In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 25, 2008 / 19 Adar I 5768

And the Oscar for most depressing . . .

By Mitch Albom

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I'm didn't watch the Oscars. Normally I do. But I've spent enough time and money on the most depressing, dark and disturbed lineup of movies I ever can remember. I don't need to see them get rewarded.

Am I the only one who remembers when they actually gave Oscars to movies that had happy endings? There's not one happy ending in this lot — unless you consider an unplanned teenage pregnancy resulting in someone else's adoption a happy ending. That's the big payoff in "Juno."

Otherwise, you have "There Will Be Blood," in which a tyrannical oil baron destroys everyone and everything around him; "No Country For Old Men," in which a serial killer destroys everything and everyone around him; "Michael Clayton," in which greed gets nearly everyone killed; and "Atonement," in which a false accusation ruins the lives of all involved.

Um. Remind me again.

Why do we go to the movies?

Now, I'm not a Pollyanna. I enjoy films. I collect them. And I understand that not every story ends with music swirling and heroes walking off into a sunset.

But lately there's this sense that unless a movie is dark, violent and hopeless, it can't be "real." It can't be "art." It can't truly "matter." I put these words in quotes because it feels as if critics and awards committees define things that way.

So instead of a nomination for, say, "The Bucket List," a film that everyone I know has loved and which has a positive message about getting old and sick (and which critics attacked, naturally, as too "sentimental"), we get a nomination for "The Savages," a movie about getting old and sick that is so depressing, you want to jump off a building.

Instead of a single nomination for "The Great Debaters," an historic and uplifting film, we get best actor, picture and director nominations for "No Country For Old Men," which sets a record for murders by a man carrying an air tank (which he uses to blow a hole in one victim's head, just so he can have his car).

Here's a news flash: killing without remorse doesn't make a story art. Cold and cynical dialogue doesn't make a story valuable. It's no accident the films nominated this year, for the most part, didn't do much box office. People don't go to the movies to see weirdness, dysfunction or twisted irony.

Most go to be entertained.

This doesn't mean that "Spider-Man 3" or "Shrek the Third" automatically should get Oscar nominations. But those films, at the top of the box office list last year, do share a good-guys-win ending. There's a reason people gravitate to that.

And it wasn't always considered beneath the Academy to celebrate it. In 1973, "The Sting" won best picture, and "American Graffiti" and "A Touch Of Class" also were nominated. In 1979, "Kramer vs. Kramer" won, and "Breaking Away" and "Norma Rae" were nominated. As late as 1994, "Forrest Gump" took the best picture honors. Today, it's hard to imagine that film even getting nominated. Too many cynics calling it sweet and hopeful.

And I guess that's what I miss. Hope. If movies were only meant to reflect the real-life worst in us, why would we need them? We could use mirrors.

Don't misunderstand. I get the skill and patience these actors and directors have put in. I see the hard work from the writing to the lighting. But the humanity Frank Capra or even Steven Spielberg celebrated is getting buried now, under this desire to explore the dark, the macabre and the dysfunctional.

There's a moment in "No Country For Old Men" where Javier Bardem is about to cold-bloodedly kill yet another victim when the victim says, "You don't have to do this." And Bardem chuckles and says, "They always say the same thing."

And he does it anyhow. I guess to the people who keep celebrating the worst of human nature, I would also say, "You don't have to do this." But they're gonna do it anyhow.

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