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Pacific Rim

There was a time when I would have considered Pacific Rim the greatest movie ever made.

Fill the Void

An increasingly and bitterly contested area of life in Israel, one largely overlooked by the country’s sympathizers in the US, Jew and Gentile both, is the place and privileges of the so-called ultra-Orthodox. Since shortly after Israel’s founding, this ever-larger minority has been mostly exempted from the expectations and duties of other citizens, including military service. They are subsidized by the public so that the men may devote themselves to Talmudic studies, and they seek to curtail practices in the larger society they disapprove of and institute ones they deem necessary, like gender-segregated public transportation.

Dirty Wars

Jeremy Scahill really can’t be faulted if his documentary about some of the more alarming misuses of American power has been somewhat superseded in the public mind by events since his movie was conceived and completed. Scahill’s reporting and warnings are still crucially valid, but they may seem part of a bigger picture after Edward Snowden’s recent disclosure of the immense government electronic surveillance program capturing communications of foreigners and American alike. That was a game and consciousness changer, although probably not as much as it should have been. There’s just too much competition for the public’s attention to the American government’s secret military and intelligence overreaching. But in Dirty Wars Scahill reports on a more direct, and certainly more violent program with a dubious legal and moral basis.

Unfinished Song

Is there a law that demands one major release per summer about characters struggling with aging, or is that all that Hollywood thinks there’s a market for? Last year it was The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which had too many characters representing too many scattered approaches to have much impact. This year it’s this more low-key effort, originally titled Song for Marion when it closed the last Toronto Film Festival.

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