Fahrenheit 11/9

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Fahrenheit 11/9

Fahrenheit 11/9 is a tough movie to see, a tough one to review. The current political climate is so divided that it’s a fair guess that people who see Michael Moore as a villain will stay away. Yes, toward the end he zeroes in on the Trump problem but the rest of the film is an invitation to left and right to address our national problems. He shows us those.

It may make conservatives more comfortable to learn that Moore focuses on President Obama’s visit to Michigan where Governor Rick Snyder had poisoned the city of Flint with water drawn from a lead infected river while supplying fresh water to the General Motors auto parts factory where river water was corroding the auto parts. The governor lied about the lead level in the water that was poisoning people with permanent damage.

To prove the water’s freshness, visiting President Obama announces that he is thirsty and puts a glass to his lips but obviously doesn’t taste it. And then a second glass cements the fakery in our minds. He was supporting the criminal governor. So, don’t think this is a one-sided show. Moore also mocks Bill Clinton and Nancy Pelosi and shows how Hilary Clinton supporters literally destroyed Bernie Sanders’ vote counts.

That said, he shows us that our country is being governed by politicians of both parties who are driven not by looking for the best solutions but simply by what will keep them in power. The examples become an invitation to all of us to recognize that because we are comfortable we are ignoring the corruption of our democracy to a point of serious danger. He believes that, starting with Clinton, the country has become a bi-partisan collusion.

This is supported by a Harvard professor who believes we have already destroyed our democracy. He points out how long it took for women and blacks to win the right to vote. The professor and Moore are convincing in painting us as a country soaking in bi-partisan comfort without recognizing the danger confronting us. If we don’t change, they say, we will perish as a country.

At that point, Moore takes us to Donald Trump’s determination that we be a Christian nation in spite of our founding by immigrants from many nations. The degree of Trump’s determination is frightening.

After the Parkland School shootings, 500 Parkland students rose in articulate anger and sadness to become leaders in the absence of leadership from adults who mourned but didn’t act and Trump who recommended arming the faculty. In a chilling ‘30s moment we watch films of a German athlete who refused to stand for his national anthem.

Moore’s answer is to turn his camera on the extraordinary energy and articulation of the Parkland students who alone have shown leadership in our country where comfort is creating the ignorance of our problems. Moore’s primary thesis: If we don’t find leadership and reform, it’s all over for America.

Film Reviewer: Joan Ellis
Film title : Fahrenheit 11/9
Word Count : 499
Running Tim : 2:08
Rating : R
Date : September 23, 2018

This review was posted on September 23, 2018, in Documentary.

Three Identical Strangers

Movie Review by Joan Ellis –

Three Identical Strangers

The first half of Three Identical Strangers will delight you – no doubt of that. The second will take you to far darker places and send you out with a head full of unanswered questions. Credit director Tim Wardle with having the courage to tackle a true story that throws a complex issue into the public discussion before the elements are even clear.

There’s great fun to be had as we watch Robert, Eddy, and David as they discover they are identical triplets. Born in 1980, they are 19 when we meet them and they find each other. We smile at their fun as they discover the exactness of their physical movements and voice tones. We watch in pleasure as they start a restaurant named “Triplets.” And then we join in the director’s confusion as he discovers that the Louise Wise Services adoption agency – working with Dr. Peter Neubauer, a German psychiatrist, never told the adopting couples that each of their new sons was one of triplets.

Dr. Neubauer – who died in 2008 was studying the three in secrecy and had sealed all his documents at Yale where no one can see them until 2066. The three boys, now adult men, are dealing with the unsettling certainty that for all their lives they have been objects of an organized secret study run by psychiatrist Dr. Peter Neubauer in partnership with the Louise Wise Services Adoption Agency.

When the triplets, who have grown happily from teenagers to adulthood, discover this dark truth, they are wrapped in confusion. Who did this? Why weren’t they ever told they were triplets? Their story is stored at Yale?

In an effort to unravel the secret cooperation between the psychiatrist and the adoption agency, director Tim Wardle introduces us to various witnesses and principals. Sadly, most of that ends in confusion for the audience. We meet the adoptive mothers who knew nothing of the plot. What did the agency tell them? We meet the odd birth mother and the wives of the triplets. Who is Neubauer? He is dead.

We meet the woman who worked for Dr. Neubauer. As we wrestle with the questions each introduction raises, resentment grows at the secret study that has affected the personal lives of so many people. As all that unfolds, we begin to see the cruelty and violation of human rights inflicted by Neubauer and the adoption agency.

What started as an exploration of the perennial dilemma of nature vs. nurture was rooted in the cruelty of a study by a professional who violated a whole string of moral and legal rules in secret. You will develop your own theory of why Dr. Neubauer secured the future of his work in 66 boxes at Yale where it would be safe until everyone is dead, including himself. The degree to which biology is, and is not, destiny is riveting. The cruelty of one man who hurt so many while studying that question is tragic.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Film Title : Three Identical Strangers
Word Count : 501
Running Time: 1:36
Rating : PG-13
Date : July 22, 2018

This review was posted on July 22, 2018, in Documentary.