Da 5 Bloods
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I May Destroy You
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"Working Man" features the very best acting in my memory. Peter Gerety, aged 80 with a hard beachball belly and 64 films under his belt since 1961, takes the screen away in an understated characterization of a man in trouble. Trying to save him is the charismatically handsome Billy Brown and lovely Talia Shire. This is Baby Boomer 101. What to do when life throws curve balls and there's not much time left to recover?
Pray the Devil Back to Hell
Movie Review by Bev Questad
Women, through collaboration and compassion,
voice and sexual persuasion, transform a nation.
Available to own on DVD. Public distribution schedule: http://www.praythedevilbacktohell.com/v3/
Throughout the world and throughout time women have been victimized by renegade soldiers driven by powerlessness and dehumanization. For possibly the first time in the history of the African continent, if not the world, a group of women of different faiths and backgrounds united to protect their families and themselves in a brave and creative protest against a 15-year-long civil war that was destroying their country and families.
This documentary is the story of the recent Liberian womens peace movement. It is the story of how both Charles Taylor, the corrupt, despotic leader of the Republic of Liberia, and rebels staging a civil war against him, are ultimately defeated and replaced by the first female head of state on the continent of Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Abigail E. Disney, daughter of Roy and niece of Walt, conceived the idea for this documentary when she was visiting Liberia in 2003 as part of a group from Harvards Kennedy School of Government.
Surprisingly, the most inspiring incidents in this film, pasted together from African newscasts and interviews with principles, were not reported outside local African areas. Disney wrote in The Huffington Post in 2008, I mean, if it had happened, wouldn't I have read about it in the New York Times?? Or the Washington Post?? How was it possible that these Liberian women had accomplished such an enormous feat without having been noticed and reported on by the news outlets I had come to know and trust?
The Liberian womens peace movement influenced policy in the most effective yet peaceful ways these women could devise. They met every day in growing numbers, dressed in white, on Taylors driving route with placards for peace. In addition, realizing that the power in the country belonged to the men, they refused to have sex with their husbands until the killing was over.
At one point Leymah Gbowee, Founder and Executive Director of the Liberian Mass Action for Peace and current international Women in Peace and Security Network, recounts an attempt for her arrest. She was monitoring the Ghana peace conference between Taylor and rebel leaders that was getting nowhere. To force the men to reach a compromise agreement her followers made a human chain several women deep around the outside of the conference room. No man could leave the conference hall to eat, drink or waste time. They were sealed in by the tenacious, resolute females, holding each others arms to block both exit and entry.
With local news cameras present, some of the conference attendees, tangentially or explicitly connected to the mass murders and rapes in Liberia, cracked a door threatening to arrest Gbowee if she didnt remove the women and allow them out. She shouted in response a promise to take her clothes off in front of them if she was touched. Door closed negotiations resumed and a compromise was forthcoming.
Since it debuted at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival and won Best Documentary honors, Disneys entourage has enabled access to Pray the Devil Back to Hell throughout the world through screenings at churches, museums, schools and medical centers. Currently, through this films unique distribution process and accompanying education program, women in other conflict areas like Kurdistan, Sudan and Tiblsi, Georgia, are forming similar peace communities.
Pray is a testament to the goodness of the human spirit and the Gandhi-like power in the peaceful resistance of the disenfranchised. It is a celebration of the glory of womens age-old instincts - to combat aggression through collaboration and compassion, voice and sexual persuasion. These women gathered together irrespective of religious or regional loyalties. They united in a movement of values and principles, calling for peace and respect. And they were successful.
Viewers will find themselves anxious to see an additional incarnation of this story as a docu-drama, revealing the home-lives and inner struggles of Gbowee and her fellow protestors. This is a story awaiting a dramatic full-screen epic a story with an Academy Award potential.
Directed by: Gini Reticker
Produced by: Abigail E. Disney
Co-Producer: Johanna Hamilton
Director of Photography: Kirsten Johnson
Cast: Leymah Gbowee, Etweda Sugars Cooper, Vaiba Flomo, Asatu Bah Kenneth, Etty Weah, and Janet Johnson Bryant
Theatrical Release: April, 2008
DVD Release: Nov. 10, 2009
MPAA: Not Rated
Runtime: 72 minutes
An insightful glance into the inner psyche
of men who find it difficult to love.
Say it ain't so Letterman! John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton, and even our ancient hero Odysseus
infidelity and adultery are chronic age-old temptations of the susceptible ego.
Sara Quinn, played by Julianne Nicholson, is a graduate student who has been rocked by the callous, unrepentant infidelity of her boyfriend. She sublimates her reaction into a graduate study on men. Each subject in her study plies her with self-centered sociopathic reports of inter-personal detachment. Simultaneously her professional associations also coincidentally mirror the superficial, self-involved commentaries of her subjects.
This film was based on a book by the same title by David Foster Wallace who committed suicide in September of 2008. He was battling depression, and perhaps like his male characters, found no fulfillment in his life.
And thats exactly what keeps this film from being great. It does not go beyond observation. The men are heartbreakers in the grandest sense. They are existentially alone and their pain, in the realization of that, is great. But where is the fix-it? The redemption? Is it hopeless?
A climatic moment in the film is when her student, who knows about her project and has submitted a related paper on it, tries to engage her in dialogue. Played with intense passion by Dominic Cooper, this student physically blocks her exit and asks her question after question, frustrated with her lack of response. At least tell me why I didnt get a higher grade! he shouts.
Cooper is attempting to get Sara to link the suffering from infidelity, rape or other dehumanization, to Viktor Frankl's book, Mans Search for Meaning, which is based on work with Holocaust victims. He tells her that a crisis can promote learning and character depth and therefore life enrichment! Therefore, suffering from a painful break-up or emotional trauma could be looked at as a good thing.
This reasoning is met with steadfast silence from the intelligent Sara. Frankl, of course, never championed, condoned or excused the actions of the Holocaust for purposes of greater self-development. Cooper, along with the other men in this candidly acted series of interviews, does not recognize that the perpetrators of heartbreaking pain cannot be released from their own suffering and separation until, with humility and contrition, they acknowledge their role in hurting others and cross that bridge with submission and surrender.
Brief Encounters is never about Sara or women. This is about men who are unable to empathize. They devise slingshots - then aim and fire - obliterating random birds for whom they have no feeling. They dont see a connection between their actions and the pain they inflict on the women who love them. And none of these men comes across as happy most appear troubled or frustrated.
Perhaps the ability to take responsibility for their actions and recognize their human frailty, a factor no man in this film appears capable of, is a reason Hillary and Bill, Eliot and Silda Wall Spitzer, and John and Elizabeth Edwards are still together and why Penelope accepts and comforts her husband, Odysseus, upon his circuitous route home.
While this may not be the most entertaining date movie right now for Dave Letterman and his wife, Regina Lasko, John Krasinki has repeated in his interviews that his film has the potential to provide some soul-searching conversations. Even though there is no example of how these crippled men can change, it does give us insight into their thinking and their pain. And perhaps that is a good start for Dave and his wife.
Brief Encounters With Hideous Men