Insight News

Feb 12th

Jewish Angst Aplenty in Todd Solondz Take on Dystopia

Jewish Angst Aplenty in Todd Solondz Take on DystopiaLife during Wartime

Taking a page from the Coen Brothers, whose semi-autobiographical A Serious Man captured what life was like coming of age in the late Sixties, Todd Solondz, here, serves up a much more twisted take on growing up Jewish in Florida instead of the Midwest. Life during Wartime also revolves around a 12 year-old (Dylan Riley Snider) studying for his bar mitzvah, but the dystopia in which he is immersed is far more bizarre than anything in the Coen’s relatively comical adventure.

The movie is ostensibly a sequel to Solondz’ Happiness (1998), since the three adult sisters at the center of that somber suburban dramedy, Trish, Joy and Helen, are all back, although played by different actresses. In fact, the cast has been totally overhauled, so it might be best to think of this flick as sui generis instead of as an update.

Regardless, Timmy Maplewood and his two siblings (Emma Hinz and Chris Marquette) are being raised by Trish (Allison Janney), a single-mom who has tricked her kids into believing their father is deceased. Truth be told, he’s a convict serving a long prison term for child molestation. As the film unfolds, Trish has just met a nice Jewish man on a blind date that she actually could settle down with. Nebbishy Harvey (Michael Lerner) is refreshingly normal, although he comes with baggage, a highly-neurotic son (Rich Pecci) with a dark view of the world, namely, that, “In the end, China will take over.”

Chantel SinGs performing at 2010 Colon Cancer Walk

Chantel SinGs performing at 2010 Colon Cancer WalkChantel SinGs, an ovarian cancer survivor of four years performs at the Colon Cancer Walk presented by 3Way Entertainment on August 7, 2010 at Como Zoo.

Chantel SinGs will perform her song "Autobiography" which address her story and what she's been through.

The Colon Cancer Walk is 8 am – 2 pm. Registration is at 8 am and the walk begins at 9 am.
Donations are $10 individual and $50 for teams of 10 people. The walk is 3 miles; runners are welcome.

For more information or to sponsor this event, contact Sharice McClain- at (651) 399-4097 or email Additional information may be found at

Walker – Murray

Walker – MurrayIn 2009, Marquis Strauther was beginning to find his stride in music. He struggled with daily issues of school and life, but his high school music instructor saw improvement. The instructor approached Strauther about the James T. and Lavinia Murray Scholarship at Walker West Music Academy in Saint Paul. Eventually, Strauther was granted the scholarship and began training in the French horn under the tutelage of Felix James. Lessons offered respite from life issues, and helped Strauther develop a passion for music.

Strauther is now a graduate of Saint Paul Central High School, and current student at McNally Smith College of Music in Saint Paul. His dream is to become a music instructor, and provide unconditional support in leading students to success. Strauther said he is grateful to Walker West Music Academy for the opportunity. He is especially moved by the instruction that not only taught him fundamentals of playing a musical instrument, but improved his well being. Strauther said, “these teachers care that we have success. It is more than just a job. In regular school I felt under pressure by better students. Walker West is great because it has given me a chance to prove I can be so much better --like some of the people I idolize or look up to.”

Fierce Love

Fierce LoveFor an African American male life may sometimes seem like an on-going battle. But the one comfort that resides in the struggle is that you don’t have to fight the entire world to get some recognition for your cause.

Now when you add a second layer to the problem, and consider the plight of the homosexual African American male, you know that the struggle gets a little deeper, and the world isn’t always willing to open arms and allow you to live without borders.

But, then came Fierce Love.

Birthday Girl Mysteriously Dies in Atmospheric Thriller

Birthday Girl Mysteriously Dies in Atmospheric ThrillerThe Contenders

If you like unraveling multi-layered mysteries, but are interested in a whodunit a little less mind-bending and less time-intensive than the thoroughly-confounding Inception, then look no further than this readily-digestible character-driven drama. The facts here are quite simple. Nora (Anna Gutto) and Ken (Nick Stevenson) have decided to host a birthday party for a friend at their sumptuous, beachfront summer home with a view.

Unfortunately, complaining of a headache from a minor car accident which occurred en route, the guest of honor upon arriving excuses herself to an upstairs bedroom to lie down to recuperate. Ken, the only person to check-in on her, offers her aspirin as relief from the aches and pains caused by the fender-bender.

Mediocre Multi-Layered Mindbender Not Nolan’s Best

Mediocre Multi-Layered Mindbender Not Nolan’s BestInception

I can count on one hand the number of directors who’ve had four of their films land on my annual Top Ten List. In the case of Christopher Nolan, there’s Memento (2000), Insomnia (2002), Batman Begins (2005) as well as The Dark Night (2008), which was my #1 pick a couple years ago. So, naturally, I eagerly-anticipated the release of his latest offering, a multi-layered sci-fi thriller about mind control starring Leonardo Di Caprio.

Unfortunately, Inception fails to measure up to this critic’s high expectations, although it is an amusing enough diversion to remain recommended. That being said, the film’s flaws are considerable, starting with its unwarranted length of 148 minutes. For, with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, it’s easy to see how about an hour’s worth of its premise-establishing celluloid is actually inconsequential filler that should have hit the cutting room floor.

The second problem is the amount of mental gymnastics necessary to follow a hopelessly-convoluted plot desperate to be way too clever for its own good. Sorry, I happen to resent it when a summer blockbuster feels more like an SAT test than relaxing escapist entertainment.

The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Race, Class and Crime in America

The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr.  and Race, Class and Crime in America “This book is about more than the arrest of one man. It is abut how we need to examine our criminal justice system to ensure that fairness, not power, is the currency of our system. When we move from a presumption of innocence to a presumption of guilt, we diminish our sense of community and undermine our democratic ideals.

I examine the race and class dimensions of the Gates arrest by looking at how other successful, prosperous and noteworthy African-American men have grappled with a wide range of encounters not only with the police but with countless everyday citizens and have found themselves being judged by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character… Ultimately, if we are to move forward as a nation, we must… develop a justice system that is truly committed to the presumption of innocence.”
-- Excerpted from the Introduction (pg. 13)

When Dr. Henry Louis Gates was arrested for breaking into his own home last summer, black and white America’s diametrically-opposed response to the alleged misunderstanding was reminiscent of the two groups’ similarly contradictory reactions to the Rodney King beating, the Amadou Diallo shooting and the OJ verdict. But what made the Gates case more intriguing was the fact that here was a revered Harvard Professor who relies on a cane being carted off in handcuffs like a common criminal, and even after the cops knew full well that they had made a mistake.
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