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Rants and Raves: Films to be Thankful For

This Thanksgiving What Films Are You Grateful For?

Above: Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et La Bete."


Aired 11/23/10

KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando provides a list of films to be thankful for.


With Thanksgiving just a day away I've been thinking about films to be thankful for. Which ones are you grateful for? Listen to my radio feature, and click for links to trailers and clips.

On the Cinema Junkie Facebook page I have been posting a trailer a day representing films I am grateful for. But 30 days isn't nearly enough time and 3 minutes 50 seconds is even less but here goes.

Jim Broadbent and Katherine Helmond in Terry Gilliam's "Brazil."


Above: Jim Broadbent and Katherine Helmond in Terry Gilliam's "Brazil."

I'm thankful for filmmakers who cast spells on us and make us look up in wonder at the screen. I am thankful for Jean Cocteau's "La Belle et La Bete" for proving that cinema can be pure magic; to Japanese animator Hayao Miyzaki for showing us that the fantastical and the normal can exist side by side; to the French New Wavers for blowing the dust off stale conventions to invest the movies with a newfound rebellion; and to Terry Gilliam for proving that there are no limits to what can be imagined onscreen only the restrictions of narrow-minded studios.

Boris Karloff as the monster in James Whale's "Frankenstein."

Universal Pictures

Above: Boris Karloff as the monster in James Whale's "Frankenstein."

I'm grateful for films that make us sympathize with the monster from James Whale's "Frankenstein" to Guillermo Del Toro's "Cronos" and "Devil's Backbone," films that made us feel compassion for a vampire and a ghost. And to the 1933 "King Kong" in which a giant ape was so endearing that I wept when he died.

CARL DENHAM: It wasn't the planes that killed him, it was beauty that killed the beast.

And thanks to Japan for making me fall in love with men in rubber suits masquerading as a giant monster known as Godzilla. I'm thankful for films that appeal to the thirteen year old boy in me like "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones."

Paul Newman as "Cool Hand Luke."

Warner Brothers

Above: Paul Newman as "Cool Hand Luke."

I give thanks to Paul Newman for the bluest blue eyes and for bucking the system with impertinence; to Errol Flynn for swashbuckling his way through adventures with a rogue's grin that could make me swoon; and to Robert Mitchum for lighting up a cigarette like no one else could. And to all the cinematic clowns who made me laugh till my sides ached starting with Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd who needed no words; to Hong Kong's Stephen Chow who mixed physical and verbal comedy with equal ease; to Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck, and Jean Arthur for their sophisticated screwball comediennes; and to Mae West who could turn any phrase into a suggestive come on.

MAN: I shall die to make you happy.

MAE WEST: But you're no good to me dead.

And to the Marx Brothers and Monty Python for their comic anarchy and total lack of respect for authority.

KING ARTHUR: I order you to be quiet.

WOMAN: Order me? Who does he think he is?

KING ARTHUR: I am your king.

WOMAN: Well I didn't vote for you.

Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn as the title characters of "Pat and Mike."


Above: Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn as the title characters of "Pat and Mike."

I'm thankful for Myrna Loy and William Powell for letting the world see that marriage could be fun; to Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastrioanni for sexy Italian romance; to Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart for teaching us to whistle; and to Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn for showing us that men and women could be equals on screen.

MIKE: We're equal, partners. Five-0, five-0.

To people like Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, and Preston Sturges who created dialogue that, sparkled, zinged, and crackled. And to contemporary writers like Woody Allen, David Mamet, Sam Shepherd, Neil LaBute, and Hal Hartley who are less concerned with realism and more with creating rhythms and cadences that play like musical scores.

Michelle Yeoh stars with actor, stuntman, and sometime director Jackie Chan in "Supercop."


Above: Michelle Yeoh stars with actor, stuntman, and sometime director Jackie Chan in "Supercop."

I am thankful to filmmakers that put the motion in motion pictures: to Jackie Chan who could make any prop come to life; to John Woo who choreographed bullet ballets of heroic bloodshed; and to Gene Kelly who made dance athletic.

I offer my deepest gratitude to filmmakers who reject comfortable cinema and don't know how to cop out to a happy ending. To Takashi Miike for taking us beyond extreme; to David Lynch for making the mundane creepy beyond belief; and to David Cronenberg for knowing exactly how to make you squirm.

VERONICA: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Chow Yun Fat sliding down the banister with two guns blazing in John Woo's Hard-Boiled."

Golden Princess

Above: Chow Yun Fat sliding down the banister with two guns blazing in John Woo's Hard-Boiled."

I'm thankful for zombies, femme fatales, film noir, and horror. I am thankful for moments in cinema that take my breath away – Chow Yun Fat sliding down a banister with two guns blazing in "Hard-Boiled;" Grace Kelly's kiss in "Rear Window;" Cyd Charisse's endless legs in "Singin' in the Rain;" the opening shots of "Blade Runner;" the intoxicating romance of Wong Kar Wai; and Slim Pickens riding a nuke at the end of "Dr. Strangelove."


I give thanks to the young filmmakers who were making their first films when I was most impressionable especially Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. And to the recent upstarts like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

Orson Welles as the title character in "Citizen Kane," which he also directed.


Above: Orson Welles as the title character in "Citizen Kane," which he also directed.

Oh no! My 3 minutes and 50 seconds are up and there are still hundreds more things I'm thankful for. So let me just end with the man who gave us a piece of cinematic perfection: Orson Welles and his first film "Citizen Kane." He dazzled us with a film that still feels fresh today, and he displayed a passion for the medium that has rarely been equalled.

So thanks to all of the creative people and wondrous films that have given me so much joy in a darkened theater.

So what films are you thankful for?

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Avatar for user 'lolo'

lolo | November 24, 2010 at 1:32 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm thankful for Genghis Blues that combines so many of my favorite elements: weird music; fat men on tiny horses; grand adventure; heartbreak; old men drinking strange vodka; richard feynman; strange, friendly, adventurous people having lots of fun.

I'm thankful for any movie that has a spunky child showing wisdom beyond their years (bonus points for foreign language): The Bicycle Thief, The Cave of the Yellow Dog, Cinema Paradiso.

I'm thankful for any movie that makes me think, laugh, cry, cringe, shout, groan, or otherwise have an emotional response. I'm thankful for the people who put their blood, sweat and tears into my favorite form of story telling, and I'm thankful for the people who share thoughtful criticism, insight, and passion for film (like, for instance, you, Beth... And you, people who read Beth's column).

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BlendaB | November 24, 2010 at 1:55 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm thankful for so many movies, but particularly those which lift me out of a bad mood. And The Big Lebowski works every time. Long live The Dude!

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | November 24, 2010 at 2:16 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm thankful for people like you who love movies as much as I do! And thanks for the wonderful image of fat men on tiny horses!

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Avatar for user 'Byronik'

Byronik | November 24, 2010 at 9:22 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

Dark Star, Bruno, Dr. Strangelove, Apocalypse Now!, Casablanca, La battaglia di Algeri, Wages of Fear, Du rififi chez les hommes, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, Funeral in Berlin, Lawrence of Arabia, Hoffa, Performance, Groundhog Day, Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot, The Devils, Life of Brian, The Italian Job (1969), One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Our Man in Havana…

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Avatar for user 'Miguel Rodriguez'

Miguel Rodriguez | November 24, 2010 at 9:29 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

Making lists has always caused me some anxiety, but this was certainly fun to think about! I decided to list the films I'm most thankful for by genre. Most people who know me would probably guess that all mine would be horror, but I love all kinds of films and I can appreciate quality across genres. These are films that opened doors for me when I saw them, either to other films or to a new way of thinking.

Comedy: Harvey--Along with Duck Soup and Abbot and Costello Meet the Wolf Man, this movie is credited with making a very young me appreciate black and white funnies. Jimmy Stewart made me want my own invisible friend.

Documentary: Trekkies--This made it almost ok to come out of the geek closet in a time before geeks got all the attention they are getting now.

Horror: Gojira--The film I saw twice. I grew up with the Raymond Burr version and adored it, but when I finally saw it's fully-uncut Japanese glory, I was amazed at how much personal experience could be felt in a giant monster movie.

Drama: To Kill a Mockingbird--A near perfect literature adaptation. Gregory Peck's finest hour.

Giallo: Blood and Black Lace--Although not the first, it's certainly one of the most imitated and classy of the Italian Giallo's. Genuinely atmospheric, and Mario Bava at his shadowy best!

Arthouse/surreal: The Holy Mountain--I saw this movie three times in a row once, desperate to not miss a single detail. The gorgeous and the vile are seamlessly intertwined in these images. This film opened my eyes to what could be done with a camera and some creativity.

Science Fiction: Metropolis--This film was made at a time when cinema was largely experimental, and Fritz Lang was a leader in showing what could be done. It was bigger than life and absolutely stunning, even after it was cut to pieces.

Action: Return of the Dragon--My personal introduction to both Bruce Lee and the Hong Kong martial arts film. After seeing this, I was so hungry for more that I begged my mom to find and rent chop socky movies wherever we could.

Western: The Magnificent Seven--I hate to admit that I was the surly kid who thought westerns were boring or stupid. That is, until I was around 11 and saw how badass Yul Brenner could be!

Musical: Sweeney Todd (TV movie version with Angela Lansbury)--I saw this as a kid (I see a theme here) and it opened my eyes to both musicals and the stage.

War: Apocalypse Now!--This movie is like an inescapable nightmare. I don't know if a film can completely capture the experience of war, but this one sure tries.

Courtroom: 12 Angry Men--This one actually makes me feel claustrophobic. Before I saw this, I would never have guessed that all one needs for a suspenseful and quality film is a room and painstakingly crafted dialogue.

Noir: Touch of Evil---I couldn't leave this list without Noir or without Orson Welles, so here is both in one! Almost hopelessly dark at times, but not without eliciting some sympathy from us.

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Avatar for user 'Miguel Rodriguez'

Miguel Rodriguez | November 24, 2010 at 9:29 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

Oops, it didn't keep my formatting! Sorry, that'll be hard to read!

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | November 24, 2010 at 9:36 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

Sorry to cause you anxiety Miguel but thanks for a lovely list. And thanks to Michael too. Both lists spur me to think of other films. The list I made was way too short.

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Avatar for user 'dubbio'

dubbio | November 24, 2010 at 9:36 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

beth- like your 3:50 min thanksgiving essay to movies but it was sooo long. but if i had to pick one thing from this year: i really really enjoyed Scott Pilgrim vs the World as pure goofy fun for the l33t contingent.

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Avatar for user 'piathrasher'

piathrasher | November 24, 2010 at 10:06 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

Great blog - thank you for reminding us of some awesome movies that are worth revisiting!
I'm grateful for movies that lure me in, completely mesmerize me and let me truly escape reality for 2 or so hours. I'm grateful for movies that make me laugh so hard that my cheeks and sides hurt and leave me in giggle fits for days. Or dramas that linger in my head for days afterward, making me wonder what I would have done in that character's place. Or scary movies that won't let me go back to sleep at 3.30 am (ok, maybe not so grateful for THAT), but you know what I mean ;). Or sci-fi movies that make me wish I was born 500 years from now..
I'm grateful for genius comic pairings like Steve Martin and John Candy in "Trains, Plains & Automobiles", gutsy casting (from male to female) of characters like Ellen Ripley in the "Alien" movies or even TV show "Battlestar Galactica" (Starbuck and Boomer). Grateful for the fact that women are getting a foothold in the Horror genre (not just as damsels in distress, but as directors and writers). I could go on...and on and I know I'm probably leaving out things I'll facepalm myself for later... I'm also grateful for knowing other movie buffs and fanatics with whom I can discuss these things for hours into the night :)

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Avatar for user 'Droofus'

Droofus | November 24, 2010 at 12:34 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

Dr. Strangelove, Ma Vie en Rose, Harold and Maude, The Terminator, Once Upon a Time in America, The Thing, Tampopo, Dawn of the Dead ('78), Brad Bird films, UP, Quill, Everlasting Memories, Peter Jackson's Brain Dead, Re-Animator, Lola Rennt

Quill is an extremely underrated Japanese dog film that all dog lovers should seek out!!

I'm grateful for the film makers who's goal is to raise the bar and create something unique and memorable for a starving audience of increasingly jaded film fans. There are people with great ideas out there, so we don't need all these annoying remakes and sequels.

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Avatar for user 'trere8'

trere8 | November 24, 2010 at 1:53 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

I'm thankful for films like Lightning Over Water, Night Train to Munich, The Magnificent Ambersons, Sugata Sanshiro, Les Amants De La Nuit, War of the Gargantuas, Unfaithfully Yours, Gate of Flesh, BMX Bandits, Late Spring, Obsession aka The Hidden Room, Repo Man, The Third Man and The Adventures of Harry Lime, Ikiru, Umberto D., 2000 Maniacs!, Samurai Trilogy, Plan Nine From Outer Space, À Bout De Souffle, Bugsy Malone, El Angel Exterminador, Le Testament d'Orphee, Bedazzled, Sanjuro, Tirez Sur Le Pianiste, The Gladiators (Watkins), Harakiri, Jules Et Jim, Blood Feast, Get Carter, Etsuko Shihomi, Shinichi Chiba & Hiroyuki Sanada, Withnail & I, In The Realm of the Senses, Abe Sada Story, Love & Crime, The Gauntlet, Django, The Face Of Another, The Green Hornet/Batman crossover episodes, Sword Of Doom, Ultraman, Zatoichi, Kozure Ookami, Girl on a Motorcycle, The Shaw Bros., Les Amants du Pont Neuf, Goyokin, El Topo, Lisztomania, Danger: Diabolik, Hit Man, Three The Hard Way, Ten Canoes, and so on...

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Avatar for user 'MichaelFilmOut'

MichaelFilmOut | November 24, 2010 at 2:32 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

In no particular order:

Cook, Thief, Wife, Lover
Dressed to Kill
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Seventh Seal
Young Frankenstein
Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls
The Devils
Suddenly Last Summer
An Unmarried Woman
Fight Club
Educating Rita
Atlantic City
Fellini Satyricon
The Omen
Blade Runner
Sex Lies & Videotape

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | November 24, 2010 at 4:10 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

Brazil? I don't know man, that was pretty bad. I see Gilliam as talented, similar to a Welles or a Kubrick but with much less commercial and critical success. He just can't seem to put anything halfway cohesive together!

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | November 24, 2010 at 4:14 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

Wow! What great additions. I'm thrilled to see such eclectic picks.

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Avatar for user 'Spazweez'

Spazweez | November 24, 2010 at 11:32 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

At the risk of repeating and in no real order, I'm thankful for: Airplane!, Holy Grail/Life of Brian, Lebowski, Alien/s, Dark City, Godfather I&II, Star Wars, Dead Alive, Re-Animator, Ferris Bueller, Terminator, Near Dark, Ninja Scroll, Shawshank, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Exorcist, Matrix, Dark Knight, Brazil, The Haunting (orig), Jaws, Fight Club, Princess Bride, Silence of the Lambs, Evil Dead II. Also, three that deserve to be set apart: Throne of Blood, The Lion in Winter, and Lawrence of Arabia. And, of course, the incomparable Lady M.

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giacomo | November 25, 2010 at 12:13 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago


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Miguel Rodriguez | November 26, 2010 at 3:52 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

I can't believe I left out such an important genre and film!!!

ADVENTURE: Clash of the Titans--the film that is responsible for my obsession with classical storytelling and my having chosen classical literature as a double major.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | November 26, 2010 at 6:48 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

All this makes me want to spend a whole day snuggled on the couch watching movies. Thanks to everyone for all the movie memories this is conjuring up for me. Hope you all had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday!

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Avatar for user 'jferrelli'

jferrelli | November 29, 2010 at 2 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

I am thankful for stream of consciousness which is how I put this list together. I let my brain drift to movies that have stayed with me over the years.

Any list of what I am thankful for has to begin with John Cassavetes, but what to choose? "A Woman Under the Influence" or "The Killing of a Chinese Bookie" "Opening Night" or "Faces" or "Love Streams?" It's all about love, all about family, all about the potential of personal cinema within and outside the bounds of Hollywood.

I am thankful for Terence Davies, particularly "The Long Day Closes," a boy obsessed with all things cinema certainly resonates and the lush visuals, immaculate symmetry, and detailed aural components make it as near to perfection as could be for me.

I am thankful for Frank Tashlin's expert skewering of advertising (Stay Put Lipstick), movie stars (the inimitable Jayne Mansfield), and the American dream (chicken farms over fame and fortune) makes "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter," well, a total success of 50's filmmaking at its cartoon-iest.

I am thankful for musicals, from the pop out colors of "Singing in the Rain," to the heavenly "Carousel," from Streisand's star making debut in "Funny Girl" to the 60's groove of "How To Succeed in Business," from the before its time reality tv studio setting of quasi "Rocky Horror" sequel "Shock Treatment" to John Cameron Mitchell's modern tranny extravaganza "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."

I give thanks for David Mamet, the deadpan performance and iambic pentameter of then Mrs Mamet Lindsay Crouse in his directorial debut "House of Games" and mastery of the cop genre/buddy movie in "Homicide."

I give thanks to Jean Cocteau for the black and white poetic death beauty that is "Orpheus."

Thanks to the glory of Robert Bresson, from "Mouchette" to "L'argent."

I am thankful for Robert Altman's revisionist detective work in "The Long Goodbye," complete with a Jewish Phillip Marlowe, his expose of all things Americana in "Nashville" to the ghosts of the same in his one room setting theatrical adaptation of "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean."

I am thankful for a devious, adulterous, murder minded Marilyn Monroe in Henry Hathaway's "Niagara" and a tortured repressed governess Deborah Kerr in Jack Clayton's ultra creepy Henry James adaptation, "The Innocents."

And because I have to end this somewhere, I am thankful to Todd Haynes, not only for his Barbie doll epic "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story" but for the chilling sterility of "Safe," featuring a role of a lifetime for the fabulous Julieanne Moore.

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Missionaccomplished | November 29, 2010 at 8:28 a.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

BYRONIK--wow--LA BATTAGLIA DI ALGERI and THE WAGES OF FEAR!!! Right on!!! But then you deflate my balloon with BRUNO and PERFORMANCE!!!! Aaaaaaaaaaaarghhh!

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | November 30, 2010 at 1:50 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

Oh Cassavetes, Terence Davies, Altman and Marilyn in Niagara! Thanks for those additions.

And did I see Lady M somewhere above? Yikes!

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Avatar for user 'ryan_black'

ryan_black | November 30, 2010 at 9:05 p.m. ― 6 years, 3 months ago

in no particular order: the green mile, american ganster, butterfly effect, ingloreus bastards, the proffessional, deck dogz, resivore dogz, constitine, boys in the hood, saveing private ryan, the departed, four brothers, rein of fire, lord of the rings, godfather, grand turino slumdog millionare, scarface, stand by me, vfor vendetta, good will hunting, the time traveler, big fish.

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lea | December 3, 2010 at 7:50 a.m. ― 6 years, 2 months ago

I am thankful for the films that people my age can relate to such as, The Graduate. I love Ben is so confused about what he will do next especially since graduation is such an important part of life. I still do not know what I want to do next. Also, movies that keep coming around more modernized like Set It off and then Takers(2010). I am thankful for all the films that have kept me up all night because I was afraid to sleep like the film It. I love the whole seris of Saw because it actually made me think and feel for the characters. There are many other films that I am thankful for but these are some of the main ones.

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Avatar for user 'brixsy'

brixsy | December 4, 2010 at 10:50 a.m. ― 6 years, 2 months ago

I love most of the Criterion collection. Some of their movies I thought were over the top but I liked Cocteau's Belle, Crazed Fruit, Hiroshima Mon Amour, Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, Divorce Italian Style, Ikiru (!!!). Also Black Runner (on the 5-disc Blu-ray set)

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alexa_e | December 12, 2010 at 5:32 p.m. ― 6 years, 2 months ago

I am thankful for the movies of truth. I am a complete zombie in front of the television for the movies that reveal the harshness of certain lifestyles that not every person gets the oppurtunity to see in reality. It is the films such as Precious, Taken, Schindler's List, Bowling for Columbine and even Babel that I can honestly claim to have had an influence on my outlook on life. Surely enough, there are many others I am thankful for that I have left unnamed but it is within my liking of films that "show the world" that these films don't not go unnamed. If it wasn't for films such as these, I wouldn't be content with knowing that there is a large group of people who are ignorant to some of the most depressing extremities of our world.

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Avatar for user 'Beth Accomando'

Beth Accomando, KPBS Staff | December 13, 2010 at 11:14 a.m. ― 6 years, 2 months ago

Thanks! Films that actually affect how we perceive the world are rare and are something to treasure.

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