Plot Summary: A grief-stricken mother takes on the LAPD to her own detriment when it stubbornly tries to pass off an obvious impostor as her missing child, while also refusing to give up hope that she will find him one day.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Colm Feore, Amy Ryan
Serious Jest:(Must Watch) The film is set mostly in the 1920s, but the hokiness of some of its scenes (although, according to IMDB, “Virtually every event depicted in the film appears as cited in legal documents, with dialog often taken verbatim from court transcripts”) and its sappy score are straight out of the 1990s. However, all of that is overcome by tremendous acting performances, especially from Jolie (but not Eddie Alderson, who was not convincing as Sanford Clark), as well as by the incredible story, which is mostly true.
I can’t believe that this could happen to somebody. This is yet another frightening example of the dangers inherent in handing over unchecked power to any law enforcement organization. If we do not pay attention to history, we are doomed to repeat it.
Additionally, this story reminds me of the value of today’s technology and social media. While many complain about how much easier it is to invade someone’s privacy, it is also a lot easier to expose corruption. Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Oscar Grant…these cases are not a new trend developing amongst police departments. This kind of rampant corruption and abuse of authority has existed for long before anyone can remember. But now we finally have the tools to expose them.
And it’s not just the police. As an attorney, I have personally stopped a mental health professional from wrongfully committing a person to a mental health institution over what basically amounted to a petty verbal argument between the doctor and the patient.
Respect to Straczynski for getting this movie made. This is where filmmaking crosses over into activism. If someone just told you the facts of this case, you might struggle to fathom how this would play out in actuality…how many people would have to screw up, be complicit, or just flat out do nothing to perpetuate this evil…and just how many people would have to decide to do the right thing, even at risk to their own career, financial interests, or even personal safety, in order to unf*ck this mess. This movie very effectively portrays how this unfortunate situation could very plausibly go down…and while there are many more checks and balances today to help prevent some of the previous injustices from happening again, perhaps some who would previously dismiss all police corruption and mental health abuse as wild conspiracy theories might have their minds changed just a little bit by this film.
Plot Summary: Based on the failed June 28, 2005, mission “Operation Red Wings.” Four members of SEAL Team 10 were tasked with the mission to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shahd.
Director: Peter Berg
Writers: Peter Berg, Marcus Luttrell (book), Patrick Robinson (book)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch
Serious Jest: (Must Own) When I was still on active duty in the Marine Corps, a situation involving a recon team, an isolated mountaintop, a targeted Afghani warlord, and a couple of innocent goatherders was posed to us as the perfect ethical dilemma. A room full of officers wrestled with the theoretical frying pan and fire…self-preservation (or, more importantly, the safety of their Marines) vs. morality. I knew then that I had to read Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. I was not disappointed. I couldn’t put that book down, and I recommended it to anyone who would listen.
I’ve said this before many times, and I’ll say it again: I love sports and movies, but my heroes aren’t athletes or actors. I was fortunate enough to serve this great Country alongside my heroes. When I heard that this movie was being made, I couldn’t wait to see what a team of talented filmmakers dedicated to bringing proper glory to the brave men of Operation Red Wings could do with this amazing story.
Again, I was not disappointed. As a pure action flick, this film is top-notch. But it’s more than that. It’s a glimpse at what some patriotic, determined men and women do for other Americans (and, more importantly, for each other), in far off lands, under uncomfortable conditions, for a mediocre paycheck and little recognition.
It took some effort for me not to get choked up during this film. Afterwards, my girlfriend marveled, “It’s amazing how much the human body can take.” I agreed, and added, “Even moreso, the human mind.” Make this the next film you watch, especially if you need to get motivated to do anything remotely tough.
What would you do in the situation involving the goat herders? I always say that if the first time you consider an ethical scenario is the moment that you’re facing it, you’re much more likely to compromise your moral code.
Plot Summary: A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho (1960) in 1959.
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Writers: John J. McLaughlin (screenplay), Stephen Rebello (book)
Serious Jest: (Worth Watching) A first-rate cast executes an interesting dramatization of the making of a first-rate movie, while I wonder if the director was nervous about living up to the hype of making a movie about the movie-making process of a first-rate director. So meta.