Monthly Archives: April 2017

“Family History of Fear” by Agata Tuszynska— Revisiting the Past

Tuszynska, Agata. “Family History of Fear: A Memoir”, Anchor Books, 2017.

Revisiting the Past

Amos Lassen

Many family histories include a tragedy in the past and this so true of those who lived in Poland during World War II. Because of this family histories do not share all of the events. Sometimes the passage if events dull the pain. In the case of Agata Tuszyńska, one of Poland’s most admired poets and cultural historians, the times has come that she is ready to share the stories she heard from her mother about her secret past. In those stories we read of the underground Home Army, the tragedy of the Warsaw Uprising and the civil war against the Communists. This is a powerful memoir about growing up after the Second World War in Communist Poland as a blonde, blue-eyed, and Catholic girl. It was not until she was

nineteen years old and living in Warsaw when her mother told her the truth—that she was Jewish—and began to tell her stories of the family’s secret past in Poland. Tuszyńska, who grew up in a country filled with anti-Semitism, rarely heard the word “Jew” (only from her Polish Catholic father, and then, always in derision) and she became unhinged, ashamed, and humiliated. She skillfully erased the truth within herself, refusing to admit the existence of her other half.

When Tuszyńska investigated her past, she began to write of her journey to uncover her family’s history during World War II. Her mother, at age eight, and her grandmother entered the Warsaw Ghetto for two years where conditions grew more desperate. Her mother escaped just before the uprising, and lived “hidden on the other side.” She writes of her grandfather, one of five thousand Polish soldiers taken prisoner in 1939, who later became Poland’s most famous radio sports announcer. She writes of her relatives and their mysterious pasts, as she tries to make sense of the hatred of Jews in her country. She shares her discoveries and her willingness to accept a radically different definition of self, reading the works of Isaac Bashevis Singer who opened up for her a world of Polish Jewry.

Here is a book of discovery and acceptance and an insightful portrait of Polish Jewish life, from before and after Hitler’s Third Reich.

Tuszynska grew up in a relatively privileged home during the 1950s and 1960s. Her father was a well-known radio broadcaster and provided her and her family with a higher status than the norm, even though her parents’ marriage actually ended when she was a child. After the war, most of the Jewish survivors immigrated after the war, but a small minority remained, assimilated and the younger generations, are mostly unaware of its heritage.

This is a fascinating look at the interconnections between what had been a wealthy Jewish family with its less prosperous Polish Catholic in-laws. Young Poles were brought up to believe that Communism was leading their country to a great future.

About seventy percent of the Jews in the world today have Polish roots. Until the 1920’s, Poland had the largest Jewish community in the world. Today it barely exists at all. This, of course, is due to the Holocaust and the mass emigration of its survivors. There is another part of the story— that of the Jews who survived and continued their lives in Poland as assimilated Poles, either repressing or denying their Jewish identity.

 

Tuszyńska reveals each branch of her family tree, both Polish and Jewish giving us an intimate, highly personal picture of life in Poland through the upheavals of the twentieth century. When she learned of her Jewish identity, Tuszyńska, like her mother had almost all her life, chose to hide it.

The revelation had no adverse impact on any of her personal relationships with other Poles. There is a great deal of interesting information here including the account of her grandmother’s tragic death, while living under the protection of righteous Poles in the Praga district of Warsaw in the closing days of the war and the heroism of her Polish uncle Oleś, a bigamist with two Jewish wives (and who lived to be 100). I had reached a point when I could no longer read about the Holocaust and then I took a chance and read this and everything changed.

We know how most books about the Holocaust end and even though we can never let it happen again, there is only so much pain we are able to take. It took a good writer like Agata Tuszynska to show mw how much I had been missing.

 

 

“NATASHA”— The Immigration Experience

“Natasha”

The Immigration Experience

Amos Lassen

Mark Berman (Alex Ozerov ) is a 16-year-old and lives in Toronto who is spending his summer reading Nietzsche and selling pot His mother, Bella, (Deanna Dezmari) gives him a task: when his uncle Fima remarries, Mark’s supposed to look after his new step cousin, 14-year-old Natasha (Sasha K. Gordon), who doesn’t speak any English.

Mark at first was annoyed by his mother’s request but he soon starts to fall for Natasha, and they begin a forbidden relationship. Directed and written by

David Bezmozgis, “Natasha” is a stunning film.  Mark and Natasha obviously can’t ever have the relationship they want making this heartbreaking to watch. We know it cannot end well and seeing the inevitable happen is incredibly difficult and moving.

Mark seems to be inherently lazy preferring to make weekly deliveries for Rufus, his suburban Toronto drug hook-up rather than take a legit summer job. It turns out the fourteen year-old Natasha is more sexually experienced than Mark who is something of a nerd. He is a bit nebbish and she is more than a little forward. At times, Mark seems to shrink into the background as the passive Berman and we sense that the film is making a comment about hungry, aggressive first generation Russia-survivors like Natasha. Bezmozgis is giving us an intelligent and evocative portrait of immigrant life in Canada. The movie plays out on the rich backdrop of the Eastern European (primarily Russian) Jewish community in Toronto.

As Natasha and Mark fall for each other, deep secrets of Natasha’s life in Russia come to light and several family conflicts threaten the relationship. We see here the differences between the “new” immigrants (Natasha’s Mother) and those who’ve had time to establish themselves in the “New World” (Mark’s family). These contrasts are brilliantly juggled throughout the film since it is the differences which tend to provide the greatest conflict and they do so in with “old world” values which tend to creep into the proceedings.

“Natasha” is a love story within a coming-of-age tale that is as bitter as it is sweet. Visually, Bezmozgis uses simple, but dramatic and resonant shots. Darkness wends its way through this moving, romantic story and this makes the light seem brighter than it needs to be.

I understand that “Natasha” is the first film to explore the little known Russian-born Jewish subculture in Toronto that. It is where many immigrants from the late 70s to the early 90s went when fleeing anti-Semitism and other miseries. Bezmozgis was one such immigrant. He, and his family came to Toronto from Latvia when he was six-years-old The Latvian native, who arrived in Toronto with his family when he was six-years-old and has stated that some of the film is autobiographical.

“OUR FATHER”— A Story of Fatherhood

“Our Father”

A Story of Fatherhood

Amos Lassen

Ovadia Rachmim (Morris Cohen) is the strongest and most violent doorman of Tel Aviv nightclubs. He fears nothing and has never lost a fight . His biggest dream is to become a father; he and his wife Rachel (Rotem Zisman-Cohen) are trying to get pregnant for almost five years. A small time gangster named Shalom (Alon Dahan) sees great potential in Ovadia and wants him to come to work for him. Ovadia sees this as great option to start an expensive treatment for his wife. As soon as Rachel gets pregnant, he decides to stop working for Shalom but learns that it is not that easy. Ovadia needs to finance fertility treatments for his wife and reluctantly takes the job as a strong-arm collector of grey-market debts.

This is the story of decent man who is drawn into organized crime only to find that, once he has become a fully blooded member of the underworld, he can’t opt out again.

There’s an intimacy and subtlety that we see when the husband and wife share the screen (They are also husband and wife in real life). Ovadia was at first reticent to taking the job offer but soon gets a taste for the work. However, the stress takes its toll on his even temper.

Meni Yaish’s film is filled with violence and the acts Ovadia commits show him a side of himself that he has always tried to restrain, a side that enjoys his physical power and his ability to inflict pain.

Throughout the movie, we know that something awful is coming when Ovadia tries to break free from Shalom. This is also the story of the other Israelis, the ones who live in Tel Aviv but who are outside the so-called bubble, whose lives revolve around minimum-wage jobs and being overdrawn at the bank. Ovadia and Rachel are also religiously observant without being fanatical. Ovadia’s religious observance is at odds with the job he is supposed to do.

“PAST LIFE”— Two Sisters

“Past Life”

Two Sisters

Amos Lassen

“Past Life” chronicles the daring late 1970s odyssey of two sisters. Sephi (Joy Rieger) is an introverted classical musician and a scandal sheet journalist and Nana (Nelly Tagar) as they deal with a shocking wartime mystery that has cast a dark shadow on their entire lives. They begin an investigation of their father’s, Baruch Milch (Doron Tavory), activities during the Second World War.

When the two young women make their way to a choral choir concert being held in Berlin where at the reception afterwards, a woman confronts Sephi telling her that she is the daughter of a murderer.  The shocking incident leads to Sephi telling Nana what she heard and the two sisters go about a personal investigation to discover whether the accusation is true.

This is a coming of age tale for Sephi who has to deal with the weight of history and forge a future for herself.  Nana convinces Sephi to investigate the matter and find out whether their father was a war criminal, or it was some sort of accident. Nana, on the other hand, disagrees with her sister, but embarks on her own journey to try to understand the choices that her father had to make.

Nana was invited by Thomas Zielinski, a German conductor to perform at a concert in Warsaw. It seems that Thomas was tied  to the event that happened in the past. It just so happens that the accuser is the mother of Zielinski.

For a number of reasons (including her father’s often excessive discipline), Sephi cannot dismiss the encounter, so she shares it with her sister Nana who has not had a great relationship with her father and assumes that there is some truth in the accusation. The sisters start investigating their father’s past and when Baruch is made aware that there are inquiries being made about him, he offers to reconstruct the lost diary of the years he spent hiding in the Zielinski farm. However, the combination of the sisters’ lingering doubts and accumulated bad karma, this could bring tragic results to the Milch family.

There is significance to setting the film in 1977 should not be lost on anyone and director Nesher does not belabor the parallels between the thaw with Sadat and the efforts of Sephi Milch and Thomas Zielinski to reconcile their parents. This is a richly detailed period production that reminds us of both the good and the bad of the era.

Joy Rieger is rather remarkable as the initially naïve and submissive Sephi Milch. Her expressive face is like an open book. Nelly Tagar brings more attitude and angst as the razor-sharp but profoundly sad Milch-Kotler. Doron Tavory deftly walks a fine line as Dr. Milch, establishing his severity as a parent, but also a deep sense of his fundamentally decent but scarred psyche. It is good to see him back on the screen.

This is an emotional drama where each of us have something to learn from. It is, in a way, an educational movie that shows that pain is sometimes not caused by physical suffering or discomfort caused by illness or injury, but by traumatic past events. We need redemption, understanding and willingness to let the past go. I have tried very hard not to write any spoilers here so if this review is, in places, somewhat incoherent that is the reason why.

“YOUTH IN OREGON”— A Road Trip

“Youth in Oregon”

A Road Trip

Amos Lassen

  In Joel David Moore’s dramedy “Youth in Oregon”, death plays a big part. about an elderly man, Raymond Engersol (Frank Langella), an elderly man takes a road trip to Oregon so he can be euthanized, yet the film remains so thematically opaque that death, in its finality and complications, never crystallizes into something palpable. At his 80th birthday dinner, he announced his plans to kill himself causing tension and characters talk and scream at, rather than to, one another. The result is a cacophony of emotions that unfortunately repeatedly stifle any deeper philosophical inquiries. The film then becomes a melodramatic observation of widespread familial dysfunction and the meaning of Raymond’s journey gets lost somewhere between his gripes and the family’s feeling that he will not follow through with his decision.

The quarreling comes from Raymond’s deceiving of his family since he chooses not to reveal that he is suffering from a terminal condition. There is a disconnect between the man’s headstrong choice and the family’s misguided reactions to it. We meet Raymond’s neurotic daughter, Kate (Christina Applegate), his drunken indifferent wife, Estelle (Mary Kay Place), his intensely frustrated son-in-law, Brian (Billy Crudup), whose job it is to drive ‘ Raymond around and convince him to change his mind while Kate stays home to deal with her daughter Annie (Nicola Peltz) and her own personal dramas. Since the characters do not have the ability to honestly cope with and understand Raymond’s personal decision, the audience are must listen to his the constant clamor. Raymond is a retired doctor who is unwilling to undergo heart surgery and would rather die. His family believes that he is healthy and they therefore feel that they the right to protest his decision. Instead of taking on euthanasia, subplots are introduced. One of these concerns Raymond visiting his estranged gay son, Danny (Josh Lucas).

When Raymond finally arrives in Oregon, he meets up with a longtime friend who’s also about to be euthanized. At this point there is a pause in the film so we can hear about the process by which the friend’s daughter prepares the lethal dose of medication while the two men share a tender, frank exchange. This is quite a touching, compassionate scene in how it approaches the subject of assisted suicide with the dignity and the pathos that it deserves, and it shows us what this film could have been.

Ray has had heart surgeries in the past, and he doesn’t want another one. He’s done his homework and found a doctor who will assist with the procedure and made travel arrangements. Of course, Estelle and Kate attempt to talk him out of it, while Brian doesn’t take any of it seriously. When it becomes clear that Ray is determined to see this through, Brian agrees to drive Ray and Estelle cross-country from New York to Oregon. Along the way, Brian begins to see a different side of his father-in-law, while Ray prepares for something that no one expects.

The film is both a dark drama, and a very bleak comedy. Assisted suicide is a very delicate subject, and must be handled in a special way. The movie gives us a character that wants to die and then it should make us understand why. When we learn that Ray’s doctor is suggesting another heart surgery and that Ray doesn’t want that, it’s not clear why he is choosing death. We see that a loving family surrounding him, which while not perfect, they are at least there. For whatever reason, the film makes Ray unlikable and we feel no sympathy for him. Instead we hope that he dies.

Then there is the overwritten screenplay. Instead of concentrating on assisted suicide, we get all kinds of subplots. Estelle is a budding alcoholic who also takes prescription drugs from family members. Annie is caught sending nude photos to her boyfriend. Kate and Brian’s other child is away at college and won’t return their calls. Kate’s brother (Josh Lucas) also has some skeletons in the closet that lead to a strained relationship with the family. Brian and Kate’s marriage is strained, and Ray is impotent.

This could have been a serious and sensitive look at assisted suicide and how it affects a family, but instead it is a lot of other things.

“WE DON’T BELONG HERE”— A Troubled Family

“We Don’t Belong Here”

A Troubled Family

Amos Lassen

“We Don’t Belong Here” is a drama about the gaps and bridges of a troubled family that is just barely holding on as their world. Nancy Green (Catherine Keener) is mother to four grown children, three girls and a boy, all of who suffer to some degree. Lily (Kaitlyn Dever) is the youngest and in therapy as she experiences sexually awakening. She occasionally takes her medications for bipolar disorder. Elisa (Riley Keough) is the middle girl, a troubled yet famous pop star estranged from her mother. Madeline (Annie Starke) is the eldest and she is a motherly type who is burdened by her role as a young caregiver. Maxwell (Anton Yelchin) is a gay man breaking down after an accident. They are all connected by pain.

Mental illness seems to have claimed three of Nancy’s our children, except one. For most of the movie, the focus is on Lily as we watch her jog, desire to lose her virginity to this guy named Davey (Austin Abrams) and deal with her mental illness which isn’t just bi-polarism but seemingly delusion as well. It is Lily who changes the possible lives of Max and Elisa in ways neither may be able to understand.

This is a film that is propelled by its characters and they are the best and the worst aspects of the film. Nancy is not only a widow but also some of her children question whether or not her friendship with Joanne (Maya Rudolph), their mother’s friend, might be queer. Elisa’s childhood justified being in therapy when she was 11 and now she is dealing with a schmuck of a boyfriend for reasons never explained. Max sort of came out to Lily when she was not even a teenager but took it back and has struggled with his sexuality ever since. Just in the first half hour of the film, we see him bleach his hair and attempt suicide since his possible lover killed himself. Lily is a teenager dealing with being bi-polar. For whatever reason, these stories fall short and we never get a complete tale of any of them.

The problem I had with the film is that each actor is so good that I wanted more screen time with each of them and I felt frustrated that the cast is, in fact, an ensemble. Here is a film that contains mental illness, the trauma of sexual assault, longstanding feuds, and one of the final performances of the late Anton Yelchin. Unfortunately, there’s just too much going on in writer-director Peer Pederson’s film making it come across as disjointed.

Lily’s hushed narration tries to provide the audience with context as to all the moving parts of the story. The most interesting relationship with Nancy is her friendship with Joanne (Maya Rudolph), who has had quite a bit of success in her life. The two women are each other confidants and there’s also a sexual overtone to their long-time friendship. This is interesting in that we learn later that Nancy has her own outdated attitudes towards homosexuality, and confesses that she wishes that her son Max isn’t gay.

We get Anton Yelchin in one of his final roles. Suffering from mental illness and physical injuries after an accident, has the film’s most emotional scenes and we see that his immense talents will be missed.

Peer Pedersen seems to be overwhelmed by the task of directing his own screenplay. He just doesn’t know how to effectively get all of it out onto the screen.

There are a number of fascinating ideas that hang by loose threads making it frustrating to watch because it just never really becomes anything more than a movie of unrealized potential. There’s an abruptness to the film’s ending that is quite bewildering and ineffective with regard to its intended emotional impact. The saddest truth of the film is the most emotional moment comes with the dedication to its late star before the start of the credits.

“Where He Lay Down” by Anthony Ramirez— An Unwavering Sense of Self

Ramirez, Anthony. “Where He Lay Down”, Black Magic Media, 2017.

An Unwavering Sense of Self

Amos Lassen

Grayson has always known exactly who he is. He is “intelligent, witty, often drunk, Jewish, and deaf”. He cannot deny any of these traits. When he was just four-years-old and heard his mother says his name for the first time and until he received his master’s degree and became a physician assistant, his strong sense of self has been with him. However, when Grayson moved to Willsboro to begin his career and then met Aidan who was a nerdy engineer and friend of his roommate’s, things changed. Suddenly everything Grayson thought he knew about himself is questionable. He suddenly found himself unable to concentrate on his work and every time Aiden came near him, he had a strange feeling. Grayson then began to struggle to understand why life would not stop throwing problems at him. Remembering that he is deaf is important here and we see that it was years before he was able to hear for the first time, and years after that before he could speak like everyone else around him. He certainly never expected to have feelings for another boy, and unlike his deafness, there’s nothing he can do to translate his feelings into something he could understand.

It took some help from his best friends Max and Will, and his roommate Amelia before Grayson was able to go on a journey of self-discovery to answer the question he wasn’t even sure he could bring himself to ask about whether he was gay or not.

What a beautiful read this is and for anyone who has ever wondered about who he or she is, this is a must read. It is a book filled with drama, humor, compassion, and love and Anthony Ramirez is a wonderful storyteller. We are all aware of how difficult it is to find someone to share our love but we often forget how difficult it is to love ourselves.

Because of being born deaf, Grayson had an extra problem but he later found himself among the hearing thanks to a cochlear implant. This he can turn off or on as sees fit and it allows him to move “from an internal space of intense silence to the disorienting chaos of the noisy world of the hearing”. As far as he knew, he had always been straight and then to his surprise, he fell for a man. He had been rooted to one city, but then found in a different place with different thoughts about the future. His journey is one to a life beyond categories.

I love finding new authors who thrill me with their prose especially being as old and jaded as I am. Ramirez has given a shot of adrenalin to gay literature and those of you who are writing now are going to find it difficult to reach his standards; the standards he sets with this book. This book is not just beautiful, it is a gem to be cherished.

 

 

“THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL SWINDLERS”— Swindling Around the Globe

“The World’s Most Beautiful Swindlers” (Les plus belles escroqueries du monde”)

Swindling Around the Globe

Amos Lassen

“The World’s Most Beautiful Swindlers” is made up of four swindle stories, taking place successively in Tokyo, Japan (“Les cinq bienfaiteurs de Fumiko”), Italy (“La feuille de route”), Paris (“L’homme qui vendit la tour Eiffel”) and Marrakech “Le gran esroc”.Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard , Ugo Gregoretti and Hiromichi Horikawa are the directors represented here and the casts include Jean Seberg, Catherine Deneuve, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Francis Blanche and Ken Mitsuda. Each of the short films is a gem. However, to say anymore about any of the segments would spoil the film for others and so I will simply say that this in one you do not want to miss and the transfer from Olive Films is a gem.

Originally there was an Amsterdam segment, “A River of Diamonds” (directed by Roman Polanski), but it has been removed from presentations of the film at the request of the director.

“AGATHA CHRISTIE’S FAMILY MURDER PARTY”— A New Mini-Series

“Agatha Christie’s Family Murder Party”

A New Mini-series

Amos Lassen

Based on Agatha Christie’s iconic novel “Hercule Poirot’s Christmas”, “Agatha Christie’s Family Murder Party” is a new four-part French mini-series that is  sexy, witty and a lot of fun. Superintendent Larosière and Inspector Lampion are the lead investigators on a mystery that begins when chateau owner Simon Le Tescou is found dead in his home and all of his grown children have motives for murder! 

It takes place during World War II and each

90-minute installment is a single story. The plots are filled with twists and turns thus giving the characters plenty of opportunity to meet untimely demises. Each character has suffered with an aspect of Le Tescous cruelty, and each has something to gain from his death. Larosière and Lampion investigate the murder in classic Christie style: Superintendent Larosières passion for beautiful women is matched only by his love of solving puzzling crimes, and his young colleague Inspector Lampion has sensibilities that sometimes clash with those of a less-enlightened age. The fun comes from their combustive dynamic. Larosière thinks he knows it all, until Lampion sets him straight and in the process we get a wonderful and mysterious adventure.

The series stars Robert Hossein, Elsa Zyberstein, Bruno Todeschini, Antoine Duffy and Gregor Derangere.

Here are short synopses of the four episodes:

  • Season 1 – Episode 1 



The mystery begins when Simon Le Tescou is found dead in his home – and all of his children have motives for murder!


  • Episode 2 Rookie inspector Emilie Lampion reports for his first day of work, and Simon Le Tescou invites his family to his castle for his 70th birthday.


  • Episode 3 



The murderer still seems to be among the group when Alix gets clobbered by a vase one floor above her.


  • Episode 4 



In the dramatic conclusion, the murderer gets exposed in a surprise plot twist.

“ALL GOVERNMENTS LIE: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone”— Indie Journalism

“ALL GOVERNMENTS LIE: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone”

Indie Journalism

Amos Lassen

Fred Peabody’s “All Governments Lie: Truth, Deception, and the Spirit of I.F. Stone” is “a documentary about the original indie journalist I.F. Stone, and his contemporary inheritors” is a film that we can both agree and argue with at the same time. While the title makes it sound like a portrait of Stone, (the trend-setting investigative journalist who died in 1989) it is also about those that follow in his footsteps. Stone self published “I.F. Stone’s Weekly’ in which , he took on the sins of the U.S. government and mainstream media. He was the original political blogger of whom we get a thumbnail sketch of life and we sense his spirit as we watch the documentary.

We see Stone in clips where he explains his reporting methods. He didn’t call government officials, and he wasn’t even accredited to attend a White House press conference. He went into back rooms and pored through documents and transcripts to learn what was really going on.

In 1964, when President Lyndon Johnson and his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, engineered the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the two contrived acts of North Vietnamese “aggression” that were used as a trigger to launch the war in Vietnam but the mainstream media didn’t discover or acknowledge the truth (the U.S. had misrepresented the incident for years). I.F. Stone got to that truth the week after it happened and this is just one of the many scoops he nailed while under the mainstream radar. Michael Moore says that Stone revealed the power elite while they his behind their image of authority.

I.F. Stone was known as “Izzy” and was one of the great journalists of the 20th century and in this film we not only learn about him but also about other independent reporters who are carrying on the tradition of renegade muckraking that Stone almost singlehandedly put on the map in the postwar era.

The movie features Amy Goodman, whose global news program “Democracy Now!” is on the radio, TV, and the Web, and John Carlos Frey who reported a cataclysmic story about 200 Mexican immigrants whose bodies were discovered in mass graves in Brooks County, Texas, 70 miles from the border. We also hear from “Rolling Stone” writer Matt Taibbi, and the Glenn Greenwald from the “Intercept”. We see as Carl Bernstein says that it’s a lot easier to keep a president in check, or even to bring one down, when you have an editor as civic-minded as Ben Bradlee, his boss at the Watergate-era Washington Post.

 “All Governments Lie”, however, focuses on big game like the rush to the Iraq War, which it uses to illustrate the thesis that the mainstream media has become a tool of government and corporate power.

The propaganda that paved the road to the war in Iraq (the acceptance of WMDs, the Colin Powell testimony, even the preposterously alleged Saddam/Al-Qaeda “connection”) went, for the most part, unquestioned by the mainstream media, notably The New York Times. That is what made the Iraq War an opportunity for independent journalism. Watching the film, we are very aware of  the anti-mainstream-media arguments that are repeated so often, and so broadly, that they become a rule that says that all media is controlled by advertisers and that reporters aren’t allowed to question the System. Greed, corruption, and government-sanctioned criminality are hidden in fake news stories.

“All Governments Lie” suggests that the kind of fearless independent reporting practiced by I.F. Stone is alive and well — and that if anything, it’s becoming even stronger. The film’s arguments about fake news (the Kardashians, etc.) undeniable. At the same time, our attention spans and the general dislocation from reality has led to a society that is into conspiracy theory as well as an “outsider” presidential candidate who lies more often than the government does.

One of Stone’s key tenets was that almost any problem in democracy can get fixed if the press brings it to light, “but if something goes wrong with the free press, the country will go straight to hell.” The film was already completed Donald Trump gained the presidency in a way that may yet make Watergate look insignificant by comparison. What we see with Trump’s rise to power is the steady degradation of corporate media that led to this. The film holds “friendlier” administrations (like those of LBJ and Obama) accountable for misleading the public, and the press for cheering them on. Noam Chomsky and Ralph Nader o talk about the manipulations and worse that mark every administration.

The film is a call to arms for anyone interested in honest, issues-based journalism, and a well-deserved recognition of regulars who have done this work for decades and what we see is an antidote to the spectacle-driven corporate media that assisted in the rise of Donald Trump.