Wednesday, April 24, 2019

"The Dark" movie is unique and complex

"The Dark" is a movie I found while searching for better-than-average horror movies for a friend of mine. I'm trying to keep batting 1.000, as my last recommendation to him (The Loved Ones) was another big hit in his estimation.

The Dark deals with the subject of monsters.

A few of the actors, including the kidnapped boy Alex, were a tad less than adequate in their craft, but it didn't ruin it for me. There was no Academy Award-winning writing, but it was original and I enjoyed it. There were several tense moments that weren't cheapened by cheesy jump scares. It was slow paced at times, but I was never bored.

The cinematography was well done. There was an ominous quality to the protagonist at times that could only have been  accomplished by the dim lighting and facial angles utilized.

The reason why The Dark is unique is because it is first and foremost a lurid fairy tale, as opposed to a simple ax-murder-fest. The protagonist is literally back from the grave, and the haunted woods her house stands in are the best unspoken explanation for the miraculous event. The pictures she draws and the sounds she hears suggest there is more to the story than mere retribution from the grave, but unfortunately we're not enlightened in that regard.

The Dark is complex because, despite Mina's face being convincingly hideous, the monster in this story isn't truly a monster. In addition, the subtle aspects of the kidnapped boy's aversion to rescue are a reminder that Stockholm Syndrome is a powerful factor when combined with believable threats to one's family.

Then there's the discussion afterwards: how many monsters did you count in the movie?

The story is a bit poignant and contains a positive ending, which many fans of horror are not disposed to enjoy from the genre. Yes, there is murder, even of what appear to be innocent people. Tragedy begets tragedy in real life, so the obscure moral of this dark fairy tale is that the cycle doesn't have to continue.

There were several interesting hints of Mina's transformation, including her attempts to burn her hand with the lighter. Can people rise from the dead in real life and become scary monsters?

Nah, but if they did, it would be nice if they all ended up like Mina. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

First Amendment violations gather as group think continues

This article was published on January 22 of this year, but I just happened on it now:

$6 Million Anti-Abortion Movie Seeks Major Label Music, But Finds No Takers

I'm in general agreement that in a free country, a business can reserve the right to refuse service in most situations. The music publishers denying Unplanned across the board could still be defended from that position. This is why the cake-baking controversy ended with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of the baker in the Colorado case.

This is why I think it rude and wrong, but it was still legal for the Red Hen restaurant to refuse service to Sarah Sanders.

What isn't being adequately considered is the overall effect this sort of group think censorship has on those watching from the sidelines. There is certainly a difference between multiple bakeries to choose from, but only one official avenue by which published songs may be utilized in a movie.

The message is clear: you are either pro-abortion in the entertainment industry, or you are out. Attempting to confuse the issue by calling it "pro-choice" does not ennoble the end result.

Then there's the obvious conclusion one should draw from Unplanned's struggle with those who want to control what the public sees and hears:

Pro-choice supporters are afraid. There can be no other explanation for the deliberate blocking of such an inoffensive film.

So honestly, what are they afraid of? That people will be shown, without condemnation nor demonization, what it truly means to abort a child, and within the context of an authentic setting?

Consider the vegan tactic of showing footage of animals being slaughtered for food. If after viewing cows being slaughtered for example, the viewers continue to eat beef, at least now they're aware of what it took to get that hamburger to their plate.

But the media industry complex does not want you to possess analogous information regarding abortion.

Why not?

I mean seriously...why not?

The media blackout of "Unplanned" is disturbing and real

In the essay just previous to this one, I alluded to possible censorship of the movie "Unplanned," that I had heard about in a YouTube video. I wasn't comfortable with making any bold statements regarding the veracity of those claims, as at that point I considered them hearsay.

However, the creators of the movie have already appeared at a congressional hearing regarding the alleged censorship, and judging from the details included in the following video, it was far worse than I was first led to believe:

Writer/Directors Chuck Konzelman & Cary Soloman testify about #Unplanned censorship

After listening to the two principals speak (Sen. Cruz and Mr. Konzelman), and the brief (edited) attempt by a Twitter executive near the beginning of the video to explain away Twitter's violation of the 1st Amendment, I am disturbed and angry.

I'm disturbed because the mainstream media and mainstream social media were apparently all complicit with preventing the makers of Unplanned from being able to do something as uncontroversial as simply paying to advertise their movie. In the interest of fairness, it should be mentioned Konzelman testified that, unlike other social media, Facebook put up no roadblocks and Unplanned did very well in that digital venue.

The 'R' rating itself is outrageous. I saw this movie, and there was absolutely no nudity, violence, excessive language nor any of the other elements that require the rating. It makes Konzelman's discrimination claim much more credible than the conspiracy theory realm I'm sure some would prefer to banish it. This generates the irony of kids being old enough to get an abortion, but not old enough to go to the movie without a parent and see what it actually entails.

Whether or not one agrees with the position of the makers of the movie is irrelevant. There are myriad movies, television shows, songs and books that contain exceedingly more offensive material than Unplanned. But those are deemed acceptable by a media machine that is pulling further and further away from what the average person with a conscience truly wants for information and entertainment.

Orwell turns out to have been an accurate prognosticator of future totalitarianism. He just got the year wrong. And Big Brother, it seems, is not a white-shirt conservative...he's a Left-wing fear monger.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

"Unplanned" is not just another movie

"Unplanned" is, simply stated, a pro-life movie based on the true story of Abby Johnson's conversion from Planned Parenthood clinic director to pro-life advocate. It wasn't even on my radar until I clicked on a YouTube video that was talking about Twitter's exposed attempt to censor Unplanned by removing the ability to follow it from over a hundred thousand people who had already followed it. Several times. Among the thousands affected were actress Patricia Heaton, activist Lila Rose, and the Daily Wire.

Curious of such behavior, I looked up the trailer: Unplanned.

Now that I knew what it was about, I went to Rotten Tomatoes and to see what was being said.

What I found at was sadly familiar. I witnessed the same effect that Larry Taunton had endured, regarding the book about his friendship with the late Christopher Hitchens. See that here: A revealing dichotomy.

As of April 12, 2019, the 264 reviews for Unplanned (added to this page one day after the original essay was uploaded) were divided up as follows:
5 stars: 87.20%
4 stars: 00.27%
3 stars: 00.00%
2 stars: 00.53%
1 star:   12.00%

See for yourself. I took a screenshot just in case the page gets lost at some point: Unplanned reviews.

Notice something interesting? As one would expect, there are no 3 star reviews on a subject this polarizing. The 4 and 2 star reviews are so minimal, they're insignificant. And so, of course, all that's left are the 5 and 1 star reviews, which effectively reflects the divisive nature of the subject.

I encourage you to look at the reviews yourself, but to save you time, I'll sum up the difference. The five star reviews are various levels of praise regarding the acting, the handling of the subject, the importance of the movie, the ugly truth it displays regarding genuine experience, gratitude that the movie was made, gratitude that the theater had decided to show it, the message of forgiveness and redemption... the list goes on.

The one star reviews, however, are chalk full of inadequate criticisms that smell strongly of political bias, and the word "propaganda" was used liberally. Some were long, but most of them were short and glib, negative comments with no thoughtful commentary to support them, which suggests they hadn't even watched the movie.

The movie itself?

I, a grown man who celebrates his masculinity, was brought to tears several times.

All the negative accusations you may have heard or assumed are incorrect. The Planned Parenthood characters were not demonized, nor were they simplified. The Christian protesters were not all gracious and kind. One of the first protesters you encounter is a man in sunglasses, holding a Bible, saying mean things to a patient, such as suggesting she should learn to keep her legs shut.

In this way, the movie already pushes aside viewer inclination to cling to whatever stereotypes he or she wishes to believe. Abby Johnson's journey is not one-dimensional, fanatical, nor judgmental. She is, as are most of the people who work at the clinic, just trying to do her best to do the right thing by the women who come through the doors. One of them, in one scene, even says she believes she's doing God's work by facilitating abortion.

Where the whole thing goes awry is the moment that the clinic director (after eight years working at the clinic in non-medical capacities) is asked to help with a 13-week abortion, and via ultrasound witnesses the baby desperately contorting to escape the suction tube before it gets sucked into the medical waste bin.

There are those who, on principal alone, will say the movie is garbage and propaganda. They will say it falsely represents what actually happens in the Planned Parenthood clinics. They will say it is unrealistic. They might even use the handy chestnut that no movies from Pure Flix are worth watching.

Harbor no illusion. This movie stands as a testimony to the painful truths surrounding the deliberate ending of life that grows inside. It doesn't use cheap shots at pro-choice people, it doesn't attempt to shame those who have had abortions, it doesn't even fling Bible or Jesus references at the viewer.

All it does is reproduce the events that led to a clinic director of Planned Parenthood deciding that she not only couldn't be a part of it anymore, but that furthermore her life would be better served attempting to save others from making the decisions she made that haunt her, despite God's forgiveness. It's a tragic and devastating moral dilemma to look back and admit to yourself that you were instrumental to the taking of 22,000 innocent lives.

Will the movie change anyone's mind? I think if someone is on the fence, it will certainly sway her away from aborting her own babies. But sadly, the whole reason why there is a debate in the first place isn't because there are two ways to look at the subject.

The debate exists because often, but not always, convenience is more attractive than conscience.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

"Moments From A Sidewalk"

Just finished the movie (it's on Amazon Prime). It was written and directed by Silvia Kovatchev and starred Anna Rizzo.

Let's hit the checklist:


Indie movie?  Check.

Ultra low budget?  Check.

Rare silent film acting by Rizzo?  Check.

Rizzo excellent at voiceless emotion? Double Check.

Rizzo effectively manages to convey a remarkably heart-breaking moment with, of all things, operatic vocals?  Triple Check!

Watchable, half-way decent acting by most of unknown cast?  Check.

A few moments of amusing, cringe-worthy acting by one actor?  Check.

A simple, unapologetic, moving story?  Check.

Slow, slow pacing?  Double Check.

Compelling to watch, regardless of said slow pacing?  Check.

End scene worth 83 minutes?  Check-a-Rama!


I watched the end scene several times. 'Nuff said.