Sunday, 30 November 2014

Prototype: Hacked

Hacked. Setup is: A gritty Sci-Fi chase film about two young women, unjustly accused of murder, who escape custody and begin posting video content online in an attempt to vindicate themselves of the crime, find the real killer and evade a secret FBI manhunt.

Another example of world-building, and/or another example of a part of a chapter of a larger story. This feels like part of a bigger arc, possibly a mid-season cliff-hanger. The only problem is, I have no interest in what's going on, so I'm not tuning it to see what happens next. We get a quick dumps of exposition, but they don't work, and while I can see that we are supposed to care about the two leads, I can't say that this makes me do.


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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Prototype: The Liar's Chair

The Liar's Chair. Setup is: An eloquent cowboy, four criminals, and a delicious bag of tortilla chips.

Umm... okay. It's lighter than the others. Definite sense of humour going on. But... I'm left with "and?". Again a classic story retold, but nothing much happens with it. The core seems to be the character of the Cowboy able to talk a mile a minute, but that's about it. I'm not invested so don't care if he wins or loses, or even if he is supposed to be the one I'm supposed to care about if he wins or loses. Just... meh.


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Friday, 28 November 2014

Prototype: Whipping Boy

Whipping Boy. Setup is: A man who works as a human punching bag to relieve others of their stress gets caught up in a noirish mystery pertaining to a strange device that everyone's after.

This is good world building. While Shut-Eye is still winning as a short movie over all, this one looks to have a lot of promise to be a full fledged movie. We get given a lot of culture in a few short space of time, and we get the sense that there is a full world set up and working in which we are having a peek. As a short, this doesn't quite work because the setting needs more understanding, but the promise is definitely there.


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Thursday, 27 November 2014

Prototype: Memory 2.0

Memory 2.0. Setup is: A tale of love lost in the distant future where people relive their fondest memories with virtual reality. Everything spins out of control for our Hero as the lines between reality and the virtual memories begin to blur..

Nope. From the start, you can see where this is going, and it doesn't do anything new to get there. Just pop in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The only reason I would want to see a longer version of this is to get a better explanation of what's going on. It's rushed, and does itself no favours in doing so.


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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Prototype: Shut-Eye

Shut-Eye. Setup is: Next Corp nears the launch of its greatest product ever: a mind app that removes our need for sleep. But when the son of the CEO discovers horrifying side effects, he must choose whether or not to bring down the giant corporation that his father built.

Okay, now this is more like it. These shorts are supposed to be more on the sci-fi edge, and while POLIS is, Drakken was standard dystopia. This movie asks the question "what happens if we remove our need to sleep", and it goes dark. This is nicely self-contained, and all you need to get the full story. The effects are well used, and aid the story, and the acting is great. The ending could be a little more ambiguous, but this is my favourite so far.


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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

An American in Paris

Okay, I haven't been to as many movies at the Wellington Film Society as I should have, and this is the last one for this year, but An American in Paris is a good one to go out on.

In Paris, a struggling artist is struggling, but gets a hit when a visiting lady likes two of his paintings. While dining out with her, he spies the girl who would take his heart... who is also seeing a friend of a friend of his. Oh, the laughs! Who will she end up with? And does it matter when there's so much dancing?

For this is a dancing movie. Gene Kelly is the artist (with someone else providing the painting), and quite a few times in the movie he breaks out into song and dance, as was the style at the time. (And he wasn't the only one.) And then there's the 17 minute dance sequence at the end, which... while nice, isn't really needed (and was largely included when one of the actresses was unavailable).

This is the first Gene Kelly film I've seen, and it's good... although the girl he is chasing is half his age, so there's a "creepy uncle" vibe about which man she will end with. But then she, Leslie Caron, was mainly hired for her ballet ability, which we get to see a few times, and is pretty damn good.

So, yeah, a good way to end, and here's to next year!


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Monday, 24 November 2014

Prototype: Drakken

Drakken. Setup is: A wandering warrior protects a small town from marauders in a post-apocalyptic, dark fantasy setting.

This is better. A fairly classic story about a bad man who has his own morals and is better than other bad people. And yet, still going dark there. I like it. This could be part of a larger story, but enough is told here we don't need to. A basic setting, common people types, it gets on with it, and done. And it doesn't even need a lot of effects to do the job.


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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Prototype: POLIS

Prototype is a competition that puts together new film makers with studios with resources, and they are down to eight finalists, and you know what that means... easy series of posts time!

First up is POLIS. Setup is: Set in the distant future, POLIS is a sci-fi thriller about David Porter, a young telepath whose search for his mother threatens to uncover a utopian society's horrifying secrets.

Um... okay, this is supposed to be a short film, sure. But with just over eight minutes of run time, we get barely five minutes of story. And this... it's a scene. There's little context to it, nothing is really resolved. This is part of a chapter in a longer story. Yes, you can tell short stories, but they should be complete in and of themselves. This isn't.


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Saturday, 22 November 2014


Did you watch Wil Wheaton play board games with his friends before? Did you watch Season 1 and Season 2? Well, did you know there's a Season 3? Well, there is, and here is the first episode.

And you can thank me for that. I helped to fund it. I helped make it IndieGoGo. (Okay, me and over 22,000 other people, but I did my bit.) And because I'm a special backer, I've seen an episode you never will! (Unless you were also a backer at that tier or higher...)


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Friday, 21 November 2014

Because... Desert Bus?

So I haven't been posting about Desert Bus, because I did that a lot previously. But this...

Two people from MLA turn up, find out about Desert Bus... and randomly decide to auction off a houseboat vacation, because... see above! I won't say what it went for, you can watch the clip, but that escalated quickly.

Oh, and my auctioned MTG Mana Rug went for US$407!


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Thursday, 20 November 2014

A Puzzle

Here's a Puzzle for you. A is moving down, B is moving up, and C is moving up. C is moving faster than B. When will C pass A?

Answer is hidden from the front page.

What rule is likely here? Murphy's Law! Which states the worst will happen, and so C will pass A at the same moment they are trying to pass B.

Having been C may times, this is very annoying, and yet continues to happen. Dammit!


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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Reign of Winter

Last time, we had two of our party off by themselves. They wandered through the caverns, and... failed to take the proper left, and ended up at a cauldron we knew well. So they sent us a message, and we traipsed through the caverns until we found them. Well, we could either rest up, recharge spells, etc., or we could go on and kill...

KILL it is!

We back track more until we get to a trapped room. I happen to know where the answer is, so we again go through the entire system until we end up basically at the entrance with the Ettin, where I fail to win any friends. But the others talk her down, and we have the answers we need, so back again, do the puzzle correctly (barely, in some sense), then on to the final iron doors... where we are nearly stumped, but manage to get through.

And finally, we hit the last room! The one room we haven't found in our meandering! Inside, we find a large cavern, a deep pit, and... a centaur... and then huge frost giant huge centaur thing! Fight, Fight, Fight! It gets a little annoying in places (Nanoc gets frozen in ice, yay!), but we perform a beat down, because of course. Some close calls, but there you go.

However, we are after the keys, and the pit is the place to go. There are a few problems with it, but us speedy ones get down, find one key, and get out without too severe a problem. And then, hey, we are handed the last key! Woo! And we are done!

[And we are running late, so we are outta there, with some clean up to do, but we will be taking a break from this as there is a beta we want to try out...]


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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

See the New Century

I've mentioned the Cartographer's Handbook before... what? Actually, it seems I haven't. The Cartographer's Handbook is the first part of the New Century series, written by Alex Shaw. It's an alternative history series set in the 1880s after a civil war ruined the country... and then the Wendigo came.

And, now he's turning that into a series of videos, with the audio book illustrated by photos, both vintage and otherwise. And he has a Patreon series running to fund this and future seasons.


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Monday, 17 November 2014

The Novombor Mon

Hey, Pierce Brosnan, I'm in! And he's with Roger Donaldson, a pairing I remember from Dante's Peak, it's gotta be good!

So James Bond... I mean Peter Deveraux is an agent on a mission that went badly, so he gets out, only to get pulled in for an op five years later. Only, he doesn't have the whole truth, and so the person he's going to save gets killed... and that person is his wife! So begins Peter getting to the bottom of what's going on, which involves a Russian President candidate and a missing woman, and his old CIA friend turned against him and...

It's actually a lot more boring than it sounds. This is, with obvious reasons for why this connotation came to mind, a badly knock off of a James Bond script, with Brosnan's Bond coming to mind, especially when there's a replacement Valetin Zukovsky! It's a lot of blah, and I predicted the big reveals. Just not amazing.

The acting is fine, as is most of the production, but it just doesn't elevate the story to watchable. Not surprised it didn't get a full world-wide release.


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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Even more Desert Bus!

It's that time of the year again, and they've already been bussing away for 24 hours. Check out Desert Bus for Hope for charity donations. They've even gotten themselves a nice large lunar module to run things out of.

And I have my own contribution. If you like rugs, or Magic the Gathering, check out this MTG Mana Rug! The auction starts at 3pm on Nov 20, and runs for eight hours.

Here's a neat video (created last year) all about it:


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Saturday, 15 November 2014

IB-een there

The International Baccalaureate is a replacement for University Entrance exams, and are internationally recognised. If you are in NZ, and want to go for an international university, this is better than the NZQA. It's not an easy exam, it takes two years to build up to it, and over your summer break, you are expected to write a substantial essay that provides some major contribution to a subject of interest (with in the realms of the fact you are year 11/12).

One school around here that's doing IB is Scot's College. According to the article, they started it back in 2010.

However... they did give this a go back in the mid 1990s. How do I know? Well, confession time, I was at Scot's College, and I was in the program.

There were about a dozen of us, and we had a separate class and was supposed to be more advanced learning. We still did the year 11 exams, so that was fun... and then most of them pulled out. So it was me and someone else. Over the summer break, I was aware of the essay, but didn't really do anything about it, and had no idea what we were supposed to be doing... and then in the second year, the one guy pulled out and I was advised to also do that. (This was near the beginning of year 12 so not too much of the year was wasted.)

Interesting to see they brought it back, and it looks to be working... but I was there 15 years earlier. (#Hipster!)


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Friday, 14 November 2014

What if...?

Avis does try harder?

You never will buy better than Briscoes? (*)

Burger King does taste better?

Coca-cola does refresh us best?

Energizer Batteries do keep going and going and going and going?

Gillette is the best a man can get?

Nike just does it?

Pepsi is the taste of a new generation?

Tip Top takes us home?

You can't beat a Trumpet?

Will you always be a kiwi if you love Watties sauce?

(*) You know "you'll never buy better" could be read as a threat...


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Thursday, 13 November 2014

Warld of Worcraft

There's a WOW documentary that's been released for free... so yeah, what the hell, let's watch it!

This does a good job of covering the basics. We get the start of Blizzard, then build up to WOW, and then we go through the expansions and how the company dealt with them. Interspersed are little clips from people saying how much they like WOW and remembering their favourite bits and what not. It's all very luvvie really.

This feels more like a promotional piece... which it probably is. It's all very pro-Blizzard and isn't everything they do wonderful. A more in depth documentary might have touched on problems WOW had (I assume there are some) and other companies that tried to mimic the WOW formula, and how they failed. But really, this is a large behind the scenes extra feature.

As for WOW itself, I can't get into it. Occasionally I might think about it... but it looks just like running around spamming fighting moves. I like some of the cinematics, but the actual game play is just running around on a large field. Eeehhh.... not to mention I don't have the time sink. (I might go for DCU Online, but can't get that to work.)

It's free, so watch it for that... but not for an in depth analysis of WOW itself.


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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Needs more Cooks

I often don't take notice of viral videos. If I do, it's usually 'oh, that's what people are talking about... okay' and then move on to something else.

But considering Adult Swim is involved in this, which I wasn't aware of. And I caught a brief description of it on Overthinking It. Well, I had to look it up...

And this is so worth taking notice of.


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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Deliver Them from Wevil

Hey, it's a supernatural cop drama action movie. Never seen one of them before.

Sarchie is a cop with a 'radar' that lets him detect weird stuff happening, and he and his partner go around being all macho and actiony and beat up people who are bad guys. We soon get to where some crazy shit happens and one guy is going around driving people crazy and being all weird, and then there's a priest who gets involved.

This movie is quite good, and I remember remarking on how this movie was good at building atmosphere. However... then we hit the end of the movie, and it falls to pieces. I'm about to spoil it, but sod it, it's not that good. But I will hide the paragraph from the front page to be nice.

The cop and the priest capture the bad guy, and he's possessed... so, of course, we need an exorcism! But how this plays out is that the priest says "exorcisms have six parts, the build up, the fake out, the big effect, the let down" and whatever... then the movie progresses through those steps without any variation, so we know exactly what will happen, and there is no suspense at all. And this is the last section of the movie, the big set piece! It's a complete waste of time!

Okay, the acting is decent, even yes Eric Bana. I did mistake Edgar Ramirez for Enrico Colantoni in a wig. I can't recall any particular effect of note, there's a lot of  'let's keep the camera off the action' method for hiding the bad guys, and even the big set pieces don't do anything too amazing. This does help keep the movie 'realistic', but realism went out when they brought in possession.

This could have been a good movie, with a good set up and build up, but the ending is a waste of time.


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Monday, 10 November 2014

DW 8.12

Let's start with the positive. I like what they did with the opening credits. I have trouble buying the opening set up, but that's a nice selling point. However, the rest of the episode...

The Master, although insane, is a genius, and Missy... is just plain insane. This was her big plan? Create a cyberarmy and give it to the Doctor? What? That makes no to less sense, especially when she keeps thinking the Doctor is going to die. Still, just as well UNIT didn't check her for technology, and ordered the guards not to move is Missy got out, or anything, or she wouldn't have been able to enact her plan at all.

The Cybermen should be a horrendous threat, the idea of upgrading to machine and losing your soul... but they just become big stomping robots. There's no real impact to them anymore. They have to have "here's a Cyberman with emotions and still human" to give them any differentiation from genericity. And the moment with the Brig... I want to like that, I really do, but Nick isn't around, so just feels like a failed second best.

And the big secret of Clara? How has Missy being using her? Yeah, that went nowhere. As well as Missy collecting people from across time and space after the Doctor has been there, knocked off in a line of dialogue. I knew Moffat wasn't going to come through, but he's not even trying!

This has not been the best season, and now, an episode shorter than previous, it comes to an end. ...whatever.

Next time: Really? Why?


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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Two Guns

Is this supposed to be an action movie? Because the main action is how many words the two leads can spit out.

Two guys plan a bank heist, but end up with more than they bargained more. Firstly, too much money. And then neither guy is who they say they are and are at work for bigger forces... and then there are even bigger forces involved.

This could easily be considered a farce, certainly it hits ridiculous levels with who's involved, and who's betraying who, and the rather absurdist length various characters go to to get what they want. And through it all the two leads crack wise and bullshit everyone and generally be better than everyone around them (more or less, they are set back, but hey, they are the heroes of this movie!).

So yes, Denzel Washington and Marky Mark are decent in this, although both do too much talking. And then we add in Bill Paxton and Edward James Olmos, neither of them taking this film seriously either, and I don't know if this is brilliant or high levels of stupidity.

Should you see it? Sure, but make sure you have appropriate levels of expectation about the comedy and the action.


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Saturday, 8 November 2014


Yeah, it's that new Nolan film, and yes, it's too long. (And this is after the too long trailers. Seriously, do we need 15 minutes of rubbish before the movie starts?)

In THE FUTURE the world sucks, but fortunately NASA is an underground agency with budget and everything, because it's not like the world leaders would try to concentrate on protecting themselves or anything if the world went bad. Cooper just so happens to be an ex-NASA pilot, and finds the place, and it given the mission to go find a nearby (via a wormhole) world were Earthicans can live free and roam wild. And then it goes wrong, as these things do, because this is a movie. And because this is a movie that was supposed to be for Spielberg, the ending is... I can't say, but it made me want to punch someone.

For the most part the acting is decent, but the direction gets in the way. There are far too many scenes which are nothing but talking, and Matthew McConaughey's low down drawl spins out the already too long scenes further. And that's when you can here them. The music is by Hans Zimmer, and we are given plenty of time to enjoy it because it's so loud you can't hear anything else... including dialogue.

I can see what Nolan was trying to do with many scenes, I just don't think he quite got there, and the ending revealed things which most people probably already guessed.


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Friday, 7 November 2014

Anna O'Malley

It's the Mickey Smith movie! Well, not really, but the opening could easily be a Doctor Who episode. And the main reason I'm mentioning Mickey is that this movie stars... and is directed by!... Noel Clarke.

Mickey wakes up, finds himself in a van with a trapped kid, and then they escape... only to be smacked down. He wakes up again somewhere else, kicks lots of butt, and goes down... and repeat. Eventually a story comes out of people controlling other people, but it's given out in fits and starts and is largely a mess.

Okay, I'm going to be honest, and before I realised that Noel Clarke was the director, I was intending to hammer it a lot, but now that I know he is... I know who I'm hammering. This movie takes advantage of the conceit of the mind control guy momentarily coming back to himself to have lots of different vignettes, and most of them feature Noel Clarke beating people up in gloriously choreographed sequences... that commits the horrendous directorial decision of slow motion - fastmotion - slow motion again that directors use to make action look cool when there's nothing else going on. And it's annoying. Please, directors, stop doing this.

There is also a lot of plot convenience in that the woman just happens to be there when the guy needs help, and somehow Mickey (okay, he's not called Mickey, but let's call him Mickey anyway) manages to pick up and retain skills and knowledge while under mind control, and...

The acting is fine, but everything else could use work, including the title. I have only a superficial idea why it's called The Anomaly, and I'm sure there are far better titles available.


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Thursday, 6 November 2014

International Antarctic Centre

On my last day, I went to the International Antarctic Centre. There I experienced an ice storm, which wasn't that bad (although I was wearing two jackets). Saw some penguins, experienced a movie in 4D and saw lots of Antarctic related stuff.

[Sneak tip: If you want a free trip to/from the airport and Christchurch CBD, take the free Penguin shuttle!]

No photos, but videos.
The Hagglund ride might not be than filmic, but it gives you an idea of what we went through.

Penguins are fed!

And then I walked from the Centre to the Airport:


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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Christchurch Tour

The second day I was there, I went on a tour (a three hour tour). (I decided against the Lord of the Rings tour because there's only so much "here's a hill where they filmed a scene" I can take at the moment.)

Lots of photos of the tour.

And for videos, me walking through Mona Vale:

And after the tour I went through the Canterbury Museum and then walked through the Botanic Gardens:


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Tuesday, 4 November 2014

To Christchurch!

Last week I went down to Christchurch... because! I've been there for work often, but not really for a holiday, and I wanted to take a look around at what happened since. But rather than go down there directly, I took the indirect route, and took the Ferry over to Picton then the Coastal Pacific down to Christchurch... where I then got a bit lost. Christchurch, more sign posts for us tourists!

Photos of the trip are here.

And for videos, we have Picton:

On the train:

And a wee piece of Kaikoura:


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Monday, 3 November 2014

DW 8.11

And here we have it. There are some great lines, but the big reveal... is something many people saw coming. Oh, in fact, I'm just thinking about the last bits of the episode and getting so depressed by how prosaic it all is...

I'll admit I didn't see Danny dying, but I should have expected it. And then of course the Doctor and Clara would go after him (with some nice moments from the Doctor), although... why then hasn't the Doctor gone after many other people who have died? Adric, nope, he's dead, but the boyfriend of a companion, he's in there! (And fortunate that Danny was one of the ones uploaded and not like many of the other dead peoples.) I was getting a Of the City of the Saved vibe, but that's ridiculous... this is clearly far more plausible. (Was Doctor Chang uploaded or just annihilated? Seems a waste if just vapourised. Then again, after saying she would wait for him to say something nice, he then says something nice, so not exactly worth saving.)

I had forgotten the Cybermen was in this, so it wasn't until the Doctors got in the lift and the doors closed that I clicked on them being Cyberman eyeholes. But was it just me, or do we still not know what the three W words are? And just the hell would the Master/Mistress care about the Cybermen? He's worked with the Daleks before, but surely he considers the Cybermen beneath him? (Certainly didn't care about them in The Five Doctors.) This story sounds more like "let's bring back the Master... and pair in the Cybermen!" rather than have any particular plot reason, but then again that is very Steven Moffat.

And let's talk about the big reveal of the Mistress..  which many people predicted. It's like Moffat picked all the most boring reveals, perhaps to be different? Which didn't work. And the Mistress doesn't care about Clara much, so what's with all that? Next episode has a lot to pay off.

Next time: I didn't see the trailer, but the set up is amazingly Army of Ghosts, so something akin to Doomsday?


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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Papa Machete

Not only is this a film about fighting with machetes, it's also something I Kickstartered!

This film is about Professor Alfred Avril, one of the last true proponents of machete fighting. We are given a short look into his life, and also see some machete fighting in action (usually with him wielding a machete one handed while holding a bottle of drink in the other hand - and soundly beating his opponents).

And by short look, I mean this is ten minutes long. I could have done with more, especially I was hoping to find out more about the fighting itself (and would it be worth it having an RPG character with the skill), but that's not what we get.

This is currently making its way around film festivals (I got to see it because I'm a backer), and can recommend to check it out, no doubt either as a leader for another film or packaged with other short films. But it whets the appetite more than it satisfies.


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Saturday, 1 November 2014

Gideon's Army

Gideon is the chap who caused the case that meant that everyone was entitled to a lawyer. And so Gideon's Army is about Public Defenders in the (American) justice system.

This movie focuses on the lives and jobs of Public Defenders and some of the cases they have to deal with. We get some of the people they are working for (the movie mainly shows us black men, I'm not sure if that's because of who was available, or some bias of the movie maker). Public Defenders have to put up with a lot of shit, and a lot of the time, you do wonder why they continue (not why they started, but why they put up with their clients). And many don't. But we are with those who do, and see their passion to continue.

Now, this is an interesting movie from that perspective of what they put up with, but... that's all there is to this movie. We don't see anything about the system, about why we need Public Defenders, what changes are happening (if any) to ease their burden or enable the system to work better (often people in this movie say that the system has problems), nothing along those lines. It's just example after example.

Basically, this movie raises the profile of Public Defenders, but I feel like it could have done more.


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