1. Predictable but Still Good- A Review of M. Night Shamalan’s Old.

If you didn’t get a chance to see M. Night Shamalan’s latest film Old when it came out in theaters, it recently began streaming online. Based on a 2010 Swiss graphic novel entitled Sandcastle, the film centers around a specific family and a group of other guests at an extravagant tropical resort, who are given VIP access to a private beach for a day trip.

While there, all of the guests discover a trove of discarded items, some old, some new, and eventually encounter a dead body floating in the water. The characters, who are from all walks of life, start talking amongst themselves, until we learn that they are all suffering from medical conditions that require special medicine, there is some unknown phenomenon going on the at beach where everything there (including themselves) ages one year every 30 minutes, and they black out if they try to leave the beach. As the movie progresses, the characters begin suffering from the effects of aging and their medical issues, until the film's climatic Shamalan-twist ending is revealed.

Unlike Lady in the Lake or The Sixth Sense, there are no supernatural elements present in Old and instead relies on mysterious natural forces such as occurred in The Happening. However, whereas The Happening had too little exposition about what was going on, Old has too much.

Not only does the trailer cover much what happens in the movie, but the amount of information the characters deduce about their situation pushes the audience’s suspension of disbelief to the breaking point. Nevertheless, the movie has some interesting characters and like Signs there is a moving storyline about the main family in the film, that is in turmoil but which is resolved by the end of the film.

Lastly, it has a classic surprise ending like The Village where you suspect something is going on, but the reveal is more like Unbreakable in that it will a complete surprise. And while the film was shot before the Covid outbreak, the ending is actually a pretty clever and prescient take on our pandemic times.

With all that said, is the movie any good? After all, his last few movies, such as The Last Airbender or After Earth bombed at the box office and with critics. On the whole, while the film may seem like a mishmash of recycled storylines from his best-received films, it's precisely because Shamalan has returned to making the kind of films he makes best, that Old is worth a watch, if you are a fan of those films. If you are not a Shamalan fan, the story is still interesting and the unusual ending should be entertaining enough for most viewers.

2. Did You Vote for Donald Trump? Your Name Could Become a Target!

If you have never listened or watched Tim Pool, you may want to listen to his podcast from time to time. What Pool lacks in credentials or erudition, he makes up for with an unwavering work ethic and pure doggedness in his research and reporting skills. A high school dropout, Pool taught himself reporting and journalism skills over the course of a decade where it was his boots on the ground during the Ferguson riots, the Arab Spring protests, and working at Vice where he saw the crooked workings on how these sites manipulate their viewers.

Recently on his IRL podcast he was discussing a CNBC piece which said that the Democrat-led House Select Committee investigating the January 6th riots is “demanding a trove of records from 15 social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Google, and a slew of Pro-Trump platforms” as far back as “the spring of 2020.”

Their stated intent is to stop “the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election or prevent the certification of the results, domestic violent extremism, and foreign influence in the 2020 election.” They are also “looking into policy changes that the social media companies adopted or failed to adopt regarding the spread of violent extremism, misinformation and foreign malign influence."

Finally, he reads the most cryptic part of the article where it offhandedly states that “the select committee said it had sent letters demanding records related to at least 30 members of Trump’s close allies” as well as “archived communications from the Trump White House and numerous other executive branch agencies.”

That’s when Pool does what most people--and a lot of reporters--do not do, and follows the links to the House Select Committee's documents where it contains the list of 30 people they wanted information on. It is a list of people from Trump family members like Jared Kushner, people in his administration like Kayleigh McEnany, but also people the committee calls “activists” which are essentially all online personalities who supported Trump such as Alex Jones, Brandon Straka, Scott Presler, and Jack Posobiec.

For the rest of the show, Pool speaks with Jack Posobiec as they discuss the reasons and implications of why the Select House Committee is seeking any and all communications done on social media, messenger apps, and even emails of people who not only worked for Trump but reported positively on him.

Furthermore, anyone who thinks Trump won the 2020 election, or are in favor of Trump policies that Biden has reversed, or in any way tried to get the word out to vote, are in the eyes of the Committee considered a security risk in terms of the upcoming midterms. In the conversation, Posobiec lays out the next step in this investigative process, which is that if you followed any of these people on social media or reposted anything from them, you too could conceivably become a target in some future investigation. The discussion is well-worth a listen.

3. How Our Ideological Misunderstanding of Islam Continues to be a Problem.

As the Taliban have, after 20 years, resumed their running of Afghanistan, the Biden administration appears to be taking them at their word that they want to be part of a “community of nations” and that they will govern in an “inclusive” manner. The fact that there are people in the highest levels of our government that actually believe what they are being told by the Taliban, once again proves that there are some ideas so convoluted or just plain stupid, that you have to be highly educated to believe them.

As William Kilpatrick recently wrote over at Crisis Magazine, our country has a strong history of undermining the ideology of those with whom we went to war with, such as the South’s defense of slavery, Nazism, and Communism. When it comes to Islam though, “we have made every effort to avoid knowing too much about our enemy’s motivating ideology and that perhaps, the length of the war reflects the fact that we never fully knew what we were fighting for—and what we were fighting against.”

Kilpatrick then narrows the issue down to the Catholic Church’s response to Islam and how it has dealt with “the deceptive myth that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with the religion of Islam.” According to Kilpatrick, much of the fervor to condemn Islam began to wane in 1965 with the Vatican II publication Nostre Aetate where “nothing false is said about Islam, neither is anything negative” and Catholics ever since have been left with the impression that Muslims are just like us because they worship the One God and revere both Jesus and Mary. This of course, is when we get the notion that  Muslim terrorists and militants do not really represent Islam and instead have hijacked the "religion of peace."

Interestingly enough, according to Kilpatrick, the biggest purveyor of this view of Islam is Georgetown’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding which was first funded by various Arab states. It is the home of “the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service—a school whose graduates often go on to careers in the State Department, the FBI, and the CIA” but has also “became the main vehicle for disseminating the Catholic progressives’ positive view of Islam” that we are all familiar with to seminaries and Catholic schools.

On the other hand, far from “misunderstanding” or “hijacking” Islam, the religious leaders of the Taliban and ISIS all posses advanced degrees in Islamic law and Koranic studies. Thus, in the end it is Westerners, Pope Francis, and progressive Catholics who are the ones who not only misunderstand Islam but have "become an enabler of Islam—not merely in an abstract way but in very concrete ways” such as with the recent Abu Dabi Declaration and the Church’s stance on Muslin immigration into Europe. Time will tell whether this stance on Islam will end up changing for the better.

Photo Credit- miscsundry.com