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Zebraman (2004)

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Director: Takashi Miike Writer: Kankuro Kudo Stars: Sho Aikawa, Kaoki Yasukochi, Kyoka Suzuki, Atsuro Watabe, Yui Ichikawa, Koen Kondo Shinichi Ichikawa (Sho Aikawa) is a complete failure  in his roles as a 3rd-grade teacher and family man.  He fetishizes a superhero character from an old, short-lived TV series, spending his evenings dressed as Zebraman in a suit of his own construction, striking poses.   The arrival of a new student (Naoki Yasukochi) and a wave of bizarre events lead him to discover the power within.  This is not one of director Takashi Miike's ultraviolent films.  Instead, he has made a very bizarre comedy that is mostly family-friendly, always compelling, and often extremely funny.  The script gets a bit sloppy at times in order to place characters where the filmmakers want them, but all of that is trumped by sheer goofy charm.

The Corrections (2001)

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by Jonathan Franzen Jonathan Franzen dissects the Lambert family and its  self-destructive ways.   Jonathan Franzen Franzen is a fine writer--his characters are fully realized and idiosyncratic, and his story is full of illuminating observations and darkly hilarious black humor.   The book really takes off when Franzen is writing scenes; I love his dialogue and the interactions he constructs for the characters.  I sometimes found myself losing patience during extended passages of backstory and/or interior experience.  I also felt that the relatively rosy ending seemed at odds with the rest of the story. "Corrections" (Arabic) "Corrections" (Serbian) "Correct"(Chinese) "Corrections" (Polish) "Corrections" (Portuguese) "The Corrections" (Dutch) "The Corrections" (Italian) "Corrections" (Romanian) "The Corrections" (Greek) "Corrections" (Lithuanian) "Amendments" (Georgian) "R

Good Time (2017)

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Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie Writers: Ronald Bronstein & Josh Safdie Stars: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Buddy Duress, Taliah Webster, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barkhad Abdi Connie (Robert Pattinson), a perpetual screw-up,  spends a harrowing night trying to scrape some money together to bail his developmentally disabled brother (Benny Safdie) out of jail after a failed bank robbery that the two attempted together and from which Connie barely escaped.   The tone, atmosphere, and pacing of this film are so masterful that I felt like I was living it rather than just watching it.   Connie would be a difficult character to empathize with if co-directors Josh and Benny Safdie and Pattinson hadn’t infused him with so much humanity.  His most saving grace is that he truly cares for his brother and wants to look out for him.  The problem is that his love is no damned good; it motivates him to make one bad choice after another, triggering a chain of increasingly disastrous consequenc

Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War (1980)

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by William Manchester Labeling this book as a memoir is a bit misleading.  It is more of a travelogue as William Manchester visits WWII battlegrounds in order to come to terms with his experiences as a combat Marine in the Pacific War.   William Manchester There is a lot of description of these sites as they appeared at the time of writing and quite a bit about the local lifestyle.   Some of this is interesting and all of it is well-written, but it is not what brought me to the book in the first place.   Manchester's accounts of life on the front lines and the many battles he was in are the strong points of this book.   This is five-star material, very harrowing, graphic, and insightful.   He also comes across as quite honest, since he often portrays himself in an unflattering light.   The sections about his upbringing and other non-military experiences are much less successful; he often seems to strain for effect, trying to emphasize the universal significance of his life experien

Go Set a Watchman (2015)

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by Harper Lee A young woman returns to her small Southern hometown  and must grapple with the realization that the father she idolized harbors opinions on race that are abhorrent to her.   She must also deal with the implications for her self-identity.  Whew!  For a while, I bought into the publisher hype that this was a “sequel” to To Kill a Mockingbird rather than an unpublished earlier draft.   It was hard to bear the idea that one of American literature’s major exemplars of moral courage should be reduced to an old man more concerned about preserving his privilege than supporting human rights.   "Go Set Up a Guard" (Arabic) Having read both a little about the controversy regarding the book publication and the book itself, I find myself coming down on the side of those who allege that this was a cynical money grab.   "Go Watch" (Persian) While it retains some interest as a literary artifact, it is really not of high enough quality to justify such a high profile r