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Living–A Life Worth Remembering

Inspired by the Japanese cinematic masterpiece “Ikiru” (“to live”)  by Akira Kurosawa,  Living is set in a post-war 1950s London office, the Department of Public Works, responsible for issuing building permits. In a stultifying, paper-shuffling bureaucratic agency, septuagenarian Williams (Bill Nighy in his 2023 Academy Award nominated role) manages a crowded office crammed with  young civil servants. They are terrified of the old geezer,  whom they have nicknamed “Zombie” for his lack of apparent emotion and his robotic demand for propriety at all times.  Williams...

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Stranger (Season 1)–Let the sleuthing begin

Stranger is a Korean crime thriller in two seasons (2017-2020) and  was included  on the New York Times 2017 list of Best TV Shows.  Prosecutor Hwang Si-mok (Cho Seung-woo) underwent surgery as a child removing part of his cerebral cortex so that he would not suffer from the excruciating pain of hearing high-frequency sounds.  However, the postoperative result was an extreme absence of empathy, a lack of social skills similar to autism spectrum disorder and its associated lack of communication, difficulty in expressing emotion through facial expressions, and lack...

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Elvis–Rocket Man of the 60’s?

In Baz Luhrmann’s Academy-award nominated 2022 biopic of Elvis Presley (an extraordinary performance by newcomer Austin Butler), we see the journey back in time to the  1940’s through 70’s with historically accurate fashions, scenes, and most of all, politics through the civil rights movement.  Elvis’s life is told from the perspective of his manager Colonel Tom Parker (played solidly by Tom Hanks). Portraying the King is not an easy road to travel.  The memories and hagiography of perhaps the first white rock star before the advent of the Beatles who stole much of Elvis’s...

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All Quiet on the Western Front–The Ugliness of War

All Quiet on the Western Front, an October 2022 Netflix release, is Germany’s submission for this year’s Academy Award. Based upon the 1929 antiwar novel by Erich Maria Remarque, we see a profound drama about idealistic teenage boys volunteering to join the Imperial German Army during the closing year (1917) of the First World War. Seventeen-year-old Paul Bäumer (the baby-faced Felix Kammerer in his first cinematic role) is excited about enlisting with his classmates Albert Kropp, Franz Müller, and Ludwig Behm. The glimmer and shiny aspect of battle dims as he and his friends...

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Inside Man–Incarceration or Cancellation?

A dramatic four-episode mini-series by Steven Moffat (Doctor Who creator), Inside Man was released on Netflix October 31. There are two parallel plots:  Former law professor Jefferson Grieff (Stanley Tucci) is on death row for strangling and beheading his wife.  A brilliant Hannibal Lecter-style genius for solving cold cases, he waits execution.  The second plot involves an English vicar Harry Watling (David Tennant who played Doctor Who) and his wife Mary (Lindsey Marshal). The vicar reluctantly accepts a flash drive from the deeply disturbed verger (vicar’s attendant) who wants...

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My Sister’s Keeper—Who Gets to Live?

My Sister’s Keeper,  a 2009 film based on the Jodi Picoult novel of the same name, and directed by Nick Cassavetes, is a  family saga. The film explores the harrowing decision involving a minor’s forced organ donation and the right to medical emancipation.  My Sister’s Keeper is the painful “Sophie’s Choice” of asking to choose just one of your treasured children’s lives.  What is a parent willing to do to save the life of a child with a bleak, painful future, and imminent death around the corner? What about conceiving in vitro  a “designer child” with...

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