Saturday, January 30, 2016


  I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast

   Tom Hardy is an excellent actor that has done a lot of films I really like….and always delivers a great performance regardless of the film. In this film, he has the unique opportunity to portray the notorious Kray twins in their rise and fall as one of London’s prominent organized crime presence in the 1950’s and 60’s.

   Hardy’s performance clearly conveyed the personality differences between the twins and contrasted himself with ease as there was never any doubt which person he was playing…many times without even having to utter a word.

The Plot: 
   This is a biopic film about Reginald and Ronald Kray as told from the point of view of Reggie’s wife, Frances Shea. It doesn’t start with their childhood (which was a good call) and instead picks  up where Frances is introduced into Reggie’s life.

   At this point the criminal endeavors of the Krays are well underway while we get to sample the personality of Reggie before being treated to the insanity of his brother Ronnie.

   The London crime scene has many players on the field and the Krays navigate the terrain, dealing with rival gangs until their main competitors are taken off the board by London’s finest.

   With their main competition mostly muted, the door swings wide open for them to increase their influence both as local celebrities and politically as they dig their tendrils into several business through a combination of offers and intimidation.

   What follows is a telling of their story as only Tom Hardy can deliver, peppered with drama, comedy….and a bit of blood.

The Verdict: 

   I watch a lot of BBC television and even I had to really concentrate at times to understand the nuance of the dialog, which is a big part of the film.

   Hardy is great and I very much enjoyed his roles, although he may have played Ronnie a bit over-the-top, it was still a very entertaining performance.

   If I had to judge the accuracy of the film, I’d say it fell short in several places, especially if the Wiki accounting of the Krays life is to be believed. Other than that, I found the pace and tone of the film to be somewhat inconsistent at times and was totally taken back by the decision of Jack "the Hat" McVitie (Sam Spruell) at the end….given what had been going on all movie long between him and Reggie Kray…just made no sense to me.

   Overall it was a fun film to watch, mainly due to the delivery of Hardy, but could have been better leaving out some of the musical scores and deciding on a specific tone.

Rating 3.5/5

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Blowing The Whistle Shouldn’t Be Foul

  I was recently talking to a friend (that I will not name) who told me a story of his experience working for a fast food chain (that I will not disclose) and what happened to him when he tried to do the right thing. He became a whistleblower and as I began to think about his circumstances, I began to broaden my thoughts about the subject in general.

   Perhaps I should start by explaining exactly what a whistleblower is, then get into why situations surrounding them are so unbelievably tragic to me.

   It’s not often that I quote Wikipedia…but they summed it up so well:

“A whistleblower (whistle-blower or whistle blower) is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organization that is either private or public.” 

   That definition is pretty simple to understand. What I don’t get is what soon follows:

“Whistleblowers face legal action, criminal charges, social stigma, and termination from any position, office, or job….However, whistleblowing in the public sector organization is more likely to result in federal felony charges and jail-time. A whistleblower who chooses to accuse a private sector organization or agency is more likely to face termination and legal and civil charges.”

   So wait…exposing wrongdoing is a good thing…but you can be punished for it? Yup. My friend lost his job and narrowly avoided being arrested. His story began when he was told to lay out rotten onions for consumption by the public. He told his boss the onions were rotten, but like a good boss (sarcasm), they didn’t care. He refused to do it and was threatened with termination if he didn’t comply. Instead of complying though, he took the onions and put them in the trunk of his car and drove to the police station…boss in hot pursuit. At the police station his boss informed the cops that he had stolen from the restaurant and tried to have him arrested. 

   Now…kudos have to given to the cop in this case as he actually took the time to listen to my friend’s side of the issue. My friend informed the cop that the restaurant was trying to serve clearly rotten food and that his moral code and religious beliefs prevented him from allowing that. When the cop asked for proof…a quick trip to the trunk erased all doubt. The police refused to press charges against him, and called the Health Department on the spot.

   Now…of course he got fired, and his boss got promoted, but what gets me is why on Earth, as the person in charge of the company, would you fire a guy that is looking out for quality assurance, and promote a person that clearly doesn’t care about your customer base?

   It gets worse though. 

   In looking into whistleblowing in general, it seems to be the norm to lambaste the person doing the right thing, and protect the person or organization doing the wrong thing. I know we live in a topsy-turvy world, but this is ridiculous.

   There was even a film made called “Whistleblower” based on the true story of Kathryn Bolkovac. Her story is incredible, but like most other stories, ends with her being cast into the light of a social pariah and those she brought to light virtually unpunishable.

   Of course no post about whistleblowing can ever be complete without the mention of Edward Snowden. Regardless of what is thought about him, his actions have affected us all. I don’t want to make a habit of quoting Wiki, but once again they have summed it all up very nicely:

“A subject of controversy, Snowden has been variously called a hero, a whistleblower, a dissident, a patriot, and a traitor. His disclosures have fueled debates over mass surveillance, government secrecy, and the balance between national security and information privacy.”

   The real question for me though is where do we want to stand? Do we want to stand with people that expose wrongdoing or do we want to stand in opposition to those doing the exposing? There is an old saying that “snitches get stitches” but is that really the position of those that benefit from the snitching, or those being snitched on?

   I guess the reason all this is unbelievably tragic to me is that I would not want my children eating rotten onions and getting sick. I would not want my children lured into a human trafficking ring. I would not want my children deprived of their privacy…and yet there are people out there that willingly stand on the other side of all this, effectively saying they would want all that for my children…and yours.

   If ever you want an accurate gauge of the moral consciousness of a society, look at how they treat those trying to do the right thing, and the legacy they leave for their children by such treatment.