Late Night Cable Movie Review: Bikini Model Mayhem (2016, dir. Sal V. Miers)

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It’s funny, but according to IMDb this movie isn’t going to premiere until January 24th of this year. That must be huge news for Cinemax who had this in their app, which is where I watched it.

That title made me think I was in store for something like Bikini Avengers (2015), which funny enough has some of the same actors in it. Also, that title card does in no way tell you the kind of film you about to watch. Here’s a song that I think does a fine job of telling you what kind of movie this is. That being Alice Cooper’s Elected.

Yep, it’s a parody of pop culture and politics. And it’s actually pretty good.


I knew I was in for something decent when the movie opened with several shots like the one above. It meant someone was going to bother to add a little style and therefore probably actually have a story.

It begins when a woman named Augustine (Katie Morgan) walks into a bar and proceeds to try and seduce a politician named Bill (Eric Masterson). She’s certainly pretty. She’s definitely caught his eye. However, something just isn’t right. When he asks her if he can buy her a drink, she says:


After he tells her he needs to be careful being a politician and all she says:


She says it must have been a program glitch. Don’t know about you, but that’s all the proof I need. She’s hot. Augustine and Bill leave and go to have sex. They seem to be having a good time till…


Then her eyes light up and…


That’s when we cut to a lab where we see a guy in a tie and a guy in a lab coat looking at a monitor showing what the obvious robot…bikini model robot, as she is called, sees. No time for that though because we need to meet our leading lady!


Don’t you love that I felt I needed to crop the title card to keep us from getting in trouble, but his breasts are perfectly G-Rated? Anyways, that’s Megan (Jacqui Holland). She’s canvassing the area to make sure people know to vote for Senator G.W. Bushwacker (Andy Espinoza Long) in his gubernatorial bid. Seeing as he’s got time to kill waiting for the cable guy, he agrees to hear her out. Clearly we need to hear about his positions. Policy positions as she corrects him.

She says that “unlike the other candidates in this race, Senator Bushwacker refuses to go negative.” That’s a load off my mind. I mean as she goes on to say “he could point out that Mayor Jefferson beats his wife, and he’s embezzled millions from the state treasury. And Sterling, well, he got his law degree from a Crackerjack box. And he has a hard drive filled with child pornography, not to mention his involvement in the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby — but he won’t.”

Phew! Good thing Bushwacker doesn’t throw around wild claims. This guy though, he’s skeptical and asks why he should believe what she says. Isn’t it obvious? Those things are in the “talking points” they gave her to take around while knocking on people’s doors. He concedes that those things may be in the talking points, but what’s in it for him. The wheels start turning in her head and she suggests higher wages. Boy this guy is a tough sell though cause he’s “still on the fence.” How about “lower taxes”, she says. “Warmer”, he replies. Then she has a moment of revelation: “How about the government keeping its stinking hands off your Medicare?” Course he’s a young guy so Medicare isn’t really an important issue for him. At this point she says “the choice is clear. It’s either the wife-beating embezzler, the pedophile kidnapper who passes himself off as a lawyer, or Senator G.W. Bushwacker, a true American patriot.” Oh, and then she remembers: “Did I mention you can keep your guns?”

I feel for this guy. I mean lower taxes sounds good. I don’t really have to worry about Medicare at this point, but it’s nice to know he’ll stand up for the elderly. Bushwacker is running a no negative campaign. Plus, he does’t beat his wife, embezzle money, isn’t a pedophile kidnapper, doesn’t pass himself off as a doctor…I mean a lawyer, and he’s a true American patriot. Clearly there is one more thing I know I would certainly need to ask before giving Bushwacker my vote.


I wish I could show you the look actress Jacqui Holland gets on her face as she reluctantly pulls up her top. It’s great! By the way, it’s her film. She steals the show. No sex scene happens though because we have more important things to attend to. We cut to the lab and find out that Bushwacker is working with a doctor to create bikini model robots to embarrass Bushwacker’s opponents. He wants robots so they can’t turn on him later like real women could. Makes sense.

Now we cut to Megan at home with her boyfriend. Megan is kind of broken up. She said, “I could barely even look at myself.” He tries to comfort her, but he clearly just doesn’t understand. She was talking about her most recent Facebook post of course! I mean it only got six likes. What the hell! Maybe some people just didn’t see the dress right.



I can’t say I expected that to come back around again. Regardless, he finds it weird that it’s that which has her broken up and not her taking her top off. Men! “Country first, babe. It was my patriotic duty.” A damn fine American. Oh, and they have sex.

Meanwhile, back in the lab they have made a new bikini model robot and they send her off to go after that lawyer. She says that she is being sexually discriminated against at her job. By that she doesn’t mean that anyone there won’t have sex with her. They’re not that discriminating. They just don’t want her wearing sexy clothes. She works at a retirement center after all. But the lawyer is not easily convinced. He needs to see exactly what happened. Apparently, some guy had a heart attack after she bent over. So she bends her breasts towards his face. He’s a good lawyer though. He says, “He’ll leave no stone unturned.” That means we need to make sure she didn’t bend over in the other direction.


Poor actor Ryan Driller, if he’s not murdered like in Carnal Wishes, then they just shove a butt in his face. Of course they have sex till the photographer shows up.


Over at the campaign headquarters Megan gets to meet G.W. Bushwacker himself. And by that, I mean he tells her to take her clothes off and they have sex. And by they have sex, I mean it’s all in his head. But we do get another great Jacqui Holland facial expression!


Bushwacker invites her and the boyfriend out for drinks. Back in lab, the good scientist (Ted Newsom) makes sure his two bikini models are fully functional. I mean he makes them have sex with each other. At first they are hesitant because they are both girls, but they soon get into it just fine. During this we see a board that tells us bikini stands for Binary Instillation Kinetic Integration Naissant Intelligence. In other words, bullshit. Also, the scientist completely goes away during this scene just in case we weren’t sure that this scene is meant to both be for voyeurs of girl on girl and for people who swap themselves out for one of the girls. Now one of the dumbest things I have ever seen a movie do happens.


Let me explain what’s going on in that shot. The couple at the table are in the foreground, in focus, and are moving their mouths as if they are talking, but no sound whatsoever comes out of their mouths. All the sounds are coming from the guy in the background talking on his cellphone and to the bartender. And this goes on for awhile too. It took me some time to realize what was happening here. It’s not till he walks over to the table that the sound makes sense again. Wow!

One drink leads to another, then another, and Megan decides to ask Bushwacker about gay marriage. They drink to it with “bottoms up”. She says the talking points still say that Mayor Jefferson beats his wife, although he apparently has stopped, but now it also has the new information that he killed a guy. She also calls him on his bullshit about saying other politicians flip flop, but that when he does it he says he has simply “evolved”. According to Bushwacker: “He calls it like he sees it. Until he sees it differently.” Now the boyfriend gets up to take a bathroom break (clearly he’s not presidential material). In there he is ambushed by the two bikini models. Bushwacker then takes her to that bathroom.


That’s brilliant! Clearly somebody should have tried that during one of the debates. On the upside, at least we know Bushwacker will not be passing bathroom laws anytime soon seeing as he clearly doesn’t have a problem with men and women using the same public bathroom.

The next day the boyfriend has some explaining to do! Unfortunately for him, she’s seen the 1974 gay porn called Drive.


We cut back to the lab to find out the lawyer thing barely got a blurb in the paper before cutting back to Megan so we can get this line.


Actually, the movie Bad Johnson (2014) taught me that you just pee out your butthole when that happens. Also, 22 Jump Street (2014) taught us that they will just carve out a vagina for you. There’s plenty of ways to deal with peeing without a penis. Luckily for him, she does let him keep it. That’s when the robots show up before cutting to the lab.

Bushwacker doesn’t believe that his opponents will fall for the bikini models again. The scientist responds with, “Hmm, fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, can’t get fooled again.” Bushwacker responds with, “I couldn’t have said it better myself.” This is the greatest part of the movie for me. Remember when G.W. Bush ran for president the first time? Remember one of his campaign songs? It was Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who.

I remember very clearly because as soon as the news story talking about it ended, and it went back to the anchors, they immediately brought up that it was odd he was using it considering the song ends with the line: “Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

Now Megan and the bikini models show up at the lab and lead Bushwacker to believe they are on his side. They even have an orgy with him. But then…


However, it doesn’t mean the scientist is off the hook. He did kind of make all this nastiness possible. His response is that “we all have our little peccadilloes.” Or as he puts it succinctly, he gets his kicks from “schadenfreude”. Cue sirens and Megan says: “I think I hear your ride now.”


This is the kind of late night cable movie I love. If you are looking for one of these movies to check out, then just like Carnal Wishes, I recommend this one. Heck, I think I recommend this one even more. At least of the ones in the Cinemax app.

Playing Catch-Up: The Stanford Prison Experiment and The Tribe


The Stanford Prison Experiment (dir by Kyle Patrick Alvarez)

The Stanford Prison Experiment tells a true story.  It’s important to point that out because this is one of those films that, if you didn’t know it was based on a true story, you would probably be inclined to dismiss as being totally improbable.

In 1971, Professor Philip Zimbardo (played in the movie by Billy Crudup) conducted a psychological experiment at Stanford University.  A fake prison was built in the basement of a campus building, complete with cells and even a room to be used for solitary confinement.  15 students volunteered to take part in the experiment.  For $15.00 a day, some of the students were randomly assigned to be prisoners while others got to be guards.  The experiment was supposed to last for two weeks but Zimbardo ended it after 6 days.  Why?  Because the students had started to the take the experiment very seriously, with the guards growing increasingly sadistic towards their “prisoners.”  Afterwards, many of the prisoner students claimed to have been traumatized while the guard students felt they were just playing a game.

(As one of the guards says in the film, “Am I still going to get paid?”)

The Stanford Prison Experiment tells the story of that controversial experiment and it is, at times, quite a harrowing experience.  Interestingly, when the film begins, the focus is on the prisoners.  I immediately noticed that Ezra Miller was one of the prisoners and, being familiar with his work in Perks of Being A Wallflower and We Need To Talk About Kevin, I naturally assumed that the majority of the film would revolve around him.  After all, among the actors playing the prisoners, Ezra Miller was the “biggest name.”  And, when the film began, it did seem to be centered around Miller’s likable and rebellious presence.

But then something happened.  Miller faded into the background.  In fact, all of the “prisoners” faded into the background and the actors became almost indistinguishable from each other.  Instead, the film started to focus on one of the guards.  Outside of the prison, Christopher Archer (Michael Angarano) is a laid back and rather amiable California college student.  But, once he shows up for the night shift, Archer starts to talk about all of the prison films that he’s seen.  He starts to speak in a Southern accent.  He says stuff like, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”  And soon, Archer is making the rules inside the prison.

In much the same way that Christopher Archer takes over the experiment, actor Michael Angarano takes over the film.  While Zimbardo and his colleagues watch Archer’s actions with a mix of fascination and fear, the film’s audience becomes enthralled with Angarano’s intense performance.  Wisely, neither Angarano nor the film allow Archer to turn into a cardboard villain.  He’s not a bad guy.  Instead, he’s playing a role.  He’s been told to act like a guard and that’s what he’s going to do, regardless of whatever else may happen.  The most fascinating part of the film becomes the contrast between Archer the likable student and Archer the fascist authority figure.

It’s frustrating that more people didn’t see The Stanford Prison Experiment when it was released in 2015.  Considering the blind trust in authority that is currently so popular in certain parts of the American culture, The Stanford Prison Experiment is a film that a lot of people really do need to see and learn from.


The Tribe (dir by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy)

Anyone who says that they truly understand everything that happens in the disturbing Ukrainian film The Tribe is lying.  Taking place at a school for the deaf and exclusively cast with deaf actors, The Tribe is a film where everyone communicates in Ukrainian Sign Language and there are no subtitles.  However, the actors are often filmed with their back to the camera and occasionally, their hands are out of frame so, even if you do know Ukrainian Sign Language, there’s still going to be scenes where you have no idea what anyone is saying.

And it’s appropriate really.  The Tribe is a film about alienation and, by refusing to give us either an interpreter or subtitles, it forces the audience to feel the same alienation that the film’s characters have to deal with on a daily basis.  It quickly becomes obvious that these permanent outsiders have created their own society and the least of their concerns is whether the rest of the world understands it.

What can be learned about the film’s story largely comes from the body language of the actors and the audience’s own knowledge of gangster movies, which is what The Tribe basically is.  A new student at a boarding school for the deaf is recruited into a gang that deals drugs and pimps out two female students as prostitutes at a truck stop.  When the new student falls in love with one of the girls, it leads to some truly brutal acts of violence, all of which are somehow made more disturbing by the fact that they take place in total silence.

(The talkative criminals of most gangster films allow audiences to focus on something other than the violence.  When people talk about the opening of a film like Pulp Fiction, they talk about John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson talking about Amsterdam.  They don’t focus on the guys getting gunned down in their apartment.  In The Tribe, there are no quips or one-liners before people are hurt and we are forced to pay more attention to the consequences of brutality.)

The Tribe is made up of only 34 shots.  The wide-angle lens forces us to consider these alienated characters against the barren Ukrainian landscape and the camera constantly moves with the characters, tracking them as closely as fate.  Intense and dream-lie, The Tribe is a hauntingly enigmatic film.  It’s not an easy film but it is a rewarding one.

Here Are The WGA Nominations!

The Writers Guild of America announced their film nominations earlier today!  As always, the WGA nominations should be taken with a grain of salt, as several potential Oscar nominees — Brooklyn, Room, The Hateful Eight — were not eligible to be nominated for a WGA award.

With that in mind, here are the nominees!

Bridge of Spies, Written by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen & Joel Coen; DreamWorks Pictures

Sicario, Written by Taylor Sheridan; Lionsgate

Spotlight, Written by Josh Singer & Tom McCarthy; Open Road Films

Straight Outta Compton, Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge & Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff; Universal Pictures

Trainwreck, Written by Amy Schumer; Universal Pictures


The Big Short, Screenplay by Charles Randolph and Adam McKay; Based on the Book by Michael Lewis; Paramount Pictures

Carol, Screenplay by Phyllis Nagy; Based on the Novel The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith; The Weinstein Company

The Martian, Screenplay by Drew Goddard; Based on the Novel by Andy Weir; Twentieth Century Fox

Steve Jobs, Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin; Based on the Book by Walter Isaacson; Universal Pictures

Trumbo, Written by John McNamara; Based on the Biography by Bruce Cook; Bleecker Street Media

Being Canadian, Written by Robert Cohen; Candy Factory Films

Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Written by Alex Gibney; HBO Documentary Films

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Written by Brett Morgen; HBO Documentary Films

Prophet’s Prey, Written by Amy J. Berg; Showtime Documentary Films

The American Society of Cinematographers Has Spoken!


The American Society of Cinematographers announced their 5 nominees for the best cinematography of 2015 and here they are:

Bridge of Spies – Janusz Kaminski
Carol – Edward Lachman
Mad Max: Fury Road – John Seale
The Revenant – Emmanuel Lubezki
Sicario – Roger Deakins

This is Roger Deakins’s 14th ASC nomiantion!  If Sicario scores a best picture nomination, I wouldn’t be surprised if Deakins finally picks up an Oscar as a result.

Though a lot of critics don’t want to admit it (for obvious reasons), the guild awards are actually a far better Oscar precursor than the critic awards.  If you want to know what films are popular with the people who actually make movies, look to the guild awards.

And looking at the guild awards so far, it really does appear that there are quite a few films that have wide industry support.  Interestingly enough, both Sicario and Straight Outta Compton have been making something of a comeback with the guild awards.  (Even though Compton was not nominated by ASC, it has been recognized by the PGA, WGA, and SAG.)  As well, Bridge of Spies and Trumbo have both received more guild support than either has gotten from the critics.

For that matter, both Mad Max: Fury Road and The Big Short have received more guild support than Spotlight.  I know that Sasha Stone and Jeff Wells have pretty much declared Spotlight to be unbeatable but who knows?  Things could still get interesting.

(Correction: Over on Gold Derby, Sasha Stone is now predicting victory for The Big Short.)

Film Review: Suffragette (dir by Sarah Gavron)


It’s funny (or perhaps not) when you think about it.  I’ve always taken my right to vote (and, in theory at least, have some say over how I’m governed) for granted.  Even before I turned 18 and officially registered, I never had any doubt that, some day, I would be able to vote for President and every other elected office.  (And, even before that, I voted in student council and mock presidential elections.)  Voting is something that I so take for granted that, even when I cast my first official vote in the 2004 Presidential election, it didn’t really mean much to me.  Given the choice between Bush and Kerry, I wrote in the name of Charles Jay, the candidate of the Personal Choice Party.  I knew nothing about Mr. Jay but I had come across his name online and I liked the idea of personal choice and I thought it would make for a funny story to tell all of my friends who were actually taking the election seriously.  (Even back then, I enjoyed annoying people who actually cared.)  Essentially, I threw my vote away and I did it without a second thought.

Of course, what I didn’t understand at that time was that the right to vote was something that many brave women had fought for, gone to prison for, and even died for.  If I had lived before 1920, I would not have had the right to vote and I certainly would not have had the opportunity to so casually toss my vote away.  Women in the U.S. did not win the right to vote until 1920.  But before everyone starts in with the usual “America is so backwards!” crap, consider this.  In Britain, women did not win the right to vote until 1928.  Women could not vote in France until 1944 and Switzerland waited until 1984!  Last year, women in Saudi Arabia voted for the first time.

The struggle of British women to gain equal rights under the law is the subject of the film Suffragette.  Maud Watts (played by Carey Mulligan, my generation’s Audrey Hepburn) is a laundress living in London in 1912.  She spends her day working for little money and for a male boss who, for years, has sexually harassed and abused the women working under him.  Unlike a lot of the women who work at the laundry, Maud has a stable home life.  She is a devoted mother and her husband, Sonny (Ben Whishaw), is supportive.

Or, at least, he seems to be at first.  Things chance once Maud gets involved in the suffragette movement.  It’s not just that her lecherous boss laughs at her for wanting to be treated equally,  That, we expect.  No, what is truly infuriating is to watch how quickly Sonny goes from being a loving husband to a monster, the type who forbids Maud from seeing her own son and then callously puts the boy up for adoption.  Confronted by his wife’s demand to be treated as his equal, Sonny reveals himself to be no better than the casual misogynists that Maud must deal with, on a daily basis, at work.  Raised on a diet of films where men come to their senses and justice (and love) somehow prevails, I kept expecting Sonny to see the error of his ways or for Maud to at least be reunited with her son.  Needless to say, none of that happened.  This is a film that never lets us forget the sacrifice involved in fighting for equal rights.

Instead, having lost everything that previously defined her life, Maud throws herself into the battle for women’s rights.  And, as Suffragette makes clear, that meant a lot more than just winning the right to vote.

It’s an inspiring story and both Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham-Carter (who plays another suffragette) give powerful performances.  At the same time — and this is something that many critics need to understand and acknowledge — you can love a film for what it has to say while, at the same time, acknowledging that it doesn’t totally work as a piece of cinema.  Suffragette is not a perfect film and reviewing it, I found myself torn between praising the film’s message and criticizing director Sarah Gavron’s frequently uninspired cinematic technique.  (From a strictly cinematic point of view, Suffragette will play better on television than on a big movie screen.)

Perhaps for me, the film’s great weakness was casting Meryl Streep in the role of real-life activist Emmeline Pankhurst.  Ms. Pankhurst was the leader of the Suffragette movement and is an inspiring historical figure.  Unfortunately, as soon as Meryl shows up for her four-minute cameo, it becomes impossible to see her as being anyone other than Meryl Streep, a wealthy white woman who — unlike the real-life Ms. Pankhurst — will never be sent to prison for demanding the right to vote.  When Meryl shows up as Ms. Pankhurst, it takes the viewer out of the historical reality of the film.  You’re no longer watching a group of brave women risking their lives and demanding to be treated equally under the law.  Instead, you’re just watching a Meryl Streep cameo.

Throughout the film, Maud stays in a succession of safe houses and decrepit offices.  She always has a picture of Ms. Pankhurst near her and occasionally, she looks to it for strength and guidance.  However, since the picture of Ms. Pankhurst is really just a picture of Meryl Streep, it again serves to take the viewer out of the film.  Perhaps if Meryl Streep had more screen time, she would be able to get us to think of her as being Ms. Pankhurst but since she’s only onscreen for four minutes, she instead just serves to distract from the film’s message.

(Personally, I would have cast either Emma Thompson and Kristin Scott Thomas in the role of Ms. Pankhurst, two great actresses who would could have portrayed her charisma without being quite as distracting as Meryl Streep.)

As I said earlier, Suffragette is not a perfect film but it does teach an important lesson that needs to be learned, especially by those of us who occasionally take our rights for granted.  It’s a film that reminds us that years ago, brave women fought for everything that we have now and it’s a film that encourages us to keep fighting.  It’s not a perfect film but it’s a film that deserves to be seen.

2015 in Review: Lisa’s Picks For The 16 Worst Films Of The Year


There’s always a little bit of risk involved in making a list of the 16 worst films of the year.  People take movies very seriously and, often times, the crappiest of films will have very passionate (and very ignorant) defenders.  I was reminded of this in November when I wrote my review of The Leisure Class and I discovered that there actually are a few misguided dumbfug toadsuckers who actually enjoyed that movie.

But you know what?  Even with that risk, I always enjoy making out my worst-of-the-year list.  Let’s be honest: stupid people tend to like stupid movies.  And it’s important to point out that stupidity.  Only by pointing it out can we hope to defeat it.  I’m sure that some people will disagree with some of my picks.  After all, people initially disagreed with me when I announced that Man of Steel was the worst film of 2013. However, just 2 years later, most people now realize that I was right.  There were also people who insisted, in 2011, that Another Earth was a great movie.  Again, they now realize that they were wrong and I was right.

So, with all that in mind, here are my picks for the 16 worst films of 2015!  For the most part, 2015 was a pretty good year for cinema.  However, there were still a number of terrible films released and here’s 16 of them.

(Why 16?  Because Lisa doesn’t do odd numbers!)

16) Stockholm, Pennsylvania (dir by Nicholas Beckwith)

15) Aloha (dir by Cameron Crowe)

14) The Lazarus Effect (dir by David Gelb)

13) The Woman In Black 2: The Angel of Death (dir by Tom Harper)

12) The Stranger (dir by Guillermo Amoedo)

11) Get Hard (dir by Etan Coen)

10) Fantastic Four (dir by Josh Trank)

9) War Room (dir by Alex Kendrick)

8) Tommorrowland (dir by Brad Bird)

7) Jenny’s Wedding (dir by Mary Agnes Donoghue)

6) The Gallows (dir by Craig Lofing and Travis Cluff)

5) Tooken (dir by John Asher)

4) The Last House on Cemetery Lane (dir by Andrew Jones)

3) Vacation (dir by Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley)

2) The Leisure Class (dir by Jason Mann)

And finally, it’s time to name the worst film of 2015!

And the winner is….

1) Ted 2 (dir by Seth McFarlane)


(Feel free to also check out my picks for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014!)

Agree?  Disagree?  Leave a comment and let us know!  And if you disagree, please let me know what movie you think was worse than Ted 2!

Tomorrow, I will be posting my 10 favorite songs of 2015!

Previous Entries In The Best of 2015:

  1. Valerie Troutman’s 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw in 2015
  2. Necromoonyeti’s Top 15 Metal Albums of 2015
  3. 2015 In Review: The Best of SyFy
  4. 2015 in Review: The Best of Lifetime

Playing Catch-Up With Two Documentaries: 3 1/2 Minutes 10 Bullets and The Wolfpack

312 minutes

3 1/2 Minutes Ten Bullets (Dir by Marc Silver)

On November 23rd, 2012, an SUV pulled up to a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida.  Inside the SUV were four teenage boys, all of whom were black.  A car pulled up next to the SUV.  Inside the car was a man and his girlfriend.  They were both white.

The man was named Michael Dunn and reportedly, he was annoyed by the loud rap music that was being played in the SUV.  He told his girlfriend that he hated “thug music.”  He got out of his car and asked them to turn down the music.  What happened next depends on who you ask.  The driver of the SUV says that he turned down the music but then his friend, Jordan Davis, turned it back up.  Michael Dunn claims that Jordan Davis opened a door and pointed something at him that looked like a shotgun.

What everyone agree on is that Dunn grabbed his own gun and proceeded to fire it into the SUV, killing Jordan Davis.  Everyone also agrees that no shotgun was ever found in the SUV.

Michael Dunn was tried for the murder of Jordan Davis and the attempted murder of the other three teenagers.  Dunn claimed he was acting in self-defense.  He was “standing his ground.”  Dunn’s first murder trial ended in a mistrial.  His second trial ended with his conviction.

3 1/2 Minutes Ten Bullets was filmed during the two trials and it is infuriating.  Though Michael Dunn was not interviewed for the film, we do hear recordings of some of the calls he made to his girlfriend while he was in prison and it is chilling to listen to him as he continues to insist that he did nothing wrong.  Even when confronted by the fact that no shotgun was found in the SUV, Dunn continues to insist that the four teenagers had to have been armed.  After all, he says, they were listening to “thug music!”  If you had any doubt about the type of person Michael Dunn was before watching this documentary and hearing his voice, that doubt will be gone after watching 3 1/2 Minutes.

Even more importantly, 3 1/2 Minutes features extensive interviews with Jordan’s friends and family, all of whom express their sadness and anger with such articulation that it’s impossible not to get infuriated when Dunn and others casually dismisses them as being “thugs.”

3 1/2 Minutes is a powerful and moving documentary that should be seen by anyone who is interested in taking a serious look at race in America.


The Wolfpack (dir by Crystal Moselle)

I had mixed feelings about The Wolfpack.

On the one hand, The Wolfpack is a fascinating story about seven siblings who — after spending 14 years locked away in a New York apartment — finally start to enter the real world.  Everything that the siblings know about the world, they learned through the movies.  Inside the apartment, they obsessively recreate their favorite movies, with an elaborate production of Pulp Fiction being a definite highlight.  When they go out into the real world, they do so dressed like the characters from Reservoir Dogs.

(Except, of course, for the one time that one of them goes out while dressed like Michael Myers from Halloween.  That leads to some trouble with the authorities…)

Watching these brothers (and one sister) as they talked about their unconventional childhood and as they discovered what the world was like outside of their apartment, it was impossible for me not to be moved.  I was touched by their love for each other and I related to their obsession with the movies.  I hoped that they would survive in the outside world.  I was happy for them but, at the same time, I was scared for them.  I knew that their new opportunities would come with a certain loss of innocence.

At the same time, it frustrated me that less time was spent on the circumstances that led to them never leaving that apartment for 14 years.  Or, perhaps, I should say that it angered me that they didn’t seem to be as angry as I was.  The father was obviously mentally ill and, while it would be easy to just dismiss him as a monster, I couldn’t help but feel that the truth was perhaps a bit more complex.

The Wolfpack is a fascinating documentary and it’s currently available on Netflix!