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Television

Mosul — A Gritty War Drama

Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, was conquered by Islamic State in June 2014 and recaptured by Iraq in July 2017. Matthew Carnahan’s gritty war drama, Mosul, which is now available on Netflix, focuses on a small Iraqi police squad as it carries out a mopping-up operation on the eve of Mosul’s liberation. He dedicates the […]

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Television

Valley Of Tears — A Powerful Israeli War Drama

The Yom Kippur War, which unfolded over a period of three weeks starting on October 6, 1973, traumatized Israel. During the course of the hostilities, some 2,600 Israeli soldiers were killed and 11,000 were wounded, a horrendous casualty toll for a country of Israel’s size. Israel had grown cocky since its dazzling victory in the […]

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Television

Devil’s Island — The Gateway To Hell

I watched Papillon, Michael Noer’s usually gripping 2017 film, on Netflix the other night. It’s based on an international bestseller published in the late 1960s. The author, a petty thief from Paris named Henri Charriere, was wrongfully convicted of murder in 1931. For the next 14 years, he languished in a remote and hellish prison in […]

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Television

The Life Ahead

Romain Gary’s novel, The Life Before Us, has been converted into a warm-hearted feature film, The Life Ahead. Now available on the Netflix streaming network, it stars the legendary Italian actress Sophia Loren, and is directed by her son, Edoardo Ponti. Loren, 86, plays Madame Rosa, a Holocaust survivor and former prostitute who earns a living babysitting […]

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Television

Rise Of The Nazis

Germany was a liberal democracy until Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. After his appointment as chancellor in January of 1933, Germany fell into the hands of a murderous fascist clique that persecuted dissidents and Jews, destroyed democratic institutions and invaded neighboring countries. Germany’s descent into dictatorship is explored in Rise of the Nazis, which starts […]

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Television

The Queen’s Gambit

I don’t know how to play chess, but I was riveted by Netflix’s new seven-part series, The Queen’s Gambit, a mesmerizing drama revolving around a young American woman who wins acclaim as an international chess champion. Created by Scott Frank and Allan Scott, it held me in thrall from start to finish. Isla Johnston plays […]

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Television

Apaches — A Compelling Spanish TV Series

My wife and I have just finished watching the 12th and final episode of Apaches on Netflix, a crime series that is easily one of finest dramas we’ve seen in a long time. I don’t normally write about such shows, but this one is so good that it deserves public praise. The story line is […]

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Television

The Trial Of The Chicago 7

One of the most sensational trials in American history got underway in Chicago on September 26, 1969 and dragged on for 151 days. It was essentially about enduring values that Americans cherish so much, namely free speech and freedom of assembly. In effect, American democracy was on trial. The defendants were left-wing radicals who believed […]

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Television

Walter Winchell: The Power Of Gossip

At his peak in the 1930 and 1940s, syndicated columnist and radio personality Walter Winchell commanded an audience of an estimated 50 million American readers and listeners. Blending news and entertainment, he single-handedly created the gossip-driven, politically-charged media culture of the United States. “Winchell is the architect of modern American media,” says his biographer, Neal […]

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Television

Borgen: The Danish House Of Cards

Borgen, the first-rate Danish Netflix drama, is at once like and unlike House of Cards, the acclaimed American series. Borgen is a nuanced portrait of Brigitte Nyborg, Denmark’s mythical first female prime minister and of the rival politicians, colleagues, journalists, spouse and children she interacts with on a daily basis. Although there is a competitive […]