“Sicario” – A Slice in the Border War Review

“Sicario” means “hit man” in Spanish.

"Sicario" (Rotten Tomatoes)

“Sicario” (Rotten Tomatoes)

Before I begin this review, I have these two raspberry colored elephants to clear:

  1. During some of the action scenes, Emily Blunt reminds me of the character she played in “Edge of Tomorrow.”
  2. Benicio Del Toro’s eyes are brighter.

“Before I was even in high school, I had dark circles under my eyes. Rumor was that I was a junkie. I have dark circles under my eyes, deal with it.”
– Benicio Del Toro

Let’s continue.

“Sicario” is directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Taylor Sheridan. Emily Blunt stars as FBI agent Kate Macer. Opposite Blunt’s formidable presence are Josh Brolin as Matt Graver, and Benicio Del Toro as Alejandro.

“Sicario” a tough, suspenseful movie, with a subtle damper on the gore, is a lesson in the efficiencies of: going off book and less is more.

“She’s not even scratching the surface doing things by the book.” Emily Blunt

Kate, an FBI agent, leads a strike on a house while looking for hostages. As they ‘clear’ the warlord’s house, a gunshot blown hole in the wall exposes a rechid scene of a gruesome lifestyle.

Dead, standing bodies insu-lace the plastered walls of the hostel.


Graver is brusque and often wears a flippant grin on his face. Completing the trio is Del Toro’s Alejandro, the quiet but deadly mysterious consultant, played with brooding complexity and charming machismo. Meet “Sicario.”

Kate is the prime candidate to participate in Graver’s off the grid task to catch the real people behind this rechid scene.

Kate, Matt and Alejandro plan in "Sicario." Rotten Tomatoes

Kate, Matt and Alejandro plan in “Sicario.” (Rotten Tomatoes)

The “chemistry” between this threesome is immediate and eventually cooperative.

To ease all of this hot tension, and next to Kate, is her doting partner, Reggie Wayne, played by Daniel Kaluuya. Reggie and Kate soon learn how playing off book can keep you from making deadly mistakes.

We get a taste of how this ill-fated lifestyle entangles “regular” people and officials into the cartel normal.  It’s ‘normal’ to watch as black FBI caravans posse into the cartel’s land. Black SUVs drive by low hanging fruit (butchered bodies) that keep others in check.

This movie is efficient with its violence. This makes for shorter gun fights. (Is that a bad thing?) It was skillfully executed, and kept the suspense going.

Lines were minimized and visualized instead.

“..Cinematographer Roger Deakins can suggest menace and moral ambiguity by letting the camera slowly creep-glide into a performer’s personal space (what Villeneuve calls the visual equivalent of “putting pressure on your characters”)”

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/mexican-cartels-and-wet-willies-the-story-behind-sicario-20150928#ixzz3r9RKWBvp

“Sicario” exceeded my high expectations.

I liked this movie. I didn’t want to miss a moment. I was on the edge of my recliner, so to speak, stretched out and holding onto the arm rests for comfort, for many scenes. (I did take a quick break, runtime is 121 minutes. I advise you take care of all of your business before you enter the theater!)

Check out “Sicario” if only to get a small taste of this other side of the border! Remember, it’s a movie, representing a sliver of the pie at best.

Moral debris is left for the audience to figure out. Where do the pieces fall for you?







“Bridge of Spies” and Hollow Nickels Review

Tom Hanks (and Steven Spielberg) know how to pick movies that work for classic entertainment!

Tom Hanks stars as James Donovan in "Bridge of Spies." (Jaap Buitendijk)

Tom Hanks stars as James Donovan in “Bridge of Spies.” (Jaap Buitendijk; NY Daily News)

“Bridge of Spies,” directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks, as lawyer James Donovan, is one of those entertaining and suspenseful movies. It doesn’t matter if you know the ending to this biography drama. The movie fills in the middle in a way many will enjoy watching to see the already forgone conclusion – the pilot and the spy get traded on the bridge.

Thankfully, there’s more to the story than most of us know, and as a result, this movie hits many marks for thriller and history fans to enjoy.

“Bridge of Spies” is based on the true story of the capture of Russian spy, Col. Rudolph Abel, or so he was called.

Young Jim Bozart is rewarded by the NYPD for discovering the hollow nickel which led to uncovering a Russian spy ring.

Young Jim Bozart is rewarded by the NYPD for discovering the hollow nickel which led to uncovering a Russian spy ring. (NY Daily News)

The NY Daily News gives a vivid account of how the spy was found out. A 13 year old newsboy, Jim Bozart tripped on a stairwell and collected his scattered coins from a 50 cent tip he had just received. Bozart noticed that one of the nickels had cracked apart and had

“a square of something when he held it against the stairway window. At home, his living room lamp revealed tiny rows of numerals.

After playing stickball and getting some ice cream, Bozart gave the nickel to his friend’s father, a new York city police detective, who passed it on to the FBI.

It took four years to decode, but it revealed the presence of an illegal KGB ‘resident,’ Col. Rudolf Abel (one of many aliases he used).”

To read the whole story see NY Daily News:


This accidental discovery led to the capture of the spy. Bozart does not make it into this movie, but his role only adds more to heighten the interest in this story.

Back to the movie, Hanks plays a lawyer who is taken out of his element and despised for defending Russian spy, Abel, well and stoically played by Mark Rylance. Abel is taken to trial and Donovan deftly avoids the death penalty, believing that at some point in time, this unwavering spy might be a pawn to be played at a later time between Russia and the US.

American pilot, Francis Gary Powers (played by Austin Stowell), gets shot down in Russian air space in this flick’s minimal action scenes. With a great CIA sigh of relief,  Donovan’s mental stealth at avoiding the death penalty is right on time.

The unlikely duo of Donovan and Abel develop a regard and a respect for each other, in spite of both their government’s diplomatic disdain. Of course it’s not as simple as that, and that’s what makes this movie such a thriller. Rather than spoil it for you, I encourage you to see this flick. It’s rated “PG-13.”

Will a younger audience appreciate this movie? With more mental than physical action, they’ll have to cross that bridge when they get to it.


My Take on the Fed Women In Technology Diversity and Inclusion Summit

IMG_1692I found the Fed Women In Technology (FedWIT) Diversity and Inclusion Summit to be encouraging and informative. It’s good to see organizations like the KC Fed, Million Women Mentors, STEMconnector, KC STEM Alliance and the Central Exchange lending their time, energy and voices towards supporting women, young and old, in the workplace, in universities and in high schools towards STEM professions.

They are encouraging relationship building through mentoring and sponsorships from the ground up. It’s  personal! This is how we build inclusive and diverse environments in which everyone: students, workers, mentors, mentees, peers and companies – wins.

It’s personal for me too. I had an aptitude for the sciences in high school. But I wasn’t into it, like I saw other students who actually liked science.

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Fed Women In Technology Summit Panel

Τhe Federal Reserve of Kansas City (The KC Fed) is a welcoming venue. For those unfamiliar with the KC Fed’s external layout, the grounds are composed of a big building with a small visitor’s parking lot. When the visitor’s lot is full, parking is found nearby on the street surrounding the building. The walk from your car gives you a chance to appreciate the view. I heard that a new parking garage to accommodate more visitors (and staff) is in the works.

Julie Kantor gave the keynote speech at the summit. (see Fed Women In Technology: Mentering Women towards STEM)

Following Kantor’s speech, Brian Faros, Vice President/Chief Information Officer at Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City moderated the WIT panel.
Faros seemed to get the challenges that women face in the workplace and the strategic action required to increase opportunities and make pathways toward an equitable work environment for women.
He identified subtle disparities like:
  • How the iPhone tracks men’s health but does not track women’s health and
  • How in 2012, Legos finally presented a product that appealed to females.

as missed opportunities for industry since women largely represent the demographics that these products appeal to.

Fed Women In Technology Summit Panel and Moderators: (From Left to right) Karen Pennell, CiCi Rojas, Laura Loyacono, Andrea Hendricks, Julie Kantor and Brian Faros.

Fed Women In Technology Summit Panel and Moderators: (From Left to right) Karen Pennell, CiCi Rojas, Laura Loyacono, Andrea Hendricks, Julie Kantor and Brian Faros.

Panel members included:
CiCi Rojas, president and chief executive officer of the Central Exchange,
Karen Pennell, senior vice president Fed KC
Laura Loyacono, executive director of the KC STEM Alliance
Julie Kantor, featured speaker, vice president and chief partnership officer at STEMconnector and Million Women Mentors.

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Fed Women In Technology: Mentoring Women Towards STEM

The Federal Reserve of KC Women In Technology (FedWIT) Diversity and Inclusion Summit was held on Wednesday, September 30, from 3-6 pm, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City (The KC Fed). The KC Fed and the Money Museum share one of KC’s high precipices along side of the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial and in view of the KC business skyline.



Mentoring Women towards STEM was the theme at the Diversity and Inclusion summit, which is one of a series of events focussing on Women In Technology. Moderator Andrea Hendricks, assistant vice president, deputy director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion at The KC Fed, explained that the summit format, versus a more formal conference format, was designed to engage the participants and take them (us) to a different level or height in the discussion of Women in Technology.

House Cleaning

I get it that some may not understand the focus on house cleaning posts, recently. The fact is, before I came back to the states from living in Ghana, West Africa, I realized that for me, the best way to introduce change anyplace else, was to make sure that I had my own house in order.

IM000055When it comes to setting things in order, two heads are better than one.

I often found myself to be in situations where others were looking at me for lifestyle  solutions. After a while, I began to question, who was I to tell anybody anything? Besides dealing with the imposter syndrome, I was wanting to make sure that I was walking that walk that I was talking about to others.

When it comes to setting things in order, two heads are better than one. This doesn’t take much discussion.

Your word has that much more power and impact when it’s authentic.

Never Spray Alone – “Getting Rid of Bugs” – Part II

No Centi smallerOnce you get a bug problem identified, don’t be ashamed! Be aware. Be diligent. I originally used this barrier building procedure while living overseas in Africa, and continued maintenance kept out most pests, including lizards (yes, lizards) and mosquitos.

“Do your homework…”

Do your homework to track and to get rid of bugs. There is a new “organic pesticide” company with quarterly plans in our area. What that means is, they lure you in with a low initial fee and then they make you sign a contract to commit to a quarterly (subscription) fee system that adds up to hundreds of dollars over a year. I chose this option because I wanted quick, professional help with an organic solution, not because I felt it was a reasonable plan.

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