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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
by Romi N. Andrews
PopMatters shines a spotlight on some funny and not-so-funny shows that have failed, and asks the ultimate question: "Why?"

The format of the situational comedy—“sitcom”, as it is most frequently called—was conceived in the post-World War II era. Some dismiss it as sub-par compared to other TV genres, while many argue it’s an art form worthy of respect. But love them or despise them, sitcoms have the power to influence the way we think and to even promote awareness for social issues like gay rights (Will & Grace), alcoholism, and even teen pregnancy (Mom)


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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
In this case, cheating isn’t just an admission of defeat to the game, it’s an admission of defeat for the characters as well. And I can’t bring myself to make them lose.

Blackbar is an iOS puzzle game about bypassing totalitarian censors. You are Vi Channi, a common citizen of a totalitarian government who lives in a “Neighborhood” outside the big city. Your friend, Kentery Jo Loaz, has just moved to the big city where she’s set to start work as an employee of the Department of Communication. Your letters back and forth are monitored by the Department, and words that are deemed “inappropriate” are redacted. Your job as a player is to deduce what those redacted words are based on the context of the sentence and the length of the black censor bar. It’s reading comprehension as a puzzle.


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014

“My father told me, this is a dark organization, don’t go there.” Gonen Ben Itzhak sets up the moment when he decided to join Shin Bet, the Israeli secret security service, with his reaction to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. “I was shocked like everybody else,” he says, “I felt I needed to do something for my country.” His belief that joining Shin Bet appeared to be that something initiates the unresolved, perhaps irresolvable, conundrum at the center of The Green Prince, open in theaters 12 September. That conundrum begins with definitions and expectations, of self and nation, individual and community, morality, vengeance, and survival. The Palestinians were enemies, even the idea of Palestine was an existential threat to Israel, and so Itzhak embraced his work as a handler of double agents for Shin Bet, believing that the lines were clearly drawn. They were not. As it tells the story of Itzhak’s complicated relationship with one of these, Mosab Hassan Yousef, also known as “Son of Hamas,” Nadav Schirman’s film blurs lines as well, between drama and documentary, truth and desire, intersecting stories framed by smart edits between reenactments, archival footage, and interviews. 


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Anyone on the market for some unadulterated vintage rock and roll should give Trigger Hippy's self-titled LP a spin as fast as possible.

Trigger Hippy is a tour de force collaboration of established rock heroes. The group was created by Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman, who is joined by Joan Osborne and Jackie Greene on dual vocals, Tom Bukovac on guitars, and Nick Govrik on bass. Trigger Hippy, the quintet’s full-length, self-titled debut, has the homey feel of a great classic rock record.


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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014
Troubled teens and a chronic alcoholic populate two of the Main Competition films. But James Gray's The Immigrant proves the most impressive.

The insistent sound of a ringing telephone is the first thing to be heard in Anna Kazejak’s The Word (Obietnica), which opens pretty much in medias res, thrusting the viewer right into the fraught relationship between two teenagers, Lila (Eliza Rycembel) and Janek (Mateusz Więcławek).


The significance of the sound becomes apparent as the movie progresses, since communication (and, in particular, the way in which teens communicate with each other) is one of Kazejak’s concerns in this, her second feature following 2010’s Flying Pigs. The text messages, Facebook posts and Skype chats that the characters indulge in throughout the film gain greater significance when a murder gets committed and such communications become evidence in the ensuing investigation.


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