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The X-Files: I Want To Believe

Since its inception in 1993, The X-Files has become a global pop culture phenomenon.  Basing stories on pulpy science fiction and paranoid thrillers, creator Chris Carter seemingly revelled in scaring audiences.  Catering to enthusiastic fans known as ‘X-Philes’, Carter expertly wrote tales for them and the casual viewer.  Ten years after its first big screen outing ‘Fight the Future’, the series returns with a complex plot showing that the truth is still out there.
In snowy North Virginia, a serial killer is on the loose. Sending their best agent, the FBI come to rely on the services of psychic priest, Father Crissman (Billy Connolly),  who may not be what he seems.  After an agent goes missing, a desperate bureau enlists the help of former agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson).  Joining forces once again to take on a bizarre case, their personal and professional dynamics lead them to question their beliefs in things that are perhaps best left unexplained.
Ever since its finale six years ago, fans have been desperate to know what happened next.  The answer may not be what they expect as ‘I Want to Believe’ reflects the more intimate of its TV episodes.  Having already done a big conspiracy tale with the last film, writer and director Chris Carter delves into the eternal questions of science versus religion.  Using his main characters as conduits, he attempts to show what it means to play god and the ethical responsibilities of people in positions of power.  Wrapped around a ‘monster on the loose’ scenario, the film has fun posing these riddles in an entertaining way unique to the series.  The ever present sense of urgency is well handled with a story clear on its intentions and execution.
Comfortably slipping into their roles, Duchovny and Anderson stylishly re-live their famous characters. Anderson in particular has more to do than usual, with her character torn between her loyalty to Mulder and of her faith.  Her scientific rationalism to Mulder’s dogged determination still brings plenty of bite to proceedings with each actor giving their best throughout. Billy Connolly provides a major surprise as the shady priest, adding a dramatic weight erasing memories of his previous comedic roles.  This is one of those rare movies that could have lasted longer due to the multi-layered intricacy of its script. Whilst aspects leave some gaping plot holes, generally the film successfully functions as a stand alone/continuation adventure that should satisfy a broad audience.
Providing the requisite tension and intelligently written, I Want to Believe expands on the series’ themes and mythology.  As is always the case with the franchise, this film may not mark the true end, something hinted at in the amusing nugget during the end credits.  If a return is not forthcoming the reason may be one even the toughest of X-File may not be able to crack.
Rating out of 10:  7

Salute

The Olympics and politics have been volatile bedfellows.  Foraying into Nazi Germany for the 1936 games to the 1972 ‘Black September’ Munich crisis, the ’sport of champions’ hasn’t escaped unscathed.  Salute looks at a more peaceful protest which changed the lives of its participants, becoming a moment of genuine solidarity.  The fact that this event is still talked about proves the influence an unspoken gesture has in galvanising debate.
The 1968 Mexico Olympics came at a time of massive upheaval.  Fanning the flames of protest worldwide, the assassination of Martin Luther King and the ongoing Vietnam War polarised people.  With the Civil Rights Movement attacked from arch conservative forces, three athletes decided to unite in comradeship.  Coming second in the 200 metre final, Australian sprinter Peter Norman joined his fellow winners Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the dais. Whilst Smith and Carlos raised their hands in the black power salute, Norman wore an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge showing his support for their cause.  The resulting image came to define a decade and the men as its repercussions were still felt nearly forty years later.
Released two years after his death, Salute becomes a touching tribute to a man determined to do a decent thing.  Disgusted with his country’s embrace of the White Australia Policy, Peter Norman used a measured approach in conveying his thoughts.  In a country still lauding criminals as folk heroes, Norman showed true heroism in sacrificing his own moment of glory in order to make a profound statement.  The disgraceful attitude of high ranking officials following this exposed the hypocrisy within an establishment supposedly representing social inclusion.  Fighting against a biased media and high society racism, Norman’s inspiring tale is one of a survivor who agitated for change on the world stage. 
Salute’s engrossing story is further enhanced in its exploration of external events.  Delving into the mindset of a generation scarred by war and bigotry, the film reflects on a time where people had the courage to express opinions despite the consequences. Whilst well crafted, Salute falters slightly as its early attention to detail disappears with the skimming over of the moment’s aftermath.  Unfortunately missing the opportunity to illuminate things further, it doesn’t show enough of how each men coped with their lasting fame and its impact.  The unfolding events are always fascinating however, as their stance became an enduring symbol of hope for people searching for leadership.  
This snapshot of time is an interesting document putting Peter Norman in his rightful place in history.  A principled man believing in the freedom of speech, Norman enjoyed a life-long friendship with Carlos and Smith until the end.  Ultimately this is perhaps the most heartfelt aspect of a film showing the power of his actions and the enduring bond that was created that fateful day.
Rating out of 10:  7