Movie Mondays ~ Monday, May 6, 2019

Movie Mondays ~ Monday, May 6, 2019

This week’s films viewed are few in number but they have much in common, and I assure you, it was completely unplanned. They are both recent additions to their respective networks — one debuted on HBO just days ago, the other was recently added to the May Netflix lineup. Their content similarities are striking.


Both celebrate groups of women trying to affect change through action and honest communication but for different reasons and in different circumstances. Both have women directors at the helm. Both directors seem focused on the important mission of giving a voice to those who have not felt they had a voice before. In both films, you will meet strong, determined, engaging women willing to put themselves in the fray of public scrutiny, media frenzy and the emotional rollercoaster of sharing their own stories — one set of women seeking justice, and the other seeking seats at the legislative table.


And as you will soon learn, both are absolutely worth every minute of their viewing time and come highly recommended. Please read on…and watch soon. You will be very glad you did.


And as always, thanks for reading! ~ Chris K.


FILMS VIEWED WEEK OF 04/29/2019 – 05/05/2019


58. At the Heart of Gold: Inside the USA Gymnastics Scandal

Documentary (2019)
Rachel Denhollander, Gwen Anderson, Amanda Thomashow, Jordyn Wieber


This documentary lays out the story methodically. We meet young, enthusiastic gymnasts and hear their stories of how and why they got into the sport of gymnastics. They’ve attained various levels of success in the sport — some in youth sports, others in competitive high school or college athletics and yet others who have competed on the international stage as part of the U.S. Olympics women’s gymnastics program. We learn about the time commitment, dedication and physical toll the sport has on these young athletes from such an early age and over years of stress on their bodies. We also realize just how much they depend on the various adults in their life to look out for them — their parents, their teachers and their coaches. We can see how their belief that these adults would not hurt them leads to one physician, team doctor Larry Nassar, abusing that trust across decades and forever changing the lives of dozens and dozens of athletes, some too afraid to speak out and others who do and are not taken seriously in their accusations.


The film is brutally honest and stark in its storytelling, the stories are heartbreaking. As Nassar finally faces charges against him, we see a pathway beginning to clear as young women come forward to publicly share their own stories, some who had previously wished to remain unidentified. Watching their collective bravery grow as each one faces Nassar head-on in the courtroom is a powerfully beautiful vision and one director Erin Lee Carr is able to capture within this documentary.


If you think you knew the story about the gymnastics scandal that exposed a long legacy of abuse, believe me — there is so much more to the story that you have not heard before. I won’t promise you that this will always be an easy film to watch but it is absolutely worth watching this story of young women confronting a villain in common and celebrating their own collective survival.



Score: 87







59. Knock Down the House

Documentary (2019)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, Amy Vilela, Paul Jean Swearengin, Joe Crowley



This is about as close as any of us will ever get to being right inside the heart and soul of a political campaign (make that a series of grass roots campaigns across the country, led by women who are seeking to make change in their districts and enter the world of public service for the first time). The most notable and compelling is the charismatic and impassioned ‘every person’ Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who earns one of the greatest mid-term upsets and defeats 20-year Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley, U.S. Representative of New York’s 14th district.


In the film, we follow the various campaigns and meet a handful of candidates who have all entered their respective races for personal reasons — some have experienced the struggles of being a single working mom, others feel they must speak up for those not being heard and other are driven by particular issues from access to affordable healthcare to climate change and protecting the environment to racial and gender inequality. Whatever motivates them to invest all of their energy, time and often, all of their money, they are surrounded by people who feel just as passionate about the causes they champion.


I enjoyed the intimate look at every step along the way, from the mundane to the intensive. And when we are present for a moment of joy and triumph when one of these newcomers gets the word that they have won, I can honestly say every hair stood on end on my neck and goosebumps lined up feverishly on my arms. Great job from director Rachel Lears at capturing the madness, the manic pace and the magic. See it and get a glimpse at what political activism can and should look like at the community level.


Score: 88






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