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Hell or High Water: a bank robbery film for those who’ve been screwed by the system (so all of us)

David Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water isn’t only a standout for great crime dramas to have come out this summer, but one with a message.

Set in West Texas, the movie follows two brothers, Tanner (Ben Foster) and Toby (Chris Pine), who conduct a slew of robberies in order to repay a family debt, all while being pursued by Texas Ranger Marcus Hamilton (Jeff Bridges).  What makes the brothers’ story so interesting is that they’re nowhere near the caliber of professional that Robert De Niro was in Heat.  They target smaller branch banks, located in rural towns, aiming for the loose cash behind the desks.  Their heists may be sloppy, but they brilliantly cover their tracks, burying the crappy getaway vehicles in the desert and laundering their cash at a nearby casino.

hell-or-high-water-posterSicario writer, Taylor Sheridan, has once again crafted a phenomenal script full of shootouts, getaways, and a cast of characters so likable; you’ll have trouble deciding whom to root for.  Toby is the cautious, more calculated of the two brothers, while Toby is more brash and unpredictable.  Their dynamic creates a dangerous, yet sometimes comedic duo.  On the other side of things, we have Jeff Bridges’ Marcus Hamilton, an aging, politically incorrect Texas Ranger who refuses to retire.

Following the death of their mother, Tanner and Toby’s family ranch faces foreclosure from the Texas Midland Bank.  After it’s discovered that there’s untapped oil on the property, the bank seemingly becomes more eager to acquire the property and gives the brothers a very tight deadline to deliver the cash.  As a result, the brothers target Texas Midland Banks during their crime spree to basically feed the snake its own tail.

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photo by @Kmeron

#FreeMilo: Twitter’s Stance Against Freedom of Speech

Whether you’ve seen it or not, you at least know of the female Ghostbusters reboot that has hit theaters.  You probably also know about the divisiveness it’s created within the ranks of moviegoers.  Don’t worry though, this isn’t yet another review of the film, but a look at what it’s exposing in the social media landscape.

ghostbusters-2016-625x324After writing a negative review on Ghostbusters, Breitbart’s tech editor, Milo Yiannopoulos, kicked off a Twitter firestorm between himself and the film’s star, Leslie Jones.  After receiving a slew of messages from haters, Jones fought back, retweeting the comments and singling out the trolls.  It was then that Milo joined the feud, reminding Jones that everyone gets hate mail.  This spurred an argument between the two, which eventually resulted in Jones blocking Milo.  While Milo did throw some cheeky insults at Jones while defending his position, none of them compared to the death threats and racist remarks she received from the trolls.  Despite this, Milo was soon permanently banned on the grounds of violating Twitter’s abuse policy.  Since then, he’s been on the offensive, attacking the social platform for seemingly deporting him for no reason.

In a statement made on Breitbart, Milo said, “Twitter is holding me responsible for the actions of fans and trolls, using the special pretzel logic of the left.  Where are the Twitter police when Justin Bieber’s fans cut themselves on his behalf?”

Milo’s outspoken “cultural libertarian” view, which opposes the idea of culture as a corrupting influence, has been challenged by many liberal groups, including feminists, whom Twitter favors, argues Milo.  He said: “With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives.”

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The Original Ghostbusters: More Than Just Busting Ghosts?

ghostbusters_ver3_xlg-2It’s hard to believe a full-fledged Ghostbusters film hasn’t been in theaters since 1989, but it’s now 2016 and they’re back…sort of.  Whether or not you’ve embraced the franchise’s reboot, it’s worth paying tribute to the fact that many consider the original 1984 film to be one of Hollywood’s most libertarian blockbusters.

After losing their jobs at Columbia University, paranormal investigators, Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, and Egon Spengler start their own extermination service known as the “Ghostbusters.”  Naturally, no one takes them seriously, until a rise in paranormal activity begins to threaten New York.

As their service becomes more in demand, the Ghostbusters do what any successful business does: expand.  They purchase an office in the form of a firehouse, make a cheesy advertisement, and hire extra staff: receptionist Janine Melnitz, and a fourth buster, Winston Zeddemore.  The Ghostbusters new found fame and success, however, is short lived when the Environmental Protection Agency has them arrested and their business shut down for operating unlicensed waste, deactivating their spirit containment system and inadvertently releasing hundreds of ghosts, who begin terrorizing New York.

The situation escalates even more when the ghosts successfully summon Gozer, the god of destruction, to bring about the end of the world.  The government, having no means of combating the supernatural threat, releases the Ghostbusters from custody to battle Gozer.  When our heroes finally come face to face with the god of destruction, it allows the Ghostbusters to choose the form of the destructor.  Trying to think of something completely harmless, Ray envisions his favorite corporate mascot, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, which arrives in giant form and begins to destroy the city.

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Dallas Buyers Club Reminds Us That The FDA Is Trying To Turn Everything Into An Illegal Drug

DBCRon Woodroof fought for the right to use non-FDA approved drugs as a means of treatment after he was diagnosed with HIV in the 1980s.  As a result, he began distributing experimental drugs to AIDS patients who were unable to acquire them at hospitals.  Woodroof’s legacy lives on in the 2013 film, “Dallas Buyers Club,” directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.

The film opens with Woodroof’s diagnosis; he’s given 30 days to live.  Thinking he’s a homosexual, his friends and coworkers ostracize him.  When Woodroof finally seeks treatment, he is put on AZT, the only FDA-approved drug in America at the time, but this only worsens his condition.  Woodroof eventually travels to Mexico to find help, and there he’s treated with ddC and peptide T, drugs not approved by the FDA.

After three months on these new drugs, Woodroof’s condition improves and it occurs to him that he can make money smuggling ddC and peptide T into America for other HIV patients.  He teams up with Rayon, an HIV positive trans woman, who helps Woodroof get inside the gay community.  Together, Ron and Rayon form the Dallas Buyers Club, which provides the non-approved drugs to HIV patients at a price.  The club becomes very successful, but is short-lived, as the FDA is constantly trying to find ways to shut them down and make it harder for Woodroof to sell his own drugs.

Woodroof attempts to sue the FDA, seeking the right to take peptide T, which at this point has been proven to be a non-toxic drug.  Although he loses the court case, it is stated at the end of the film that Woodroof was eventually able to take peptide T for his own personal use up until his death.  He was also one of the main reasons that hospitals in America would eventually reduce the dosage of AZT it would administer to its patients after the drug was found to be toxic.

Dallas Buyers Club is based on a true story about what can happen to American patients when their health care system is fraught with bureaucratic roadblocks.  The government spends more than 50 per cent of all health care dollars and costs have been driven up by the FDA’s actions and deprived Americans of much-needed treatments.

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South Park’s Stance On Censorship: More Relevant Than Ever?

When South Park first came onto the scene in 1997, it caused quite a stir.  The animated sitcom that follows four foul-mouthed boys and their exploits throughout a small town in Colorado was loved by audiences and hated by parents who caught their young ones quoting the show’s signature fart and pee pee jokes.

What has ultimately set South Park apart from most TV shows is its no holds barred attitude when it comes to making fun of sensitive subjects.  The feature film that followed shortly after the show’s release, “South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999),” tackled the issues of censorship and bad parenting.

TandPThe film centers on the release of a new R-rated movie: “Terrance and Phillip: Asses of Fire,” which main characters: Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny are first in line to see.  The film becomes all the rage in South Park and soon after its release; every kid in town is quoting its crude humor.  This of course sets the parents off in a rage, so much so that they end up banning all Terrance and Philip’s films and merchandise and send their kids to a rehabilitation center, so that they’ll stop swearing.  They take it a step further when they end up abducting Terrance and Philip and wage war on their native country – Canada.  When Cartman voices his displeasure of all this by singing a song about Kyle’s mom being a bitch, the parents implant a v-chip inside of him giving him an electric shock every time he swears.  The kids of South Park are then forced to lead a resistance against the parents, save Terrance and Philip and prevent Satan from rising up and taking over the world.

Although this film came out in 1999, its stance on freedom of speech and anti-censorship are more relevant than ever.  Earlier this month, the newly released X-Men Apocalypse’s marketing campaign was hit with controversy when a billboard depicting the film’s main antagonist, Apocalypse, choking Mystique, played by Jennifer Lawrence.  Actress Rose McGowan slammed the advertisement, saying it was “offensive” and seemingly approved of violence against women.  The backlash resulted in 20th Century Fox making a public apology and later taking down the ads, even though, according to Deadline Hollywood, a top female Fox executive approved the advertisement before it was released.

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