When I Paint My Masterpiece

ELGIN REDUX?

When Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng missed his second of two free throws with two seconds remaining and his team leading 108-106 in the third game of the Chicago-Cleveland first round NBA playoff series, it was clear LeBron James would not have an overtime period of five minutes in which to add to his total of 39 points.

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The Drop Edge of Yonder

Rudolph Wurlitzer’s novels have moved a generation of writers and rockers. He’s carried his themes and dreams along the “celluoid trail,” writing screenplays for memorable movies such as “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” “Little Buddha,” “Walker” and “Candy Mountain.” His latest novel, “The Drop Edge of Yonder,” is a book (as per Patti Smith) “you watch as you read, cast the film as you reread, and create a sequel as you sleep.” Scott Spencer has wondered at “Yonder” too: “I have never read anything like it. Every page transports the reader from the cerebral to the visceral and back again, until you start to feel that in the end there is no difference between the two.” Take the following chapters from Wurlitzer’s soulful trip as an invite to get “Yonder” .

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Battles of Ajami

Fifty years ago, the Israeli film industry was largely churning out pro-Zionist propaganda films (Ephraim Kishon being the rare exception). To represent its face to the world in 2010, Israel brought to the Academy Awards an Arab-language flick co-directed by a Palestinian and a Jewish Israeli, focusing largely on inter-Arab issues; Ajami was one of the five nominees in the Best Foreign Film category.

The Palestinian co-director has been called a collaborator. Israel’s nominating committee has been demonized as a pack of lefties. But something is changing on the streets of Jaffa, whose citizens have been given, in Ajami, both a mirror in which to behold their own community and an international voice.

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Nailing Avatar

The fallacy that great events have great causes tempts both film critics and civilian interpreters to explain mass ticket sales in pretty grandiose terms. Avatar, touted to displace Titanic as the movie with the biggest box office gross in history, has provoked this impulse with a vengeance.

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