How It Works

I love movies, but I hate most movie reviews. I hate them for two reasons: First, they always begin with a 3-5 paragraph in-depth description of the film. I don't want to know the entire plot, I want to know if it's good! I may say generally what the movie involves but that's it. Second, most movie reviews are unclear. I've read countless reviews that left me with absolutely no indication as to whether or not I should even see the film. Not here. I developed three methods to rate television and movies:

1. Just your average 10 point scale.
10 is obviously the best and 1 is the worst. Although, Something Borrowed might make below a 1 if I ever get around to reviewing it. I consider myself quite harsh, so if you see anything above a 9, it's probably in my top ten of all time.

2. What's it Worth?
I will tell you if I think it's worth paying for and worth the 2 (and ever more increasingly 3) hours of your time. I also make an educated guess as to whether or not you can multitask during the film.

3. The (not-yet) Patented Clairometer
In honor of my college friend Claire, I developed this rating system in order to display how "appropriate" the film is. It is designed to tell you a more detailed rating system. I find this helpful. Sometimes you want to know ahead of time so you're not stuck watching Black Swan in an empty theater with your mom. The range between PG-13 and R is more vast than the plot holes in a Michael Bay movie. I hope to combat this. The scale shows photos and descriptions of a few well-known women in film and television. The rating is the farthest woman to the left of the scale who would approve of the film. For example, June Cleaver would not approve of
Tequila Sunrise. The woman who would is probably Mathilda.





With this blog, I write as though someone will read it and enjoy what I have to say. I am under no false pretense that I have a wide readership. It is mostly for me and for the one other person who accidentally stumbled across this blog. If that is you, I'm glad you are here. With this blog, I send my thoughts about what I watch on a black box into the abyss of the world wide web. I hope you enjoy reading these thoughts as much as I enjoy writing them.

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Thursday, October 27, 2016

America, Azkaban, and Unauthorized Affinity

Camp X-Ray (2014)
© IFC Films 2014
Written and Directed by: Peter Sattler
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Peyman Moaadi, Lane Garrison

My Rating: 7.8
Clairometer: Mathilda
Worth: The price to rent, and full attention (although, full attention isn't entirely necessary)

This film touched me. Some will probably loath it, viewing it as anti-American propaganda. Others will love it - for instance, the people who used to protest wearing orange jumpsuits outside the 7th Circuit Courthouse everyday of my law school career. Rational people, no matter their political opinions, will likely agree that Guantanamo Bay presents a major problem. Ethically, we can't keep it open, because it defies what America stands for - habeas corpus among other things. But we can't close it because no states are willing to house the Gitmo occupants in their prisons. This film, although set entirely in a prison in Guantanamo Bay, isn't really about those political issues. Yes, it presents serious concerns about how the prisoners are treated, as well as if they will ever be charged. But the bulk of the film is about a man and a woman learning to view their lives from the other's perspective.

© BBC Drama Productions 2016
I watched The Night Of and, while i was underwhelmed with the show as a whole, I connected most with Naz's parents. His father, played by Peyman Moaadi, is the Guantanamo prisoner in Camp X-Ray. I mention The Night Of merely to describe his range as an actor. It's really quite incredible. In Camp X-Ray he is raw and rude and full of emotion. In The Night Of, he's so reserved and collected, even in the midst of his family tragedy. I watched both around the same time, so the juxtaposition was fresh in my mind and enthralling to behold.

If you're thinking to yourself, "two hours of Kristen Stewart is a bit much," I say give her a chance. It will take her a while to move past the roll of Bella Swan and past her tabloid history. But she really is great in this. I forgot it was her within the first 10 minutes. Not that my forgetting was necessary for my enjoyment nor is it an indictment of Kristen Stewart. I merely mean to compliment her acting. Kudos Kristen. Major Kudos.

Overall, her emotional connection to Moaadi's character is heartbreaking. They don't say many words to each other, but their souls are poured out through the slots in the door. I spent the last 30 minutes of the film with my chest soaked with tears. While that may not be saying very much, I stand by my love of this film. If you are having a bad day, the kind of day where you hate the world. Watch Camp X-Ray to restore your faith in humanity and the power of human connection.