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White God

Imagine an "R" rated "Lassie" by way of "Spartacus." That's Kornél Mundruczó's "White God," a brutal but stirring fantasy about street dogs rising up against…

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Get Hard

In this exuberant but ultimately simpleminded comedy, a car wash owner (Kevin Hart) helps a wimpy hedge fund manager (Will Ferrell) get ready for prison…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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My Favorite Roger: Michał Oleszczyk

Roger's review of "The Passion of the Christ"

Why did I choose this piece of writing?

Quite possibly the most divisive film ever made, "The Passion of the Christ" was called everything from a masterpiece to a vile piece of torture porn. And while I don't believe it to be either of those things, I found Roger's review of the movie (he gave it four stars) very compelling. He says outright that "Passion..." is the most violent movie he has ever seen, but the way he ties his feelings about the film to his own beliefs is deeply personal and testifies to his integrity. He both admits to being an agnostic and discusses his experiences as an altar boy. He sees the purpose of the film, yet admits that the R rating is a travesty. He realizes the film will create a controversy, but he refuses to willfully miss the point and instead calls it "a film about an idea". Roger recognized that the film, while incredibly violent, wasn't in fact about the spectacle of violence, but about the idea that our suffering can have a meaning only if we decide to give it one. As Hamlet said: "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so". For Christ (and billions of his followers) his ordeal had a deep meaning, which it didn't have for his tormentors. Roger recognized that simple fact, which made Gibson film into the very antithesis of torture porn—a genre based on a sadistic identification with the torturer and fraudulent compassion towards the victim. Gibson movie was glibly dismissed by many, and while I don't think it's great, it certainly deserved better. I'm glad Roger had been there to voice his even-handed judgment.

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