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ATW in Movies: Ida, Poland

So I'm doing this thing where I'm trying to watch one movie from every country but I got sort of carried away with Poland and watched three. I had barely seen any of Eastern Europe until I did this thing where I drove from London to Mongolia. It is easier to get to Mongolia from London if you drive through Eastern Europe, so we did—or at least through Prague, where we were going to spend the night in a parking garage but ended up at a hotel instead. A few years after that, I spent 36 hours in Budapest. In October, I went to Ukraine for fashion week, and it was amazing. But I still haven't seen nearly as much...

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ATW in Movies: Omar, Palestine

Two things in particular I noticed about Omar, which was Palestine's nomination for the best foreign language Oscar last year: 1: I've never been to Palestine. The closest I've come to seeing it in the past is another Palestinian Oscar-nominated film: 5 Broken Cameras. (You may remember this from the Veep joke if you haven't seen it, but you should see it, and Veep, too.) Threads of the tragedy in that film were Shakespearean in nature—and now, looking back, remind me quite a bit of Leviathan, the Russian film about surviving a corrupt state. Some of that is here in Omar, as well, named for the main character, a baker who pursues militancy as a means to push back against the...

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ATW in Movies: Crosswind, Estonia

I am properly obsessed with this movie. Let me back up, and discuss this film in a manner even more circuitous than usual. Before I decided to watch a movie from every country, I decided to read a book from every country. (In fact, I came up with the former while slogging through Anna Karenina, my Russia book.) The first book I read was the book-of-the-month for the Around the World in 80 Books group on Goodreads: Purge, by Sofi Oksanen. It dealt with the aftereffects of the Soviet devastation of the Baltic States—specifically Estonia—during World War II. Now, I am not an uneducated person. I can name a significant number of the presidents, I know the capital of Mongolia, and...

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The L Word

Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness. Despite the beauty of Justice Kennedy's prose  — and it is beautiful, most of it; it reminds me, in its way, of the closing passage of Thornton Wilder's "Bridge of San Luis Rey," and we'll get back to that in a minute — it does, in those words, obscure its point: No American citizen should be denied access to an institution of the government, a position we have long held here, including with the production of now-irrelevant glitter maps. I feel like Kennedy was perhaps less interested in suggesting that a life without marriage is such poor broth — and yet there it is. There is something so final and damning about the word "loneliness," a...

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