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movie review: this one is old...

Thursday, October 6, 2016
... because I have not been to view a movie at the 'walk in' in weeks, so there is nothing 'current' to talk about. I think the last one I saw on the big screen was Tarzan, and it was at the cheap seats about a month ago. It was pretty good, but I must confess I often get so caught up and mesmerized by the special effects I am not a good judge of script quality or acting skills.

The one we saw one night this week, sitting on the couch, was a DVD from the library. Periodically I will go and check out a handful from the shelves, and bring them home to watch at night. I often claim to be a person who does not watch television, and (possibly bragging) then immediately report how much reading I do. But part of the reason for not being a tv consumer is the fact that it requires such a complicated process to operate. There is probably only one remote necessary to actually turn on the television, but it takes three to get the DVD's going. Therefore I never view a movie alone - cannot go through the complicated, process without someone else available to do all the buttons on all the remotes necessary to actually get to the watching part. Sad, isn't it? But the lack of tech. skills is the reason I do so much book reading...you know how 'low tech' turning the page is!

The movie is 'Changeling', with the lead part played by Angelina Jolie. I am not a huge fan, but she did an excellent job. The story is about Carolyn Collins,  who lived in Los Angeles in the late 1920's and early '30's. She was a single mother with a young son, named Walter. She was called in to work one Saturday, and left Walter (maybe 10 or 12 years old) at home alone. Upon her return, he had disappeared. Completely vanished without a trace. She searched, desperate to find him, but no one had any sightings or clues to offer. When she reported to the police, they were not helpful. Law enforcement eventually got involved, but as the story unfolds, when they returned her son to her: it was not her child.

There had been an ongoing brouhaha brewing in the police department with bribery, corruption, aggressive behavior, from the chief on down. They were in need of media coverage of something uplifting to improve their image, and refused to believe the boy was not her son. The story of what she went through while police denied a  mistake is horrendous: she was forced into a mental institution, a humiliating body cavity inspection, badgered by nurses and doctors, blasted with fire hose, submitting to horrifying subjugation. Punished for telling the truth, as happens when the truth is not popular or well accepted.

On her behalf, a local minister (played by John Malkovich - in the only favorable part I have ever seen him cast) took up a crusade to rally the citizens and force her release. The plot gets far more gruesome than I would normally care for, but so fascinating I could not stop. You see the humiliation and demeaning behavior of men and medical professionals, people in power over captives and females. When those in authority have the ability to exert control over those weaker, or underlings they often do so with brutal force. It is a realistic depiction of what circumstances were like during that era, when mental hospitals were able to incarcerate at will, with little recourse for those who were held captive.

At the end, you see in the credits, it was directed by Clint Eastwood. And that makes you remember the short line at the beginning of the movie that it is A True Story. I'm not sure how old it is, but you can probably find it on Amazon, if not at your local library. Well worth the time.

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