Movie: The Conspirator, 4.5/5

There are a lot to be liked about this sobering movie.
First, the compelling story gives a fairly accurate account of a dark episode in American history: in the wake of Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, the whole nation was in a grieving and revenging mood to hang the alleged culprit for their beloved president. The reluctant hero, Frederick Aiken, took the job to defend Mary Surratt, the mother of the conspirator, before a military tribunal. Despite his efforts, Mary was executed in the end largely for her son’s crime.
Second, its central message of justice and values is uplifting. The hero pressed for the truth and fair trial of Marry, even after his professional and personal life had been greatly jeopardized by the case; One supreme court justice, though appointed by Lincoln, uphold the law against his emotional and political convenience and overruled the manipulated verdict by the military court. Obama must have loved the message; otherwise, he wouldn’t entertain the idea of trying 9/11 criminals in a civilian court.
Third, it reminds me of the Ai Weiwei case. Regardless of how allegedly crappy he is, Mr. Ai, even if indeed guilty of ‘business crime’, deserves a fair trial as a citizen, not a politically manipulated one as a serf.
When will we have such a judicial system and integrity/courage alike to stand for truth?

MOVIE: Soul Surfer (4/5)

This is a simple and uplifting movie. It plainly tells the real story of Bethany Hamilton, a promising teen surfer, who tragically lost an arm in a shark attack, but heroically came back to become a professional surfer.
My problem with this otherwise touching movie is its handling of the most difficult question asked by the broken Bethany: Why does God allow bad things to happen in our lives? The religion/faith and the passing narrative of Bethany’s struggle in the movie is hardly a satisfactory answer: The painful ordeal and dark side of many struggling ordinary lives is simply absent from this movie. Perhaps gifted Bethany was indeed born optimistic even in the face of crashing calamity; but even then it is hard to believe a configuration of mini Van could compete in F1 car race.
The ‘mean’ girl Manila reminds me of other similar characters: the police inspector Javert in The Miserable Ones’, and Buck in Ice Age 3. This cohort of overly stringent people have enormous appetite for the rule of law but little compassion or sympathy for vulnerable ones. As ‘mean’ as they are, their very existence actually serves as a reality check for other more sentimental souls, and therefore makes the world a better place.
With a bit stretch, is Donald Trump playing a similar role of ‘mean girl’ in the2012presidential election?