Hope

Andrei Rublev

This Soviet biographical historical drama directed by Andrei Tarkovsky is loosely based on the life of a 15th-century Russian icon painter.  Set against the backdrop of Czarist rule, the film seeks to depict a realistic portrait of medieval Russia.  Tarkovsky sought to create a film that shows the artist as a “world-historic figure” and Christianity as an axiom of Russia’s historical identity.  The film’s themes include artistic freedom, religion, political ambiguity and the making of art under a repressive regime.   Because of this, it was not released domestically in the officially atheist and authoritarian Soviet Union for years.   Although these issues with censorship obscured and truncated the film for a long, long time, Andrei Rublev  has come to be regarded as one of the greatest cinematic achievements of all time.
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Cunning

Mildred Pierce

In “Mildred Pierce,” which is set in Depression-era Glendale, the sun-dappled curtain rises on a domestic scene of failure and dread.  It’s 1931, and Herbert Pierce, a stylish family man in his mid-thirties, is tending the lawn.  Taking care of his modest Spanish style bungalow is one way for him to pass the time.  Another is hanging out with the wonderfully named Maggie Biederhof, a neighborhood widow whose regard provides Herbert with a much-needed ego boost.  He’s unemployed.  At the height of the go-go twenties, Herbert, a former stunt rider for the movies, teamed up with some developers to convert a ranch he’d inherited into a bedroom community, called Pierce Homes, with Herbert as its enthusiastic president.  But when the stock market crashed, so did Herbert’s dreams.

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joy

Finding Boyle

I had brought my son to the L.A. Festival of Books, held for the past several years each Spring on the campus of the University of Southern California, seeking inspiration.  For him, the lure had been Veronica Roth, the young and savvy author of Divergent, a lop-sided swipe at authority and taking charge of one’s own destiny.  If truth be told, we both came, in a sense, because of the Trojan Marching Band.
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Family

Late Autumn


“I’m happy as I am.”  You might not think that a radical declaration, but it’s the challenge hurled in Yasujiro Ozu’s marvelous “Late Autumn” by a young woman who’s just cheerfully announced that she’s not ready for marriage.  Her elders respond with shocked determination and commit themselves to selecting a husband for her at once.
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