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May 28, 2013 | By Susan King
Santa Monica's Edgemar Center for the Arts is the host of the first Cinema at the Edge Independent Film Festival, which kicks off Thursday and continues through Sunday. “We're delighted to give independent filmmakers an opportunity to screen their films in a community setting on the Westside,” artistic director and festival founder Michelle Danner said in a statement. The festival will present screenings, parties and artists' programs that celebrate indie film. Movies competing in the narrative feature, documentary and short film categories will be eligible for the Jury and Audience Awards.
April 16, 2013 | By Raja Abdulrahim, Los Angeles Times
ANTAKYA, Turkey - In newly printed textbooks at dozens of Syrian refugee schools, a small piece of Middle East geography has been amended. Seventy-five years ago, Turkey annexed the northern Syrian territory of Hatay against the will of Syria, but maps in Syrian schoolbooks during the lengthy reign of the Assad family have continued to include Hatay inside Syria's borders. The maps in the new schoolbooks show Hatay in Turkey, one of a number of political changes made by the Syrian opposition group that published the books.
April 9, 2013 | By Michael McGough
Are Roman Catholics, evangelical Christians and “ultra-Orthodox” Jews religious extremists comparable to the Ku Klux Klan and Al Qaeda? Yes, according to a PowerPoint slide that was apparently used by the U.S. Army Reserve in a training program. The briefing materials, which seem to have been discarded a year ago, have prompted complaints by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services and the conservative Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. The slide show is, at best, sloppy and simplistic.
April 1, 2013 | By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
Anyone who dismisses television viewing as a passive activity clearly hasn't watched "Game of Thrones. " HBO's crown jewel requires the sort of OCD focus and possibly the same picture-plastered, color-coded white board that Carrie Mathison used to track down Abu Nazir in Showtime's "Homeland. " As with the George R.R. Martin series from whence it sprung, "Game of Thrones" has redefined "sprawling epic. " And as Season 3 opens, the sprawl factor is perilously high, with the multitudinous characters - seven families, people, from seven kingdoms - scattered all over Westeros, their story lines progressing in an ever-climbing wall of overlapping layers, a citadel of narrative.
March 21, 2013 | By Mark Olsen
In "Bob's New Suit," a family deals with a series of intersecting dramas. Bob and Jenny (Hunter S. Bodine and Hayley DuMond) decide to get married just as Bob's sister Stephanie (Shay Astar) announces she is transitioning from female to male and will now go by Steve. Their parents, Polly and Buster (Suzi Bodine and John Bennett Perry), struggle to take it all in as Buster deals with escalating health issues. Though Alan Howard, a former studio executive and film critic in his debut as a writer-director, captures the way in which personal and family dramas intersect so there is not one episode or incident that prevails in making life chaotic, he also can't stop himself from piling problems one on top of another like a late-night sandwich gone out of control.
March 14, 2013 | By Gary Goldstein
A kind of crash course in 50-plus years of environmentalism, the documentary "A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet," adapted from the book by Philip Shabecoff, proves a worthy reminder of how much has been done to help heal our planet's ecological woes as well as how much remains to be achieved. REVIEW: More movie reviews from the Times Writer-director Mark Kitchell ("Berkeley in the Sixties") efficiently divides the film into five acts - "Conservation," "Pollution," "Alternatives," "Going Global" and "Climate Change" - narrated, respectively, by Robert Redford, Ashley Judd, Van Jones, Isabel Allende and Meryl Streep.
March 7, 2013 | By Glenn Whipp
"Girl Rising" mixes documentary and narrative filmmaking to show how education lifted nine girls out of poverty and cruel circumstances. The young women's stories, narrated by the likes of Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Anne Hathaway, stand as sober reminders of the kind of unforgiving obstacles faced by girls in developing countries and the positive, ripple effects that learning can bring. Director Richard E. Robbins, Oscar-nominated for his 2007 documentary "Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience," divides his new film into nine portrait segments, set apart by Liam Neeson's narration about the hard truths girls must confront to go to school - or simply show that they matter - in many nations.
February 21, 2013 | By Gary Goldstein
The documentary "Stuck" makes a cogent push for adopting needy children from Third World countries but presents such a bleak picture of the maze-like adoption process it may discourage more viewers than it inspires. That's not to say the film, directed and co-shot by Thaddaeus Scheel and narrated by Mariska Hargitay, isn't an involving and moving portrait of devoted parents and their rescued children. But somehow, a seeming lack of conclusive answers or solutions to a complex global problem makes "Stuck" feel more like a work in progress than a completely baked depiction.
February 17, 2013 | By Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times Television Critic
On networks with historical bents, there is always a fair amount of Lincoln-mania this time of year - PBS' "American Experience" just repeated its excellent miniseries "Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided," - and what with Steven Spielberg's big screen "Lincoln" steadily amassing statuary, it's safe to say, things have reached a fever pitch, putting us well into the counterintuitive stage, i.e., let's have a look at the other guy. "Killing Lincoln,"...
February 14, 2013 | By Oliver Gettell
Nearly 20 years after the death of River Phoenix, the actor's final film, "Dark Blood," screened before an international audience last week at the Berlin International Film Festival. Perhaps the only thing more surprising than the film's tumultuous two-decade journey to completion is the fact that Dutch director George Sluizer, now 80, was able to finish it at all. "Dark Blood," which began production in 1993, survived not only the loss of its leading actor, who died of an accidental drug overdose at age 23 outside a West Hollywood nightclub, but also the near-destruction of the original footage and a life-threatening ailment that struck its director.
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