Commentaries

Thursday, September 15, 2016

SNOWDEN



POLITICALLY RISKY BUSINESS

Film Review by Fiore 


Regular readers of my reviews readily know I am not timid about intertwining political agendas to films.  Having taught the techniques of Sergei Eisenstein for years, it is easy for me to key on the propaganda elements.  This is even easier when Director Oliver Stone releases a politically charged film like Snowden.
Stone is always heavy-handed.  He is like a quarterback who cannot put ‘touch’ on his passes.  Snowden is no exception.  Most people either think Edward Snowden is a traitor, or a patriot.  This film will do little to persuade anyone, save those ignorant of world politics, though Stone does lean heavily toward the patriot vein.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as Ed Snowden.  His performance is flat.  He seems to be in one phase, and it carries him through the entire film.  Likewise, with Shailene Woodley, who plays Snowden’s girlfriend, Lindsay Mills.   Outside of coy romantic scenes, her conveyance of empathy for what is happening around her is static.  Costars Timothy Olyphant, Zach Quinto and Rhys Ifans are noteworthy.  Ifans, especially is compelling as Corbin O’Brian, Snowden’s mentor.

Screenwriters Kieran Fitzgerald and Stone provide a cursory introduction to Snowden, and his patriotism, which comes into question throughout most of the movie.  Using time shift editing, provided by Alex Marquez and Lee Percy, the story brings us through the beginning of the NSA spying program under the Bush Administration after the attack of 9/11, and its corruption and political use under the Obama Administration.  It shows Snowden’s and Lindsay’s desire for the ‘hope and change’ promised by Barrack, and their total disillusionment when they realize they were hoodwinked by a street activist. 

The script suggests it is Obama’s illegal, reprehensible and corrupt utilization of the spy network that serves as the impetus for Snowden’s decision to go public.  By the movie’s conclusion, Stone and Fitzgerald also manage to implicate Hillary Clinton in the effort.  The only political figure who is behind Snowden is Bernie Sanders, who appears only as a voice-over at the film’s ending montage.  Of course, the film was completed before Sanders sold his soul to the Clinton devil literally giving the finger to his millions of supporters.  This is the only time Stone tips his hand in political preference, but, that ship has already sailed.



KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      THE ESCAPE FROM THE HOTEL
2.      THE EXAM
3.      THE CUBE AT THE GUARD STATION.


Like most Stone films, this one drags on a bit too long at nearly two and a half hours.  There is more emphasis on Snowden’s love life, than there is on his change of heart in deciding to out his country.  The involvement with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, and his acceptance in Russia are ignored or glossed over.  His ability to work within the intelligence community, despite resigning, is given short shrift, and his reputation for being problematic is reduced to one, tame incident.  These elements offer a different perspective on Snowden, but they would interfere with Stone’s narrative.

Coinciding with the release of this film, there is a movement to have Obama pardon Snowden before his term ends in December.  That is unlikely, since most of his colleagues and former friends want him imprisoned for life or executed.   
Even an enormous Hollywood liberal like Oliver Stone, laid the full blame of the NSA spying program at the feet of Obama and Clinton.  That is risky business,since most people who challenge the regime end up dead.   It would be wise for Oliver to avoid Ft. Marcy Park.  

Meanwhile, Russia is being accused lately of hacking a number of American servers, including the DNC.  Strange that this Russian hacking increased dramatically when Snowden, one of the world's top hackers,  took up residence there.

If you are a fan of Stone’s films, Snowden will fit nicely into your collection.  With all his oeuvres, this story and script must be taken with a very large grain of salt. As for the rest of the film, the costars upstage the main stars, and the inconvenient elements of the story are dropped.  Still, it took some chutzpah to call the Obama Regime out on the carpet.





THE RATING FOR SNOWDEN = C

1 comment:

Ken Burke; Pat Craig said...

Hi Fiore, While we have little in common about either the political or cinematic merits of "Snowden" (I gave it 4 of 5 stars; my lengthy-details at http://filmreviewsfromtwoguysinthedark.blogspot.com/2016/09/snowden-and-beatles-eight-days-week.html) you might be interested to know that I encouraged my readers to check out your review as being a counterpoint to mine. If you don't want to wade through the whole thing just skim down to the photo of both Snowden and Gordon-Levitt toward the end with my comment about your review not far below that. Ken