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Focus

Like Ficarra and Requa’s 2011 comedy Crazy Stupid Love, Focus begins promisingly and bops along enjoyably for a while, only to run out of steam…

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Maps to the Stars

David Cronenberg's film of Bruce Wagner's Hollywood satire-nightmare turns ludicrous situations into operatic tragedy.

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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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Sarah Silverman: Sell the Vatican, feed the world

"Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." (Matthew, 19:21)

WWJD? (What would a Jewess do?)

Sarah Silverman has some good points here. In my travels two sights have made me feel physically ill: 1) an exhibition of Spanish Inquisition torture instruments in Cordoba, Spain; 2) the ostentatiously decadent collection of treasures in the Vatican. (Couldn't help but think of Max von Sydow in "Hannah and Her Sisters": "If Jesus could come back and see what is being done in his name he would never stop throwing up.") It may be a coincidence, but it's disturbing to me that both these revolting sights were connected to the historical institution of the Catholic Church. The first made me ill at the thought of human beings even imagining, much less actually building, such horrendous contraptions to exploit the human body for torture and death (I felt similar despair at Dachau); the second made me sick because of the gaudy wastefulness of it all. Too rich in more ways than one. Why hasn't this gold-encrusted stuff been sold off to do some good? How does a church, of all earthly institutions, get away with hoarding booty like this? Of course, that's a question that's been debated by Christians within and without the Catholic church for centuries:

"Why does the pope, whose wealth today is greater than the wealth of the richest Crassus, build the basilica of St. Peter with the money of poor believers rather than with his own money?" -- Martin Luther, Thesis 86, "The Ninety-Five Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences," 1517

(tip: Tony Dayoub)

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