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February 20, 2014 | By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
There are two distinct images that open "Omar. " One is a face; one is a wall. Both are as resilient as resistant - defining elements and powerful metaphors for all that connects and divides us in Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad's unnerving new drama. The film first drew attention during last May's Cannes Film Festival where it was the Un Certain Regard jury winner. Now it is in a tight race for the foreign-language Oscar. BEST MOVIES OF 2013: Turan  |  Sharkey  |  Olsen The face is Omar's, portrayed by newcomer Adam Bakri, an excellent find for the filmmaker who relies on him to carry the emotional weight of this difficult movie.
February 3, 2014 | By Paul Whitefield
Just sitting at my desk here Monday, sipping a Coke and humming “America the Beautiful.” Am I an un-American subversive commie/pinko or what? It turns out that the ads were the only things worth watching during Sunday's Super Bowl. (Unless you were a Seahawks fan, and seriously, how many of those can there really be?) So of course the water-cooler chat Monday wasn't over a blown call or a thrilling finish but over a Coca-Cola commercial. Coke apparently thought a spot featuring a multilingual rendition of  “America the Beautiful” would be, well, beautiful.
January 30, 2014 | By Glenn Whipp
"Searching for Sugar Man," the absorbing investigation into the whereabouts of an elusive '70s singer-songwriter, won the Academy Award for feature documentary last year. It was the first time that the entire body of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences could vote on the category. In previous years, academy members had to attend special screenings of all five nominated documentaries, signing in at the theater in order to prove they were present. Did the feel-good "Sugar Man" win because it was the best documentary - or because it was the most publicized and thus the movie that the majority of academy members saw?
January 29, 2014 | By James Barragan
Everyone in metropolitan Detroit knows who the Chaldeans are. They came to the Motor City in droves during the 1920s, lured by high wages at Henry Ford's automobile plants. Since then, they have grown to a population of more than 120,000 in Detroit - the largest in any area outside their native Iraq - and hold substantial clout in the area's business and political circles. Now, two competing organizations want everyone in California to know the ethnic group, which is united by its Christian faith, Aramaic language and entrepreneurial zeal.
January 24, 2014 | By Rebecca Keegan, A correction has been added to this post, as indicated below.
The first time Rick Dempsey heard Idina Menzel sing "Let it Go," the ice queen empowerment anthem in the Walt Disney Animation movie "Frozen," he knew he had a serious problem on his hands. "How are we going to do that in 41 languages?" said Dempsey, senior vice president of creative for Disney Character Voices International. It's Dempsey's job to internationalize Disney films -- matching voice actors in foreign territories to performances in the English-language version of a movie.
January 17, 2014 | By Mark Olsen
In some ways, nothing speaks to the global impact of the Academy Awards quite like the international response to the nominations for best foreign language film. The five nominees in the category are Belgium's “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Cambodia's “The Missing Picture,” Denmark's “The Hunt,” Italy's “The Great Beauty” and the Palestinian film “Omar.” The final five were selected from a shortlist of nine films that had been whittled down from 76 submissions.
January 16, 2014 | By Inkoo Kang
To what extent can a film endorse an act it refuses to show? That's the question prompted by Arvin Chen's gay dramedy "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?," which advocates closeted homosexuals to come out but is so eye-loweringly demure about same-sex desire it may as well have been made under the Hays Code. Two men kiss just once in "Tomorrow. " In a fantasy sequence, married optometrist Weichung (Richie Ren) locks lips with flight attendant Thomas (Wong Ka-Lok). It's a wonderfully wistful scene - a stolen moment of impulsive affection witnessed only by dozens of empty eyeglasses - but it's marred by the fact that their smooch is about as passionate as a little girl kissing her teddy bear good night.
January 12, 2014 | Ken Bensinger
For decades, finding Spanish-language books in the U.S. was like tilting at windmills. Booksellers stocked few titles in the language of Cervantes, and those they carried came at a hefty premium. A paperback copy of "Don Quijote" in the original Spanish could easily cost triple the price of a deluxe hard-bound translation in English -- if it could be found at all. Retailers blamed the expense of importing books printed in Spain and Latin America. And U.S. publishers lost faith in the market after botched attempts to translate English-language bestsellers produced error-ridden Spanish versions that sold poorly.
January 7, 2014 | By Meg James
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has joined Spanish-language broadcaster Estrella TV as a senior advisor to help the 4-year-old television network gain traction. The network, based in Burbank, is banking on Villaraigosa to give it greater visibility and pull in additional advertising dollars to better compete with established giants, including Univision Communications and NBCUniversal's Telemundo. Estrella TV becomes the latest employer of Villaraigosa since he departed City Hall last summer.
January 7, 2014 | By Elaine Woo
Actress Carmen Zapata, who responded to the dearth of challenging roles for Latinos by launching a bilingual theater company in Los Angeles four decades ago, died Sunday at her Van Nuys home. She was 86. The veteran of TV, stage and film, whose extensive credits include appearances on prime-time hits like "Trapper John, M.D" and "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," had heart problems, said Lina Montalvo, managing director of the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts . In 1973, Zapata co-founded the foundation with director Margarita Galban to bring the Hispanic experience to the stage through productions of Spanish-language classics, including works by Federico Garcia Lorca, and contemporary plays by Latin American writers.
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