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Monthly Archives: August 2019

The Great Hack

This documentary attempts to give the full story of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. To refresh memories, Cambridge Analytical use the data from millions of Facebook users to target voters for political advertising purposes during the 2016 elections in the US (as well as the Brexit campaigns). The film tracks the timeline of Cambridge Analytica’s demise, including the involvement of the chief whistleblowers, Chris Wylie and Brittany Kaiser. From a film perspective, I did not think it to be the greatest of documentaries. Particularly in the first half, there is a lot of “filler” space. Granted, some of it is quite …

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Apollo 11

Using archival audio and video footage, we are transported back to 1969 when Armstrong and Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. I absolutely loved this film. Everything is stitched together into one neat story; we see what the astronauts saw, hear conversations between Armstrong, Aldin and Collins and ground control, and experience what those on the ground must have felt at every milestone of that mission. At 9 years old, I don’t really remember those days at all, so to be able to watch this as though I were watching the news was fantastic. The music …

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Hail Satan?

This often hilarious and surprisingly insightful documentary looks at the Satanic Temple, an activist group led by Lucien Greaves that is really not at all about the devil but about activism and the strong belief in the separation of church and state. The director combines several elements to make the documentary work as well as it does. The interviews are fascinating, and she assembles a group of adherents of different colors, ages, and sexual orientations who are united in their belief in valuing all religious viewpoints. She gives us a history lesson, bringing in footage from earlier eras of the …

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Skin

This film is based on the true story of Byron Widner (played fantastically by Jamie Bell), a white supremacist who eventually works with the FBI and leaves the supremacist group he co-founded. Caught between his “parents” who adopted him at a young age and a woman and with three children with whom he falls in love, Widner had to navigate the extreme violence represented by his family and the life he wanted to lead with Julie and her daughters. The film is well-acted, particularly by Jamie Bell, who gives a performance of surprising depth; Danielle MacDonald, who plays Julie, and …

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Blinded by the Light

Javed is 16 and yearns to be a writer. He writes poetry and keeps a journal to the dismay of his father, who emigrated to the UK from Pakistan to have a better life for his family. The film takes place in Thatcher’s England of the 1980s when economic woes rocked the country and jobs were hard to find. One day, Javed discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen, and his world completely flips. The topics the film covers, such as generational culture clash, racism, and economic blight, aren’t particularly new. What makes this film singularly stand out are two things. …

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Honeyland

(Turkish, English Subtitles): This film documents the story of Hatidze who lives high in the mountains with her mother who is growing increasingly frail. Hatidze is a beekeeper; she and her mother appear to be the only two people who live in the area. They live close to nature, and Hatidze walks her honey to town to sell in the local markets. One day, an itinerant family with seven children sets up home next to her. At first, the father seems interested in understanding the art of what Hatidze does, but soon he and his family upset the balance of …

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

In this newest Quentin Tarantino film Leonard DiCaprio place Rick Dalton, who we follow from the height of his career as an actor in action pictures to the status of a Hollywood “has been”. Brad Pitt is Cliff Booth, who is Rick’s long-time friend, stunt double, and who ensures that Rick gets to his rehearsals. The film is set in 1969, at the same time Charles Manson’s followers murdered Sharon Tate and her friends. Tarantino weaves Rick Dalton’s story into the story of Sharon Tate in a very interesting and entertaining blend of fact and fiction. Tarantino is an expert …

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