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Child's Pose

It’s hard to fix just when the American celebration and glorification of motherhood began to subside, but throughout the middle third of the last century, the institution was increasingly subject to criticism and blame. Before then, there was singer Al Jolsen, in blackface, with his syrupy crooning of “Mammy.” Less outrageously, in the mid-1930s movie audiences could witness the unbearable poignance of Barbara Stanwyck as Stella Dallas standing in the rain and peering through a window at the wedding of the daughter she nobly gave up to a rich lover and his wife. Until a cop tells her to move on.

The Lunchbox

One of the things I find enormously satisfying about foreign movies is the details they provide, often incidental to the story, about daily life in other parts of the world. Take this little comedy-drama, set in the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay) but nothing like the all-singing, all-dancing, all-night Bollywood spectacles that may come to mind when you think of Indian cinema.

Scope of Practice

Journalist Kevin Cook’s recent book, Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America, raised some hackles for debunking the popular understanding of that gruesome murder 50 years ago in which 38 neighbors supposedly ignored the screams for help of a woman as she was raped and stabbed to death. But Cook misses the point. The story captured the world’s attention, and lives on in our minds, because it made us all think what we would have done in that situation: Like it or not, it forced a lot of people to consider that they might be one of those people who “didn’t want to get involved.”



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