Snapshots - #37: It, Breathe, Mark Felt – The Man Who Brought Down the White House

It (2017), (♦♦♦♦): Four inseparable friends in middle school bond with other three newcomers. They all have in common that they are bullied by the same people. Over the course of one summer they'll fend off bullies and face a centuries-old demon in the form of a clown, named Pennywise, whom has been disappearing kids and terrorizing the town of Derry, Maine, every twenty-seven years since the town was founded.
Based on Stephen King's novel of the same title, It is a movie with a smart script and a sympathetic ensemble of nerds that deliver light humor, and deep thrills. It doesn't hurt that each and every character has his or her own arc, thus one gets to know their motivations and fears before Pennywise enters head on into the picture.
In a nod to 1980s movie classics such as The Goonies, and the Brat Pack ensemble, the newest adaptation of It takes place at the end of that decade, when it seems, at least from the Hollywood perspective, that every kid harbored a genius insi…

Blackfish (♦♦♦♦½)

Blackfish is a documentary, part exposé, part eye-opener about the incredibly lucrative industry of Seaworld parks. Half emotional journey and half business-like, Blackfish presents interviews with former Seaworld trainers who admitted having been part of a culture that misleads the public repeating factoids surrounding orcas such as how most male orcas develop collapsed fins even in the wild and how orcas live for 25-35 years when in reality male orcas can live up to sixty years in the wild while females are known to live up to 100 years.

Blackfish explores the beginnings of Tillikum as a bullied young calf separated from his mother and put in a dingy pool about 20x30 feet with two dominant females in a sea park in Canada, until Tillikum as a young adult kills a trainer for the first time and his subsequent transfer to Seaworld as a breeding bull, where he was kept in more isolation and with little stimulus.

The counterpart to Tillikum and other orcas' incidents involving animal trainers is the court case of OSHA vs. Seaworld in which OSHA makes the case that Seaworld has knowingly endangered its trainers by putting them in contact with animals that may kill them.

I got to say that Blackfish is a great documentary and makes its point very effectively. I went to Miami Seaquarium a few years ago and saw a show involving an orca and I remember thinking what an awesome job that was. Well, listening to those former trainers, some of whom knew Dawn Brancheau--the last trainer killed by Tillikum-- and at least one of them who had personally interacted with Tillikum, was not only emotional but eye-opening; I got goosebumps.

Ultimately what I think is that Seaworld is in a very uncomfortable situation since releasing Tillikum at this stage of the game would be inhumane but keeping him is equally so.