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041607SL.jpgCincy Chic: When did you first get into music?
Spears:
My first musical experience was on the piano. My dad used to show me little things on my great grandmother's piano when we visited her. I always looked forward to going to her house because she had a piano and she was really funny. I started taking lessons around first grade and then my parents bought me a piano after they realized I was pretty good at it.

It was the best birthday. A truck pulled up to our house with a selection of pianos and I got to pick which one I wanted. I out-learned my teacher and stopped taking lessons, until we found another teacher who helped teach me modern sheet music that I liked from the radio.

Cincy Chic: When did you start singing?
Spears:
I first started singing in church and the school choir. Other than that, I was really shy. I always felt a special connection with the choir teachers at school. One teacher really got to know me and volunteered me for a lead part. After the feeling I got when I sang by myself in front of an audience, I had no problem trying out for leads and hungered for the parts. Later, during my 6th grade year, I played for the high school band.

When I got to the 8th grade, I was given a lead roll in a high school's play. I continued to sing at school in every musical aspect. Then, I started singing at local fairs and festivals with music tracks behind me.

My first demo was recorded with those same tracks using equipment at the church we were attending at the time. My grandfather was there with me, as he and my grandmother were the first to buy me the tapes to sing along with.

Cincy Chic: As a talented singer and pianist, when did you become interested in playing the guitar?
Spears:
I picked up a guitar when I was 15 after watching a documentary on Melissa Etheridge on the Lifetime Channel (we did not have MTV or VH1). She inspired me to want to sing and play the guitar and write my own songs. My mother bought me my first guitar out of the classifieds for about $25. It was a classical acoustic guitar.

After she realized I really wanted to learn, was learning quickly and teaching myself how to play, she ordered me a $300 acoustic guitar from Fingerhut Magazine. I still have it today; I named it “Harmony.”

Cincy Chic: Where do you get the inspiration for the songs you write?
Spears:
When I first got my guitar, I began writing songs about things I went through, such as love. I still write about love or love lost. Hopefully, I’ll have a different experience soon, but maybe it is my fate to write songs that help people in their relationships. Who knows, right? This led me to play the guitar and sing at the Fair instead of using the music tracks. One of the neighborhood boys got tragically and mysteriously killed. I wrote a song about him and was requested to play it in ceremonies surrounding his death.

Cincy Chic: When did you first decide to join a band instead of just writing songs by yourself?
Spears:
After the funeral of my neighborhood friend, I met a few guys from a local band who were friends with him, as well. Through our conversation, we found out that we were all playing at the same fair. They asked if I would like to try out and play a few shows with them, including the fair. I did, and we clicked instantly.041607SOCIAL.jpg

They became my second family. After the shows they had promised me, they decided to keep me on full-time. This was until another band saw me at a larger performance and stole me from them. It was the hardest decision I had to make up until that point in my life, because they had become a huge part of me life. I went with the new band and starting playing more and making more money.

Cincy Chic: Besides playing at festivals and fairs, what other musical endeavors did you take part in?
Spears:
One day, during my junior year of high school, as I always listened to the radio while getting ready for school, I heard the morning DJ announce a jingle contest. I immediately ran upstairs to my karaoke machine and started recording an idea I had, including the harmonies and guitar music. My dad yelled that we were going to be late for school. I packaged up the cassette and had my dad mail it out that morning.

After the long stretch of the contest, and having people call in to vote for my selection, which they called "The Harmony Jingle," I won. This led me to go to the studio and re-record the jingle on a more professional level and landed me a spot on their morning show, so they could introduce it. One of the jocks at the studio was familiar with my music teacher and found out how much music consumed my life. He offered me an internship.

This intensified my anticipation for the summer. By the time summer rolled around, a new band had snatched me up and the radio station booked us for their huge Chicken Wing Cookoff Celebration at one of the malls. Before that happened, we had another large concert at a different mall with The Spin Doctors, an artist named Janna and Blessid Union of Souls. All of the interns had to pick a band to help out for the day. I picked Blessid Union. This meant I had to transport them back and forth to their hotel and get them anything they needed… and hang out on their bus in the meantime. When I met their lead singer, Eliot, we had an immediate connection for some reason.

When he found out I sang, played guitar and wrote music he excitedly gave me his contact information. The radio station allowed me to make him a demo at the station. After a few months, Eliot started flying and bussing me around via Greyhounds, to a whole new world… Cincinnati, OH. For being such a small-town girl, this was a big deal to me.

Cincy Chic: When did you decide to permanently move to Cincinnati?
Spears:
Even before the trips to record in Cincy, I had always known that to pursue my music I would move away from everything I knew growing up. Up until that point, I just hadn't figured out where or when.

After high school, Eliot helped me – that small town, naive, young girl – to the big city of downtown Cincinnati. I had no car, no job and no friends. But, I was extremely excited and determined to make my way.

Cincy Chic: After graduating from high school and moving to Cincinnati, did you make time for college?
Spears:
When I first moved to Cincy, the timing was a little off for recording purposes, since Blessid was in full touring mode from their "Walking of the Buzz" album which featured the song "She Likes Me for Me." This led me to go to college.

041607SL2.jpgI went to AEC Southern Ohio College (now, called Brown Mackie College) for audio and video production. There, I learned more about the technical side of recording and also video. I accomplished summa cum laude and Student of the Year. As I had worked with Eliot in spurts and a controlling boyfriend warded me away from working with a male, I soon moved back home to regroup and write.

Cincy Chic: Did moving back home end up working out for the best?
Spears:
Many great songs and adventures came out of moving back home. There, I signed with a record label and Eliot began driving to Morgantown to work with us. After a while, he intrigued Blessid's old producer to work with us instead, and a friend of mine offered to let me move in with her rent-free, back in Cincy, until I got on my feet.

So, I left the label, quit my day job and moved back to Cincinnati to continue pursuing my dream. My friend ended up moving as soon as I got there and left me homeless with no income. The producer ended up having too many projects going on.

So, there I was again. I left everything I had behind and had nothing, but I was determined to keep going and reaching for my goal. I got some monetary help to pay for a deposit and first month's rent in my own place. I got a job and started lining up gigs and letting people know I was back in town. We started recording. Life was great. Well, except for me not fitting into the “day job” mold.

After praying about it and really weighing my options (even though I was pretty partial to one side of it), I decided to quit my day job, again, and just play music. I began really booking and doing all the business side of it myself. I started putting a band together (which has evolved with new players) and continued recording with Eliot.

Cincy Chic: What is your life like currently?
Spears:
Today, I still perform for a living. I book many solo shows in bars, restaurants, theaters, colleges, festivals, churches and we just began performing as the “Holly Spears Band,” which I am extremely excited about!

All of our shows and new Holly Spears tunes are posted on www.myspace.com/hollyspears and my Webmaster updates www.hollyspears.com as often as she can. We are currently weighing our options for finishing the album and looking for the right record label and management. I'm just waiting to see where the next domino falls. So, stay tuned and ride out this musical adventure with me.

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Latitudes Cafe's "She Jams" spring concert series is a series of 12 concerts showcasing notable female recording artists from Greater Cincinnati such as singer/songwriter Holly Spears, 2006 Cincinnati Blues Challenge Winner II Juicy, roots rocker Tracy Walker and other top-notch female performers from this area.

This series began on March 25 and will continue until April 26. The series takes place on Wednesdays at the Latitudes Anderson location and Thursdays at the Latitudes Milford location. At both locations, everything gets kicked off at 8:00pm. There is no cover charge and off street parking is available at both locations. Here's the remaining schedule:

LATITUDES ANDERSON
7426 Beechmont Ave
Cincinnati, Ohio 45255
(513) 233-9888

April 18th
Cheryl Renee
A dynamic and extremely popular bandleader, keyboardist, song stylist and "Goddess of the blues" was born and reared in Cincinnati. She hit the road with local R&B group "Mad Dog Fire Department" in the early 1970s. Back in Cincy after 30 years, she teamed with local group "Them Bones" and landed a top 10 spot at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, 2005.

April 25th
II Juicy
Cincinnati’s 2006 Blue Challenge Winner! If that doesn't say it all, come see for yourself why Michelle Feaster, aka II Juicy, has taken Cincinnati's Blues scene by sudden force.

LATITUDES MILFORD
18 Main Street
Milford, Ohio 45150
(513) 831-9888

April 19th
Kinsey Rose
After moving to Cincinnati, Kinsey began writing with Jeff Pence, of Blessed Union of Souls, and has a song cut on the Cincinnati Clutch Hits, which is sold at the Great American Ballpark. She sang the Star Spangled Banner for the Reds last summer and has a song on Jungle Jams, a Cincinnati Bengals-endorsed album. She is now finding her true country roots and continuing to write and perform as she sings her way to Nashville.

April 26th
Tracy Walker
Tracy Walker plays extensively in the Greater Cincinnati area and has appeared on stages in Tucson, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Indianapolis and many other cities across the country. She is playing dates around the country to support the release of her "All This Time" album. Find out why Tracy has developed a well-deserved reputation as a fierce solo performer.

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Q: I think your topic should cover why men are so forgetful about things their women want them to do. How can we get the message through nicely but effectively?

– Ann, Harrison

A: You know, it’s funny. I had totally planned on answering this question about a week ago. Yet, ironically, I forgot.

I don’t really think it’s fair that guys get labeled as “the forgetful ones.” Birthdays, anniversaries, your mom’s birthday… Over the years, we’ve kind of garnered a bum rap for forgetting important things like that. Or even little things, like putting the cap back on the toothpaste, leaving the toilet seat up or noticing your cat in the driveway. We can’t help it we’re easily distracted beings (Ever see Nicholas Cage in "The Weatherman?" You’ll see what I mean.)

A while back, I thought it’d be a good idea to start using a Smartphone, a mobile electronic “secretary” capable of reminding us of all the things we usually forget. Being a gadget freak, I figured I’d use it all the time. And for the most part, I do. Phone numbers, calendars, to do lists – it all goes into the Smartphone. It’s rather brilliant, actually. Until I forget my phone. Then I’m totally screwed. I mean, how many of us actually call someone by remembering their phone number? If I don’t have my phone with me, to look up someone’s digits by name, I’m pretty much incommunicado until I can look up their info on my phone, or my computer.

But I digress. Is this really a guy thing, per se? Personally, I think women are just as forgetful as men. It’s just that women are much more vengeful and vocal about our mistakes than we are about theirs. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing started with a scorned woman (throughout history, isn’t that how a lot of things got started?) whose man forgot something, and got the ball rolling. No matter how horrible of a day he had, a guy simply can not win if he forgets something important. Especially a birthday or anniversary. If he does, it’s off to the couch he goes to sleep that night.

But in today’s fast-paced, mochacchino-driven, ADD-riddled world, where every second counts, I’m surprised everyone isn’t more forgetful. In fact, I’d almost encourage it. Life without IM, cell phones, MySpace and OnStar? Are you kidding me? Could anyone survive more than a day? We’re too busy, too accessible and innundated with so much meaningless crap every single day, it’s not too hard to see how we can be so forgetful, men and women alike.

So cut your guy some slack. Chances are, like the rest of us, he’s got a lot on his plate, and didn’t mean any harm in forgetting whatever the heck it was he forgot. Of course, there is that small chance that he actually is a huge jerk, in which case you should delete all of his contact information from your Smartphone immediately.

In short, try dropping subtle hints well ahead of time, if you want to remind someone of a special date, or something that “needs” to be done. Be nice. It’s that whole “catch more flies with honey than vinegar” thing. Although, I have no idea what you’d wanna do with all of those flies. They’re nasty little pests, and can carry disease. Now, what were we talking about again?

Have a Question for Pete? Send him an e-mail at pscalia@cincychic.com.

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1. A man who sulks. While boyish aspects are refreshing at times, it is important to remember pouting of any sort is the thin veneer of a scared, sad little child with possible mother issues. This, in turn, often leaves you – the fabulous and beautiful love of his life – to become his mother figure, ironing socks and starching his underwear. If that's not your style, it's highly suggested that you terminate the relationship. He may whine and attempt to put a guilt trip on you, but hold your ground! There is no possible hope of molding a child-in-a-grown-man's-body into decent husband material.

2. A man with unforgettable charisma. Although we all loved the charming aspects of Peter Pan as a child, keep in mind that in the end, both Wendy and Tinkerbell were left with a witty, yet hopelessly egotistical male, that relied purely on his charm, talent and good looks to get by. While a charming man’s intentions may be good, he has become that unreachable and charismatic for a reason. This man is often put on a pedestal by women, simply because he seems unattainable due to the ever-revolving female posse at his disposal. The operative word here is "disposal," which is exactly what women are to this man. While he may be entertaining and make you laugh, keep Peter Pan at arms length. Or a few arms just to be safe.

3. An Alcoholic. I, myself, have enjoyed a few too many drinks in one sitting. A night out with the ladies or boyfriend can often become a pleasantly memorable evening. Unfortunately, people, or men in this case, are not always what they seem. Ladies, it is important to keep your eyes open wide for several red flags:

  • Does one eye get increasingly smaller as the night progresses? This is a telltale sign of either a drunk or an alcohol induced lazy eye… either way, you don't want to enter those traits in your family's gene pool.
  • Does he have that alcohol-coming-out-of-his-pores smell? Warning ladies, that scent is called "Eau de Run Away Quickly!"
  • After a few drinks, does he suddenly feel he embodies all the physical qualities of a UFC fighter? This usually means he is a fighting drunk. Not good for you or anyone else in that bar. If you don't want to spend the rest of your weekends breaking up fights and nursing wounds, exit the relationship pronto.


4. The jealous man. There is not a woman alive that wants to be seen as unattractive or undesirable by her significant other. Unfortunately, there can be a fine line between healthy adoration and unhealthy possessiveness. If he is constantly calling you on girls night, pestering your friends about the details of events at which he was not present or expecting to know your every move when you're not together, it is time to cut him loose. Trust does take time to build and grow, but excessive jealously usually is a result of one of two things: 1) insecurity or 2) him, knowing he's inclined to misbehave when he is out on the town without you, figuring you're doing the same.

5. The demeaning man. Not all of us are capable of bringing a crowd to tears of laughter like Woody Allen, yet it is important for a relationship to take joy in the other person. Nobody wants to be with someone with the personality of a bathroom tile. Life and relationships are hard, and humor helps make it through the trying times. If a boyfriend acts like your jokes or witty perspective on life is his cross to bear, then you may be on a sinking ship. Never allow anyone to undermine your intelligence or your sense of humor. These are qualities that will carry you through life. If he thinks you are lacking in that department, then promptly open the front door and announce that he is more than welcome to find someone he feels is more entertaining.
 

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Cincy Chic: Are you a Cincinnati native?
Morri McDowell: I am originally from Maysville, Kentucky. I attended college at Morehead State University then moved to Cincinnati upon graduation in 2002.

Cincy Chic: How did you get started with Zipscene?
McDowell: I was first introduced to Zipscene as marketing director of the Exchange nightclub. I was shown how I could use Zipscene to promote all of our events at the club. Immediately, I saw the benefits of utilizing the services the Web site provided to entertainment venues, as well as consumers.

Sameer Mungur, one of the founders, would often come into the club and we would discuss Zipscene. He would ask for my feedback and suggestions. I saw so much potential with Zipscene that I approached Sameer with the idea of working for the company. A couple months later, in March of '06, they called and ask me to join the team! Today, I am Zipscene's Marketing and Sales Manager.


Cincy Chic: Did you think it was going to be as successful as it is today?
McDowell: Yes. From using the product as a client, I realized how the site could easily benefit venues as well as consumers.

As a venue, you can access your own Zipscene business account where you can create/edit your business profile, post events, post photo albums, create special offers and invite customers. Venues gain exposure to thousands of consumers by simply being listed on the site and through the weekly email we send out on Wednesdays.

As a consumer, you can become a Zipscene member for free! Members receive a membership card in the mail that entitles them to hundreds of discounts and special offers at venues all over the city. You can also customize your own calendar and weekly email with events from your favorite venues. A popular feature of Zipscene is the social networking tools. You can invite friends, post pictures, send messages and forward cool events and venues to your friends. You can basically plan your entire social calendar from Zipscene!

Cincy Chic: What’s the best thing about your job?
McDowell: I love my job! I get to meet tons of interesting people at the different venues I work with, as well as the many events I attend.

I look forward to going to work each day and that is in large part due to the people I work with. We are very small at the moment, but have a brilliant group of designers and developers. I am always blown away at what the team is able to accomplish in such a small amount of time.

Cincy Chic: What do you have to say about the power of networking and online information?
McDowell: The power of social networking is limitless. The Internet connects millions of people each day.

It is convenient for people to use the Internet to find entertainment information because most people are in front of a computer at some point in the day. The technology savvy demographic turn to the Internet on a daily basis, making print and other traditional forms of media less popular.

Cincy Chic: What would you say to other women wanting to be more connected in Cincy?
McDowell: First and foremost, I would say to check out www.zipscene.com! Every event and venue in the city are all right there in one Web site!

Secondly, I would say to not be afraid to break out of the mold and try something new. There are so many great events in this city that people don’t even know about or take advantage of. This is the whole purpose for Zipscene’s creation. People in Cincinnati like to complain about how there is nothing to do, when actually there are tons of great events. Whether you enjoy the arts, theatre, sports, live music, YP events, etc., Cincinnati has something to offer for everyone.

Cincy Chic: What’s on Zipscene’s horizon?
McDowell: Our main focus is to continue to shed light on all of the great events in Cincinnati while also increasing awareness for the Web site.

Cincy Chic: What about you… what do you do in your spare time?
McDowell: I am very fortunate to get to go to so many great events, they keep me very busy! When I am not busy with Zipscene, I am normally spending time with my dog, Willie. He is a 120 lb. Golden Retriever and requires much of my attention. We love to go to the park, to dog parks, hiking, etc.

Much of my spare time is also spent hanging out with my twin sister, Lorri, and my great group of girlfriends. I am very blessed to have such great people in my life!

My family is also a huge part of my life. My hometown is just an hour away so I often find time to go home and spend some quality time with the fam! I also love to spend time with my boyfriend. We love doing dinner and a movie and watching American Idol together.

Cincy Chic: What’s a little known fact about yourself?
McDowell: As I mentioned, I have a twin sister. A little known fact about me is that my mother didn’t even know she was having twins until she was in the delivery room. As the younger twin, I was the surprise! The story goes that my Dad almost passed out when he heard the news.

Cincy Chic: What’s your scene of choice? (favorite bar, venue, park, home, etc.)
McDowell: The answer to this question for me is: ALL OF THE ABOVE! My favorite bars are: Mt. Adams Pavilion, all of the spots at Newport on the Levee, McFaddens, the Stand plus many more. I am always up for trying new places!

My favorite parks are Ault Park and Eden Park. I also love to take my dog to the many dog parks in the city. With that said, I thoroughly enjoy just hanging at home. The nights that I don’t have something going on, I try to relax as much as possible.

Cincy Chic: What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far?
McDowell: Getting a full academic scholarship to college. I feel very fortunate not to have tons of college loans to pay back.

Cincy Chic: Who is your biggest inspiration?
McDowell: Definitely my Mom and Dad. They are the hardest working people I know. My Mom has two full time jobs. Along with being a first grade teacher, she and my aunt also started their own successful company. It is called McDowell Farms Salsa. They hand-make the freshest salsa around. It’s made from Kentucky-grown produce. If you like salsa, you should try theirs! Sorry, shameless plug here: you can pick it up at Rempke Markets and The Party Source or you can check out their Web site at www.mcdowellfarmssalsa.com.

My Dad is a retired high school principal. However, he didn’t stay retired long. He works as a teacher at Live Oaks and also has over 300 acres of land in Germantown, Kentucky that he farms.

My parents have always been extremely supportive of my decisions. One of the most important things they have taught me is the value of hard work!

Cincy Chic: Any other words for Cincinnati women?
McDowell: Don’t be afraid to venture out of your comfort zone. This city has a lot to offer; we should all take advantage of it!

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"Reign Over Me"
Adam Sandler, Don Cheadle, Jada Pinkett Smith, Liv Tyler, Saffron Burrows

"Reign Over Me" is a film that truly gives you a sense of one man’s unrelenting grief after loosing his wife and daughters in the events of 9/11. Adam Sandler plays Charlie Fineman, a widower in New York City who is frozen in a vacuum of time. Charlie literally loses himself when his family dies in the 9/11 attacks.

Compensation payouts to the surviving family members allow Charlie to exist in a self imposed insular world all his own. He is not a street monger, yet he certainly could be mistaken for one. He does not engage in conversation with other people. He refuses to accept any commiseration or comfort from his in-laws who are likewise devastated by the loss of their daughter and granddaughters.

This movie is a drama. It would be a stretch to even call this a dramedy. Although the script is smart and at times reflects the humor shared by two guy friends, it remains a movie that places Adam Sandler amongst a cast of credible, serious actors. Don Cheadle plays Alan Johnson, a fellow dentist and former college roommate of Charlie’s. Alan Johnson is instrumental in encouraging Charlie to take control of his life, manages to learn the same lesson for himself.

Jada Pinkett Smith gives a winning performance as Alan’s patient wife, waiting for him to confront his insecurities and move on. Liv Tyler has a small supporting role as a therapist who befriends Cheadle’s character and counsels a bereft Saffron Burrows, playing a jilted wife.

Fans expecting a comic performance from Adam Sandler will be disappointed. Fans recognizing Sandler’s growth and versatility as an actor will certainly appreciate this performance. Reign Over Me is a film definitely worth your time. 

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"Let the guys have their poker night," says Pure Romance CEO and founder Patty Brisben. "This month, get together with the girls and have your own party."040207social.jpg

 

There's something to be said about a girls' night in. We tend to get a little goofier, laugh a little louder, speak more freely and all of these things allow us to reconnect with one another. "Pure Romance parties are the the number one reason for a girls night in," explains Pure Romance consultant, Allison Reis, "It gives women a chance to have fun with their girlfriends and they get to talk sex in the privacy of their own homes and they don't get embarrassed because there are no men allowed at the parties."

Pure Romance parties are perfect for any occasion. You can throw a Pure Romance party for a variety of events. You can choose themes, such as “Bachelorette Bash,” “Suddenly Single,” “Office Party,” “Spa Party,” “Birthday Bash,” seasonal themed parties, as well as a “Just Because” party.

During your party, your Pure Romance consultant will show you a variety of products that Brisben designed to enrich relationships. "Pure Romance has created a fun, yet educationally enriched environment where women can feel safe to explore all the things your mother never told you about sex and romance," says Brisben.

"The products are fun and they actually do what they claim to do," explains Reis. "They are great for all women. And if you are pregnant, they will not harm you in any way."

Your consultant will show you products from a variety of categories. The "Playful Beginnings" line consists of products that were developed to heighten foreplay. The "Memorable Moments" line is where you will find lubricants and heighteners that help create a safe and comfortable level of intimacy. The "Romantic Interludes" line of products are designed to provide a wide variety of sensual experiences and "Bedroom Accessories" are exactly what they sound like.

The Pure Romance massage and bath aids are products designed to promote relaxation as well as increase arousal. The spa products are created for advanced body renewal. Pure Romance offers all of these relationship-enriching products, as well as lingerie and a variety of novelty items, so everyone can find something that defines their kind of “fun.” And adding a little more fun to this fun party equation, you’re eligible to win trips, cash and prizes as a Pure Romance hostess.

There are a few other companies that offer in-home fun parties, such as Fantasia, so do your homework before you decide. Whichever company you decide to go with, go to their Web site to learn more about them, and Google the company’s name for user reviews. You can even ask the company for a hostess reference, so you can talk to someone who’s hosted one of their parties before. You’ll want to make sure they’re safe and trustworthy, because after all, you are inviting a stranger with sex toys into your home, You don’t want a serial killer stranger coming into your home armed with sex toys. That would not be “fun.”

Once you find the company of choice, call all of your girlfriends, set up a date and prepare to have a loud, daring, uninhibited experience. "My friends have all told me that they have a blast at my parties," says Reis. "It's just all around good fun for the girls!"

 

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"Breach"
Chris Cooper, Ryan Phillippe, Laura Linney

Can a movie that depicts an actual event where the outcome is known, succeed in captivating its audience? Yes, and "Breach" is a movie that does just that.

"Breach" is the telling of an authentic historical account of one of the most damaging espionage story in America’s history. At the center of this story is Robert Hanssen, portrayed brilliantly by Chris Cooper. Hanssen is the real life traitor who sent classified information to the Russians. Cooper has a chameleon like quality in letting the audience read his emotional hues changing as quickly as this story unfolds. At one extreme, he is aloof and stoic, and then he flips a switch to be a playful, adoring grandfather, committed husband and a genius in the world of high tech security information systems. Cooper does this so convincingly that we, as well as his assigned underling, Eric O’Neill, come to be confounded by the discovery of Hanssen’s double life.

Second to Cooper’s performance is that of Ryan Phillippe. Phillippe plays Eric O’Neill, Hanssen’s assistant. He is unaware of Hanssen’s covert actions and the purpose of his own role in working for Hanssen. Eric is a good Catholic boy who is of the straight and narrow path and has his sights set on being an FBI agent. He is committed to the code of the Bureau and will not let anything deter him.

Phillippes’ performance elicits the art of acting in its purest form. There is no doubt that Phillippe, as Eric, has become in awe of his mentor. There is no doubt that Eric is devoted to attaining the commitment and compromised personal life the FBI requires. And in this convincing portrayal it is all the more disconcerting when Eric discovers the truth about Hanssen. Heroes can fall pretty quickly off the pedestal. Traitors don’t deserve the pedestal and attention garnered to them.

Actual footage of John Ashcraft announcing the apprehension of Hanssen drapes this movie in a real time sense of American diplomacy, with its international security at the forefront. Accurate on site scenes filmed in Washington D.C. serves to enhance its authenticity. This movie is intelligent, without graphic violence. The dialogue is clear and exempt of expletives in every other sentence like some movies have the tendency to do.

Added to the fine script and well-crafted retelling of this high profile patriot betrayal, is the interesting actual human twist made by the real life protagonist, Eric O’Neill. Also, a nod should go to Laura Linney for her outstanding performance. She played Eric’s boss and helped spearhead the conviction of the most famous man who chose to breach his country’s loyalty.