The French film Caché (“Hidden”) is a stylish thriller tiptoeing around a psychological drama that lurks inside a political allegory. This is typical of the work of Austrian writer-director Michael Haneke (Code Unknown), who enjoys presenting confrontational films in which seemingly normal folks leading normal lives turn out to be not very normal at all. Caché, which won the Best Director Award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, stars the enigmatic Daniel Auteuil and the luminescent Juliette Binoche as Georges and Anne Laurent. He hosts a television talk show about books; she is a writer who works in publishing—until an anonymous two-hour videotape interrupts their lives.
The myth that sports are racially redemptive makes for formulaic movies. Glory Road feels a lot like Remember the Titans. The films (both produced by Jerry Bruckheimer) show how a team’s drive to win a championship overcomes racial divisions and leads blacks and whites to bond like brothers.
Adopting the approach of most movies made about the life of the notorious pleasure seeker, Lasse Hallström’s Casanova isn’t a biography but a free-form embellishment. It treats Casanova as a legend, a symbol—like Zorro.
In Oscar nominee Crash, writer-director Paul Haggis examines the U.S. racial divide in a series of interconnected short dramas that reach a powerful conclusion. It is a painful film to watch because Haggis offers no comfortable side with which the viewer can identify—until, that is, a conclusion provides a note of grace-filled hope. The racial bias of both black and white characters is exposed, leaving everyone culpable. As in many Krzysztof Kieslowski films, there are moments that suggest a transcendent hand is at work.
It was not meant as exclusionary, the way the boy laid his arm along the pew, not touching her back but cupping the bowl of his hand over the girl’s shoulder, exactly the way his father encircled his mother in decorous Sunday embrace.
Near in age and adoring, his forsaken younger sister saw the story of all Eve’s children, an enacted parable of man leaving father and mother to cling to wife, heard Scylla and Charybdis’ seductive hymn, felt the tension of two great loves, perceived in a piercing moment ties tighter than the bonds of blood.
They warned us, like innocents, not to name our goat, to exercise good sense, refuse to see him as a pet or even, oops, as him. Just do whatever all it takes to tame the thing toward that appointed time when goat and fate should meet, when the dull drawn blade would withdraw blood from funny, fuzzy throat.
For days or weeks, we avoided eyes, made it a point to see the animal as meat. Through open window, so relieved, I heard you say to our neighbor, “No, you do it.”
And kindly, our neighbor did—spared you, and me too. But I will never forgive myself the rare deliciousness of the stew.
A professor of the theory and practice of social media, Clay Shirky, doesn’t let his students use electronic devices in his classes. It’s not just that he can’t compete with the hardware or the software. Studies show that multitasking is bad for the kind of cognitive work required in a classroom. It has a negative effect on memory and recall. One study showed that students who multitasked in class scored lower than those who didn’t. The presence of electronic devices also distracts those who aren’t using them. “I’m coming to see student focus as a collaborative process,” Shirky said (Washington Post, September 25).