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Monthly Archives: June 2014

Kids for Cash

This documentary is about 2 Pennsylvania judges involved in a kickback scheme that resulted in the wrongful incarceration of over 2000 young kids. I like the movie a lot because (a) it provides a well-balanced approach by interviewing victims and their families, the members of various organizations involved in breaking and investigating the case, and even the 2 judges who are the subject of the scandal; (b) the 4 kids and their parents who were the focus of the interviews represented the range of outcomes for kids who end up incarcerated; (c) it is an very interesting and disturbing critique …

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Edge of Tomorrow

Tom Cruise plays Major (Corporal??) Cage, a press officer who at the start of the movie seems to have been demote and is being sent to the front to battle alien creatures. Emily Blunt plays Rita, a soldier who is infamous for winning the battle of Verdun fighting the creatures. Major Cage goes to the front, gets killed, and suddenly wakes up to repeat the same scenes over. The move is a really interesting twist on the Groundhog Day premise – to be able to repeat the same day over again and learn how to get it right. In this …

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Inequality for All

Robert Reich, a professor of economics and Secretary of Labor under Bill Clinton, gives us in this documentary a lesson on income inequality – what it is, how it evolves, and its costs to the middle class in America. He does it using evidence he has accumulated in the form of graphical displays showing income, education attainment, and other sources of data since the early 20th century; the parallels between Great Depression and the current times are particularly striking. Reich is a very witting and engaging teacher, and I loved his optimism, given the sobering numbers, and his continued call …

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Fault in Our Stars

I have been seeing the previews for some time now: Girl (Hazel, played by Shailene Woodley from Divergent) has cancer and meets a boy (Gus, played by Ansel Elgort, also from Divergent) at a support group who also has cancer (but his is in remission). The movie is about their friendship in the context of their illnesses. I thought the movie was really sweet and found it very affecting. I was somewhat nervous that it would become very morose, but it never did; the two leads were so natural as adolescents who, through their illnesses, have a rather wise view …

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Fed Up

Katie Couric narrates this documentary about the growing obesity epidemic in the US. The film includes interviews with a number of children, parents, and doctors (including children who are obese), as well as archival footage of TV commercials, politicians, and others, that shed light on the complexity of the epidemic and its root causes. The film primarily focuses on sugar, one aspect of the epidemic and how sugar, in all of its different forms, has become pervasive in the foods we eat. While there was not a lot that I did not already know, I did learn from it (for …

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Cold In July

Richard (played by Michael C Hall) wakes up one night and, hearing someone in his house, goes downstairs and ends up shooting the intruder. The intruder’s father (played by Sam Shepard) has just been paroled and suddenly appears in town. I won’t say anything more about the story, as it would give a lot of the fun away. I thought this was a really well made movie with a lot of plot twists that keep things interesting and suspenseful. Don Johnson gives a hilarious performance as Jim Bob, a private detective; all three of the male leads were great individually …

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Dancing in Jaffa

documentary about a professional ballroom dancer (Pierre Dulaine) who dreamed to return to his home city of Jaffa to bring Jewish-Israeli and Arab-Israeli children (roughly middle school age) together through dance. The movie is about the challenges he faced to convince parents to allow their children to dance together in a ballroom competition (and also the challenges of just getting boys and girls to agree to dance together). I enjoyed the movie overall; I always love to see examples of unique ways teachers use art, music, and various educational experiences to unite very different people. Pierre reminds me of a …

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