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Wonder

You’ll shed a tear or two—especially if you’re a parent—and they’ll be totally earned.

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Mudbound

The film invites us to observe its characters, to hear their inner voices, to see what they see and to challenge our own preconceived notions…

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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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Monty Python season

Rarely has an American political candidate triggered so many associations with a famed British comedy troupe of stage, screen, television and phonograph recordings:

"I used to think that Michael Palin was the funniest Palin on earth.... [Sarah Palin] is like a nice-looking parrot, because the parrot speaks beautifully and kinda says 'Aw, shucks,' every now and again, but doesn't really have any understanding of the meaning of the words that it is producing, even though it's producing them very accurately.... I mean, Monty Python could have written this."

-- John Cleese, co-founder of Monty Python's Flying Circus (Clip here.)

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(See above. Monty Python did.)

"But Palin is as ridiculous as the competitors from Monty Python's Upperclass Twit of the Year competition, jumping over hurdles that are nothing more than a stack of matchbooks."-- Anne Lamott, Salon.com

"Cue marching band music and a big cartoon foot. US Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, hackers have revealed, has used a Yahoo! free webmail account to talk government business with aides."

-- David Winder, ITwire

"As Monty Python used to say, 'No one expects the Spanish Inquisition' -- which is another way of saying that no one expects the unexpected."

-- Mark J. Penn, Politico

So many times over the last nine years (especially the last nine years) I have watched politicians on television and thought of John Cleese. No so much of the parrot sketch (to which he also alludes in the quotation above) but of another beloved Python bit he did...

... as a master thespian pontificating on the actor's art of memorization and performance. As in, say, a play or a speech. Or, maybe, a televised debate. Or an ostensible interview or press conference that consists entirely of scripted talking points. Called "Great Actors," it features Cleese as a pompous Shakespearean actor named Sir Edwin who explains the challenges involved in remembering what to do with all those words. It's from the end of side one (of three) of "Monty Python's Matching Tie and Handkerchief." See if you can spot the relevance to the American political scene of the 21st century.

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