DARK MONEY — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

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dark money posterThe documentary Dark Money sheds light on the effects of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010 that opened the door to undisclosed corporate funding of smear campaigns and political agendas that served not we, the people, but they, the big-pocketed rich and powerful. Although the subject is highly relevant, it might not sound like a scintillating night at the movies. But director Kimberly Reed (Prodigal Sons) smartly grabs our attention by using the gorgeous and thinly populated state of Montana as a microcosm for the ongoing corruption of the election process. Continue reading…

The “Big Sky Country” state has a history of being exploited by industrial entities, with Exhibit A being a copper-mining concern whose legacy includes a toxic body of water that causes snow geese to die en masse on its shores. To protect the land and the people from outside influences, Montana passed the most stringent campaign laws in the country in 1912.

But that changed once the Citizens United decision suggested that corporations should be treated like people and a contribution was as innocent as holding up a political sign. But Reed is able to avoid a parade of talking heads and instead capitalizes on a Capra-esque local investigative reporter named John Adams, who – despite being laid off from his newspaper job – helps uncover a scandal that amounts to unethical and illegal influence peddling on a grand scale. There is a girlish whistle blower, a villain who is terrible at lying in court and a verdict that is one of the more satisfying moments in a movie this year.

Besides being able to translate what could be a tangle of rules and regulations into high drama, Reed manages to turn Dark Money into a very human story that is relatively bipartisan. She even finds a way to cleverly tie this smaller case to the larger picture of campaign corruption on a national level from, yes, foreign entities.

motw logo 1-35EDITOR’S NOTE: Dark Money is AWFJ’s Movie of the Week for July 13, 2018

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Susan Wloszczyna

In her nearly 30 years at USA Today, Susan Wloszczyna interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. Her coverage specialties include animation, musicals, comedies and any film starring Hayley Mills, Sandy Dennis or hobbits. Her crowning career achievements so far, besides having Terence Stamp place his bare feet in her lap during an interview for The Limey, is convincing the paper to send her to New Zealand twice for set visits, once for The Return of the King and the other for The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, and getting to be a zombie extra and interview George Romero in makeup on the set for Land of the Dead. Though not impressive enough for Pulitzer consideration, she also can be blamed for coining the moniker "Frat Pack," often used to describe the comedy clique that includes Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. Her positions have included Life section copy desk chief for four years and a film reviewer for 12 years. She is currently a senior editor for the online awards site Gold Derby. Previously, she has been a freelance film reporter and critic, contributing regularly to RogerEbert.com, MPAA’s The Credits, the Washington Post, AARP The Magazine online and Indiewire as well as being a book reviewer for The Buffalo News. She previously worked as a feature editor at the Niagara Gazette in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A Buffalo native, she earned her bachelor's degree in English at Canisius College and a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.