Jul

6

 Clinton Cash

Director: M.A.Taylor

The important doc to see, talk about, bruit to neighbors and associates afield, is Peter Schweitzer's Clinton Cash–the weapon of choice to launch at the mentally softened, perhaps unthinking, nepotistic or chauvinist-without-cause, etc., HRC voter.

Seen at a private showing with a particular audience in attendance, we hoped CC would get maximal showings—whether that involves movie venues, TV, cable or other screenings in the lower 48, Hawaii and Alaska. Originating from the best-selling 2015 eponymous book by Peter Schweitzer investigation into the 1997 Clinton Foundation's alleged pay-to-play deluges of cash donations in the millions of dollars for alleged favors by the then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the concomitant spiked speaker fees for ex-President.Bill Clinton.

Clinton Cash outlines the behind-the-scenes money reservoirs that fall into Clintonian hands, either directly by country leaders or organizational heads squirreling funds for favors rendered, or via the Clintons' "charitable" foundation, It's no secret these deals went largely unchallenged, despite 'creative accounting' that whitewashed and disappeared many of these windfalls that never made their way to the storm-ravaged- or earthquake- or disease-infested victims of calamity. Divulgence extraordinaire to say that the foundation set up for charitable purposes, so-called, provides a meager 10% of its available monies to actual charities; most of the bequests are actually through-lines to other, more open-handed and monitored real charities.

In a sense, the Clinton Foundation parallels Planned Parenthood in that thousands of comprehensive clinics exist that provide multiple health-care services, while Planned Parenthood, reaping the annual governmental underwriting bumper crop of close to half a billion of struggling taxpayer dollars, is a thin wedge of a provider. A service provider that, were it to disappear, would make no discernible difference in overall women's "health," which proponents seem to conflate with abortion services, not a health-care concern at all. A pregnant woman is not ill. She is not in need of healthcare per se. The ancillary few services provided over abortion are easily trumped by the myriad clinics across the fruited plain.

In just such a fashion, the Clinton Foundation lines its own and staff pockets, deigns to drop a sliver of its impressive foreign funding to a few chosen and often partisan recipient charities. It boasts a lot of mysterious sources in its 19-year history.

The film covers the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, various African dictatorships, East Asian satrapies, all of which somehow entertained the Clintons lavishly in one way or another, yet failed, curiously, to notice any dent or appreciable difference in the ordinary populace presumably needing benefits promised by the lustrous headliners being entertained and paid for their "advice" or "aid."

As a documentary, it is adequate, but the value of the doc lies of course far beyond an assessment of just its production values and narrative fealty, lushness of cinematography or the like. Investigative efforts like this take many hundreds of hours of research, late-night toil, uncomfortable quarters, fact-checking, back-stopping and…money.

It is a wonder the film—or the book—got made at all, given the many tricks up the Clintonian sleeves, and the many unexplained disappearances of unwelcome reporters or witnesses, whatevers.

Understandable and SOP that Hillary acolytes and proponents will debunk or try to pooh-pooh the contents. If only a portion of the film is factual and true, the Clintons are, as Roger Stone's new book repeatedly characterizes them, epic grafters. Con-men for the ages.

But most of us already knew that. Still, it is instructive to how corrupt this imperial family has been and continues to be. If one is wavering before the coming election, this is more potent, and more damning, than anything connected to Trump steaks, wine or water.

Look for "Clinton Cash" from your various providers. Ask for it at your multiplex.

De Palma

 Directors: Noah Baumbach, Jake Paltrow

A fascinating and by no means entirely hagiographic week of recording the master filmmaker—he wore the same shirt throughout shooting, for continuity's sake—of the some-say misogynistic but suspense-drenched filmmaker.

Speaking directly to the camera, the genial, occasionally self-mocking.De Palma discusses his methodology, why he chooses certain tracking angles, why specific actors are caught from various heights and distances, and in general gives a chewy, nutritious take on his trademark process, a privileged behind-the-scenes look at an avatar of a certain generation of great lensers, up there with Coppola, Scorsese, Spielberg ,and our other faves. De P delights in talking about the young Di Nero and Pacino, whom he discovered in his own early filmmaking and school. De Palma unabashedly honors Hitchcock in camera setups, plotting, framing, suspense sequences and so forth. Provocative, tantalizing excerpts of his many iconic and still virulent films include , Sisters, Obsession, loosely inspired by Hitchcock's Vertigo, Dressed to Kill and the taut G-man drama, Untouchables,. high-school nightmare Carrie, nose-candy Scarface, and illegal eagle skeeves, Carlito's Way,

There is much adult content, violence and sudden gore, which cut into the overall enjoyment, as did scenes involving women not being treated all that chivalrously. De Palma's recollections and powerful opinions about his film, and others' filmmaking, are worth the discomfort. No one is forcing anyone to see those films that handle women as props for bloodletting and screams.

As a doc, it ranks up there with the recent "Brando on Brando"—almost mst-viewing for aficionados of the genre.

LIFE, ANIMATED

 Director: Roger Ross Williams

Someone commented at the screening that this was a good title. Ron Suskind, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, and his wife noticed, early on, that their younger son was not functioning to age level, and seemed to be blocked off from normal routes of communication and interaction.

Owen Suskind, the subject of this immersive family saga that reads larger than one family's herculean effort to rescue their child from the closed prison of autism, is a good-looking, active boy until autism makes its appearance at 3. The remarkable aspect of this family and boy's fight to become an integrated person holding a job, able to interact, and capable of reasonable assisted function for most intents and purposes as non-challenged youth do, is the 'magic.' Obsessively watching every beloved Disney 'cartoon' figures, how they speak, walk, handle crises, enabled Owen to cross-link life with how the Disney animated characters in all the garden of these much-loved films portrayed life and interactions.

Autism used to be a relatively rare disorder. It has become ever more prevalent in our society, now closing on one autistic child in under 100. For most, there is no 'cure.' Its etiology and sometimes, its course is still not well understood, though progress is being made. Slowly.

The film switches between soulful action-sequences in black and white drawings depicting emotional moments and transitions of the protagonist's isolation and disconnectedness, alternating with well-inflected Disney characters and voices (expertly mimicked by Owen, and which we were delighted to see and hear the zany Gilbert Gottfried in the flesh animate those characters he portrayed in the films) The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, Snow White, The Jungle Book, Pinocchio and Beauty and the Beast, among his favorites, reignited, the power of speech long thought gone forever. Other needed skills accreted with showings and work with professionals and those amazing, loving parents. Disney became the tool of choice for dozens of autistic youth, presided over by a thrilled Owen in home and institutional showings.

Remarkably, across the country, the same phenomenon has been noted, with youth of both genders being roused by the empathic characters in these moral tales of animals and humans.

We were initially leery of seeing the film, but by the end, there was an audience full of smiling, delighted viewers, whose enthusiasm was heightened even more by the thrill of meeting the late-20s Owen and his loving, persevering family, Gottfried and some of the doc film principals.. Even without the vivacious Owen and company, the sentient adult cannot help but admire this rather amazing trajectory from darkness and shut-down to swimmingly present and functional.

And the film reminds us all how fraught with adversity, crisis and obstacles everyday life is. Owen is not alone in wishing, along with Peter Pan, that he could live forever in the protected cocoon of childhood.


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