‘Jojo Rabbit’ Review: Taika Waititi’s anti-hate crusade is a surprisingly introspective one

This review was first published on KENS5.com, and can be viewed here. 

 

In a recent episode of NPR’s “Fresh Air,” a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church – infamous for putting its hateful ideology on shameless display at the funerals of U.S. servicemembers – discusses liberating herself from the beliefs that had indoctrinated her into an isolated worldview of faux moral righteousness.

The way Megan Phelps-Roper puts it, emerging from the dangerous cocoon of the church was a “devastating” exercise in isolation in and of itself—isolation from everything she had known and from the family that had taught her. The cognitive dissonance was world-shattering, and what followed was the start of a lifelong journey to piece together a new perspective.

“How could we have possibly believed that we alone had had the one true answer, and to believe that everyone else was wrong?” she says. “There was just this special kind of shame and humiliation, and this reminder to me of the need for humility and how we see the world and other people.”

Taikia Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” knows all about the discomforts of changing your entire worldview. Large stretches of it are spent dwelling on the the solitude of being stranded in a moral No Man’s Land, though you’d be forgiven early on for thinking the director of “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” “What We Do in the Shadows” and “Thor: Ragnarok” has no intention of broadening himself beyond the sanitized sentimentality of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. The Kiwi auteur is a sucker for pathos here, and it’s best exemplified by the transformation of Roman Griffin Davis’s adorable Jojo, who has exactly the kind of face Pixar storytellers will search for when they begin making live-action movies. Continue reading →

In Hidalgo, Texas, a life of normalcy and defying misconception with the border in their backyards

This story was first published on KENS5.com. View the original post here. 

HIDALGO, Texas – The eyes of a country turned to McAllen, Texas, on Thursday, a borderland city in the heart of the Rio Grande Valley where President Donald Trump arrived for a few hours to visit with local authorities amid hundreds of protesters and supporters. The main topic on the agenda during his brief visit: Border security, and pushing for his divisive wall proposal.

To those who live there and also those reading about the visit from across the country, it is indeed a border community. But if it’s the entry into the United States, Hidalgo is the doormat.

About seven miles south of McAllen, this much smaller community is home to some of the southernmost U.S. residents in Texas. Gas is as low as $1.65 (at least it was on the day after the president’s visit), and you can see the steel bollards and slats driving down most of its main streets. Continue reading →

President’s visit shows divide among Rio Grande Valley residents

This story was first published on KENS5.com. Click here to see the original post.

MCALLEN, Texas — Hidalgo County, encompassing the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas along the edge of the US-Mexico border, is a primarily blue region, but you wouldn’t know it if you were in McAllen on Thursday.

On the morning that President Donald Trump was expected to arrive in the Rio Grande Valley for the first time since he took office to discuss his divisive border wall propositions, dozens of protesters and supporters convened just across the street to make their voices heard, beginning at around 9:30 a.m.

By 11:00, the dueling rallies soon numbered in the hundreds, potentially thousands, as each corner of Wichita and 10th Street was packed with passionate community members. Continue reading →

Near US-Mexico border, confusion at Trump’s ‘crisis’ label

This story was first published on KENS5.com. Click here for the original post. 

MCALLEN, Texas — Passing the historic Cine El Rey in the heart of McAllen, Texas on Wednesday, you wouldn’t have noticed the marquee advertising that evening’s live comedy attractions, nor the next movie showings.

Instead, Owner Bert Guerra posted the message: “WELCOME TO MCALLEN, 7TH SAFEST CITY IN AMERICA.”

That welcome isn’t just for tourists. President Donald Trump is expected to make his first visit to the Rio Grande Valley on Thursday to address what he has referred to in recent weeks as a humanitarian crisis unfolding along the border. But talking to Guerra and others who live in McAllen, the surrounding communities, and the regions of northern Mexico that sit just a few miles south, people here in the community say that if there’s indeed a crisis, they haven’t experienced it. Continue reading →