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12 Strong

“Understated” isn’t a word you’d ordinarily use to describe a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but that’s surprisingly what 12 Strong ends up being.

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The Final Year

A documentary about the final year of foreign policy during the Obama administration, and incidentally about the grim surprises that life sometimes has in store…

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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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NCFOM: If you can't stop what's coming, what can you do?

From Chris Lamb, Austin TX:

As I read your recent mail regarding "No Country for Old Men", I was reminded of something I read in (of all places) Mr. Cranky's review of the movie. He says, "If I figured anything out about the movie at all, it's that it's about the difference between the capabilities of pure evil and the capabilities of men who aren't pure evil but who think of themselves as tough and capable."

This in turn reminded me of Colonel Kurtz's monologue in "Apocalypse Now", about the Viet Cong cutting off the arms of dozens of children who had been inoculated for polio by the Americans. Kurtz was shocked... but realized that he was up against something he could not defeat. The Viet Cong had the will, the strength, the single-minded, uncompromising drive to win the war. They were not playing by the same rules, and they could do things that the Americans could not.

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This is the problem with a moral society trying to deal with those who are willing to kill, torture, murder, and terrorize to force their ideals upon others. We couldn't stoop to their level if we tried. More importantly, it's unthinkable because this is what separates us from them.

The other men in "No Country for Old Men" were outclassed not because Chigurh was immensely capable, but because he was not limited by morality or humanity. When confronted with something like this, it is hard to do anything but stare blankly, disengage, maybe hang up your hat and call it a day.

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