Tag: Movies


How 'Birdman' Proves Money Isn't Everything

You may already know that Alejandro Gonz?lez I??rritu’s film Birdman – named Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards – is the second-lowest-grossing movie to ever win that award. Meanwhile, as Oscars host Neil Patrick Harris mentioned, of the roughly $650 million in box office from all films nominated this year in that category, $320 million of that was earned by American Sniper. What can we learn about our relationship with Hollywood, its attitude toward moviegoers, and even about our own lives from all this? Quite a lot, actually. I suppose the......

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An Exchange with a Hero

There’s much about social media that degrades conversation and exacerbates polarization. But, like every technology, it also empowers us and offers opportunities to speak across boundaries and borders. Tim Byrd, a veteran of the war in Iraq who fought in Mosul, is a juvenile corrections officer in Washington state, a husband and a father of five. I met him on Facebook, where we connected after he heard my guest spot on Glenn Beck’s show. Tim and I have very different politics, and live in very different communities, and we continue to learn......

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Some People Need to 'Stay Weird' to Stay Alive

When I was 16, I tried to kill myself.” As one who lost a beloved relative to suicide almost exactly one year ago to the day, I was moved more than I can say by those words, uttered so gently and so sincerely by The Imitation Game screenwriter Graham Moore as he accepted his Academy Award. Moore’s words touched hearts and minds across the nation, and around the world. How could they not? Coupled with his advice, for anyone who feels so odd or out of place that life seems unlivable, to......

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Stranger Danger, Cultural Context and a Sniper Saga: Our Week in Wisdom

On The Wisdom Daily this week (February 16-20), we looked at an American hero’s morally ambiguous story, the debate about disarming Iran, and what happened when witnesses ignored a train-station tragedy. Many thanks to guest writer Ruth Abusch-Magder, whose post placed recent French antisemitism into historical context. Did you grow wiser this week? We hope The Wisdom Daily played a part.   Netanyahu, Congress and the Importance of Fierce Debate – Irwin Kula Despite all the controversy surrounding House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress about......

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'American Sniper' in a Polarized America

Clint Eastwood’s film about the late Chris Kyle – nominated for six Academy Awards this weekend – is not only the highest-grossing war film of all time. American Sniper has become a cultural lightning rod for fierce, emotional debates about the very meaning of war, heroism, sacrifice, patriotism and truth. We know that Kyle, a U.S. Navy SEAL, endured four combat tours of duty in Iraq and was nicknamed Legend for being the most lethal sniper in U.S history. At a firing range in 2013, Kyle was tragically shot and killed by......

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A 'Wild' Idea: The Past Need Not Imprison You

The movie Wild is perfect to see during this last week of the year, when millions of us will make resolutions to change our life (that the vast majority of us will not keep for more than a few weeks). This film, starring a remarkable Reese Witherspoon, is a meditation on what to do when we get stuck in life, when the circumstances of our life control our destiny, when we are weighed down by our past. Based on Cheryl Strayed’s 2012 best-selling memoir Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found, the......

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Triumph of an Unbreakable Spirit

I found myself celebrating Easter this Christmas, and I was quite moved by the experience. No, my calendar was not off; I’m not even Christian. So what was going on? I went to the December 25 opening of the new film Unbroken. Directed by Angelina Jolie, the feature film was my first exposure to the true story of Louis Zamperini, the Olympic runner, American soldier and World War II POW. Indeed, I’m one of the few people who never read Lauren Hillenbrand’s bestseller Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience,......

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Why 'The Interview' Was Censored

North Korean hackers did not stop the release of the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview. We the People did. I am no expert on cyber attacks, nor am I privy to the boardroom decisions made by Sony and other corporations involved in this debacle. (Full disclosure: I have known Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton as an acquaintance for nearly 20 years, and he is among the most ethical, reflective, and integrity-possessing business executives I’ve ever met.) Cyber-vandalism and cyber-terrorism are scary, and for the foreseeable future, hackers will cause plenty of......

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Hollywood Head-scratcher: Why Does Some Violence Get a Pass?

In just three minutes, the following viral video features every violent death that occurs in the original Star Wars trilogy – and it’s a huge number. Yet in all the debate about violent entertainment and the damage it does, or doesn’t do, I don’t think anyone ever beat up on George Lucas’ beloved Star Wars?franchise. That contradiction got me thinking. What are we really talking about when we talk about violence in media? Clearly, as the video tally demonstrates, the Star Wars movies are very violent. But it’s not so objectionable, at......

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Inside the Lives of Single Mom Rabbis

I just watched a documentary – called All of the Above: Single, Clergy, Mother – that touched my heart, mind, and spirit. In the movie, three rabbis and a cantor, each raising kids, describe with remarkable vulnerability their candid experiences pursuing the choice of single motherhood. All of the subjects of the film are successful and prominent in their communities and of course, for any woman, the decision to become a single mother is complicated. Their four narratives vary in poignant ways, but in eloquently revealing personal physical, emotional, and financial details......

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