• 2012

Year: 2012

“Scottsboro”–The Inexcusable

“Scottsboro: An American Tragedy”  is a 2001 PBS documentary in the American Experience series about the notorious trials of  nine black teenage boys accused of rape in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931. The landmark trial magnified rampant racism, denial of a fair trial, and the continued North-South animosity that existed almost 70 years after the Civil War had ended.  The miscarriage of justice on the part of several judges, jurors, and witnesses belies the assumption that justice will prevail in the face of truth and obviously false testimony, including the recanting by one of the...

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“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”–For the Elderly and Beautiful

Adapted from a novel, These Foolish Things, by Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a finely nuanced film portraying seven British retirees:  a  widow (Judi Dench) whose late husband drove her into debt, a bigoted nanny/bookkeeper who is resigned to get a discounted hip replacement in India (Maggie Smith), retired judge (Tom Wilkinson) looking for his long lost lover, a sex fiend  bachelor Norman (Ronald Pickup),  a Blanche Dubois-type femme fatale (Celia Imrie), and a married couple who do not want to live in reduced circumstances in “senior living” (Bill Nighy and...

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“The Borgias”–Bonfire of the Vanities

In the Season 2 finale of “The Borgias”, there is adultery happily engaged in by the beautiful Lucrezia, the fratricide of the favorite son of Pope Alexander VI (Jeremy Irons), the torture and death of the charismatic but delusional Savonarola (who spearheaded the original bonfire of the vanities), and the successful poisoning of the pope by his archrival’s deputy. The ecclesiastical greed and hypocrisy in the Catholic Church drives the adrenaline of the Borgia family, an Italian/Spanish dynasty, to continue the campaign of corruption and murder in order to retain their position...

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“Memory of a Killer”–Losing One’s Mind

Memory of a Killer  (De Zaak Alzheimer) is a 2003 film that defies description– about an elderly hired assassin, Angelo Ledda (the wonderful Belgian actor Jan Decleir), who is recruited for one last assignment: to kill a twelve-year-old girl.  The story moves in almost black-and-white footage through the sunless streets of Antwerp where whores, wives suffering from their husbands’ infidelities, slutty widows and worn out city detectives share the territory of corruption, heartlessness, and the murderous misuse of power. Two cops (Verstuyft and Vincke) are assigned to random murders...

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“12”– Revisiting “12 Angry Men”

Academy Award nominee for best foreign film in 2008, “12″ is a Russian interpretation of “12 Angry Men” (1957) starring Henry Fonda and Lee Cobb. If “Twelve Angry Men” argued for the right to a fair trial in the time of McCarthyism, “12” dramatizes anti-Semitism, anti-immigration, class warfare, and hatred for Chechens. The majority of the jurors are grim middle-aged men who carry the scars of the turbulent history of the Soviet Union. In Moscow, twelve jurors weigh the fate of a Chechen teenager accused of murdering his stepfather, who was a...

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“Bernie”– A Texas Tale

This indie film defies easy categorization because it is sometimes comedic, often sad particularly with regard to the old and lonely, and always quirky. Based loosely on a true story, which took place in a Texas hamlet called Carthage, the small-community culture is faithfully and mercilessly presented. The writer-director, Richard Linklater (of “Dazed and Confused” fame) zeroes in on ordinary lives in Carthage, particularly of the old.  Filmed in  a quasi-documentary style of “interviews” with actors and local Texans, about the almost-too-good-to-be-true Bernie Tiede, ...

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