Tagged Assassination

Animal Kingdom – Season 3, Episode 13: “The Hyenas”

Smurf becomes more suspicious of J. Pope might have finally lost it. Deran's past comes back to haunt him, as Adrian makes a foolish move.

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NO ESCAPE is an Adrenaline Soaked Ride Inside a Bloody Revolution

Using a fake country as the setting for a brutal revolution, director & writer John Erick Dowdle's NO ESCAPE is pure action-thriller to the core.

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Aquarius – Season 2, Episode 6: “Revolution 9”

NBC’s Aquarius
Season 2, Episode 6: “Revolution 9”
Directed by Jonas Pate
Written by Rafael Yglesias

* For a review of the previous episode, “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me & My Monkey” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Piggies” – click here
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At 10050 Cielo Drive on August 9th of 1969, a maid makes her way up to the house. First, she finds the wires on the gate speaker cut. On the door is scrawled PIG in red. Further inside waits unimaginable horror.
We jump back 16 months previous. The same maid finds herself the subject of nasty racism at the hands of none other than Charles Manson (Gethin Anthony). No surprise there. Meanwhile, Charlie’s not happy with much that’s going on at the home of Dennis Wilson (Andy Favreau). He orders his girls around, mostly pimping them out.
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In other news, Detectives Brian Shafe (Grey Damon) and Sam Hodiak (David Duchovny) are finding out what they can about the missing girl they’ve found, now dead and rotted away in a makeshift grave. At the same time, Ken Karn (Brian F. O’Byrne) is getting information on Bobby Kennedy, likely up to no good behind the scenes. He’s glued to the television and obviously worried about the threat of this Kennedy for his man Richard Nixon. Ah, political intrigue! I’ve always dug this Karn plot. Not only is O’Byrne a great actor, the character itself is well written and full of good threads to follow.
Back with Hodiak and Shafe, they’re trying to interrogate Ben Healy (Morgan McClellan) a bit. What we see here, above all else, is the fact Shafe is already starting to become that guy he never wanted to become, the one his wife Kristin (Milauna Jackson) fears he’ll be with that detective shield on.


Producer Terry Melcher (Chase Coleman) is getting pulled further into the world of Manson, as the latter works his devious ways to get what he wants, and to con others into thinking they’re getting what they desire. Greasy, slick bastard.
In jail, Healy’s talking a bit. But there’s more going on with Shafe than his job. He’s still sweating, his whole demeanour is shaky. He is not himself. And we’ve already seen the foreshadowing of his nasty addiction. We’re going to have to watch his downward spiral, which sort of pains me. I like this guy. I’d like to see him kick the demons, though clearly there’s only more trouble in his future. Even worse, if Hodiak figures everything out he won’t be happy.
Speaking of Sam, he’s over chatting with some union cats. They’re big fans of Kennedy, by the way. Well one of Hodiak’s buddies is being blackmailed by a prostitute. He worries, obviously, for his children, his wife, the integrity of the union and all kinds of things. Reluctantly, Sam agrees to do the job. Only thing is I’m not sure his morality is so free as it was before. He doesn’t look too pleased with having to track down a woman and… do who knows what to keep her silent.
Shafe is still grilling Healy trying to get more out of him. He’s following more rules of the non-official police handbook from Dt. Hodiak, too. Maybe, just maybe, it works.

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Manson gets a little of what he wants from Melcher with the promise of more. But you can be sure that either he’ll sabotage things unwillingly himself, or it won’t pan out how he envisions it.
Back to the politics, Grace Karn (Michaela McManus) is starting to dip her feet in. She’s asked to introduce Mrs. Nixon before a luncheon for the National Federation of Republican Women due to her husband Ken “working” for Nixon. When she’s courted afterwards to possibly take a more active role, Grace is presented with either lying or telling the truth about where her daughter Emma (Emma Dumont) is currently. She’s over being slapped around by Charlie Manson, told what to do, where to go, all that sort of thing; even her name Grace is no more, she’s Cherry.
Finally, Hodiak looks like he’s cluing in to what is going on with Shafe when the younger of the two mumbles: “This aint the flu.” In the meantime, Sam keeps at Healy, and starts trying to work more out of the guy. Nothing comes, except his lawyer. Now there’s more complaints headed Hodiak’s way, but he’s still convinced there is some guilt kicking around. And instead of going home, Shafe simply goes for another shot of horse, getting high as a kite in a dirty little room by himself.

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Ken meets an Agent Bill Copley (Joe Williamson) at a hotel bar. Lots of undercover talk about Nixon, Hoover, dirt of Bobby Kennedy, and all that. Very clandestine, Deep Throat-type stuff. But there’s more than that at hand. Is there some type of relationship between these two? Ken says he looks “fit” and laments not getting a call after Copley came to town. Yowzahs. No wonder he thought Kennedy was a handsome fella.
At home, Brian and Kristin are at odds. She continually finds the change in him disruptive, disappointing above anything. Hodiak calls to let Shafe know the story on Healy. Mostly, we see how Brian is alienating his wife, he’s beginning to slip up slightly in his job. Everything is crumbling. He’s the only one that doesn’t seem to notice. Because not long after Kristin discovers her husband’s secret junkie kit.
Out on his moonlighting gig, Hodiak brings an old buddy a lunch, Detective Blumenthal (Matthew Arkin). He gets a bit of low down on the prostitutes which he seeks out: they’ve got the same pimp, a guy named Martin O’Reilly (Ryan Caldwell). During the whole debacle Sam meets Bobby Kennedy (Scott Bailey), who asks about race relations involving the African-American community: “Its my job to keep the bad away from the good. Thats all I can do,” Hodiak tells him.
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Eventually Hodiak tracks down O’Reilly. For his part the pimp denies any blackmail. Because why would he ruin a good client? Either way, Hodiak cracks his nose open on the steering wheel: “Youre still a pimp,” he says before getting out and letting a couple other detectives take the guy in – or are they someone else? So Hodiak goes back to his buddy, asking for more info. He ends up sitting for a hot beverage with the wife. She seems to let on that there’s more to her husband than appears at first, and she is the one that’s putting the screws to her husband. Good woman. Fuck that cheating slime.
Awhile later Sam discovers O’Reilly is now a missing person. Uh oh. Hodiak doesn’t like that his old buddy he tried helping basically used him to find the pimp, then did something… intense. Being an army pal from long ago doesn’t ensure Hodiak’s undying loyalty.
At the Wilson mansion, Charlie plays a new song for the Beach Boy. Over this we watch a montage of various scenes, including Brian and his destroyed living room along with Kristin’s disapproving look, Grace quietly worrying for her daughter, and Hodiak receives another envelope with RFK’S #1 DETECTIVE written across it, a new picture inside. And after Charlie finishes playing there’s a look behind Dennis’ eyes that speaks wonders. He finds it amazing, which pleases Manson plenty.
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Hodiak winds up doing his part to help get Bobby Kennedy out of the hotel where he made an appearance. Out through the doors they go and you know what’s coming, don’t you?
A man walks from out of the crowd, pulls a gun, then….
Cut to August 9th of ’69 again. The maid comes barrelling out of the house on Cielo Drive, trying to scream “murder” but barely with a voice.
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What a CRAZY, amazing episode! I love this show. I don’t care what the ratings say, or what other internet sites are saying: it’s awesome. While it takes liberties with Manson and other events, there’s a really fun, exciting, and fresh feel to Aquarius coupled with great performances from the cast. Excited for the next episode titled “Piggies” and I can’t wait to see what comes from the fallout of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination, particularly see as how Hodiak was right there at the scene. Stay tuned, fellow fans.

Spike Lee’s Malcolm X: Has Anything Really Changed?

Malcolm X. 1992. Directed by Spike Lee. Screenplay by Lee & Arnold Perl.
Starring Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Albert Hall, Al Freeman Jr., Delroy Lindo, Spike Lee, Theresa Randle, Kate Vernon, Lonette MCKee, Tommy Hollis, James McDaniel, Ernest Thomas, Jean-Claude La Marre, O.L. Duke, & Larry McCoy. 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks/Largo International N.V./JCV Entertainment Networks/Warner Bros.
Rated PG-13. 202 minutes.
Biography/Drama/History

★★★★1/2
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Sometimes I’m not a fan of Spike Lee as a public persona, simply because he doesn’t always think before speaking. However, I’m usually a fan of his work as a director. He has a big, wide mind and puts that to work usually tackling issues within the African American community. There are too many of his movies to talk of in an introduction, but suffice to say I do think he is a great director. One of the greatest in his generation, and certainly one of the best African American directors out there, period.
And that’s perhaps why Malcolm X is the film out of his catalogue which resonates most. It isn’t necessarily his greatest. Yet there’s such a poignancy and depth to the work Lee does to portray Malcolm X (played wonderfully by Denzel Washington), not just as a powerful black leader, but also as a human being; one not completely above judgement, one not perfect as some might idealise him. Furthermore, we’re able to get a look at the inside of the Nation of Islam, as far as fiction allows. Many prominent figures in the life of X and circling the NOI, as well as the Civil Rights movement in general, are included, from cameo roles such as Nelson Mandela, Al Sharpton and others, to the portrayals of characters like Elijah Muhammad (Al Freeman Jr.) and Thomas Hagan (Giancarlo Esposito), among more. The nearly three and a half hour runtime of Malcolm X may seem daunting. If you’re sitting down to watch a film, you’ve really got to be prepared for this one, though it’s beyond worth the effort. For me, the 202 minutes rushes by in a beautifully shot and directed, phenomenally acted story that jams a whole man’s life into one screenplay. Not everything gets covered, and there’s also plenty of story to be told after X’s assassination. Above all else, the character of X comes out, as does his struggle. For some this was a stepping stone to learning more about the Civil Rights movements that began raging during the 1960s and 1970s, and onward. I won’t ever forget my first time seeing this one. It’s a classic that stands the test of time, telling an important, crucial story about America during the early latter half of the 20th century, and examining one of the more turbulent times of race relations in the country’s history. Sadly, some of what happened back then is still much too alive and much too well in American society, and if X were still alive he’d likely still be as fiery and determined as ever.
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The best aspect of Malcolm X is the fact Lee doesn’t attempt to make him above reproach. As a person, X was not perfect. Nobody is, so Lee never tries to make him out to be anything else. Some worried that he would include X’s life before he converted to Islam, and that’s exactly part of what makes this story interesting and intriguing. There’s no sense in ignoring that part of his existence. X himself never did ignore it, he always kept himself open and honest and raw. That’s a huge part of why many did, and still do(/always will), admire him. He was not like most other leaders. He didn’t admit every one of his faults – again, he is only human. But on the whole, he never shied away from his once criminal past, as that in a way led him to where he went after and helped him attain the enlightenment of Islam.
One of my favourite moments happens between Malcolm X’s speeches. A young white woman approaches him, admiring his work, and wondering what a white person without prejudice might do to help further his cause: “Nothing,” he says smiling before walking on. This is such a brief, powerful moment. I’m reminded of watching a recent documentary about the KKK, where they also spotlighted the Black Lives Matter movement and the shooting in Charleston; one scene shows a white woman, with a mixed race child, trying to march in solidarity, who’s told by a black woman to go home – she does in fact leave after, though the black lady gives her a hug and seemingly explains this is just not the time or place for her presence. There’s a stand-off element to X and his feelings for white people. Again, that changed once he went to Mecca on his Hajj, and then essentially transformed into a full blown humanitarian. Yet Lee never strays away from that inflammatory perspective X held towards white American society, and makes clear it’s simply about black people gaining back their power, or retaining what they have, not so much about hating white people. So in that scene where X shrugs the white woman off, it represents the idea that white people may want to help, but black people don’t need their help. They sometimes just need white people to stand back, let them do their thing and settle the issues on their own. That’s not always the case. Particularly in the time of X, there were tough things happening (not that there still aren’t in this day and age), so this was a stance he felt black society needed to take in those times of near racial war. Not long after X, once Elijah Muhammad was out of his life, he made clear the black community had to unite first, then they could work more on white-black relations. That scene with the white girl epitomises this concept.
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I love the inclusion of the conk hairstyle at the beginning with Malcolm and his buddy Shorty. Not simply because African American culture at the time saw a lot of young black men styling their hair that way. What’s most interesting is that Malcolm X later spoke about conk and its double edged sword-like effect on the black community. On the one hand, conk – because of its threat of chemical burns and scarring, hair loss, et cetera – was seen as a ritual of manhood, going from a boy to a grown adult. On the other hand, he and other African American scholars came to see conk also as a way of erasing oneself in order to become more white. This latter idea is presented in the screenplay after the conk is put in, washed out, then Malcolm admires his new hair in the mirror and says to the men in the barbershop: “Looks white, dont it?” The whole concept of the conk plays into how we see Malcolm ultimately reject everything white. And yes, he said incredibly inflammatory things about white people. But things can change, people can. He didn’t turn into who he was later because of a hate for white people. Effectively, he hated injustice. The white man, the white culture, the white HAIR, it all comes down to representing the white world that he lived in and found himself subject to at every turn, on a daily, minute-to-minute basis. So the conk is simply one element of the white superstructure that Malcolm came to reject. A great inclusion on Lee’s part to show that. It could’ve been a basic scene that shows us where he came from, his beginnings. Instead the scene represents a microcosm of that influence white culture had (/still has) on black people that are brainwashed into feeling as if ‘white is right’ or any of that other sadness. Later when Malcolm is in jail, the conk becomes a sticking point when he’s confronted by an inmate who tries to help him, out of the life of a gangster and moving towards something better, which is the Nation of Islam; a huge influence in his life during prison, as well as afterwards. It may seem a superficial, brief moment in the 202 minute runtime of this epic biography. And it’s a drop in the pond, really. Although, it is highly significant to the overall themes surrounding the film and X himself as a Civil Rights leader.
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This is one of the best movies of the 1990s, certainly one of Spike Lee’s best, too. Malcolm X is a dissection of a cult of personality. It is a film that attempts to get to the core of what X and his struggle represented. Without all the denial some insist on upholding in regards to X’s personal history, who he was, who he became. The movie is not totally perfect, though it is perfect where it counts. Likewise, Lee concentrates on not inflating X as a leader. Rather he takes an inclusive look at the man, not ignoring the good and the bad alike. He dives into the an era where things were different, and somehow not enough has changed as of this writing in 2016. Watching this movie again now, 24 years after its release and concerning a subject decades older, it’s almost sad to watch and think how hard X would roll over in his grave were he able to witness some of the scary racist madness that’s still going on in the streets of America. Love this movie, love Denzel, and Spike is near his best here. A positively entertaining piece of biography, history, all combining to make a well executed film in every respect.