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Men, Women & Children

A potentially interesting premise is handled so badly that what might have been a provocative drama quickly and irrevocably devolves into the technological equivalent of…

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Time Is Illmatic

An excellent documentary that focuses more on why the Illmatic album came to be than how successful it became. Prepare to be schooled in many…

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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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Omer M. Mozaffar

Omer M. Mozaffar

Omer M. Mozaffar lectures across Chicago, teaching courses on religion, literature, history and film. He has given well over a thousand talks on Islam since 9/11.

In 2009, Roger Ebert named him as one of his “Far Flung Correspondents.” In 2011, the Graham School of the University of Chicago honored him with an “Excellence in Teaching Award” in Humanities, Arts and Sciences. He is a lifelong Chicagoan, involving himself in various educational, social service and charitable projects.

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2014
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These Birds Walk

(2013)

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Not Yet Begun to Fight

(2013)

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The Reluctant Fundamentalist

(2013)

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No

(2013)

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The Sweeney

(2013)

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The Gatekeepers

(2012)

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Lost in Thailand

(2012)

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Stolen Seas

(2013)

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In the Hive

(2013)

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Consuming Spirits

(2013)

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Struck by Lightning

(2013)

The webs we weave

May Contain Spoilers

Philip Noyce's "The Quiet American" is a tale of lies. It introduces itself as a noir murder mystery, but seamlessly veers into a story of man in love with a dancer, looking for redemption in his twilight.

From there it flows into a love triangle pitting an old frightened Brit (Michael Caine) against a young fearless American (Brendan Fraser). In moments of crisis, the American saves the Brit's life. In a moment of anger, the Brit seems to allow the American's death.

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Dear M. Night Shyamalan

May Contain Spoilers

I hope this letter reaches you with the best of health and spirits. I am reaching out to you not only because I loved your movies, but also because we are of the same generation of Desis. We migrated here with our parents during that first huge wave some forty years ago and now we are both (perhaps in self-perception) regular middle-aged guys from big cities experiencing the next phases of our lives. I am sure that many of your childhood experiences paralleled mine, both in school playgrounds and in our private imaginations. In some ways, we are peers; in some ways I admire your work. The fact that I am writing this letter implies that I am concerned about a progression that seems to be taking place in your films.

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"Moozlums" have been here for a long time

May Contain Spoilers

Qasim Basir presents his first feature film, "Mooz-lum," featuring Danny Glover, Nia Long, and Roger Guenveur Smith. Based on true events, it follows the story of Tariq (Evan Ross, son of Diana Ross) as he begins college, hoping to escape his childhood struggles. Estranged from his mother and sister, he spent his youth living at times with a strict, religious father and at times in a local madrassa (Islamic seminary). He is a Muslim college student, enrolling in the Fall of 2001. Simply, it is a story of a man trying to hide from the boy within him, just as all hell is about to break loose.

The movie opens nationally on Friday, 2/11. The title is a play on a common mispronunciation of "Muslim." I shrug when President Obama, despite his childhood in Indonesia, pronounces the term as "Muz-lem," though that is still better than the archaic "Moslem." The point here is not that anyone is intentionally mispronouncing the name. Rather, those of us with Muslim names

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The many kinds of blindness

May Contain Spoilers

After exploring the mother-daughter relationship and social issues in "Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire," I decided to visit the father-son relationship and comparable issues in "The Color of Paradise."

Majid Majidi's work is one my favorite movies. It is a movie I enjoy from start to finish. Every time I watch it I discover new dimensions. Still, I don't know if it is depressingly sad or filled with hope and happiness.

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Encounters at the End of the Mind

May Contain Spoilers

There are a few spoilers here. Because I am mentioning that there are spoilers, I am implying that there are things you do not want to know in advance, thus making you curious, thus lifting your expectations higher than they should be, thus making it harder for you to enjoy the film. So, enter at your own risk.

Occasionally I receive a paper from a student that is so outstanding in content and ideas, that in grading it I am compelled to overlook the shortcomings in argument, style and polish. Such is my experience with Christopher Nolan's "Inception." This movie is very ambitious, not only in the ideas it explores, but also in the expectations it has of its audience. In my estimation, having watched the film on a giant screen with a packed theater of cheering, laughing, and groaning moviegoers at a popular suburban multiplex, it fulfills its ambitions of big-budget intelligent storytelling.

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The cinema of scarred hearts

May Contain Spoilers

I have a friend who walked out of THERE WILL BE BLOOD during that baptism scene, when Daniel Day-Lewis exclaimed, "I've abandoned my child!" My friend was just divorced, lost custody of his children, and was tormented with the remorse that follows these things. As Daniel Day-Lewis shouted, my friend almost needed to cover his ears. He returned to his seat shortly afterwards, but needed that moment to collect himself.

I have another friend who was molested by a family friend. She refuses therapy, but she attributes multiple aspects of her personality, that she herself identifies as disorders - social ineptitude, sexual dysfunction and confusion, chronic despair - to that period of molestation. When she watched MYSTIC RIVER, a movie speaking of the physical and psychological abuse of children and the long term consequences on their hearts and minds, she found herself painfully revisiting those experiences, but not where we might expect.

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We are all Untouchables: A Bollywood Ballad:Discussed by Omer Mozaffar

May Contain Spoilers

After commenting on George Clooney as Hollywood star, and as star of the very excellent Jason Reitman film UP IN THE AIR, I decided to shift attention to a similar figure in Bollywood cinema: Aamir Khan. Aamir Khan is the star of the most successful Bollywood movie in history, the comedy THREE IDIOTS. Like Clooney (and perhaps Redford before him) he uses his star power to make serious movies, with the most famous being LAGAAN. Here, in MANGAL PANDEY: THE RISING we look at this story of one of the respected heroes of Indian cultural memory.

On the surface, the film continues the popular David vs. Goliath anti-imperialist genre we find in such films as THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, KING OF KINGS, LION OF THE DESERT, THE BATTLE FOR ALGIERS, some revisionist westerns like THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, the TV miniseries MASADA, BRAVEHEART,

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Omer Mozaffar from Karachi and Chicago: Travels with Clooney in Search of America

May Contain Spoilers

I always look forward to George Clooney's movies. I have to admit, however, that in most movies, he seems to be playing "the George Clooney version of X" or some sort of anti-George-Clooney, who is still that astonishingly handsome man, though weak, withered, and flawed. Perhaps the exception is Syriana, where he is hidden behind whiskers and adipose.

So, even though I greatly appreciated Jason Reitman's previous films, this film - Up in the Air - was going to be another George Clooney celebration. Then, I saw the movie. Jason Reitman stole the show.

Up in the Air is a richly textured movie that invokes a spectrum of our prime emotions. It is a sharp, biting, mirror on society, observing the role that our professions take in defining our lives. When we speak romantically of the American Dream, we speak often of the ability to choose your profession, to choose your destiny. We are taught that you are

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Omer Mozaffar, a Pakistani-Chicagoan, revisits "The Five Deadly Venoms" (1978)

May Contain Spoilers

After following the discussions of my review of "Avatar," I decided to revisit a movie I so thoroughly enjoyed in my younger days. If you have not yet seen it, I hope you soon get the chance to watch "The Five Deadly Venoms," directed by one of the great Martial Arts directors, Chang Cheh (1978). And, tell me what you think of it.

"The Five Deadly Venoms" has an interesting premise: A teacher has trained a team of five martial arts fighters, each in a specific deadly martial arts style -- centipede (striking at high speeds), snake (able to strike while lying on the ground), scorpion (with powerful kicks), lizard (able to scurry along walls), and toad (thick skinned). Which of these five styles most resembles you? I, obviously, am most like the toad.

This movie has now taken on a new life for me, appealing in a different way than in the past.

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Omer Mozaffar, a Pakistani Chicagoan, discusses James Cameron's "Avatar"

May Contain Spoilers

I was born in Karachi, Pakistan, at a very young age. My beloved parents rode the huge wave that was the South Asian diaspora, landing here in Chicagoland, where I've been ever since. Thus, like many of my peers, I've been in a state of constant exile.

On the South Side of Chicago, I'm a Pakistani. In the rest of Chicago, I'm a Southsider. In the rest of America, I'm a Chicagoan. In the rest of the world, I'm an American. That is today's "normal," isn't it? We are simultaneously, unintentionally local and global. Still, the most comfortable spot for me is a center seat in the anonymous darkness of a crowded theater on the opening night of a movie. If you are reading this note on Roger Ebert's blog, then perhaps you feel the same way.

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