In [Movie Review: The Visit, September 16] Rick Kisonak writes, "I've watched loved ones suffer the indignities of dementia and can't help but find the filmmaker's decision to use them for comic fodder and cheap shocks in deplorable taste. To my knowledge, no previous movie has ever equated mental and physical deterioration with the monstrous, but that's Shyamalan's vision in The Visit. What's next — a thriller set in a nursing home where all the patients are zombies?"
Kisonak is soooo wrong. Shyamalan is not exploiting anyone. The truth of the matter is that dementia (Alzheimer's disease), can result in scary, creepy behaviors. Without revealing important details of the film, ask yourself, did any of those things actually apply to the grandparents? IMHO, this is not a horror movie, and if you go in expecting that, you will be very disappointed. Just be prepared to hear a very good story. This is a creepy, black-comedy thriller.
As with all of Shyamalan's films, there is a message — a very good message. I have not been a fan of a few of his movies, but this one is very good, very different. Hollywood is promoting it all wrong as a "horror" movie. It is very smart of Shyamalan to infuse comedy in this dark film, because it keeps you off your guard. One minute you're laughing, and then, bam, he creeps you out!
Yes, there are a few scenes that may leave you wondering, Really? But overall it was very entertaining. The theatergoers at the showing I attended had a lot of fun with it. Everybody went from laughing to jumping to actually applauding at the end. It's a movie, folks. Have fun with it!
P.S. Why is Kisonak giving away scenes from the movie? Let people find out for themselves what was in the shed. His review is awful.
Interview or Internet?
I appreciate Seven Days publishing an article about Wilda White, the new executive director of Vermont Psychiatric Survivors ["A 'Psychiatric Survivor' Says She Is Ready to Lead a Movement," September 9].But I was not happy that writer Nancy Remsen chose to focus on incidents connected with Wilda's episodes of manic psychosis that she found on an internet search without describing some of Wilda's considerable career successes, among them being appointed the first executive director of the Thelton Henderson Institute for Social Justice at the UC Berkeley School of Law. That information is also available on the internet.
I told Remsen that it was crucial that our new VPS executive director be a person with lived experience. But I also told her that there were many other qualities very important to us, including financial-management skills, successful grant writing and fundraising experience, supervisory experience, good communication skills, a collaborative and transparent leadership style, and commitment to systems advocacy, all of which Wilda has in abundance.
Focusing on someone's lived experience of mental-health challenges, to the exclusion of our strengths, gifts, skills and other assets, perpetuates the stigma about mental illness that still pervades our media and our culture. The idea that we are nothing more than our diagnosis, or that the only important things about us are how we act under stress or when in difficulty, is simply inaccurate and false.
Wilda White is a highly skilled, gifted professional whom we at Vermont Psychiatric Survivors are fortunate and proud to have as our executive director.
Roberts is president of theVermont Psychiatric Survivors board of directors.
[Re Fair Game: "Anybody's Business?" September 16, about Phil Scott's rivals questioning his company's state contracts]: Perception or reality? Sometimes it's impossible to tell the difference. But when your company's proposal is on the desk of government agencies whose members are appointed by you, the governor, it's not just perception. It's a reality that there is a conflict of interest. That these decisions made by government appointees will be objective simply isn't believable. It's clear: Lt. Gov. Phil Scott should either give up ownership of his construction company or not run for governor.
Keep Vermont Weird
[Re Fair Game: "Shap Talk," August 19]: Let's be real: We live in a weird state. I've tried to explain to family and friends how we can have some of the most reliably liberal voters in national contests yet also some of the laxest gun laws in the country. How we can look and act a lot like a deep red state but also be the first state to legalize gay marriage via legislation. In the end, I keep finding myself saying "It's Vermont." Vermont is just ... Vermont. We're the only state in the nation where you can describe someone as a "gun-loving progressive" without irony.
That's why I'm so excited to see Shap Smith running for governor, because Shap is very, very Vermont — and I'm not just talking about his trademark goatee. Shap isn't some ideologue shouting into a megaphone; he's a tried and true leader who is already very familiar with what it takes to make a positive difference in Vermont.
Shap's first real test as Speaker of the House was getting the Marriage Equality Act passed. Then-governor Jim Douglas vetoed the act, and Shap led the charge for the successful override that made the bill a law, although he'd be the first to say that he didn't do it alone.
Since then, Shap has been a champion for working families, for improving early-childhood education and for Vermonters everywhere. When it comes to making the big decisions for our state, I don't want some race-car driver, or some Wall Street banker, or some Google executive deciding what's important for Vermont. I want a Vermonter. Shap Smith is the Vermonter we need to get the job done right.
Seven Days Scores
Congratulations on 20 years. I should be glad that Burlington Telecom had an outage last Sunday, just when I was ready to settle in to "60 Minutes" — so instead I dove into the timeline ["Timeline: Seven Days Looks Back at 20 Years of Publishing in Vermont," September 9]. What a list of accomplishments! So fun to read!
Honestly, I think Seven Days is in no small part responsible for Burlington's "great place to live" reputation. You have so much to be proud of! I am in awe of how you manage to put together such a smart, sassy, typo-free (almost always) publication week after week. Kudos to the whole crew!