturbed tycoon to the romance of a prestigious tailor and his muse. The scope of Phantom Thread is also very narrow compared to the time-skipping saga that is There Will Be Blood, settling to show us the quiet evolution of a single relationship.

If there is one striking similarity between Anderson and Day-Lewis’s collaborations, it is the unflinching portrayals of their complex characters. Day-Lewis’s Reynolds Woodcock is at once a charismatic gentleman, tireless worker, and unsympathetic knave, depending on who he is presenting himself to. Day-Lewis is brilliant here, rotating between his character’s personalities with ease and delivering meaning with every word and facial expression. Anderson places his protagonist in situations that draw out every bit of the actor’s talents; most successfully in the scenes between Woodcock and the females in his life.

A decent amount of the entertainment value of Phantom Thread comes from watching woman after woman try and fail to earn Woodcock’s attention. Lesley Manville’s Cyril Woodcock is our guide to these interactions, constantly at her brother’s side whether in private or public. The “old so-and-so” is a fascinating character (Freud would have had a field day with the relationship between the siblings), so it is to the detriment of the film that her screen time is stifled in the film’s second half as Vicky Krieps’ Alma Elson rises to prominence. Krieps is wonderful, surprisingly matching Day-Lewis’s acting as they spend the majority of the film face-to-face.

At the outset, this film is a love story. From the first time that Elson meets Woodcock at the country café, to her experiences as his muse and protégé, and all the way down the rocky slopes of their romance, the protagonists play off of each other without sacrificing their individualities. The development of their relationship happens in abrupt moments of Woodcock’s unstoppable force meeting Elson’s immovable object. Considering that the movie is overwhelmingly concerned with two characters over its 130 minute runtime, the fact that these moments don’t feel repetitive or cumbersome is a testament to Anderson’s feel for a balanced story.

Despite the extensive interplay between the tailor and his lover, Phantom Thread is more exactly an examination of the balance between work and life in a man who is singularly driven by his vision. We are given a cross-section of Woodcock’s life before, during, and after the transition in his character that comes from having met his match. The term “phantom thread” is a reference to Victorian-era London, when seamstresses would work so arduously that they would come home after a long day and stitch clothes in their sleep. Similarly, Woodcock has no off-button—his life is so driven by his occupation that his idea of a relationship involves demanding every piece of his partner until they are the ultimate tool in his pursuits. Anderson plays with this concept subtly throughout the film until its climax redefines the theme and completes Woodcock’s character arc, all in one fell swoop.

Like the film’s main character, Phantom Thread is as demanding as it gets. Though minimalist in concept, the film is maximalist in depth. To understand the full breadth of its meaning, Paul Thomas Anderson asks the audience to pay close attention to every micro-expression and line of dialogue. Without the spectacular Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, and Lesley Manville, this would have made for a tedious and joyless love story. However, with its cast and director firing on all cylinders, the film is more delightful than a well buttered mushroom omelet.

 

© Copyright 2017 – 2018. ALL Rights Reserved.

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Tillerson’s Moral Impairment Impacting Decision Making

SundayEditorial

For decades we’ve witnessed a staggering phenomenon. Musicians, actors, writers, athletes, politicians and business leaders, many of whom were born with an abundance of natural talent, natural gifts that are magnified by disciplined training and education, until they reach the top of their field…and after arriving at the summit, they plateau for a few years, but very few can hold their edge, instead they most likely decline, many completely losing their gifts and talent all together.

Some of the stories have been heart wrenching. OJ Simpson became a murderer, butchering his ex-wife and her boyfriend. But he’s not the only “star” turned murderer: Oscar Pistorius, Aaron Hernandez, Phil Spector, Sid Vicious from the Sex Pistols, Michael Jace from The Shield, Johnny Lewis – Sons of Anarchy, Howard Hughes, Robert Blake…the list goes on and on.

And then there’s the business leader side of the coin. The executives who transform into vicious criminals. This list is so incredibly distressing, mostly because of the sheer volume of well-educated and talented executives who’ve succumbed to the classic lures of financial gain, career boosting shortcuts, manipulation of stock prices, insider trading, fraud, money laundering, etc, many of whom have landed in jail or were charged millions of dollars in fines.

And don’t get me started on the incredibly promising politicians who get sucked into corruption schemes, defrauding taxpayers, bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, tax evasion.

There are the insanely brilliant pop stars and actors who aren’t able to handle their fame and fall prey to drugs, leading to wretched endings as a result of overdoses, ie Whitney Houston and Michale Jackson, and so many more.

How about the unfortunate twist of making it to the top, but once you get there you lose your mojo. This usually happens to writers, particularly singer-songwriters who can keep singing for decades but they seemingly no longer have the ability to write lyrics and compose. When was the last time superstars like Paul McCarthy, Billy Joel, Mick Jagger produce a new award-winning album? It’s been decades.

So apparently there’s an arc to success. Work incredibly hard, and finally make it to the top. But once there, and you’re no longer hungry and struggling, you may begin to lose your advantage if you don’t understand how you became successful, and don’t stay committed to maintaining the traits that made you a star. (Steve Jobs mastered this.)

But Trump’s billionaire cabinet, the majority of whom are clearly morally impaired, and suffering from extremely poor judgement, and making horrible decisions that are life-threatening for the American public, have not only lost their mojo and are clearly in a state of decline, they seem to have been transformed into enemies of the United States of America.

Moral impairment is a serious detriment especially when someone like Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is representing the people of the United States on foreign policy issues as well as our American values. So what’s going on here? How do we wrap our minds around Tillerson’s decision making?

The recent article by the New York Times on Tillerson, the State Department and employees claiming political retribution, has key Democrats calling on State Department watchdogs for an “immediate review.”

Tillerson has made a series of terrible management decisions that appear to be setting our foreign policies on a path of self destruction. Only an enemy would pursue such a course, or perhaps someone suffering from Mad Cow Disease. Tillerson’s in a critical role on the world stage and seems unable to apply the most basic management and/or executive principles in his role as Secretary of State.

The critical issues according to the New York Times:

(1) Key positions in major hotspots across the globe are vacant, 5 in the Middle East

(2) Employees with long careers and deep experience are being re-assigned to do FOIA data entry

(3) Tillerson insists FOIA requests are very important and employees have to help out with the extra workload

Employees are claiming this is political retribution.

What can Tillerson say to defend his decision making? Nothing. It’s an indefensible decision. How is working a job 10 levels below an employee’s pay grade a sound management decision? The vast majority of us know that this is illogical. Why does Tillerson believe any educated professional American citizen will buy this explanation?

None will.

So then yes, it’s clearly political retribution….which is another bad choice by Tillerson.

Moral impairment in a world leader is profoundly unsettling. Lives are at stake. The world is struggling under widespread unrest. We are the United States of America, a superpower, a bright positive force in a chaotic world.

Tillerson must resign or be removed. He’s in a state of dramatic decline. He’s lost his mojo, maybe even his marbles.

It’s. That. Simple.

 

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