Closed Circuit

Closed Circuit is a neat and clever, though not nearly as clever as you might have hoped for, political thriller. It makes one troublesome mistake – it fails to give its viewers credit for having some intelligence. By that I mean, that so much of the film’s twists and turns can be seen coming from miles away. The dispensation of clues is handled as if we needed to be hit over the head with a fact in order for it to sink in.

We actually suss things out well before the lawyers do.

That said, the story is about a pair of London based lawyers handling the defense of a Turkish man who has been accused of a terrorist act, the blowing up of a truck in a crowded London market area resulting in 120 deaths. This Trial of the Century, as it was called by the London papers, seems ripped right from the pages of today’s news, or from your TV screen. Actually London has about a half-million surveillance cameras all over the city. These don’t use public airwaves, Instead they are all closed circuit, which is the title of the film, and the basis of the film’s tagline – they see your every move.

These lawyers are Eric Bana playing Martin Rose, the barrister or counsel for the Defense, and Rebecca Hall as Claudia Simmons-Hall, as the Special Advocate. What does that mean exactly? The Defense Attorney is as it seems, an attorney for the Defense. He will make his arguments in Open Court. The Special Advocate is something else entirely. She will be shown evidence that is not available to either the defendant or the defense attorney.

My Lord, I enter this memory stick as proof...

My Lord, I wish to offer this memory stick into evidence as proof…

This is material ‘protected’ under the laws concerning National Security. It will be the job of the Special Advocate to argue, in a closed session of court, that the defense get to see this ‘evidence’. The are strong strictures in place for this protected evidence. Simmons-Howe can neither show this to the defense team, discuss it with the defense team, or even meet with the defense team.

Of course – it just isn’t that easy, especially since, these two have a romantic history.

Nevertheless, they proceed.

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Broadchurch (BBC America) Episode Four Recap and Theories

Broadchurch, the BBC TV series now airing on BBC America, aired Episode Four last evening. As they say – the plot thickens. The style of Broadchurch is that they keep ratcheting up the level of suspicion. As this is a who-done-it, we can only react to what we are shown.

Yes, we can try for our own analysis and try to make it into a workable theory, but the series is making that ever-so difficult because so many of the characters that we’ve met began with being a possible suspects in the murder of young Danny Latimore. Then we are shown strong evidence – either by action or by statement, that someone else has just risen even higher as a suspect in our minds.

And while this is going on, the police investigation, headed-up by Alec Hardy and Ellie Miller have to take it one step at a time. While the town is getting a bit restless – you know – why is it taking so long, and all that, these townsfolk haven’t yet trotted out their pitchforks and torches, or taken to marching through the streets, eager to string some one up.

But in all honesty, the writers and producers have marshaled all their skills to make this case damn interesting, and four episodes in, we don’t have a clear suspect yet. So, let’s break down the latest of what we’ve learned, character by character. All that follows can and may be described as spoilers.

Alec Hardy – he’s toned down his rhetoric to a degree, and he’s accepted a dinner invitation from the Millers. He shows up at the Millers with candy, flowers, and wine – a bit of an overkill (no pun intended). Joe Miller is good at pouring, and Hardy overdoes the drinking.

Dinner at the Miller's

Dinner at the Miller’s

By the time he gets back to his hotel, he’s a leading candidate to pass out in his bathroom, which he does. Next day he wakes up in the hospital, and begs Becca Fisher not to tell any one.

Becca

Becca

Ellie Miller – Horrors! Hardy has called her out in no uncertain terms. In his view, she’s well on her way to becoming (gasp!) a good detective. Her son Tom Miller, continues to look suspicious of something – what it might be, we don’t know yet.

Beth Latimore

Beth Latimore

Beth Latimore – she confides in Ellie Miller that she knows about her husband Mark and Becca. Only she doesn’t know everything. Mark Latimore, despite concealing his whereabouts and with who (on the night of the murder) to the police originally, appears to have turned the corner. However, his wife Beth has now told him that she ‘knows’ about he and Becca. The Latimores have also fallen under the influence of Karen White, the regional newspaper writer.

Karen White – has finally been tracked down by her editor after 27 unanswered messages. He agrees to ‘take a look at it’ if White can provide an exclusive article with pictures. Which she does, with the Latimore’s cooperation. There’s a big spread in her paper which brings out the national media to Broadchurch.

Maggie & Ollie

Maggie & Ollie

Ollie – the erstwhile cub reporter for the Broadchurch paper has been doing some digging. He shows it to his editor Maggie Radcliffe, who immediately brings it to the attention of Hardy & Miller.

This action brings Jack Marshall into sharper focus.

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Assault on Wall Street

Assault on Wall Street is a fantasy about guns, and revenge, and taking down Wall Street biggies who live high on the hog. Cross Margin Call (2011) with Death Wish (1974) and you’ll have an idea. Only those films had something going for them. This film has nothing going for it.

Said another way – cross Main Street with Wall Street and you’re not going to get a win/win scenario.

Dominic Purcell stars as Jim Baxford aka “The Working Man’. Baxford works for an armored car service. He’s married, he’s well liked, and while he’s not by any means wealthy, meaning he is decidedly working class, he does own a house complete with mortgage payments, he has a wife, and he’s got some money invested in some of Wall Street’s newest can’t miss investment products.

But things change: his wife gets sick, and it costs a fortune to provide her health care. He’s got health insurance through his job, but things go from bad to worse when the insurance carrier trots out its coverage cap. This means they will only pay so much per month. So the bills begin to pile up as does their use of credit cards.

He gets a notice of his flexible mortgage rate kicking in, meaning the rates have gone up drastically. Then his brokerage account is basically wiped out because the brokerage firm put him into some bad investments.

The bills continued to amass. He owes a balloon payment of 60K on his mortgage which he doesn’t have. A lawyer he consults, played by a cartoonishly awful Eric Roberts, won’t lift a finger until Jim brings in a 10,000 retainer fee. He’s advised to file a complaint with the District Attorney – only this guys blows him off.

And when you think things couldn’t get any worse – they do.

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Pop Icon Artist David O’Keefe, The Newsroom’s Will McAvoy, and I Love Lucy

The other night, during the broadcast of The Newsroom, Episode 7 – Red Team III, there was a brief scene in which Will McAvoy and Charlie Skinner congratulate each other for the previous night’s broadcast.

Will: Last [night’s] nationals?
Charley: Right here.
Will: Just tell me if the number begins with a 3
Charley: It doesn’t
Will: 2.9?
Charley:[Shakes head no]
Will: 2.7?
Charley: 5.8 million viewers
Will: [in disbelief] Shut the fuck up…

Wow. A few beats before the numbers fully hit Will.

Will: Jesus Christ… Congratulations, man
Charley: The tracking looked good, but not like this…
Will: That’s an I Love Lucy number….

Will is referencing the I Love Lucy Show which ran from October 1951 to May of 1957 on CBS. The Lucy show was the most watched show on television for four of its six seasons, a feat done only by Lucy, Seinfeld, and The Andy Griffith show. So that high rating put them in top of the class company. It is no surprise that Will would know this, even though Will likely was too young to have watched Lucy. But the same cannot be said for Charley.

Anyway, the mention of Lucy reminded me of a piece of pop art that I had seen right here in Sarasota. A resident of the nearby Tampa area, artist David O’Keefe, famed for his paintings of pop culture icons, operates a solo gallery right here on St.Armand’s Circle in Sarasota.

His work is intense and specific. The objects of his art work are instantly identifiable, yet we cannot ignore that O’Keefe’s works are edgy and iconoclastic. While they do glamorize, they also portray these celebrities in such a way that the humanity of the famous people shines through.

As Will mentioned I Love Lucy, the above image is called Luuuucy!!!

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Dead Man Down

Dead Man Down seemed to have a lot going for it. Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Terrence Howard, F.Murray Abraham, and Dominic Cooper headed the list of actors. Plus it was set in the present time in New York. The director was Niels Arden Oplev whose last film was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. So I was hoping for some snap, crackle, and pop. But the posters and the trailers made the film look a lot better than it actually played out.

The film opened last March 8th in the USA and Canada, then shortly afterwards, it opened it many countries across the globe. Its world gross was nothing special – around 18 million, so I am sure that the producers are counting on the DVD sales to increase the revenue.

The theme of the film was revenge, and it later came out that Director Oplev disowned the USA Marketing campaign. He would also claim that the shooting was rushed, budgetary problems arose during production, and that he was hampered in not being able to edit the film the way he wanted.

I can’t speak to the veracity of those reports, but I can say that even though the film gave me what I expected, it was still less than fully satisfying.

With Farrell as the lead, we knew that we’d get tough, brooding, and laconic in spades. In fact, Farrell’s Victor even tells Noomi’s Beatrice that he doesn’t talk much. This was pretty much the case throughout as the script by J.H. Wyman called for Farrell’s character to say as little as possible.

 

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The Newsroom – Episode 7: Red Team III – Recap

The-Newsroom20-19-3-2-14. These are not lotto numbers. If you saw the show, then you know exactly what these numbers mean.

The mile-a-minute dialogue between Don Keefer and Rebecca Halliday got the show off and running to a rousing start. Actually, maybe – spectacular start may be a more fitting description. Because Don couldn’t buy into the fact that they needed lawyers, as he believed that the Dantana lawsuit was frivolous.

DON: Simply, Dantana had cooked the interview. He had taken a pair of scissors to the raw footage, and now he’s suing us. How stupid is that.

Don continued – You can’t be stupid and have haircuts this good, but Halliday was that good, and she knew exactly what she was doing. She said that Dantana is claiming he was the scapegoat.

Next came the weave – that is, bits and pieces of other depositions, or maybe they were just preliminary interviews, in front of Halliday and her sartorially splendid staff. There was Jim, and Maggie, and Sloan, and Neal, and even Will – all of whom were hooked,  and hauled out of the water and onto the boat by Halliday. Better they were on the boat than if they continued to swim around in the murky waters they were already in and if they continued in those waters, it could lead to the drowning of all of their careers.

As much as we didn’t like where we were heading which was for Halliday to eventually arrive at the same place that was the basis of Jerry Dantana’s lawsuit – that ACN was guilty of a wrongful termination. Specifically that the inaccuracy of ACN’s reporting of the ‘Chemical warfare in Operation Genoa’ was in truth, an institutional failure – meaning that people above Dantana’s pay grade were equally responsible – yet Dantana was the only one fired.

Once we got that out in the open, we viewers had now been brought up to the same place of where we were when Season 2 began – with ACN staff being interviewed by Halliday.

Yes, they got the story wrong. There was a lengthy and heartfelt recitals of how it happened or discussions of what they thought and did by Don, and Jim, and Maggie, and Sloan, and Neal, and even Will about how the vetting played out. We saw the Stomtonovich statements, the Sweeney interviews, and even the Valenzuela pre-interview interview. The more we saw, the worse it looked.

Ultimately – they talked themselves into doing the story or as Charlie said, All right we’re going. Lock it down. Then we got some of the broadcast which produced the through the roof ratings. Will and Charlie congratulated each other the next morning. Will made a statement about the ratings being so good that they were an ‘I Love Lucy‘ number. The I Love Lucy series was the most viewed show on all of television for four of the six seasons it ran. So News Night was in good, no make that very good company.

Only there was no comment, feedback, or pushback from the D.O.D. Not yet.

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Emperor

“To Understand Japan, You Must Understand Devotion”

Emperor begins with the USA dropping its A-bombs on Japan in August of 1945. Japan then surrendered a few days later. So we find ourselves on board a plane with General Douglas MacArthur and his staff, winging their way towards Japan. Upon his arrival, MacArthur will be the Supreme Allied Commander of the Occupation Forces.

MacArthur is facing two tasks: the overseeing of Japan’s post WWII economic recovery, and the disposition of Japan’s Emperor Hirohito who may or may not have to face charges as a war criminal. General MacArthur appoints a Brigadier General named Bonner Fellers to investigate the events preceding the attack of the US forces based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to determine what role, if any, the Japanese Emperor had in launching that attack and the war.

General Fellers was chosen because he had a background as a something of a Japanese expert, and MacArthur trusted his judgement. Of course it is not quite that simple, as the story has multiple layers and multiple story threads.

The MacArthur story – General MacArthur is played by Tommy Lee Jones who has the requisite swagger that you might expect from some one at the highest level of the US military. But his task is actually delicate. He can work to get Japan back on its feet both economically as well as from an acceptance standpoint by the nations of the world. If he opts to go after Hirohito, he will satisfy many of the politicians in the US government. But the downside of this is likely repercussions within Japan against the US.

If he doesn’t go after Hirohito, he’ll have many questions to answer – hence the appointment of General Fellers, who will serve a two-fold purpose; one to get to the heart of the matter through investigations, fact-finding, and being persuasive enough to get the truth from Japan’s highest levels of government. If he fails, meaning he cannot corroborate either Hirohito’s involvement or non-involvement, then MacArthur can simply hang it all around Fellers’s neck.

The General Fellers (played by Matthew Fox) Professional Story – a difficult task is before him to get interviews with the Emperor’s inner circle, which required locating those that were still alive, and those willing to discuss the situation. Which will be no easy task at all. Plus Fellers is not unaware of MacArthur’s Presidential aspirations. This puts Fellers in a tight spot, especially since MacArthur has given him a very short amount of time (10 days) to get this done.

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Killing Season

Let’s see, Killing Season opened in a limited release in the USA on July 12th – which is about 40 days ago. The turnstiles were mostly unused, and I’d hate to calculate the amount of theatrical popcorn that went to waste.

Despite starring Robert De Niro and John Travolta, this film took in an embarrassing and paltry $28 thousand as its opening weekend gross.

So it is no surprise that it is already out on DVD.

Here’s your story, De Niro and Travolta are both veterans of the Bosnian conflict in the mid 90’s. De Niro was part of a platoon of American soldiers who freed some POWs, then executed some of the enemy. Only De Niro’s character doesn’t fire into the back of Travolta’s head, he just shoots him in the upper back and leaves him to die.

18 years later, Travolta is back to get his payback. As the tagline states: Revenge has no rules. Let’s call it a cross between The Deer Hunter and Sleuth, and that’s doing a disservice to both of those films by including them as comparisons.

As the poster says, the purest form of war is one on one. What we get is a series of cat and mouse traps and reversals, and MacGuyver-esque types of ad hoc weaponry. In the original Rambo, with Stallone as Rambo, he escaped into the woods and took on every one who came after him. This time it is just De Niro and Travolta who are first out hunting elk, then each other.

The reality is that this film does not have it facts or history straight, doesn’t employ actors young enough to do what is required of them in an action film, and lacks suspense, thrills, or excitement.

Beyond that, the ending is a sensationally dissatisfying.

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Broadchurch (BBC America) – Episode 3 / What Do You Think?

broadchurch_header_02_web

From one of my readers:

FD On August 22, 2013 at 1:54 am
Since it took me three episodes to form a theory, I consider this a pretty good mystery. I’m hesitant to say I’ve got this one figured out, but I’ll stick my neck way out and say I think Mark Latimer’s co-worker, Nige, is the bad guy. He lied to the cops to give Mark an alibi, but the cops busted the alibi. They weren’t drinking together. We now know where Mark was, but we have no idea where Nigel was on the night Danny disappeared. And there’s an item in his van that isn’t used in the plumbing trade.

But, I have a lot of other clues to wade through like why was Danny seen arguing with the postman. Why did Miller son delete his phone messages? Why is the woman who lives in the trailer concealing Danny’s skateboard? And most important, what was the killer’s motive? I need more info before I make a guess. Stay tuned.

nige

When one reaches the end of Episode 3, I can see that it isn’t much of stretch to think badly of Mark’s mate, Nige Carter. However the questions of motive appears. What would Nige want or expect with Mark out of the picture? A relationship with Beth Latimer, or a relationship with Becca Fisher, possibly. We can guess that he had the opportunity, but that’s about as far as we can go. For now. With or without knowledge of the crossbow in his truck.

mark

Others seem to come into focus. One would be that telephone tech. After all he did posit that Danny died on a boat. He’s not full on correct, but we do have blood found on the Latimer boat, and then, at the end of the episode there is another boat ablaze off shore. This is likely destruction of evidence. But we know nothing else about that boat right now.  Granted, his ‘powers’ may be suspect, but he did make a correct statement about something from Hardy’s past.

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