Weekend Roundup and The Whistleblower Review

Happy Tuesday, folks! Well, Minnesota weather is all but predictable and this weekend alone we seem to have gone through two seasons within a matter of 48 hours! On Saturday it was a balmy 69 degrees — people out driving their convertibles and walking in shorts ‘n sandals. There’s even a tornado touch down in a town next to mine, which is unheard of in November! But by the time Sunday rolls around, cool cold wind sets in and by Monday morning, wind chill factor is in the single digit, plus there’s a coating of snow on my way to work [sigh]

Photo courtesy of Startribune.com

I count myself blessed that I didn’t live anywhere near a hill like this one in Ramsey Street in St. Paul! There were a ton of accidents this morning as people were slippin’ and slidin’ down the icy road.

As for movie watching, well it ended up being the weekend of Mr and Mrs Daniel Craig. I saw Skyfall on Friday night and on Saturday I saw a movie starring Craig’s wife Rachel Weisz called The Whistleblower. The two played husband and wife in the the thriller Dream House and got married soon after. I think Weisz is gorgeous enough to actually play a Bond girl, I wonder if she’d ever considering it though. I mean that’d be something we’ve never seen before in the history of Bond movies, seeing a husband and wife playing Bond and Bond girl!! Anyway, thanks to Amanda who told me in the comment section of my rant post that this film has now become available to rent.

Now on to the review…

The Whistleblower (2010)

A drama based on the experiences of Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who served as a peacekeeper in post-war Bosnia and outed the U.N. for covering up a sex scandal.

Despite the stellar cast, for some reason this movie is rather obscure. I don’t even know if it ever got a theatrical release, seems like it went straight to dvd after it premiered in various film festivals. It’s too bad as it’s a decent film that deals with an important subject matter most people don’t know about. It’s heart-breaking to learn about the human trafficking and forced prostitution happening in Bosnia, especially when it’s done by the security people contracted to protect those people.

This film is deliberately done like an investigative journalism without much flair. The ‘raw’ quality is likely due to its shoe-string budget, but I find it fitting given the subject matter. In fact, I feel that the lack of ‘beauty’ in this film makes us focus on the story more, there’s not pretty scenery or manipulative music to distract us, it was just the characters and what’s happening to them. The living condition these girls are subjected to is appalling and heart-wrenching, but nobody is willing to stand up for them. In a way it’s a David vs. Goliath story told in a matter-of-fact manner.

Rachel Weisz is excellent as the sympathetic police officer who’s in over her head trying to do the right thing. She could be too strikingly beautiful for this role, but somehow they manage to make her look quite plain here. I’m glad she took on an important role despite this being a low profile project. The film doesn’t portray Bolkovac as a flawless saint, but she’s certainly heroic in risking her job and her own well-being going after such a protected organization. The supporting cast is top notch, we’ve got Vanessa Redgrave, Monica Bellucci, David Strathrain, and Benedict Cumberbatch who sadly wasn’t given much to do.

Despite the powerful, ripped-from-the-headlines story, the slow pacing and some unnecessary subplots such as Bolkovach’s romance with a colleague drag the film down. It could be due to director Larysa Kondracki’s lack of experience, as I feel that it could’ve been a much more intriguing film than what it was. Overall, it’s truly a difficult film to watch, the tone is staggeringly bleak which makes it even more depressing. The violent scenes are pretty brutal, there’s one particular scene that is so barbaric that it’s painful to watch. Yet the violence is not meant to be ‘entertainment,’ but to show just the kind of extreme brutality and injustice happening in our world.

What’s most depressing is that these atrocities are still allowed to continue as the perpetrators are not persecuted due to diplomatic immunity. That said, I’m glad they brought this story to light and it’s always inspiring to see regular people standing up to those who can’t defend themselves. Despite its flaws, I’d recommend this film, it’s really quite eye-opening.
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Three and a half stars out of Five
3.5 out of 5 reels


Well, that’s my weekend roundup. How ’bout you, seen anything good?

A Rant and a Question: Where do you get your movies?

This is what the Random Thoughts category is for. I haven’t actually posted anything under that in a while but what happened today prompted me to this rant I rarely do on my blog.

Before I get to my rant and question, let me give you a quick background. Well, yesterday I found out that the next subject of the LAMB’s Acting School 101 is Nicole Kidman. I really want to participate in this, maybe do a Top 5 Fave Roles of hers, but after looking at her filmography, I realize there are some of her films from the past few decades that I’ve missed. I figure since the blogathon isn’t starting until the end of the month, it might be good to catch up on a few of her past movie One of them that caught my attention is The Portrait of A Lady by Jane Campion. I quite like period dramas and this is based on a novel by Henry James. Alas, as you can see on my tweet below, it’s NOT available to rent anywhere!!

In fact, neither Netflix DVD NOR Streaming has the movie available to rent! I even went so far as searching my local library for it! Zero. None. Zip. Nada. Basically my only option to watch this movie is to BUY the darn thing! Gah! Now after seeing the trailer I’m even more curious to see this movie, I mean it’s also got John Malkovich, Barbara Hershey (who was nominated for Oscar’s Best Actress in a Supporting Role), plus Christian Bale and Viggo Mortensen in smaller roles!

Now, a few other of Kidman’s movies I’m hoping to check out this month are Fur, The Hours, and Rabbit Hole. Ted is going to lend me The Peacemaker this weekend. I have no interest in seeing Dogma, The Others, nor Eyes Wide Shut. Those who know me probably know those films aren’t my cup of tea. I haven’t checked yet if those movies are readily available to rent.

Truthfully, I’m dismayed that there are some movies are practically impossible to see unless you have Netflix DVD subscription (except for The Portrait of a Lady as I’ve mentioned above, the date of availability is listed as UNKNOWN!). Two other films my hubby and I had been wanting to watch are The Guard and The Whistleblower.

Yes I know they both have super generic, uninteresting titles but the premise and cast of both of them are quite appealing. But unless I’m willing to buy them, it doesn’t look like I have any option to see those two! Right now I just can’t justify paying $15 bucks a month for both Netflix DVD and Streaming option, so I guess that’s my problem, eh?

All right, enough about my rant. I’ll find a way somehow to rent those titles, but I’m curious now if any of you encounter the same issues about not being able to rent the movie you want. So my question to you is…

Where do you get your movies from?

Is it through iTunes, Netflix or (LOVEFilm if you’re in the UK), Amazon on Demand? If you get your movies through illegal means, you don’t have to answer, ahah.