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Mr. Turner

Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere"—which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love—yet…

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Annie

The new version of "Annie" is fashionably artificial and not very well directed, but its unabashed good cheer is very welcome.

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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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Don't apologize for Polanski

From Stephanie Wentworth, Boston MA:

Regarding your review of "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired", I am troubled by the apologetic tone that many Hollywood types take when discussing Polanski. Do you really think that if he was not such a talented director that you would be so sympathetic? Imagine, if you will, he was poor white trash, drugged the 13 year old girl in the trailer next door and essentially raped her. I am certain that even if this hypothetical man did get to plea bargain, it would not be to the relatively minor charge of unlawful sexual misconduct.

Polanski had the money to hire very talented defense attorneys and also had the advantage of insane media scrutiny leading a victim reluctant to testify (even though there was a large amount of damning evidence). I agree that it was wrong for Rittenband to even suggest the 90-day "evaluation" sentence when it was clear that Polanski was not mentally ill but was merely someone who came from a culture that was more accepting of sex with young girls. Of course Chino agreed with the parole board and two court-appointed psychiatrists that he should be given parole, because they would have had to conclude that Polanski was mentally unsound in order to recommend further commitment.

But it was his Rittenband's right as a judge to ignore the plea and do what he thought was "just." And if 50 years was the max for sexual misconduct, then Polanski should have thought about that before pleading guilty. He couldn't accept his fate, go to prison in America for awhile, and pay an enormous amount of money to get what surely would have been a favorable appeal? The Supreme Court of the U.S. recently narrowly struck down the death penalty for child rapists! This was a serious crime and I feel squeamish when Polanski gets so much mitigation based on his background and talent.

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