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Altered Minds Review

September 9, 2016

The film I’m referring to is this one. It is the story of a family gathering where the patron is dying after a lifetime career as a paychiatrist. One of the sons is on a quest to find the family dog’s resting place and accuses the father, played by Judd Hirsch, of abusing him and the other children. Not much of this is quite what it seems.

First, the cast is great. Everyone really seemed to understand their characters and as the film unfolds you begin to understand that it’s not just Tommy who has emotional problems. Most of the Shellner family has quirks and problems and later we wonder why running through various scenarios, jumping around as the characters do trying to get at the truth.

It is as well-written and directed as it is acted. My main criticism is a matter of taste {and perhaps rating} while the other is political.

There was a missed opportunity, similar to two I recently counted in, son of Ridley, Luke Scott’s Morgan. The fight scene between Ripley and Ash in Alien, culminating in the rolled magazine in the mouth, is hard to forget. There were two similar opportunities to haunt the audience in Morgan, though if he had done so, one can imagine people accusing him of being derivative. Or, maybe he did shoot those scenes that way but editors and/or producers stomped on it and we’ll have to wait for a director’s cut.

In any case, a film about mind control and creating programmed assassins via torture has the opportunity to really disturb the viewer. Having said that, I can see also why Michael Wechsler chose not to. The rating, getting more viewers, etc. is both a business and artistic decision, and isn’t really about right and wrong so much as taste.

The other criticism, as I said, political, is the ending which I will not give away. Certainly the film makes clear that awful things were done and that good men would object to them. But one need only look as far as real world scientist Frank Olson to know that such men, once involved with the darker areas of government, are not given the option of walking away. But then I’m biased and any film that draws attention to any portion of what was done under MK/Ultra and similar programs is a good thing.

See it.


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