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American Sniper

American Sniper proves the dictum “never count an auteur out” by proving itself as Eastwood’s strongest directorial effort since 2009's underrated Invictus pretty much right…

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The Interview

Opportunities at rich satire flatten out into Hangover dude-dope-doodoo jokes, where the premise is that there’s nothing funnier than watching over-privileged grown men act out…

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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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"Just look at how far we've come..."

Can Tina Fey get an Emmy just for this? I know, it's almost too easy. But she's flawless. I knew she was a terrific writer and comedian (er, "comedienne"?), especially from "30 Rock," but I don't think I ever fully realized what a brilliant actor (er, "actress") she is.

And now, conservative columnist David Brooks of the New York Times on a word familiar to "SNL" viewers: "prudent"...

From "Why Experience Matters":

It turns out that governance, the creation and execution of policy, is hard. It requires acquired skills. Most of all, it requires prudence.

What is prudence? It is the ability to grasp the unique pattern of a specific situation. It is the ability to absorb the vast flow of information and still discern the essential current of events -- the things that go together and the things that will never go together. It is the ability to engage in complex deliberations and feel which arguments have the most weight.

How is prudence acquired? Through experience. The prudent leader possesses a repertoire of events, through personal involvement or the study of history, and can apply those models to current circumstances to judge what is important and what is not, who can be persuaded and who can't, what has worked and what hasn't. [...]

Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she'd be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.

The idea that "the people" will take on and destroy "the establishment" is a utopian fantasy that corrupted the left before it corrupted the right. Surely the response to the current crisis of authority is not to throw away standards of experience and prudence, but to select leaders who have those qualities but not the smug condescension that has so marked the reaction to the Palin nomination in the first place.

What must 43 think, assuming he notices, when a prominent conservative extolls the importance one of his father's guiding principles (and Dana Carvey's favorite expression) -- a notion he deliberately rejected for fear of being associated with 41's "wimp factor"? As for the "smug and condescending"... well, that's the heart of the current debate. Do those adjectives apply to the reaction, or to the choice itself? Neoconservatives are delightedly describing her as a candidate who is "a blank page." Could anything sound more 2000? Dick Cheney must be dancing in his (constitutionally mandated) political grave.

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