Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Snowed In

You see how I did that?  Because now that this spy lives in Russia, that's what he is.

Snowed in.

Here ends the groaning portion of today's blog entry.

Okay, I don't really know how I feel about the real Edward Snowden, who apparently cooperated with director Oliver Stone because he appears on camera at the end of this movie.  On one hand, you have to admire this former CIA/NSA operative for speaking out against just how much the US Government invades our privacy while hiding behind the perils of post 9/11 terrorism.   Yet, on the flip side, he did sell out America.  In some ways, he is the true Shakespearean protagonist.   Neither a hero or a villain.

Of course, given the muckraker Stone co-wrote and directed "Snowden," you would expect him to have an opinion and land on the side of heroism.  But, for the most part, this movie is incredibly balanced and non-judgmental.   Until you arrive at the last ten minutes and you realize that Stone clearly was given wide access to Snowden himself.

The framing feature of the film is the film crew of journalists that hid out in a Hong Kong hotel with Snowden on the days prior to his document dump of government secrets.  Indeed, it duplicates pretty much of what we saw in the award-winning HBO documentary from two years ago.   But, Stone goes a little deeper and shows us Snowden's history starting in 2004 and we learn how he evolved into the person that did what he did in 2013.  This was quite illuminating and the flashbacks, especially with girlfriend Lindsay Mills played by Shailene Woodley, are the most compelling scenes in the film.  

Now I've always been a huge fan of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and he shines one more time as Snowden.  This guy might be the best young actor working today and I think he will have a long Oscar-recognized career if he picks the right films.   He certainly has been quite diverse going from comedy to action to drama.  

I was taken aback by how much of "Snowden" was fair and balanced.   For that reason, I recommend "Snowden" regardless of what your pre-conceived notions might be.   Just be aware that the director's opinion comes through loud and clear at the very end.   Well, at least, that will prompt a lively discussion on your way to the car or dinner afterward.

LEN'S RATING:  Three-and-a-half stars.

Dinner last night:  Leftover honey garlic chicken.

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