It is more op-ed than movie. “Lions for Lambs” is a well-meaning attempt to encapsulate and move forward one segment of our current political debates. But it is mostly speeches, not stories.
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The Washington Jewish Film Festival has announced its 2007 schedule from November 29-December 9.
The Washington Jewish Film Festival, presented by the Washington DCJCC’s Morris Cafritz Center for the Arts, seeks to create multiple dialogues about a variety of issues intersecting the Jewish experience through filmic representations created by Jews and non-Jews with a particular emphasis on debunking stereotypes and seeking unexpected stories. This gives the WJFF’s program an international focus, moving whenever possible beyond the traditional centers of Jewish life in the United States, Israel, and Europe.
To promote the preservation of Jewish culture by providing a forum for films with Jewish themes that would not otherwise find a place in the marketplace for public exhibition in the Washington-area: Many of the films we screen only have a life on the Festival circuit and in specialty DVD-release. In an age of major media consolidation the WJFF remains committed to keeping the public square populated by a diversity of narratives.
To encourage innovation and vitality within Jewish culture by highlighting films that place Jewish themes in new contexts or challenge long-held assumptions: The WJFF has been at the forefront of presenting films that reconsider the place of women and homosexuals in the Jewish tradition; that provide a constructive critique of Jewish identity and reconsider major cultural guideposts such as Zionism, the Holocaust and assimilation.
Writer-director Doris Dörrie has made a wonderfully touching and inspiring documentary about zen priest and best-selling cookbook author Edward Espe Brown. It is about food and dignity and touch and mindfulness, sufficiency and abundance, physical, spiritual, and emotional hunger, anger and satisfaction. It is funny and moving and inspiring and even in its own way nourishing. And it has a wonderful score. It is worth seeing just for the scene when Brown recites the poem his mother included in a letter just before she died, about a duck that “reposes in the immediate as if it were infinity — which it is. He has made himself a part of the boundless by easing himself into just where it touches him.”
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Movies that make you cry (or sob or blubber uncontrollably)
Desson Thomson has a wonderful piece in the Washington Post about movies that make us cry, and a list of some examples sent in by readers. The usual suspects are there, from “Dumbo” to “Field of Dreams,” but some surprises, including Adam Sandler’s “Click” (“Never thought I would cry at an Adam Sandler movie — I usually don’t even admit to even going to one.”), “Star Trek: The Search for Spock,” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” I admit to tearing up at the end of that one, too. Some of the other movies that have made me cry: Waterloo Bridge, A Little Princess, Steel Magnolias, the one Thomson refers to as “that Michael Keaton movie” (My Life) and yes, An Affair to Remember.
Be sure to listen to Thomson’s graceful audio commentary on his own list, with such classic choices as “Old Yeller” and “Terms of Endearment.” I enjoyed the quotes from experts, especially Professor Mary Beth Oliver of Penn State, who said that these movies
cause us to contemplate what it is about human life that’s important and meaningful. . . . Those thoughts are associated with a mixture of emotions that can be joyful but also nostalgic and wistful, tender and poignant. Tears aren’t just tears of sadness, they’re tears of searching for the meaning of our fleeting existence.
Just reading those words made me a little damp-eyed. Sorry, I just need a minute here.