September 2016
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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.

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.

antique gear: the Zeiss Ikon Contaflex


IG post: my new old camera

outdated cameras are only one of my obsessions

by Reviewer Rob
originally from an Instagram post here

Newly acquired: an early Model Contaflex from the German company Zeiss Icon. Looks like the fixed lens version they came out with in the beginning before interchangeable lenses were included. It’s attractive and serviceable in working condition but will most likely be seen as a prop in a photo shoot long before I get around to loading it with a roll of Kodachrome. Although I keep my lenses forever I’ve never been too interested in the antique cameras. They call it progress for a reason.

#zeiss #zeissikoncontaflex #35mm #film #oldcameras #technology #germanengineering

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex

Zeiss Ikon Contaflex

photolog: Meegan Had Some Sweet New Tattoos

[Skin Art]

Meegan Had Some Sweet New Tattoos

Talking ink: Low Gallery in Barrio Logan at a mid-summer show during ComicCon

by Reviewer Rob

I had both my Nikons hanging on my neck this night with the goal of playing around with their capabilities. The D5200 and D5300 were set on their fastest ISOs for a shoot at Meegan’s art gallery/performance venue Low. I’d come to see a couple of bands play, Lisa Carver’s Suckdog and The Vaginals (Vaginals sounded great, by the way). It had been a couple of years since I’d last seen Meegan and I noticed she’d gotten a couple of new tattoos.

Meegan Nolan is the stylish owner and proprietor of Low Gallery. She’s all about art — the appreciation as well as the business of it — and only now while ‘shopping this pic did it dawn on me that she was wearing a stylin’ cartoon t-shirt (is that the Tazmanian Devil?). Classic, it was, after all, the weekend of the famous San Diego International ComicCon. Yes as a fashionista Meegan is also a triple threat. On this night her shiny gold pants were amazing. But these classic-era style tattoos were what I really liked. The symbolic “Black Rose” is on her right forearm and a standing nude ‘a la Sailor Jerry adorns her left.

I shot this while the bands were setting up for the show and Meegan was standing against the back wall of the space. No flash was used, just ambient light, so it’s grainy. Like I said, I was pushing what the low light ability of the cameras could do. I think at 1/100th of a second it’s pretty decent. Photoshop brought out more contrast and color from the original RAW image.

Image file info:
Nikon D5300
Tamron lens 18-270mm F3.5-6.3 DiII VC PZD B008N
Focal Length 18mm (in 35mm: 27mm)
Exposure: 1/100 sec; f/3.5; ISO 12800; Manual; Pattern Metering
Flash: Did not fire

Meegan Nolan with her new arm ink: a black rose and  nude in the style of Sailor Jerry.

Meegan Nolan with her new arm ink: a black rose and nude in the style of Sailor Jerry. Photo by 2016.

photolog: Yucca Valley & Pioneertown

[Photo Log]

From last month’s Mojave roadtrip to Pioneertown

three selected pics

by Reviewer Rob

The geography out there is exceptional. Lots of wind, dusty air, but the sky was impressive. Clouds would form and grow quickly. Then they’d disappear, blown away down range. I want to go back out there soon with my 600mm fixed focal lens and shoot more landscapes. I liked looking West on the 29 Palms Highway and seeing the mountains off in the distance veiled behind graduating concentrations of atmosphere.

Photos below, top to bottom:

Raincloud, Nikon D5200 camera, Tamron lens 10-24mm, focal length 17mm, exposure 1/250, f11, ISO 200;

Highway 62, Nikon D5300 camera, Tamron lens 18-270mm, focal length 78mm, exposure 1/320, f13, ISO 200;

Hilltop, Nikon D5300 camera, Tamron lens 18-270mm, focal length 120mm, exposure 1/320, f11, ISO 200

Sudden cloud forming quickly over the valley. Image viewed is after Photoshop.

Sudden cloud forming quickly over the valley. Image viewed is after Photoshop.

Yucca Valley, looking west along the Highway 62 after the sun disappeared behind the mountains.

Yucca Valley, looking west along the Highway 62 after the sun disappeared behind the mountains.

Hilltop south of Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown, shot from the parking lot in front of the bar.

Hilltop south of Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown, shot from the parking lot in front of the bar.

photolog: two cellphone videos from Pappy & Harriet's

Two Cellphone Videos From Pioneertown’s Epic ‘Burrito-Biker Bar’

by Reviewer Rob

Pioneertwon, California, is a unique place. Founded in 1946 by Hollywood actors like Roy Rogers and Tom Mix and intended to be a working film set that recreates an authentic 1880’s Western frontier town, it has a community that has built up around it of citizens that are arty creative types and who call it home 365 days a year. There’s also a nice music venue called Pappy & Harriet’s you can’t forget to visit if you’re ever in this rustic corner of the high desert.

Here’s a couple of quick handheld cellphone videos I shot when I went there for the first time last month.

Juli Crockett of the Evangenitals talks to Reviewer TV about how she inspired an Academy Award Winning motion picture script:


The Sunday Band with Jason Corbin on guitar:

Joshua Trees in Yucca Valley

Joshua Tree Conservation Through Giant Sloth Shit

by Reviewer Rob

The amazingly hearty Joshua Tree yucca (Yucca brevifolia) seems to be ubiquitous in Yucca Valley, growing naturally in vacant land, along roadways, and as ornamental landscape in people’s yards. There’s even a national park/monument up the road named after them. Although widespread in range the Joshua Tree’s natural habitat is considered to be diminishing due to climate change. Also lack of Giant Sloths hasn’t helped. You see, in the Ice Age and immediately thereafter mega fauna roamed the Northern Hemisphere, and, when it wasn’t fighting off Saber Tooth Tigers (Smilodons), it’s believed that the Giant Sloth (Nothrotheriops shastensis, or Shasta Ground Sloth) fed on the leaves and berries of the Joshua Tree and dispersed its seeds in their excrement, thereby widening the range of this plant along their routes of travel. No more Giant Sloths means these yuccas can’t expand to cooler and more hydrated climes as global warming continues to dry out the Southwest. Poor old Joshua Trees. Plant one in your yard in Mendocino or Seattle today.

The Joshua Tree growing in its natural habitat, as a weed in a vacant lot or in a city easement .

The Joshua Tree growing in its natural habitat, as a weed in a vacant lot or in a city easement .

Photographers: Fetish Model Talent Available For San Diego This Week

[Public Notice]

Looking for work: Thee Kajira Bound

Local San Diego Photographers Take Note, Kajira Is Looking For Work

Adult entertainment model and perforner Kajira (aka Kajira Bound) is going to be in San Diego in a couple of days and is available for work between July 28 and 29. She’s a dedicated pro and can deliver the good, guys. Contact her for booking by email at or through her domain

Kajira Bound is an established international model who is traveling through shooting paid stills and video. She has been taking the fine art nude world by storm for over a decade and has been growing in the realm of fetish work. She has worked for many artists, sculptors, and creators as well as video companies such as, Real Spanking Network,, and more. She has performed at Bondage Ball, The Dirty Show, and Exotica over the years. She is also a pro-switch who specializes in discipline sessions as well as ageplay sessions which are also available. For Bookings email or look her up at:
Twitter @KajiraBound
FetLife @TheeKajiraBound

A Brit Abroad


A Tale Of One City

First Impressions: Dickensian Charm

a story and photo from Tash Jones

A tale of one city.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”.

Amidst a family tragedy, a wide eyed girl found herself standing in the centre of pop culture, (the only place you’d want to be at such a sour time). Even her carefully woven British cynicism couldn’t deny that 23 degrees (73.4 Fahrenheit), a blue sky and Times Square in front of your eyes is a sight to see.

So to be a tourist in New York City: the Empire state, Staten Island Ferry, Central Park, the Dakota Buildings, Guggenheim, Rockerfeller, Times Square. She enjoyed them all immensely but what struck her the most were the personal moments, the comedian at the comedy club who made jokes bout tea-bagging as she awkwardly sat beside her mum, the group of young men who put on an outdoor show containing street dance and leap-frogging audience members to occasional ‘ohhs’ but mostly ‘wows’. Let’s be fair, they try and do these shows in Covent Garden but the audience participation seems so reserved back in the UK, that one can’t imagine it being as successful and then there was the lady from West Virginia who the girl shared some tales of joy, some of annoyance and a fast food experience together while they sat around for what felt like eternity at JFK.

There are many tourist spots she could pick to highlight here but she finds herself still thinking about the view of the Hudson River from the pier, perhaps not as iconic as the view from Staten island or overlooking central park but it was quaint. There were only a handful of tourists around and it felt like her little secret, so she’ll keep it. Everyone discusses the food or the shops or Broadway or the yellow cabs but the people were definitely the main difference from life back home. The main thing she noticed was everybody was not only friendly, welcoming and but also quite hilarious.

All in all, even in her optimistic ways, she’s not sure if she could ascertain to a constant lifestyle of positive attitude and strangers smiling at you and saying hell rather than the hurried walk of shame at accidentally brushing someone’s arm with yours. But mostly, she was impressed, impressed at the vastness of evening entertainment,impressed that out of all the people she encountered only one was grumpy, impressed that now she was feeling happy instead of sad and she realised she would lift her head more when walking in the streets and smile even if back home, that is odd.

“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long long to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.” ~Charles Dickens, A TALE OF TWO CITIES

"A Tale Of One City" NYC, photo from Tash Jones.

“A Tale Of One City” NYC, photo from Tash Jones.