December 2, 2012 |
BALANGA, Philippines - The school day at Balanga Elementary on the Bataan Peninsula was winding down, and children poured from the classrooms into the stifling afternoon heat. Behind their classrooms, they played around the statutes of grim-faced U.S. and Japanese officers. This improbably placed monument memorializes the surrender of thousands of U.S. and Filipino troops in the spring of 1942. By giving up, Gen. Edward King, commander of the forces on Bataan and one of the men depicted here, hoped his starving, sick troops would be spared further agony.
November 15, 2012 |
The documentary "The King" is an engaging character study of Darko Kralj, a world champion shot-putter who lost a leg in 1991 while serving in the Croatian War of Independence. Producer-director Dejan Acimovic tells Kralj's inspiring story in a series of loosely organized snapshots that add up to a strong, absorbing whole. Kralj, near death when his left leg had to be amputated above the knee, is shown here, two decades later, enjoying a happy, productive life as a devoted family man and sportsman.
November 15, 2012 |
"The Optimists" is a simple film, as much family memoir as documentary. But the story it tells is as significant as it is little known: how the people of Bulgaria rose up in 1943 and saved the country's Jews from deportation to the death camps of World War II. Completed several years ago, "The Optimists" (named after a jazz band of the period with Jewish members) is playing in Los Angeles now because of an exhibition at UCLA's Hillel Center titled "Bulgaria and the Holocaust: The Fragility of Goodness.
October 18, 2012 |
The shocker about "The Sessions," starring Helen Hunt and John Hawkes, is not the full-frontal nudity, or its provocative story of a sex surrogate who helps a 38-year-old in an iron lung lose his virginity. It's not even the priest's blessing allowing the out-of-wedlock sex acts. Rather, it's the humanistic way in which "The Sessions" deals with what sex at its best can be - emotional, spiritual, physical, pleasurable, soul-satisfying, life-affirming. In a country that embraces cinematic violence with such ease but blushingly prefers to keep sex in the shadows or under the sheets, the grown-up approach of "The Sessions" is rare.
October 16, 2012
Re "Girl's shooting rallies her cause," Oct. 14 Malala Yousafzai's story of courage and determination will always be as vivid in my mind as the picture taken in 1972 of the burned, naked little Vietnamese girl, Phan Thi Kim Phuc, fleeing her village after a napalm attack. When Kim Phuc reached safety, she asked for water; Malala, a 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot by a Taliban gunman, is asking for the right for girls to receive an education. Are these requests unreasonable?
September 16, 2012 |
BEIRUT - Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday called on Christians and Muslims to forge a common front against warfare, even as battles raged in neighboring Syria and the new U.N. peace envoy to that country conceded that the situation there was deteriorating. "It is time for Muslims and Christians to come together so as to put an end to violence and war," Benedict, 85, told an enthusiastic youth gathering on the second day of his three-day visit to Lebanon. The pontiff spoke directly to young Syrians who were in attendance, singling them out for praise.
September 13, 2012 |
The patriot-packaged "Last Ounce of Courage" has been made with the conviction of true zealots, but also the competence of amateurs. What starts as the forced but sincere tale of a small-town mayor (Marshall Teague) barely coping with his son's death in combat segues into the oddest of issue movies: a pitched harangue about that yearly yuletide culture-war controversy that Fox News likes to call "the war on Christmas. " Teague's eyes fairly burn with despair at the thought of Christmas decorations outlawed, a student with a Bible chastised by the principal and "Happy Holidays" replacing "Merry Christmas.
September 6, 2012 |
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It was an important moment in Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, and it involved a betrayal of sorts: The Kennedys, America's most storied political dynasty, turned their backs on their longtime alliance with the America's other political dynasty, the Clintons, and endorsed the young U.S. senator from Illinois. The charge was led by Caroline Kennedy, who early on, announced her support in the pages of the New York Times, in an essay called “A President Like My Father.” On Thursday evening, Kennedy, 54, reprised that theme at the Democratic National Convention, drawing a straight line between Obama, the unfinished work of her father, John F. Kennedy, and the lifelong goals of her uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts.
August 26, 2012
The classroom and the home aren't the only places where young people learn lessons about growing up: For many, those lessons happen on the field or court. This fall, many of the most notable sports titles are from bestselling authors and star athletes. STAT: Double Team By Amar'e Stoudemire and Tim Jessell Scholastic, 144 pp.: $5.99, for ages 8 and up In the second book based on NBA star Amar'e Stoudemire's youth, 11-year-old Amar'e plays on a basketball team with his best friends but is soon courted by more elite players, making him question whether basketball or true friendship is more important.
August 19, 2012 |
The Distance Between Us A Memoir Reyna Grande Atria: 325 pp., $25 Reyna Grande's umbilical cord is buried under the ground of her grandmother's home in Iguala, Mexico. We learn this fact early in Grande's unforgettable new memoir, "The Distance Between Us. " Grande is a girl of about 6 when her big sister shows her the spot. Their mother, the woman once linked to Reyna by that cord, has set off for the U.S. to join their father, leaving three kids behind with their severe and cruel grandmother.