It’s almost easy for modern audiences to forget just how tumultuous the 1960s were. In 1963, Civil Rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in the driveway of his own home. Months later, a bomb planted in Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church killed four young girls. That November, the President of the United States was assassinated in front of hundreds of people while driving through Dallas. 

Fast forward to February 1965, when Malcolm X was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom. One month later, peaceful protesters marching for voting rights were violently attacked on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on “Blood Sunday.” In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated just one month apart. 

All the while, Vietnam raged, the body count climbing on both sides, scarring both the Southeast Asian landscape and the men who returned home broken in both mind and body. These are just some of the “highlights.” 

There was a revolution in the streets and a revolution in the sheets. A generation disenchanted by the American Dream, eschewed “traditional” values, dabbled in drugs, grew out their hair, and espoused free love ideals. But the advent of television meant being unable to feign ignorance at the bodies piling up overseas and in segregated cities at home. And so, turn on, tune in, drop out.  

But underneath it all, violence always simmered. In 1969, it finally boiled over.  

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charlie says review

In the 50 years since the Manson Family committed the brutal murders that shook the nation, the cult and its infamous leader Charles Manson has never really left the public consciousness. And this year, the number of movies attempting to decrypt the notorious Manson and his all-consuming influence has ramped up, with everything from shockingly offensive horror films to star-studded Quentin Tarantino dramas taking on the cult leader. But what about the women who were under Manson’s thrall?

Charlie Says attempts to answer that question, examining the horrific Manson Family murders through the perspective of three of Manson’s most devout followers: Leslie Van Houten (Hannah Murray), Susan Atkins (Marianne Rendón), and Patricia Krenwinkel (Sosie Bacon). But despite the three women bringing this story to life from behind the camera — American Psycho‘s Mary Harron helms while frequent Harron collaborator Guinevere Turner wrote the script, and Dana Guerin produced — the film’s purported female gaze feels partially obscured.

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Charlie Says trailer

Charles Manson is having an unexpectedly busy year on the big screen. In addition to The Haunting of Sharon Tate and Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, the infamous cult leader is also featured in Charlie Says. Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith plays Manson, but this film from American Psycho director Mary Harron isn’t about him. It’s about the Manson Girls – star-struck followers willing to kill because Manson told them to. Watch the Charlie Says trailer below.

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