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A War. A challenging feature film
focuses on a Danish army officer who commands a small unit on the front
in Afghanistan while his wife cares for their three children back home. The
puts him and his fellow troops in an impossible situation for which the
higher-ups then try to hold him accountable.
Freeheld. Julianne Moore and Ellen Page star in a very moving
film about a longtime New Jersey policewoman and the much younger woman she
loved. When the policewoman learned she was dying of cancer, the county
initially refused to pass on her pension to her partner even though it
a male officer’s wife. The film closely follows a true story,
community movement that tried to force county officials to change their
It serves as a poignant reminder of what was at stake in the fight for
equality. One glaring inaccuracy is that the film makes it seem that only
male officer supported her and omits the fact that it was originally her
that asked the county on her behalf to treat her and her domestic partner
same as a married couple.
Overnighters. A powerful
documentary follows a pastor in a small
North Dakota town who uses the church to provide overnight shelter to
people who have come from out of state in hopes of finding work in the
oil and gas industry. Local church members resist, sparking tension over
it means to be a Christian community.
Good Night. A
war-zone photojournalist who brings the world’s attention to
suffering faces tough questions about her motivation and the impact of her
on her family.
In the latest film from director Ken Loach, an Irish
socialist creates a community center in a rural area where young people can
gain skills and knowledge and enjoy themselves. The local political and
economic elite and the Catholic Church are threatened as the center helps
galvanize community organizing.
the Serpent. The
obliteration of Amazonian communities and cultures by rubber barons’
the backdrop for this visually striking feature film based on the actual
diaries of two scientists who traveled in the rain forest some 40 years
Rams. Two brothers
who live next door to each other on
remote sheep farming ranches in Iceland have not spoken to each other in 40
years. A deadly disease spreading from outside the country infects the
intense human drama.
Elly. A joyous group of
Iranian friends arrives on the
Caspian Sea coast to frolic for a few days, bringing with them a young
schoolteacher as part of a matchmaking scheme. An unexpected turn of events
severely tests each of the characters and the relationships among
Seagull’s Laughter. A
glamorous and mysterious woman returns home from America to a small town in
Iceland where she provokes admiration, envy, and suspicion.
German woman full of rage is sent to prison where she clashes with and
from a bitter elderly piano teacher who recognizes her special
this feature film from India, a 65-year-old rapper
and political agitator who performs in slum neighborhoods faces Kafkaesque
repression from the government.
She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. A documentary that
blends talking heads with
archival footage traces the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s as it
on issues including access to jobs, equal pay, reproductive freedom, sexual
liberation, lesbian rights, rape and domestic violence, and affordable day
Looking Glass. A
touching if imperfect story centers on the
relationship between a troubled teenager and her grandmother, with many
features including an edgy production of Alice in Wonderland that takes
within the film.
Happy Valley by Anne Shannon Monroe (Oregon
University). A romantic novel
published 100 years ago makes particularly interesting reading in view of
recent armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern
Oregon.It was written by a woman who
homesteaded in that part of the state and who fondly describes a variety of
characters who were doing the same. The land was given to them by the
government, yet already they were resentful of limitations on hunting and
interference with a proposed project to drain wetlands and cut down forests
Spirit Bird by Kent Nelson (University of
Pittsburgh). These engaging
stories take place in many different kinds of places with a common theme of
who are searching for something in their life.
Ladies Night at the Dreamland by
Sonja Livingston (University of Georgia). In 21 literary nonfiction essays, the author
speculates about the lives of a wide variety of mostly little known women
U.S. history whose unusual circumstances caught her attention.
Daring to Write edited by Erika M.
Martinez (University of Georgia). Two
dozen highly personal pieces of fiction or nonfiction by Dominican women
women of Dominican descent in the U.S. give voice to a range of
Burial Rites by
Hannah Kent (Little, Brown). This
compelling historical novel is based on the
case of an Icelandic farmer’s servant in the 1820s who was convicted
participating in the murder of her master. While waiting to be beheaded,
sent to be supervised by a magistrate’s wife on an isolated farm from
wouldn’t be able to escape. Little by little, her story
Listen, Slowly by
Thanhha Lai (HarperCollins). A 12-year-old daughter of Vietnamese refugees
up in California and now visits Vietnam for the first time with her
grandmother. This lively novel sees Vietnamese culture from a teenage
by Connie Voisine (University
of Chicago). Many of these
poems by a woman who teaches in southern New Mexico have themes related to
U.S.-Mexico border region.
Greening the Global Economy by
Robert Pollin (MIT). An
economist makes the case that a faster transition to renewable energy and
greater energy efficiency is not only the right path for confronting
change but is the best way to create jobs, save money, and improve living
standards around the world.
Rethinking Sexism, Gender, and Sexuality
and Rhythm and Resistance:
Poetry for Social Justice (Rethinking Schools). These two books are exceptionally useful
schoolteachers about ways they have found to explore social justice issues
children. Each one combines practical experience with actual materials and
a Teacher by David Tourzan.
A teacher who has worked in both
rural and urban settings provides a candid inside view of the challenges he
his colleagues have faced as many of society’s problems are laid at
doorstep while corporate and political opportunists use them as
edited by Susan
E. Eaton (The New Press). Even as some
politicians whip up anti-immigrant sentiment, many communities in both red
blue states are helping recent immigrants to integrate into civic life
having to shed their own culture. This collection reports on a dozen
Think Tank by Laurence
H. Shoup (Monthly Review). Nothing
better exemplifies America’s foreign policy establishment than the
Foreign Relations (CFR), a group of politicians from both major parties,
corporate CEOs, active and retired military leaders, and other elites.
Membership is by invitation only. Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton are
members. According to this detailed analysis, the Council promotes foreign
policies that benefit global corporations and the 1% by producing studies,
sponsoring strategy meetings, and providing a pool of people that fill key
foreign policy positions in both Democratic and Republican
Hell is a Very
Small Place edited by
Jean Casella, James Ridgeway, and Sarah Shourd (The New Press). An estimated 80,000 U.S. prisoners are being
in solitary confinement on any given day. In this collection, current and
former prisoners describe this appallingly inhumane and counterproductive
practice from their own experience.
The War on Leakers by Lloyd C.
Gardner (The New Press). Over the past
century the U.S. government has steadily increased repression against
whistleblowers who leak information the public has a right to know.
has invoked the Espionage Act more than any previous president, including
Edward Snowden case that is a major focus of this book.
3 by HoneyHoney. Strong songwriting about
a variety of relationships, including a song called Marry Rich about a
who didn’t marry at all (“Money don't come quick, unless your
born with it, thumb
in your mouth and gold in your spit.”)
The Monsanto Years by Neil
Young. Mostly unlistenable rants but one gem – People Want to Hear
– that is Young’s ironic response to music industry execs
telling him not to
try to sing about political subjects.