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John Wick

The film breathes exhilarating life into its tired premise, thanks to some dazzling action choreography, stylish visuals and–most importantly–a vintage anti-hero performance from Keanu Reeves.

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Low Down

Preiss' movie does a consistently excellent job of explaining the lure of jazz, and the psychology of addicts, their enablers and their children, without explaining…

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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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Happy Independence Day!

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As we celebrate the Declaration of Independence, here's a fun exercise in critical thinking and visual interpretation. This photo of Sarah Palin, taken by Brian Adams for a spread in Runner's World magazine, represents a veritable firecracker-explosion of patriotic and political symbolism. (Likewise the use of familiar props in this photo and this one.) Given Palin's views and background, how would you interpret it?

Click on photo to enlarge.

JULY 4 UPDATE: Since this post went up, Palin announced her resignation as governor of Alaska. Some say she wants to concentrate on running for president in 2012. Others say that a scandal is about to break, something even she cannot ignore or deny, thus raising the question: What sort of scandal could damage Sarah Palin's reputation? My guess: She has a lucrative talk show deal lined up. Her competition isn't Obama and Biden, it's Limbaugh and O'Reilly, Maher and Coulter.

JULY 6 UPDATE: OK, here's an image that baffles me. What do you make of it?

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This is the logo for the Conservatives For Palin web site (or conservatives4palin.com). What does it say to you? What do you think it is meant to convey?

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