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In Print

Reviewer Magazine in print:

#50, #49, #48, #47, #46, #45, #44, #43, #42, #41 #40, #39, #38,...

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Big City Tattoo

NEW LOCATION!

Big City Tattoo, Inc.
Big City Tattoo, Inc.
2939 El Cajon Boulevard 
San Diego, CA 92104 
619-299-4868
2939 El Cajon Boulevard
San Diego, CA 92104
619-299-4868
tat2inc.com
The Polynesian
Tap-Tattoo
Headquarters
,
San Diego's ONLY Qualified Samoan Tap Artist. Specializing in ALL custom tattoos. Voted Best Tattoo Artist in San Diego!


:::

:::

Alice's Restaurant Protest Music

[Protest]

Alice’s Restaurant

Music Has Been A Way To Resist For A Long Time

From The Atlantic:

‘The lyrics’ synopsis: On Thanksgiving 1965, Guthrie and some pals went to throw out garbage from the church where the titular Alice lived, but the dump was closed for the holiday. So he instead tossed the waste at an unsanctioned site, was caught and arrested, and his arrest prevented him from being drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. In the song he tells this story with heapings of humor and twang, and it culminates in him advising would-be draft-dodgers to go into their draft office and sing the chorus of the tune to show themselves unfit for service.

‘The song has been portrayed as anti-war, a Baby Boomer tale of resistance. But if you actually listen, it’s not quite that. The Guthrie of the song tells the draft psychologist, “Shrink, I want to kill. I mean, I wanna, I wanna kill. Kill. I wanna, I wanna see, I wanna see blood and gore and guts and veins in my teeth. Eat dead, burnt bodies. I mean kill, Kill, KILL, KILL.” This just makes him more likely to be enlisted. The twist of the thing comes when it’s a littering offense, not his supposed sadistic tendencies, that keep him out of the military—a sign of screwed-up governmental priorities.’

Photolog: Supermoon, 11-13-16

[Photolog]

SUPERMOON!

by Reviewer Rob

This photo was shot about an hour and a half ago at 6:05 p.m., from a parking lot up on a hilltop overlooking a freeway in north metro San Diego. The area directly in front of me below the plane of the moon was relatively free of urban and streetlight pollution, although there were some office parks about one mile away with similar light like the ones to my left and right in the parking lot I was in. I was using my Asahi Pentax 600mm f/4.5-f/45 fixed focal length lens on my Nikon D5300 set at ISO 100. I had the lens set at f/16.5, and shutter speed for this photo was 1/500 sec. There was some slight haze but it was overall a cloudless and clear night. Two days ago there was much drier conditions with a true Santa Ana. Too bad the Supermoon didn’t get scheduled for then.

This was the last of a series of 22 photos, and I used escalating shutter speeds from 200th up each notch to 500th, settling on 1/500th because my tripod is a little wiggly with a long lens. The faster shutter I shot it at the more crisp the image appeared in my viewfinder.

The RAW image was adjusted in Photoshop CC and then cropped out to isolate it in the field. Then I monochromed it to take out all the color. It’s dark, to highlight detail, but hey it’s the moon. It looks better dark and spooky.

Behold the Supermoon, 11-13-2016.

Edit b, same photo.

Edit b, same photo.

Photolog: Supermoon, 11-13-16, by Reviewer Rob.

Photolog: Supermoon, 11-13-16, by Reviewer Rob.

From theindependent.co.uk:

‘Known as the Beaver Moon or Frost Moon, this one will be exceptionally large and bring higher than normal tides.

“The full moon of Nov. 14 is not only the closest full moon of 2016 but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century,” Nasa said in a statement, adding the full moon will not come this close to Earth again until 25 November 2034.’

photolog: in PDX shooting jpeg vs. NEF

Why I shoot NEF RAW, and other superfluously obvious information

by Reviewer Rob

I was in Portland last weekend to finish up distributing a few hundred copies of issue 50 that had the Bundy Militia story in it. Ammon Bundy was on the cover in an article where Sarah Glass Shafer met him briefly at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff near Burns, Oregon, in January of this year, and on the back page was the article of her interview with militia spokesman LaVoy Finnicum. He’s the one who was eventually killed during a traffic stop with police about a month later after repeatedly taunting officers that they would have to shoot him. It was videoed by occupants of the vehicle he was driving as well as from police helicopter circling overheard. Very unfortunate.

So anyways, this is one reason why a couple of days before I arrived the not-guilty verdict in the federal trial of standoff participants was received as such good news by many members of the local public in Portland, and ehy it was important to get more copies of issue 50 up there ASAP. The recent verdict was the culmination of a big news story nationally.

While up there I had time to do some sightseeing, and there’s lots to see in the northwest. Portland is a fine combination of Big City and Great Outdoors because you’ve got all the elements of civilized society around you, yet wilderness is only a short car ride away. Witness the Willamette River: it’s a large tributary that flows into an even larger river, the Columbia, which can provide fresh water and power 365 days of the year. In the summer I’m a sure it’s an unending form of aquatic recreation too.

As for my photolog post, here it is:

I always set my cameras to shoot both JPEG and NEF RAW large/fine images. It takes up more space on the card but that’s okay, I just buy larger and more memory cards and more hard drives to archive shoots. I began shooting both several years ago while doing wedding gigs when the brides and grooms that hired me to shoot their ceremonies didn’t have the computer apps or know-how to process RAW images and needed their photos to be ready right away. But I also always wanted to have the RAW files on hand to do their custom image work separately. Below is an example of why.

The top photo is the original version. It was how the jpeg file looked when created, but the NEF RAW image was identical to it in appearance. The two below it contrast the limitations of the jpeg image against the versatility of the RAW file. Both were adjusted on in Photoshop until the best results could be achieved. The depth of color and detail retention of the RAW image at bottom can not be disputed, of course. Look at the wake behind the boat, and at what’s looks like a small sheltered cove only partially visible under the boat dock walk ramp in the upper left of the photo. You can see right into it in the RAW pic while in the jpeg it’s only a murky shadow. The state had experienced a very rainy October and although the image was slightly over exposed the brown color of the early November river water was well captured in RAW and brought out by the photo processing app. In the jpeg version not so much true color was recorded.

Clearly you should love shooting RAW and never settle for less.

Back to the subject of Portland. When I return, and I hope to very soon, I want to take my 600mm f4 and get some shots of the volcano Mount Hood. It has glaciers on it all the time and looks breathtaking at a distance against a cloudless blue sky.

Image technical data:
camera: Nikon D5300, Manual setting, Pattern Metering
lens: Tamron AF 18-270 f3.5
focal length: 270mm
160/sec, f11, ISO 1000

Here's the unedited jpeg original version. It's how the NEF RAW image looked upon creation as well.

Here’s the unedited jpeg original version. It’s how the NEF RAW image looked upon creation as well.

The jpeg original version, after editing in Adobe  Photoshop CC.

The jpeg original version, after editing in Adobe Photoshop CC.

The NEF RAW image after finished editing in Adobe Photoshop CC.

The NEF RAW image after finished editing in Adobe Photoshop CC.

My California 2016 Ballot General Election Handbook

California General Election 2016 Voter Guide. Available on Ebay...

California General Election 2016 Voter Guide. Available on Ebay…

I can’t wait till this ordeal is over.

by Reviewer Rob

So glad the November 8 mail-in voter deadline/day at the polls is finally tomorrow. Man it’s been a long year. By this time Wednesday we’ll have a good idea about how the next four years will go. And I’m not even going to wade into that mosh pit here at this point. Maybe I’ll deal with that in print later. Much later. For now I’m just happy I’ve done my part and can sit back and watch the show with a clear conscience.

So, I’m going to hang onto my election 2016 book. At 224 pages on newsprint I feel like it’s representative of a real big tipping point in American history. To add to the ephemera I’m going to insert my vote by mail instructions booklet that came with my mail-in ballot. While filling out the ballot I marked it with which state measures I chose to support or not, as well as all the various candidates, and I’m just thinking I want to keep it safe and bag it for future reference.

P.S. let me add that I voted straight Democrat this time around. Of course. For the non-party affiliated type choices I picked the one who had a previous job title that made them sound like they held Liberal Democratic ideals. And I shied away from incumbents if it was a non-obviously Democratic coin-toss.

#election2016

Some of the measures and how I voted:

California Proposition 51, Public School Facility Bonds (2016)

 [I voted “Yes”, because TAX THE RICH, especially to fund public education.]

The California Public School Facility Bonds Initiative, also known as Proposition 51, will be on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California as an initiated state statute.[1]

A “yes” vote supports the state issuing $9 billion in bonds to fund improvement and construction of school facilities for K-12 schools and community colleges.
A “no” vote opposes the state issuing $9 billion in new debt to fund the improvement and construction of education facilities.

Ballot summary

The long-form ballot summary is as follows:[3]

  • Authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds: $3 billion for new construction and $3 billion for modernization of K-12 public school facilities; $1 billion for charter schools and vocational education facilities; and $2 billion for California Community Colleges facilities.
  • Bars amendment to existing authority to levy developer fees to fund school facilities, until new construction bond proceeds are spent or December 31, 2020, whichever is earlier.
  • Bars amendment to existing State Allocation Board process for allocating school construction funding, as to these bonds.
  • Appropriates money from the General Fund to pay off bonds.[5]

The shorter ballot label summary is as follows:[3]

Authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds for new construction and modernization of K-12 public school facilities; charter schools and vocational education facilities; and California Community Colleges facilities. Fiscal Impact: State costs of about $17.6 billion to pay off both the principal ($9 billion) and interest ($8.6 billion) on the bonds. Payments of about $500 million per year for 35 years.[5]

California Proposition 56, Tobacco Tax Increase (2016)

[I voted “Yes”, because smoking sucks so fuck smoking and smokers.]

2016 measures
California Proposition 56, the Tobacco Tax Increase Initiative, is on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California as a combined initiated constitutional amendment and state statute.[1]
A “yes” vote favors increasing the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, with equivalent increases on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.
A “no” vote opposes increasing the cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, with equivalent increases on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes.

Initiatives to increase taxes on tobacco products are also on the ballot in Colorado as Amendment 73, Missouri as Proposition A and Amendment 3, and North Dakota as Measure 4 in 2016.

California Proposition 60, Condoms in Pornographic Films (2016)

[I voted “No” because Jesus H. CHRIST stop picking on the porn industry! Fuckin A if you’re worried about HIV then tax big religion and get the medicine for profit lobbyists to agitate for funding for a vaccine or a cure. Gah!]

Proposition 60, the Condoms in Pornographic Films Initiative, is on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California as an initiated state statute.[1]

A “yes” vote supports requiring the use of condoms and other protective measures during the filming of pornographic films, as well as requiring pornography producers to pay for certain health requirements and checkups.
A “no” vote opposes this measure requiring the use of condoms and other safety measures during the filming of pornographic films.

Ballot title

The ballot title is as follows:[2]

Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements. Initiative Statute.[3]

Ballot summary

The long-form ballot summary is as follows:[2]

  • Requires performers in adult films to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse.
  • Requires producers of adult films to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations related to sexually transmitted infections.
  • Requires producers of adult films to obtain state health license, and to post condom requirement at film sites.
  • Imposes liability on producers for violations, on certain distributors, on performers if they have a financial interest in the film involved, and on talent agents who knowingly refer performers to noncomplying producers.
  • Permits state, performers, or any state resident to enforce violations.[3]

The shorter ballot label summary is as follows:[2]

Requires adult film performers to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse. Requires producers to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations. Requires producers to post condom requirement at film sites. Fiscal Impact: Likely reduction of state and local tax revenues of several million dollars annually. Increased state spending that could exceed $1 million annually on regulation, partially offset by new fees.[3]

The long-form, official ballot summary for Proposition 60 was identical to the initial summary provided to initiative proponents for the purpose of circulating the initiative for signature collection.

Fiscal impact statement

Note: The fiscal impact statement for a California ballot initiative authorized for circulation is jointly prepared by the state’s legislative analyst and its director of finance.

The fiscal impact statement is as follows:

  • Likely reduction of state and local tax revenues of several million dollars per year.
  • Increased state costs that could exceed $1 million annually to license and regulate adult film production and to enforce workplace health and safety rules. These costs would be offset to some extent by new fee revenue.[3]

Full text

The full text of the initiative measure is available here.

California Proposition 62, Repeal of the Death Penalty (2016)

[*Edit — I voted YES to repeal the death penalty.* I voted “Yes”. Way back in the 1980’s when I first began to vote I was a believer in the death penalty. Both my parents were card carrying Republicans, members of the local Lions Club, all that. Time was when I thought being that hard on crime was the only answer. But it turned out that the justice business applies this harshest of punishments with undue vigor mainly against the poor and dark skinned. So, yeah, I voted against the death penalty and to repeal it this time.]

California Proposition 62, the Repeal of the Death Penalty Initiative, is on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California as an initiated state statute.

A “yes” vote supports repealing the death penalty and making life without the possibility of parole the maximum punishment for murder.
A “no” vote opposes this measure repealing the death penalty.
There is another death penalty related measure, Proposition 66, that will appear on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California. If both measures pass, the one with the most “yes” votes would supersede the other.

California Proposition 64, Marijuana Legalization (2016)

[I voted “Yes”, duh. Weed is a highly controllable and taxable resource and should not be illegal. It’s insane that it’s a schedule one drug as far as the Feds are concerned. That needs to change next.]

California Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, is on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California as an initiated state statute. Supporters refer to the initiative as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.

A “yes” vote supports legalizing recreational marijuana for persons aged 21 years or older under state law and establishing certain sales and cultivation taxes.
A “no” vote opposes this proposal to legalize recreational marijuana under state law and to establish certain sales and cultivation taxes.[1]

California Proposition 66, Death Penalty Procedures (2016)

[I voted “No”. Turn the page on the ballot pamphlet and you’re immediately faced with a measure that asks you to speed up the death row execution process. Kinda dumb to vote yes on this if you voted Yes on 62, but there it is. No need to lube up the gallows if your goal is to dismantle them. One more weird thing on this strange and historic election cycle.]

California Proposition 66, the Death Penalty Procedures Initiative, is on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California as an initiated state statute. Supporters refer to the measure as the “Death Penalty Reform and Savings” Initiative.[1]

A “yes” vote supports changing the procedures governing state court appeals and petitions that challenge death penalty convictions and sentences.
A “no” vote opposes changing the procedures governing state court appeals and petitions that challenge death penalty convictions and sentences and favors keeping the current system for governing death penalty appeals and petitions.

Proposition 66 is designed to shorten the time that legal challenges to death sentences take to a maximum of five years.[2]

There is another death penalty-related measure, Proposition 62, that will appear on the November 8, 2016, ballot in California. If both measures pass, the one with the most “yes” votes would supersede the other.

Overview

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot title is as follows:[4]

Death Penalty. Procedures. Initiative Statute.[5]

Ballot summary

The long-form ballot summary is as follows:[2]

  • Changes procedures governing state court appeals and petitions challenging death penalty convictions and sentences.
  • Designates superior court for initial petitions and limits successive petitions.
  • Establishes time frame for state court death penalty review.
  • Requires appointed attorneys who take noncapital appeals to accept death penalty appeals.
  • Exempts prison officials from existing regulation process for developing execution methods.
  • Authorizes death row inmate transfers among California prisons.
  • Increases portion of condemned inmates’ wages that may be applied to victim restitution.
  • States other voter approved measures related to death penalty are void if this measure receives more affirmative votes.[5]

The shorter ballot label summary is as follows:[2]

Changes procedures governing state court challenges to death sentences. Designates superior court for initial petitions and limits successive petitions. Requires appointed attorneys who take noncapital appeals to accept death penalty appeals. Exempts prison officials from existing regulation process for developing execution methods. Fiscal Impact: Unknown ongoing impact on state court costs for processing legal challenges to death sentences. Potential prison savings in the tens of millions of dollars annually.[5]

The long-form, official ballot summary for Proposition 66 was identical to the initial summary provided to initiative proponents for the purpose of circulating the initiative for signature collection.

Fiscal impact

Note: The fiscal impact statement for a California ballot initiative authorized for circulation is jointly prepared by the state’s legislative analyst and its director of finance. The statement is as follows:[4]

  • Unknown ongoing fiscal impact on state court costs for processing legal challenges to death sentences.
  • Near-term increases in state court costs—potentially in the tens of millions of dollars annually—due to an acceleration of spending to address new time lines on legal challenges to death sentences. Savings of similar amounts in future years.
  • Potential state prison savings that could be in the tens of millions of dollars annually.[5]

Full text

The full text of the measure is available here.

California is always a deciding factor in any general election.

California is always a deciding factor in any general election.

Gorge Performance surf shop, Portland, Oregon.

[Reviewer TV]

Finding An Actual Surf Shop in PDX

video interview by Reviewer Rob

I went to Portland over the Halloween weekend to finish up getting a thousand copies of issue 50 up in Oregon and while driving around the West side of the Willamette River valley I drove by a hand painted sign that said a surf shop was open. Surf shops are shrine-like outposts to waveriding anywhere you find them in the world so they’re all very similar but there was no way I expected to see one way up here and this far inland in the Northwest, so I immediately made a u-turn and pulled into the dirt parking lot to see what manner of trickery this was.

I have to admit it was the real deal. Dozens of hot boards lined the racks inside the shop (not shown in the video where we’re it’s out in the front yard and in the ding repair shed) and Matt Spencer who worked there was friendly enough to do a quick video interview for Reviewer TV.

I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised. Oregon attracts extreme action sports types, it seems. Many years ago i first heard the Gerry Lopez, Mister Pipeline himself, had left his Oahu home and moved to Bend to take up residence near the slops where snowboarding is the call of the wild.


Willamette River Valley.

Willamette River Valley.

Workhorse IPA, from Laurelwood

in Portland, the Northwest Beer and Stripper Capitol

by Reviewer Rob

So I’m waiting to fly out of Portland at PDX and having only my second beer during this trip. The other was at The Kit Kat Club next to VG Donuts over the weekend. It was a mild amber IPA from Laurelwood, a local brewery, just like this one here right now. It was only 7.5 ABV and smooth and sweet. I looked closely at the pull handle tab this time and read the name of the beer. It was “Workhorse” but I had to adjust my glasses and squint my eyes from across the bar to look a second time harder at the small writing because at first I read it as “Whorehouse IPA”.

Go Portland Beavers.

#pdx #localbeer #laurelwoodbrewery
#portlandoregon

Workhose IPA, from Laurelwood Brewery, PDX. It's not "Whorehouse IPA".

Workhose IPA, from Laurelwood Brewery, PDX. It’s not “Whorehouse IPA”.

The Acropolis Food Review, PDX

[Food Review]

The Acropolis, Portland, Oregon

by Reviewer Rob

[Origninally posted on Instagram 10-30-16]

Man, That was so RAD! I’m here in PDX for the weekend on super secret Reviewer business and was hungry for a big filling dinner so I stopped into this roadside steakhouse called the Acropolis because it looked cool and then it’s an amazing stealth strip joint DISGUISED as a restaurant. They not only have three big stages with a bevy of insanely hot naked strippers, they also have over five dozen beers on tap!!!

The 8 ounce steak dinner (the waitress brought me a plate with what looked like TWO six ouncers on it, perfectly cooked) was only $7, so with the five buck door fee you’re only in for twelve before beers and tips. I spent more than that of course because I was wearing a t-shirt that referenced my hometown so I had to tip like a Shriner on Bangkok vacation. Worth it! Sometimes you go to a new place and it’s like okay that was interesting but I don’t really need to go back.;With this it’s more like where I’d like to not only return but I’d bring friends and buy lunch or dinner for people I want to really impress.

And did I mention the girls here are FULLY NUDE insanely HOT AND LIKE TO GET REAL CLOSE AND NASTY?! WOOOOOOOOO ?!?!?!?!? !!!! @ # $

My dinner, shot by with (with permission from my waitress, that's her receipt book tucked in her pocket above the table).

My dinner, shot by me (with permission from my waitress, that’s her receipt book tucked in her pocket above the table).

The Acropolis (photo from Google image search)

The Acropolis (photo from Google image search)

The Acropolis (photo from Google image search)

The Acropolis (photo from Google image search)

Melania Trump and Anderson Cooper on AC360

Melania on AC360

by Reviewer Rob

No one’s really defended Donald Trump’s Access Hollywood tape, unless you count his girlfriend Rudy Giuliani, until Melania stepped forward yesterday on CNN with Anderson Cooper.

It was painful to watch but elicited a lot of sympathy for the statuesque penthousewife. What else could she do? Her whole future is tied to the Donald.

They’re all lies, she told Anderson, as the reporter nodded in acknowledgement and looked away from her. She said she “never knew” the PEOPLE writer Natasha Stoynoff who accused Donald of hitting on her. This same writer came to the Trump’s wedding and interviewed Donald at their Mar-A-Lago estate and she said The Donald tried his moves on her while Melania was out of the room. Later on after she quit writing about Don the Dooshbag and says she saw “Melania on Fifth Avenue, in front of Trump Tower as she walked into the building, carrying baby Barron” where Melania asked about her and why they hadn’t seen her around lately. Melania denies any of that happened and insinuates that she would’t ever be bothered with even knowing this peasant. So she’s a liar and the story needs to be pulled by PEOPLE Magazine. Her lawyer sent a letter saying so.

She asked that people shouldn’t feel sorry for her, but that’s not easy. Some things money can not easily compensate. But Melania makes an attractive surrogate for the Republican front runner. She’s the picture of a devoted wife defending her embattled spouse, and it’s hard to not want to believe her when she says she has faith in her husband, that she knows his accusers are liars, even as her eyes dart away from those of her interviewer as she says this.

Anderson Cooper held back noticeably too. It didn’t seem appropriate for Cooper to bring up the plagiarized speech Melania used with words originally spoken by First Lady Michelle, or about Melania’s website being redirected to Trump.com after it was reported that it had falsely claimed for more than 10 years that she had a degree in architecture and design from the University of Ljubljana.

But now of course we can believe Melania when she looks to the left and tells Anderson Cooper without any momentary eye contact that those women are lying and she believes her husband.

So cap off the interview I think she even said that she’s seen women come right up to Donald right in front of her and give him their number and say they want to “work” for him, as she squints her eyes at Anderson knowingly as if to say she’s fully aware of what they mean by “work” for her husband. Isn’t she admitting that as far as she’s concerned being a female and working for Donald Trump is a defacto sexual arrangement? It sure looked that way.

I really felt sorry for Melania at that point in the interview. The natural reaction is to want to believe a devoted wife who steps up to defend her man.

She’s tough and beautiful, but she’s to be pitied. At least she came out of her period of sequestering. The last we’ve heard of her before yesterday’s appearance on CNN was wit the ruckus over the DailyMail UK’s September 2 retraction of a story from August about allegations that the Slovenian model agency she worked for in Milan was ‘something like a gentleman’s club’ for wealthy clients to hook up with high priced models.

Melania Trump and Anderson Cooper on AC360, 10-17-16.

Melania Trump and Anderson Cooper on AC360, 10-17-16.

movie review: SNOWDEN

[current events]

In SNOWDEN Director Oliver Stone returns with pop culture intrigue

Snowden movie poster

Snowden movie poster

reviewed by Reviewer Rob

In Oliver Stone’s movie SNOWDEN it’s implied his lead character had co-conspirators in the NSA. This is unfair to the viewer because although the screenplay was a work of fiction the real Snowden was emphatic that he alone should have the target on his back. Also this movie’s timing was promoted as being supportive of an eleventh hour end-of-term pardon by President Obama for the whistle-blower currently in exile in Moscow. So maybe sticking to the known facts would have been a better course of action, especially because there are plenty of exciting details to fill out a script. SNOWDEN just glossed over the tense escape from Hong Kong. Something should have been included about how Wikileaks activist Julian Assange organized behind the scenes from afar Snowden’s departure from Hong Kong via a matrix of feints, and although Assange was integral to the story he makes no appearance at all in this movie. Nor does Private Bradley Manning, who started the ball rolling in 2010 when he leaked 39 minutes of U.S. Army video showing the 2007 killing of Reuters reporters by helicopter gunfire in Iraq. Without these warm-up chapters the series of stories Snowden leaked to The Gaurdian and The Washington Post wouldn’t have been given such a receptive audience.

Oliver Stone does make a good attempt at dramatizing the moral crisis Snowden undergoes as he changes from idealistic new recruit to disenchanted analyst amid the systemic acceptance of policy corruption and mission creep. Cognitive dissonance turns to personal outrage when he realizes that a hardball form of office politics is being used to silence him when a superior blithely ruins lives of unknowing surveillance targets in order to gain a promotion for himself.

This feeling continues to build up until the end of the movie when the real Edward J. Snowden makes a cameo appearance and somewhat unconvincingly describes to a lecture audience via web-link from Russia that he feels good about what he did. As he says this he appears pained and avoids eye contact with the camera.

Lindsey Mills is fleshed out well here by Shailene Woodley. But her fictionalized departure from Hawaii when Snowden’s on the lam is anticlimactic. In the documentary CITIZENFOUR there’s a scene where Edward is reading an email from her while he’s still in Hong Kong, and after the stories come out in The Gaurdian. The NSA is calling because he told them he’s at home sick. He tells the interviewer that Lindsey said the rent check wasn’t received, which he finds interesting since he had it on an auto-issue system, and his landlord is to begin the eviction process. There’s also “construction trucks” all over his block for some reason, he says.

“I wonder what they’re looking for,” he asks rhetorically, with a wry smile.

Edward Snowden was far more entertaining to watch in person in CITIZENFOUR, especially when you consider he’s being filmed in real time as the act is in play and he’s betraying NSA secrets, possibly incurring a penalty of decades in prison or a death sentence. He’s often reflective and even takes a moment to laugh and offer a “pro-tip” to filmmaker Laura Poitras and the reporters, telling them it’s not a good idea to leave a memory card in their laptop.

This pithy sarcasm and sharp wit reappears quite often with the actual Snowden (seen in a VICE interview and other online appearances) but is wholly absent in the dull two-dimensional character portrayed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. His version of Snowden looks like a confused boy scout instead of a computer savant on a mission.

In CITIZENFOUR the clandestine nature of his communication with the director Poitras (Melissa Leo in SNOWDEN) is fascinatingly seen with onscreen text and through voice-over. But in SNOWDEN this basic element of spycraft is only vaguely touched upon during their initial meeting. At least included was his red cloak “magic mantle of power”.

Edward Snowden missed the big Hollywood premier of this movie. As of this writing there isn’t a lot of public support in the media to let him come back to his home country unfettered by handcuffs. Snowden was subsequently hung out to dry by The Washington Post, who said he should be prosecuted rather than defending their source whose information they deemed newsworthy and won them a Pulitzer Prize.

Entertaining as this movie is there will be many auto-patriots who believe Snowden’s status as a sainted whistle-blower is undeserved, and that if you’re not doing anything wrong you have nothing to hide. ‘So why do you care if your private conversations through Verizon or AT&T and all your emails are being collected and evaluated?’ You are so fucking naive and stupid if you think that. So fucking stupid. Does anyone really think that the whole real estate bubble which began in 2003, shortly after the surveillance state began in full after 9-11, was just a mere coincidence. Is it merely a coincidence that the spy state and the great post-9-11 wealth transfer to the top one-percent just happened at the same time, all by happenstance?

Anyways, SNOWDEN is a good film, I’d say a solid four out of five, and clearly shows Oliver Stone is still in the game. Nicholas Cage comes back and even plays a small role as a disillusioned C.I.A. instructor and is the designated “big name” actor in this one as John Travolta was in SAVAGES. It’s not matching the comprehensiveness of the constellation Stone included in JFK but it does show he has consistency.

This movie could have used a soundtrack too. It’s been 22 years since Oliver Stone’s NATURAL BORN KILLERS and although in a different genre its music made it great. SNOWDEN would have been firmly set in its era if some current tunes where used as backdrop. At least they could have included the old church hymn, “When The Saints Go Marching In”. It was featured in the online preview trailer but wasn’t in the movie I saw. It would have been appropriate, considering Edward Snowden has martyred himself and is now the target of a persecution some in government would like to be no less strenuous than what was suffered by the victims of Nero in FOX’S BOOK OF MARTYRS.

SNOWDEN
Directed by Oliver Stone
Produced by Moritz Borman, Eric Kopeloff, Philip Schulz-Deyle, Fernando Sulichin
Screenplay by Kieran Fitzgerald, Oliver Stone
Based on The Snowden Files by Luke Harding, Time of the Octopus by Anatoly Kucherena
Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Scott Eastwood, Logan Marshall-Green, Timothy Olyphant, Ben Schnetzer
LaKeith Lee Stanfield, Rhys Ifans, Nicolas Cage
Music by Craig Armstrong
Cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle
Edited by Alex Marquez, Lee Percy
Production companies: Endgame Entertainment, Wild Bunch, KrautPack Entertainment, Onda Entertainment, Vendian Entertainment
Distributed by Open Road Films
Release dates: September 9, 2016 (TIFF), September 16, 2016 (United States), September 22, 2016 (Germany)
Running time: 134 minutes
Budget: $40 million


SNOWDEN movie, airborn training.

SNOWDEN movie, airborn training.