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Low Tide Review: The Goonies Meets The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in Sharp Coming-of-Age Thriller – IndieWire

Posted: October 4, 2019 at 7:50 pm

It can be hard to recognize when a life-defining moment falls into your lap, especially when youre still just a scrawny teenager who feels like hes watching the world go by from the sidelines. As desperate as we are to grow up, people seldom clock the moment they start coming of age. Peter (Jaeden Martell) doesnt have that problem. When this frustrated kid stumbles upon a bag full of $100,000 in buried treasure, he can practically hear the starting gun ringing in his ears.

Growing up on the Jersey Shore, Peter and his better-developed older brother Alan (Alita hunk Keean Johnson) havent really been able to appreciate the romantic allure that brings wealthy tourists to their blue-collar hometown. But a small fortune in gold coins has a way of altering your perspective in a hurry. This will be their one magic summer. This will be the year when everything changed. This will be the season when these two boys decide what kind of men they want to be. This is your origin story, Sergeant Kent (Shea Whigam) tells Alan, unaware that the juvenile delinquent sitting across from him is hiding a huge secret. Are you going to grow up to be the good guy, or the bad guy?

A sharp coming-of-age crime saga that hardens The Goonies with the kind of salt-of-the-earth survivalism that bled through The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Kevin McMullins Amblin-inflected Low Tide couldnt make its stakes any clearer. The movies shrewd first scene, in which a group of masked ruffians break into a beachside mansion, explicitly defines the moral dilemma that will hang over the rest of this 87-minute calling card. Its just another summer night for Alan, Red (a volatile Alex Neustaedter), and Smitty (Daniel Zolghadri), who rob houses because its easier than working. Besides, its not like the loaded out-of-towners are going to miss any of this shit, right?

But panic ensues when the house owners come home early; two of the boys make clean escapes, but Smitty breaks his ankle when he tries to jump down from the second floor. His accomplices eventually go back for him, but its hard to say if they rescue Smitty out of friendship, or rather because they dont trust him not to rat them out to the cops. Later, when Sergeant Kent tells Alan that bad guys never think theyre bad guys, you can all but see the kid replaying this incident in his mind.

Low Tide is at its best during these early stretches, as McMullins script charts the ways that fragile young friendships can ebb and flow. The movies setting isnt quite as specific as its circumstances its tough to shoot a period piece on an indie budget but McMullin turns that feature into a bug. Our past seems like the movies present. Details come into focus slowly, and without calling attention to themselves. A transistor radio and a boxy television are the first clues that were back in time; the fashion and haircuts dont shout at us, but a preppie from out of town poses himself against the hood of his (dads) Mustang convertible in a way that feels like hes trying to cosplay Risky Business. The lighting is soft and sweet like a memory, and the horny teen hot spot relocates from the hot dog stand to the fairgrounds when the sun goes down.

The boys hang out on the boardwalk and gawk at the girls who walk by. Alan isnt as level-headed as his younger brother, but hes got a good head on his shoulders. Red is the pistol-packing id of the group, though his violent streak isnt well-shaded enough for him to become a convincing villain. Smitty is somewhere in the middle, a Spanish-speaking immigrant who fell in with the biggest outsiders he could find. It would all feel like a Bruce Springsteen song if Alan believed in that stuff (Miracles dont happen in New Jersey, he teaches Peter), especially once he starts making eyes at Mary (Kristine Froseth), a golden-haired Connecticut girl whos on her way to college. The writing is never as rich as when Peter suddenly becomes when he stumbles upon that loot the circumstances behind that discovery are too simple to seem real, and too complicated to sustain much interest but you understand where these kids are in their lives. And how fast it could all change on them.

Peter becomes the protagonist once he strikes it rich, and Martell (so good as a wannabe Ben Shapiro in Knives Out) perfectly manages to evoke the trembling insecurity of a little kid on the precipice of a big moment. He only tells Alan about the gold, but Alan who buys himself a sweet car effectively tells everyone else. Everything falls apart from there, only some of it by design.

McMullin, so eager to carve out a spare thriller that he leaves a ton of meat on the table, eats up the middle of the movie by focusing on the logistics of it all instead of the emotional machinations behind them. The second act drifts somewhat aimlessly between the inciting discovery and the inevitable fight to keep it safe, as Alans posse grows suspicious and everyone turns against each other. Sergeant Kent isnt given the time to emerge as a proper father figure in a town full of absent men, Alans crush on Mary doesnt go much deeper than a rainy makeout session in the backseat of his car, and the dynamic between Red, Smitty, and the rest is never developed beyond the mistrust that was always growing like a weed around its roots.

These boys have been raised to believe that no one in this life would ever give them anything, and so they feel as if they have no choice but to take it for themselves. They have a code (no stealing from locals), but the desperation thats lurking just under the surface is laid bare during low tide. A very promising debut thats lensed with confidence even when it lacks a more cohesive vision, the film may not quite hold together as a crime story, but McMullin a New Jersey native is better at tracing his own emotional turmoil than he is at following in John Hustons footsteps. If Low Tide recedes all too fast, it still leaves behind a clear sense that life doesnt always happen on schedule, and that the hardest part of growing up is figuring out what to share with people along the way.

Low Tide is now available on DirecTV Cinema. A24 will release it inselect theaters on Friday, October 4.

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Low Tide Review: The Goonies Meets The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in Sharp Coming-of-Age Thriller - IndieWire

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As the climate collapses, we can either stand together or perish alone – The Guardian

Posted: at 7:50 pm

Michael Mobbs has triggered an important conversation by coming out as a climate survivalist. He expects societal collapse a total breakdown within the next three to five years, so hes selling his ground-breaking and beautiful off-grid sustainable home in Chippendale and planning to move to the New South Wales South Coast.

Mobbs has contributed an enormous amount over many years, but this latest intervention is deeply problematic. It is wrong in fact and wrong in approach, and could contribute to making an already bad situation worse.

While climate breakdown is well under way, and societal collapse is a very real possibility within my lifetime if not necessarily his, there is no serious projection to justify a timeframe as short as three to five years for total breakdown. And the approach of running for the hills (or the coast) is neither sensible nor helpful. It only makes societal collapse more likely, by curtailing action and dividing the community even further. And, in that scenario, it wont even help you survive.

Far be it from me to criticise Mobbs personal choice here. His exhaustion and lack of hope is completely understandable. He has been actively working for solutions to ecological destruction for decades, leading whole communities towards action, while being ignored by the vast majority.

Some of the responses to his declaration, suggesting his approach has been an individualist one ignoring the need for collective action, are ignorant of his work. Mobbs has been working for collective action, using his own personal action as an inspiring example to support others to follow suit and work together for systemic change, as all effective collective organising does. In this way, he has driven vital shifts in building regulations, and more important shifts in understandings of how we humans can and should live as part of the natural world rather than trying to separate ourselves from it. Ecological thinking teaches us that all collective action is made up of interwoven and interlinked individual action. As Greta Thunberg says: We need system change rather than individual change, but you cant have one without the other.

Which brings us to why talking of literally burning bridges is not helpful.

If were to survive in the far-less-hospitable world that two centuries of institutionalised greed, selfishness and short-sightedness have bequeathed us, it will only be together. It will only be by using the coming years to cultivate resilient, cohesive, cooperative, equitable communities, embedded in the natural world.

Thats why, while Mobbs is of course entitled to choose to retire with our thanks for what hes achieved, the criticism of his public declaration of survivalism as embedded in a culture of white supremacy and the right of wealth is also entirely legitimate.

Survivalist retreat shuts off the possibility of action. It assumes that there is no longer any chance of preventing catastrophe, that there is nothing left to be done, that no action to reduce our impact will have any effect. While the scientists whose research I read and who I speak to are increasingly desperate, none condone this view. All argue that, even if we were to pull out all stops now and drive the fastest and largest transition in human history, we will still face severe impacts for generations to come. We will almost certainly lose all corals, including the Great Barrier Reef, for example. Fires and storms and droughts will continue to get more intense and frequent. Make no mistake, things will be bad. But, if we act fast, it doesnt have to mean extinction. The worst thing to do right now would be to cut off that option and give in to those who want to keep milking profits out of the destruction of our only home. That only makes it less likely that any of us will survive.

Retreat, of course, by definition, is only available to a select few. This is why the focus of the responses to Mobbs declaration from the left, in particular Amy Grays searing critique, attack it as inequitable and racist. My addendum is that just as survivalism makes extinction more likely by cutting off the option of action, dividing our society even further makes societal collapse even more likely. This would be the worst outcome of all.

At this point in history, now that we have locked in ecological disruption on a scale our species has never known, we must learn the lessons of ecology. And the number one lesson is that resilience is the key. Resilience, not dominance, is the real strength, especially in hard times. And the secret to resilience is connected diversity, cohesion, cooperative coexistence.

That means that in many ways our most important task right now is to build social cohesion while learning to live within natural limits. Luckily, there are ways of making sure that the two go hand in hand. Whether its urban community agriculture or local sharing and repair groups; whether its models of participatory democracy like Voices for Indi or community renewable energy cooperatives; whether its stripping corporations of the rights of legal personhood unless they properly respect social and environmental norms, supporting worker- and user-owned cooperatives to compete with them, or prioritising the long-term interests of traditional owners and workers over the profits of fossil fuel corporations; all these point the way towards holding off the worst ecological impacts of climate disruption while building the resilience to avoid the societal collapse it could trigger.

If, at this moment, we turn even more against each other, we have no future. The strongest will survive for a while. Then they, too, will be lost.

In reality, Michael Mobbs solution of urban living in harmony with the natural world, brought together with deep democracy and cultivating social cohesion, is the only path to survival.

Tim Hollo is executive director of the Green Institute

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As the climate collapses, we can either stand together or perish alone - The Guardian

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Trapped in the R.A.W., A Journal of My Experiences during the Great Invasion by Kaylee Bearovna by Kate Boyes – Locus Online

Posted: at 7:50 pm

Trapped in the R.A.W., A Journal of My Experiences during the Great Invasion by Kaylee Bearovna, Kate Boyes (Aqueduct 978-1-61976-159-9, $20.00, 312pp, tp) July 2019.

Every once in a while, a novel seems to drop in from out of nowhere, with little to go on but a promo letter and in the case at hand the reputation of the publisher. Aqueduct Press has earned a reputation not only for promoting feminist speculative work, but for discovering distinctive new voices. Sarah Tolmie (The Little Animals) and Isaac R. Fellman (The Breath of the Sun) are are two fairly recent examples. So its not too surprising that Id never heard of Kate Boyes, whose biographical note in her first novel Trapped in the R.A.W. tells us that shes a playwright and writer of travel and nature essays, but mentions no prior published fiction at all. This is surprising, because, despite an unpromising title (the full iteration of which is Trapped in the R.A.W., A Journal of My Experiences during the Great Invasion by Kaylee Bearovna, With an Afterword by Pearl Larken and Appendices Compiled by the We Survived Series Group), the novel demonstrates a impressively assured voice, an ingenious, casebook-like structure in which the journal of the title is supplemented by several appendices written years later, and an equally creative use of illustrative material, drawn mostly from 19th-century books and the illustrations of Walter Crane. All of this creates the initial impression that this might be a sort of alternate-history period piece, like the variations on Wellss The War of the Worlds that have appeared more often than necessary, but in fact its a near-future alien invasion tale set mostly in a university special collections library and told mostly in the form of the journal of Kaylee Bearovna, who barricades herself inside during the first couple of months of an inexplicable invasion that nearly wipes out the global population. The R.A.W. of the title comes from the librarians nickname for the collection rare and wonderful.

Alien invasion apocalyptic dystopias, of which there are many, tend to align along a spectrum, with brutalist survivalism at one end (think of Cormac McCarthys The Road) and elegiac humanism at the other (one of the best examples remains George R. Stewarts Earth Abides). Boyes lands firmly in the latter camp, not only celebrating the value of libraries and the preservation of culture, but also focusing far more on character than spectacle. Kaylee hasnt had a particularly easy life she was horribly betrayed and abused by a professor some years earlier, and has lost touch with her beloved daughter but her quick-thinking response to the sudden invasion marks her as a classically competent SF hero. When she hears the screams of the dying and sees hundreds of odd figures in faceless brown outfits slaughtering people with a single touch, she barricades herself in the library and immediately begins sorting the details of her survival, from securing food and water, to such mundane details as toilet paper (which creates an almost comical dilemma in a rare-books library). Her journal makes for compelling reading, detailing her failure to save another survivor who makes it to the library door and eventually describing her tentative relationship with one of the invaders, whom she comes to call the Tall Man. When she decides to leave the library, she leaves the journal behind.

This leads to Boyess neatest touch: the journal is discovered decades later by an expeditionary team, resulting in a series of documents, mostly trying to discover what happened to Kaylee. Our new narrators include the editor of the published version of the journal, the leader of the expeditionary team, a contemporary friend of Kaylees who also survived, an academic cultural historian, and an anthropologist who presents interviews with other survivors who might have known Kaylee or her family. Boyes doesnt always fully differentiate these voices (several sound a lot like Kaylees original journal), but the effect is unarguably moving, as we watch Kaylee transformed from a desperate and lonely figure into a kind of librarian legend, whose story only becomes richer as we piece it together from these later documents. There are plenty of unanswered or inadequately answered questions about the invasion itself, the aliens, and their own motives and social structures (though Boyes does think up an ingenious explanation as to how they could mate with humans), but thats not really the point of a novel such as this. In a few pages you can wipe out most of a civilization with disease, war, alien invasion, or natural catastrophe, but it takes a deeply humane novel to convince us that continuity and community can be built from the ashes.

Gary K. Wolfe is Emeritus Professor of Humanities at Roosevelt University and a reviewer for Locus magazine since 1991. His reviews have been collected in Soundings (BSFA Award 2006; Hugo nominee), Bearings (Hugo nominee 2011), and Sightings (2011), and his Evaporating Genres: Essays on Fantastic Literature (Wesleyan) received the Locus Award in 2012. Earlier books include The Known and the Unknown: The Iconography of Science Fiction (Eaton Award, 1981), Harlan Ellison: The Edge of Forever (with Ellen Weil, 2002), and David Lindsay (1982). For the Library of America, he edited American Science Fiction: Nine Classic Novels of the 1950s in 2012, with a similar set for the 1960s forthcoming. He has received the Pilgrim Award from the Science Fiction Research Association, the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, and a Special World Fantasy Award for criticism. His 24-lecture series How Great Science Fiction Works appeared from The Great Courses in 2016. He has received six Hugo nominations, two for his reviews collections and four for The Coode Street Podcast, which he has co-hosted with Jonathan Strahan for more than 300 episodes. He lives in Chicago.

This review and more like it in theJuly 2019 issue of Locus.

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Gary K. Wolfe Reviews Trapped in the R.A.W., A Journal of My Experiences during the Great Invasion by Kaylee Bearovna by Kate Boyes - Locus Online

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Oregon ‘Hate Map’ Reveals 11 Racist, Separatist Hate Groups In The State –

Posted: August 18, 2017 at 5:03 am
Oregon 'Hate Map' Reveals 11 Racist, Separatist Hate Groups In The State
Based on the blog Donovan writes, the Wolves of Vinland Cascadia espouse masculinity, tribalism, and survivalism. Northwest Hammerskins The Hammerskins are an unapologetic racist skinhead group with chapters established across the continental ...
Hate MapIntelligence Report
Top three states with the most hate groups: Guess where Florida ranks?Miami Herald

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Oregon 'Hate Map' Reveals 11 Racist, Separatist Hate Groups In The State -

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Doomsday Desperation – Southern Poverty Law Center

Posted: at 5:03 am

According to the girlfriend, Mineo requested her to shoot him in the forehead at point-blank range. Police say Mineo and his girlfriend, both conspiracy theorists and doomsday preppers, were ostracized by an alien conspiracy cult that embraced apocalyptic biblical themes from the Book of Revelation. Fearing the coming end of the world, Mineo was overcome with despondency leading up to his death wish.

Last summer, fearing the end times, another prepper killed three men near his fortified compound in Great Cacapon, West Virginia. Erick Shute, who was also a sovereign citizen, says he shot the men with a .223-caliber rifle because they were cutting wood and trespassing on his land. Doomsday preppers often emphasize living off the land or off the grid and in isolation. Investigators found the tell-tale signs of a doomsday prepper when they searched Shutes property stockpiles of food, a cache of guns, and ammunition hoarding. There was also concern that Shute had placed land-mines on the property to protect its perimeter.

The murders in Pennsylvania and West Virginia are just the latest in a long string of brutal murders and suicides among those prepping for the end times. A year earlier, Michael Augustine Bournes murdered his wife and three children at their cabin in a remote Montana forest. Bournes, then set his house on fire and committed suicide. Neighbors describe him as a survivalist who lived off the grid.

On January 17, 2015, David Crowley, an aspiring conspiracy filmmaker and screenwriter, shot and killed his wife and daughter in their home in Apple Valley, Minnesota. He then committed suicide. Crowley had been working on a feature film project called Gray State, with a storyline that revolved around a coming police state after societal breakdown.

In September 2014, Benjamin and Kristi Strack of Springville, Utah, murdered three of their four children, with a poisonous cocktail of cold medicines laced with dextrorphan and doxylamine. They then killed themselves. Authorities later learned that the parents were worried about the evil in the world and wanted to escape a pending apocalypse. Family and friends reported the Stracks wanted to move somewhere far off the grid.

A few months later, Veronica Dunnachie was charged with the shooting deaths of her estranged husband and stepdaughter during a domestic dispute in Arlington, Texas. Both Veronica and her husband were members of the 3%ers Texas, a militia group, and had an affinity for prepping and learning survival skills. There are other murder/suicide cases (ie, Shane Franklin Miller, Jimmy Lee Dykes, and Peter Keller) that demonstrate the dark side of doomsday prepping.

Doomsday prepping has been an American subculture since the 1950s. During the 20th century, preppers fed on American fears in the aftermath of World War II, the nuclear arms race, civil unrest, and economic volatility. Similarly, the 21st century has brought new uncertainties, including Y2K, weather disasters, the Mayan end calendar, global terrorism, and more civil unrest. In light of these disastrous events and predictions, doomsday preppers emphasis on preparedness appears to make sense. Family preparedness may even be advisable. Nevertheless, beyond a few legitimate reasons, doomsday prepping, for the most part, represents a dark worldview that combines, to varying degrees, end-times apocalyptic views, an obsession with firearms (and other weaponry), conspiracy theories and too often an anti-government sentiment. When combined, these radical views become toxic and lead unsuspecting followers down a funnel of despair, which perpetuates fear, paranoia and extremism.

Preppers are best known for stockpiling supplies (e.g. food, water, medicine, fuel, etc.) and building bunkers in anticipation of an impending catastrophic event, such as a war, terrorist attack or disastrous natural occurrence. Prepping can be embraced both by individuals, who emphasize surviving alone, and groups which emphasize communal living. Examples of prepper communities include the Citadel project in Benewah County, Idaho; the Trident Lakes subdivision in Ector, Texas; and Ft. Igloo in Falls River, South Dakota.

Since the 1950s, Preppers, also known as survivalists, have spread their ideology and tradecraft through preparedness expositions, gun shows, literature, and religious institutions such as Mormons, Baptists, and cults. These trends continue today. Since 2008, the Prepper Movement has steadily increased membership and grown in both sophistication and creativity. Companies specializing in making bulk emergency supplies, like ready-made meals and water purification systems, have attested to this steady rise in popularity due to sales increases. Much like the 1990s, preparedness conventions continue to attract thousands of people at each event throughout the country.

The 2008 Presidential Election, coupled with the 2008 stock market crash, marked the beginning of the prepper renaissance. However, new factors have emerged that have influenced the recent popularity growth of doomsday prepping. In 2016, Donald Trumps election further stoked the fires of fear and paranoia within the Prepper community and far right extremists with his rhetoric concerning Muslim terrorist threats in the Homeland, nuclear threats from North Korea, criminal threats from immigrants and other security issues. As a result, the Prepper Movement remains popular and supply companies within the U.S. continue to report growing sales. For example, an Idaho-based emergency supplies company, called My Patriot Supply, doubled its online sales during the week of Inauguration Day compared to the same week in 2016. Georgia-based Doomsday Prep also noticed sales spikes on both Election Day and Inauguration Day. Since the 2016 election, it has seen more than a 15% growth.

Cable television shows, such as National Geographics Doomsday Preppers, Discoverys The Colony and Survivorman, have mainstreamed, and even glorified, survivalism and end times prepping. The advent of the Internet has also given preppers a new tool to recruit members and supporters, teach tradecraft using YouTube videos, as well as create entire online marketplaces for purchasing and selling prepper-related gear and other supplies. While there are various theories about what causes the world to end, Preppers are unified on the core beliefs that society is on the verge of collapse and the last days are near.

Besides spreading fear and paranoia and preparing for the end times, the Prepper Movement provides a gateway to more radical ideologies and extremist movements, such as militia groups, white supremacists, and sovereign citizens. Of particular concern, the Prepper Movement has experienced a disturbing trend of murders and suicide over the past four years.

As prepper deaths continue to mount, rumors have circulated on survivalist forums and other far right extremist websites about secret government hit lists or death lists targeting them. They claim that this trend of murder/suicides within the Prepper Movement is the work of a sinister government plot to get rid of them. They falsely believe these deaths are evidence of the Illuminatis existence and its activation of the New World Order plan to take over the world. In reality, these violent incidents are manifestations of how mounting anxiety, fear, and paranoia can lead to deepening depression and acts of desperation that, too often, leads to violence and lawlessness. Sadly, there are even more criminal incidents and arrests related to doomsday preppers.

Rex Features via AP Images

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Doomsday Desperation - Southern Poverty Law Center

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‘American Made’ Review: Tom Cruise Flies Between Comedy and Tension, Missing Both – TheWrap

Posted: at 5:03 am

Tom Cruise trashes his flashing-teeth hero image to play, if not a bad guy, then certainly a naughty one in the jaunty drug-running caper American Made.

Re-teaming with his Edge of Tomorrow (a.k.a. Live Die Repeat) director Doug Liman, Cruise plays Barry Seal, a real-life character who ran drugs, guns and money between Central America and Arkansas in the late 1970s and early 80s, while also working for the CIA.

Seal, a family man who started out as a pilot for TWA, eventually became embroiled in what blew up into the Iran-Contra scandal, as well as being a trusted delivery boy for the Medellin cocaine cartel lead by Pablo Escobar. He also earned himself millions of dollars in cash for his troubles.

Watch Video: Tom Cruise Is Back to Flying Planes in 'American Made' Trailer

Cruise slips into the role with a mischievous grin, although hes not exactly playing totally against type the way he did in, say, Magnolia. The idea is that his Barry is a slippery customer and a great pilot, more son-of-a-gun than Top Gun. With the first of several nods to Goodfellas, Cruise narrates the movie himself, although his to-camera testimonies are designed, we learn later, to incriminate his various employers.

Barry initially stumbles into the part but like a good American opportunist, he learns to game the system, using his CIA-sanctioned cover to become the gringo who delivers for Escobar and his henchmen. He comes home with suitcases stuffed so full of cash the green stuff practically falls out of the bedroom closets.

See Tom Cruise's latest POWER MOVE.

As director, Liman (whose father investigated the Iran-Contra affair) has covered the shaky moral ground of Langley in his Bourne franchise, and hes at it again here, while also trying to cram in and explain away some real political history. The film features three U.S. presidents: Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and, as Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, as well as figures such as Oliver North and General Noriega. Even Nancy Reagan pops up to tell us again: Just Say No.

Liman is to be commended on not stooping to a mere 80s nostalgia fest, at least not too ironically (he offers a Rubiks Cube and couple of power ballads but, hey, everyone needs context), using the Cold War politics of the time rather than any awkward fashions or pop. I wonder, though, if he was tempted to show someone watching an early Brat Pack movie on VHS?

The problem is that Cruise, even when trying to cut loose, is always so tightly controlled that we never truly feel the reptilian survivalism of Barry Seal, nor does it feel like anyone on screen is actually enjoying themselves despite the repeated tequila parties and mountains of cash.

Also Read: Don't Tell Dwayne Johnson He Runs Like Tom Cruise

Earlyish in the picture, when Barry finds himself in a Colombian jail following a police raid, theres a bit of business around him having a tooth knocked out, a clear indication that Cruise knows hes denting his trademark choppers here. Interestingly, the movie never suggests Seal (or any of his pilot cohorts) got high on their own supply; he may want to play with his image, but dont think for a minute youll catch Tom Cruise snorting coke.

Limans tone, channelled through Cruise gently straining to deconstruct his own iconography, achieves neither real comedy nor actual tension. The movie feels lightweight, even while pointing fingers at the American governments meddling foreign policy and lies. The sense of the eras political absurdity goes missing. Maybe politics, no matter how ridiculous or how distant, just isnt a laughing matter any more.

Strangely, for a Cruise vehicle, American Made takes a while to get going, and, having never quite started, it doesnt really know when to finish. Theres a terrific climax involving the CIA, DEA, FBI and a bunch of other acronymical forces except it isnt the climax, and the movie drags on for quite a while after, forgetting that we really dont care much for the underwritten storyline of Barrys family and his wife Lucy, gamely played by Sarah Wright (Marry Me) in that increasingly thankless position of girl in Tom Cruise movie.

American Made isnt exactly an American Dud, but it is too self-conscious to be as fun as it wants to be. Its professional, slick and not terrible, as youd expect from, well, slick professionals such as Liman and Cruise. It looks vibrant and verdant (shot by Uruguayan DP Cesar Chalone, who did City of God), but for the gringo movie star who always delivers, it comes up a little short.

Tom Cruise wasn't "Born on the 4th of July," but he was close. The actor turned 55 Monday. We ranked hisfilms, from the so-so to the phenomenal.

41. "Cocktail"

Cruise's Type-A, adrenaline-fueled drive serves him very well in movies where the stakes are high. But Cocktail is just "Top Gun" behind a bar. The work-hard play-hard clichs at work here threatened to make Cruise the role model for handsome, affable, lame guys you swipe past on dating apps. Cruise smartly swiped away from roles like this.

40. "Endless Love"

Tom Cruise has a tiny partin this Brooke Shields melodrama, his first ever on-screen role. He stumbles off a soccer field, goes shirtlessand shares a story with the protagonist about how he almost burned his house down. You were probably sold at "goes shirtless."

39. "Legend"

Whats sillier: Tom Cruises unicorn or his hair? Legend was a lavish, fantastical adventure that turned out to be a massive box-office misfire from director Ridley Scott and Cruise.

38. "Austin Powers in Goldmember"

Cruise makes an amusing cameo as Austin Powers in a fake trailer for a movie-within-the-movie called Austinpussy. But this opening to the third Austin Powers is its only highlight.

37. "Far and Away"

Ron Howard directs Cruise and his then-partner Nicole Kidman in this romance between a wealthy landlords daughter and a poor Irish street fighter.Cruise's accent isn't great.

36. "Knight and Day"

Wacky, screwball action-comedies almost never work, and in James Mangolds Knight and Day, Cruise and Cameron Diaz werent exactly Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Charade." But the movie has its passionate fans.

35. "Interview With a Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles"

This is probably the movie where you're most aware Cruise is acting. After all, hes playing a vampire. This showy, flashy role wouldve been better suited for someone like Johnny Depp. Cruises Lestat doesn't feel as hungry as most Tom Cruise characters, just thirsty. For blood.

34. "Losin' It"

Thankfully Cruise graduated from 80s teen sex-romps like this, but Curtis Hansons Losin It has some charm with Cruise running through Tijuana with a young Jackie Earle Haley, John Stockwell and a housewife played by Shelley Long.

33. "Jack Reacher 2: Never Go Back"

The sequel to Jack Reacher was a rare, mediocre step back for Cruise.

32. "Rock of Ages"

Cruise doing his best Axl Rose impression as the rock-god Stacee Jaxx is the best part of this cute, harmless stage adaptation. He commits.

31. "The Outsiders"

Francis Ford Coppolas The Outsiders wasnt well reviewed at its time, but its a great time capsule of Cruise in a small part of a gang of other teen heartthrobs of the day, including Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe and Emilio Estevez. Many who grew u with it consider it a classic.

30. "All the Right Moves"

In one of theearly teen roles that would define his hard-driving persona, Cruise contends with a football coach played by Craig T. Nelson in a classicandwell-meaning but clichd sports movie.

29. "Days of Thunder"

Its Top Gun on wheels, with Tony Scott reuniting with Cruise as an up-and-coming racecar driver and pairing him for the first time with Nicole Kidman, as well as Robert Duvall. But by this point Cruise had already played the young hot shot too many times.

28. "Lions for Lambs"

Robert Redford aimed for intellectual pedigree with his political drama starring Cruise and Meryl Streep, but it mostly high-minded, overly-polished lecturing.

27. "Valkyrie"

Cruise plays a German officer who conspired to assassinate Hitler and assume power. We all know how that went. Thankfully, Cruise doesnt belabor a phony German accent, but Bryan Singers drama is mostly historical set dressing.

26. "Taps"

In just his second on-screen role, Cruise plays an unhinged military cadet who goes to extreme lengths to protect the academy when its threatened by encroaching condo developers. He almost steals the show from George C. Scott, Timothy Hutton and a young Sean Penn.

25. "Vanilla Sky"

Vanilla Sky contains a risky, very underrated Cruise role. Cruise goes from playing the cocky, unstoppable Cruise archetype to a deformed, defeated man trying to figure out what matters. Cameron Crowes remake of a Spanish-language film shifts genres stunningly, and its proved a polarizing movie in both Cruise and Crowes catalog.

24. "The Mummy"

From TheWrap's review: "Its the same loud, excessive strain of blockbuster thats cursing multiplexes, barely qualifying as horror, adventure, fantasy, thriller, or even Tom Cruise vehicle."

23. "The Last Samurai"

John Oliver has made The Last Samurai infamous as a prime example of Hollywoods Asian whitewashing. But Cruise is good enough to make it almost work. Its a solid samurai epic with Cruise fighting out of his element, playing an American Civil War official overseas as a dynasty comes to an end.

22. "Mission: Impossible II"

John Woos hyper-stylized sequel has Cruise free-hand scaling a massive, remote cliff, only to put on a pair of sunglasses and watch them explode. It all feels very '90s.

21. "Mission: Impossible III"

J.J. Abrams was brought in to reboot the franchise, so to speak, and he brought his signature lens flares, humor and gritty realism to the property. The films high point isnt Cruise, but Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the villain.

20. "The Firm"

Tom Cruise + John Grisham + Gene Hackman + Sydney Pollack? The Firm shouldve been a slam dunk, but its not even Cruises best courtroom drama.

19. "Oblivion"

Joseph Kosinskis Oblivion is visually stunning and finds Cruise tidying up Earth after the battle for humanity has ended and the planet has been evacuated. The sci-fi premise has promise but loses steam as some of the Morgan Freeman-delivered twists and parables start to come out.

18. "Jack Reacher"

Lee Child described Jack Reacher in his book as being 6 foot 5 inches tall, up to 250 pounds and having a 50-inch chest. That aint Tom Cruise. But Christopher McQuarrie extracts from Cruise a grizzled, angry action hero. Plus having Werner Herzog as your movies villain doesnt hurt.

17. "The Color of Money"

This was the movie that won Paul Newman his Oscar, a swan-song sequel to The Hustler by Martin Scorsese in which Cruise may as well be type-cast as the new arrogant upstart. But Cruise captivates with that infectious, cocky glint in his eye as he whips his cue around, knocking em dead to the tune of Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon.

16. "Tropic Thunder"

Cruise is hilariously unrecognizable beneath a balding wig, caked on makeup and some added pounds as Les Grossman, a raging, foul-mouthed studio exec. His fuming anger and profanity in this cameo makes him a pimple ready to burst, and his best dialogue isnt even fit to print.

15. "Rain Man"

Rain Man may actually be one of the more overrated Best Picture winners. Barry Levinsons film is just a road trip movie with a showy Dustin Hoffman performance at its center. And yet Cruise revealed an untapped tender side.

14. "War of the Worlds"

Critics were torn as to whether Cruise made a convincing father figure in Steven Spielbergs adaptation of the famous H.G. Wells story, but thehuman element elevated this already tense sci-fi thriller.

13. "Mission: Impossible"

The original Mission: Impossible benefits from Brian De Palmas homages to Hitchcock and other spy genre films, includingloopy twists and laughably great gadgets that explode fish tanks or transform peoples faces. But its rightfully famous for Cruises balletic, expertly executed heist as he dangles from the ceiling and tries not to break a sweat.

12. "Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation"

Five movies into the franchise, and Christopher McQuarries film was the first that suggested a future for this franchise beyond Cruise, taking the best elements of each subsequent M:I film and making them gel. It culminates in a slick assassination inside an opera and a standout new foil for Cruise in Rebecca Ferguson. And Cruise is just awesome in it.

11. "Collateral"

Cruise never gets to play the bad guy, but hes excellent at it. Michael Mann transformed Cruise into a mysterious silver fox and silent killer, toying with his hostage Jamie Foxxs mind and morality until the two form an unexpected bond.

10. "Top Gun"

Thirtyyears later and we still feel the need for speed. Theres still no better popcorn movie that flaunts 80s nostalgia, jingoistic Americana and hyper-masculinity than Top Gun. Plus that gloriously homoerotic volleyball scene.

9. "Risky Business"

When Tom Cruise slid across that wood floor in his underwear and a white dress shirt to the opening riff of Old Time Rock and Roll, that was it; a star was born. The movie as a whole channels everything that made Cruise a star, includinghis hot-shot attitude and smirking charm. But he alsosubverts and challenges other teen films.

8. "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol"

Brad Bird brought some of the cartoonish charm from Pixar over to the fourth M:I film, but he also staged one of the best action set pieces of this century. Yes, that really was Cruise dangling off the side of the Burj Khalifa tower in Dubai, and it paid off.

7. "Edge of Tomorrow"

Edge of Tomorrow is the kind of action movie that reminds you why Cruise is so reliable in his heroic roles. Cruise plays a captain in this sci-fi who sells a war to the public, but is privately a coward. When hes killed in battle and brought back to life in an endless vicious cycle played for pathos and some laughs, he regains composure. Emily Blunt gives a fantastic, hard-edged performance as well.

6. "A Few Good Men"

Cruise displays youthful goodness, decency and spirit in the face of juggernaut Jack Nicholson. "A Few Good Men" hasexactly the sort of rousing emotion Hollywood needs to tap into again to find morehit dramas for adults.

5. "Eyes Wide Shut"

All anyone wanted to talk about with Stanley Kubricks final film was the chemistry between Cruise and his wife Nicole Kidman, or the lack thereof. But that icy demeanor in what presents itself as an erotic romance amplified the surreal mystery of the film and made Cruise vulnerable and human.

4. "Jerry Maguire"

The quintessential rom-com, Jerry Maguire is timeless yet also perfectly '90s. Cameron Crowes endlessly quotable screenplay wouldnt be quite the same without Cruises comic timing as he bellows Show Me the Money and lampoons his own hot-shot persona.

3. "Born on the Fourth of July"

As a crippled war vet in Oliver Stones Vietnam drama, Cruise turns from a starry-eyed, clean-cut soldier to a vocal, harried Vietnam protestor. Its a rebuke to the blind patriotism flaunted in Cruises own Top Gun and is one of Stones best films.

2. "Minority Report"

Steven Spielbergs sci-fi has aged beautifully, in part because Silicon Valley has borrowed so muchfrom it. Cruise looks so cool manipulating video in the Pre-Cog crime lab, he practically invented touch screens. Spielberg bakes endlessfun and invigorating, futuristic chase sequences into a screenplay that contemplates big questions of fate and free will.

1. "Magnolia"

Not only is this Paul Thomas Andersons magnum-opus, an epic, surreal character drama of love, family and the meaning of life, its Cruise at his most unhinged and commanding. He plays a vile, lascivious mens right advocate named Frank T.J. Mackey, whose mantra isrespect the cock. Cruise made it possible to dislike, even loathe one of his characters, and yet hes chillinglycharismatic.

Happy 55th birthday, Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise wasn't "Born on the 4th of July," but he was close. The actor turned 55 Monday. We ranked hisfilms, from the so-so to the phenomenal.

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North Korea: Nuclear War Fears Spur Sales of Preparedness Goods … – Fortune

Posted: August 14, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Emergency preparedness and survival products are seeing a rise in sales and interest as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea mount. Though information is still anecdotal, several retailers speaking to the New York Times say theyve seen customers stocking up on emergency food supplies and other survival gear. Sales at the Emergency Essentials retail chain in Utah, for instance, were more than double their usual amount in the days after President Trumps fire and fury comments last Tuesday.

Google searches for terms including prepper and survivalism have also risen significantly over the last week. But theyre still well below all-time highs that came after the 2012 Presidential election win by Barack Obama, and not all preparedness retailers speaking to the Times have seen sales rise.

Get Data Sheet , Fortunes technology newsletter.

Obamas election and re-election also triggered a sharp rise in gun sales. Thats partly because of fears that Obama would push through tougher gun control laws. But the rise in survivalism was also fueled by right-wing conspiracy theories , which sellers said had receded somewhat by 2013.

But the usual buyers of dehydrated food and camp stoves have much more faith in the Commander in Chief than they did his predecessora recent poll puts the Presidents approval rating among Republicans as high as 82%. With conservative politics such a major driver of the preparedness market, and despite fears over North Korea, the Trump presidency could wind up offering modest growth for the industry.

Responses to both North Koreas tests and Trumps bellicose language have been tepid more broadly. U.S. stock markets, usually hypersensitive to rumors of global war, dropped only 0.2% on the day of Trumps statements.

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For Doomsday Preppers, the End of the World Is Good for Business – New York Times

Posted: August 13, 2017 at 2:04 am

Clearly, when something happens in the world like North Korea right now, it is on peoples minds, Mr. Sullivan said. It just causes them to rethink where they stand in the event of war, in the event of job loss, in the event of a natural disaster.

Not every company in the prepper industry has seen an uptick. Joe Marshall, managing editor of Survival Life, a website that supports an online retail operation and the Banana Bay Tactical shop in Austin, Tex., said it was too soon to see an impact on sales.

The truth is, theres been some chatter, he said, but for most of our people, theyre already preparing.

Google searches for prepper hit their highest level in a month on Tuesday, while searches for survivalism neared a high last reached in July, according to Google Trends, a site from the technology giant that shows what users have been researching.

Keith Bansemer, vice president of marketing at My Patriot Supply, which sells bulk food, water devices and seeds, said customers have started snapping up the companys six-month food supplies. They wanted to do something to feel more secure, he explained.

By prepping, youre actually alleviating fear, Mr. Bansemer said.

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Film Review: Good Time – Consequence of Sound (blog)

Posted: at 2:04 am


Ben Safdie, Joshua Safdie


Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Pattinson, Barkhad Abdi

Like some of the best films about New York City, Good Time ably captures the constancy of movement at all hours of the night. Much of the films action takes place in half-empty hospitals and apartments and an amusement park after closing hours. Yet, in every case, somebody is still pulling a graveyard shift, getting high, looking out for their own, or just trying to get paid. That last bit is integral to Joshua and Ben Safdies harrowing single-night odyssey: were all hustling, in one way or another, all the time. Some are just a lot better at it than others.

Early on, it seems like Constantine Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) could be among the best. A straw-haired degenerate in an oversized hoodie, with wild eyes that exude canny survivalism and junkie panic in equal measures, Connie has bigger plans for himself and his brother, Nick (co-director Ben). An unnerving early sequence watches Nick, captured in the Safdies already-signature nauseating close-ups, as he attempts to work through a behavioral therapy session. Nick deals with some sort of neurological disability, but Connie refuses to allow his brother to be put through sessions that he finds both demeaning and upsetting to his brother. (For his part, Nicks difficulty with regard to even basic questions suggests that he absolutely should be getting more help than hes evidently had.) As Connie tells him, Its just you and me. Im your friend. Alright?

And then Connie and Nick don facial prosthetics and stage one of the more exhilarating bank robberies in recent cinematic history, made all the more so by the matter-of-fact staging with which its delivered. Good Time is a wandering film, and not all of its many digressions land. But the best ones, starting with the robbery and its screw-tightening aftermath, offer the kind of pure cinema capable of sending even the most jaded critics and audiences into fits of white-knuckle panic. Connie is simultaneously more shrewd than his wiry appearance would suggest and tragically over-convinced of his own genius. Soon an unexpected paint bag is triggered, Nick ends up in police custody and sent off to await trial on Rikers Island, and Connie is left to somehow obtain $10,000 for Nicks bail before things can get any worse.

Over the course of a night bathed in neon, pitch-darkness, and depravity, Connie encounters a number of fellow strays on his way to save Nick from the kind of hell that Connie himself has created for his brother. Good Time recalls the wearily hallucinatory qualities of other one-shot stories like Night on Earth and After Hours, but what the Safdies and co-screenwriter Ronald Bronstein accomplish here is a film of a distinctly filthy ilk. The Safdies exceptional 2015 feature Heaven Knows What displayed a similarly keen eye for the rituals of the day-at-a-time criminal, but where that film took a borderline anti-narrative approach to its travels alongside an unrepentant heroin addict, Good Time functions on more of a rail, albeit a ferocious one.

Good Time takes an episodic approach to Connies journey, and those episodes are consistently engaging, even as some of them occasionally threaten to leech away at the films breakneck momentum. One vignette involving a siege on a hospital leads to a remarkable gallows punchline. Connie finds a moment of respite with Crystal (Taliah Webster), an underage girl who recognizes Connies need for shelter as both suspicious and not worth causing too much trouble over. A security guard at that aforementioned theme park (Barkhad Abdi) finds himself with the severe misfortune of happening onto Connies barreling path. Some leave more of an impression than others; an encounter with a beaten parolee (Buddy Duress) leads to an onscreen digression so lengthy that it at once fits well within the films anything-goes rhythm and brings it to a near-complete halt. (Its nevertheless a damned funny few minutes of filmmaking, in a vacuum.) Connies frantic appeals to Corey (Jennifer Jason Leigh), a well-off but unreliable lover, feel equally at odds with the films central story, even if Leighs nervous performance serves as one of the films many deft methods of creating absolute unease.

The Safdies build a world of constant paranoia in every way, from the shaky handheld photography to the endless parade of strangers existing as possible would-be hazards. But the most exceptional method is the rattling, sumptuous score by Oneohtrix Point Never. That its easily the best compositional work to grace any 2017 film to date is secondary; this is one of those rare film scores that emerges as its own character, as integral to the success of Good Time as any of the films impressive performances. As the Safdies race from one stunning image to the next (a zoomed-out crane motif framing Connie as a constant rat in an overwhelming maze, a dark room lit solely by a grainy television), OPNs endless cycles of oppressive synths and dissonant electronic sounds conjure unease even in the most straightforward moments of respite. The score is a faithful mirror of Connies psyche, all panic and terror and fleeting instances of stoned, euphoric grandeur.

Good Time is a film of trembling anxiety, and while the score and the Safdies terrific direction both aid this, its Pattinsons outstanding performance that pins even the most outlandish occurrences to a deep sense of emotion. The actor, having long abandoned the days of stiff paycheck roles for increasingly ambitious fare, delivers a feral star turn that should more than silence any remaining skeptics. Like an animal, Connie simply reacts with an alarming lack of forethought, and Pattinson almost appears to be piecing each scene together as he goes along. But this is a meticulous performance; his slow crescendo of harrowing desperation builds to one lingering shot that builds a wealth of meaning out of the actors tightly framed visage, defining the entire film before it in a single image of Pattinsons face. In a world of near-anarchy, its Connie who holds it all together.

At one point in his journey, Connie asserts that something is happening to me tonight, and I feel like its deeply connected to my purpose. Its a purpose rife with drugs and exploitation and an inexplicable allusion to Pepe the Frog that will undoubtedly spur on many an addled debate in the coming weeks, but its a purpose that Connie pursues with alarming velocity. In its immersion in a world full of scrambling and sweat and constant alarm, Good Time observes something primal about the worlds that exist beneath the worlds in which so many other movies are made and viewed. Theres no time for thinking and even less for processing. You simply react until you cant any longer.


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What I Learned From the Neo-Nazi in My Prison Book Club | The … – The Marshall Project

Posted: August 11, 2017 at 6:05 pm

By Karen Lausa

Perspectives from those who work and live in the criminal justice system.

This article was published in collaboration with Vice.

My heart was beating fast. I threw off my sweater suddenly I was feeling very warm. And then I read this line in my students essay: Mein Kampf was my go-to book.

I facilitate the Words Beyond Bars book discussion group, which meets in a cinderblock classroom in Colorados largest prison facility. Its a bi-monthly education class, and the final book we read last semester was In the Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson. A psychological history of U.S. Ambassador William Dodds tenure in the early, developing years of Nazi Germany, it ignited a discussion that ranged from world politics to the end of German cultural enlightenment to Hitlers early bedazzlement of his nation.

But even volunteering in prison, I didnt expect to read an essay like this one.

I hate government and nothing good comes of it and most people in it are vile, wrote my student, who is serving a 60-plus-year sentence for an assault conviction. There was a time when Hitler was a glorified word, and he was considered Uncle Adolf by me and those I lived around.

His words forced me to check my own mantra, one Id had to hone in order to work in a prison: Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, their own story. The question I now had to ask was whether knowing this mans views was a game-changer for me more so than knowing what his crime had been. Did I suddenly dislike him now?

The 25 participants of my class a racially diverse group of black, white, Latino and Native American inmates are required to submit reflection papers after completing each book. As their facilitator, I critique their writing after I return home, frequently impressed by the deep thinkers and their attention to plot, character and setting.

In this case, the plot included the nonfiction extermination of the Jews.

Was this book a poorly considered selection? A lifer in the last group had written me a kite in prison lingo, a written request touting it as a favorite, and it had five stars on Amazon. So why not?

In our discussion about Larsons book, the questions ranged from, Why did everyone hate the Jews so much? to, Does anyone notice how Hitlers timing was as perfect as Donald Trumps? At one point in the conversation, I shared that my own parents had fled Germany early on, reviled for their religion as early as 1933.

But this essay was the first time a student of mine had exposed me to his race-related beliefs and the mantra of white survivalism. Almost worse, he was sharing his views quite respectfully, almost eloquently hes not a bad writer. Hed been a book group participant three sessions in a row and had devoured everything we read with perceptive and illuminating observations. He was an asset to the program and generous with praise to othersId really liked him.

I just didnt know all that was inside him. I didnt realize that the man clad in prison green sitting across from me had been raised in a family for which National Socialist ideology was the gospel.

I read on through his confessional paper, sipping my coffee in silence. As I absorbed his remarks about the demise of white culture in our country today, I felt hoodwinked, foolish for ever believing that our book discussion group could be as transformative as I passionately insist it is. Interacting as a small community of readers is the model for this program, never mind that each person who enters the room committed a felony and is guilty of a serious, often violent, crime. We sit in a circle to symbolize equality. I absolutely believe these men are more than the thing they did, often decades earlier.

Why, then, was I questioning this man, whom I know and respect? Who was the hypocrite here? I was not being duped by this mans story he was stating his truth. I felt misled, but by myself: accepting these men as long as they didnt cross my boundaries with their beliefs. Or maybe Id been romanticizing my ability to heal them with the right book.

Could what a warden once suggested to me be true that the guys show up in my class just as a diversion, to get out of their cells and hang around a woman?

My student admitted, toward the end of his paper, that he was apprehensive to share his background. After explaining that it was how he was raised, he confided, I have not totally given up on it, but I have backed way away from much of the extreme hatred that is carried with the Nazi party followers.

Returning to the subject of the book discussion group, he began a final paragraph with, I found a way to break free from those suffocating bonds. I joined Words Beyond Bars, a book club. It helps people open up and look at things in a different light. Expanding your mind and being around people you normally wouldnt talk to.

I came to this work as a way to thread together my love for literature and my desire to nudge the culture of mass incarceration toward a less punitive, more humanizing system. The men are, in general, polite, grateful, engaged, and desperate for more education. They long for validation and a way to retain their individuality in a grey landscape of sameness, day after day.

The closing of the paper was both moving and disturbing. The writer concludes, Id do anything to be a productive member of this society. In doing so I have begun to change. The confines of prison have led me to a certain degree of personal freedom. Freedom in prison what a concept.

By the time I get to the end, gone is my sense of being misled. I no longer question my book choice for the discussion group. And I have reached an understanding about this man, one of many.

Karen Lausa is the developer and facilitator of Words Beyond Bars, a book discussion group held in Colorado correctional facilities.

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