review

‘Sabaya’: Film Review | Sundance 2021

The last major stronghold of the Islamic State — also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh — fell in March 2019, when the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces liberated the town of Baghouz, on the border between Syria and Iraq. At the peak of its power, ISIS controlled a swath of land the size of Britain between those two Middle Eastern countries, with some 8 million people under the rule of its so-called caliphate. Among the militant group’s highest-profile victims were the Yazidi, a religious minority in northern Iraq that was targeted by ISIS for genocide and the mass kidnapping, rape and forced marriage of its young girls.

Violence needs only an instant to transpire; recovery and restoration can take a lifetime or more. That’s the heart-wrenching reality that Iraqi-born, Sweden-based director Hogir Hirori (The Deminer, The Girl Who Saved My Life) captures in Sabaya, which

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‘Pleasure’ Review: A Raw and Real Drama About the L.A. Porn Industry

If you had to say what the biggest difference is between the porn industry of the 1970s and the porn industry of today, you’d probably start with the obvious and overwhelming fact that people used to watch porn in grungy movie theaters and now access it on the Internet. You might talk about how even though the porn industry is still driven by a star system, with brand names who treat themselves like multi-media commodities, the larger cosmos of porn has never been more squalidly democratized, with porn festering more than ever in a grimy gray zone between “professional” and “amateur” — between those who do it for a living and those who dip into it for stray cash, desperate circumstances, or simply for kicks.

Yet beyond all that, the real paradigm shift in porn — it’s one that underlies a spiritual shift in the culture — is how extreme

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‘Ma Belle, My Beauty’ Review: Can Three Be Company Once Again?

When Lane arrives at a train station in southern France in “Ma Belle, My Beauty,” she’s greeted by Fred. Clad in the casual uniform of late summer — shorts, sandals, a breezy cotton shirt — he gives her a little smile. Lane, on the other hand, looks from the start like something is weighing on her, and it’s not just her oversized backpack. “Do you think she’ll want to see me?” she asks, with a wary note and pensive brow. Turns out Fred is springing Lane on his wife in hopes of rekindling their threesome, not so much for himself as for wife Bertie.

While its polyamorous triangle might sound edgy to some, first-time feature director Marion Hill’s romantic drama — which had its world premiere at the Sundance film festival — was in line with other 2021 Sundance selections that depict underrepresented characters and their experiences by way of

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Portland Japanese Garden exhibit offers glimpse inside Manzanar prison camp (review)

The Portland Japanese Garden had ambitious plans for its art program as it started 2020. A new curator, Laura Mueller, joined the staff in early 2019 and sharpened and refined exhibitions that had already been scheduled for the year. For 2020, which was to be Mueller’s first full year of programming, she and Akihito Nakanishi, the garden’s curator of culture, art and education, planned five exhibitions around the theme of a “year of peace” to mark the anniversary of the end of World War II. Her first exhibition was a haunting series of photographs by an internationally recognized artist, Ishiuchi Miyako, documenting the personal objects of victims of the bombing of Hiroshima. That show closed March 15. On March 18, the garden closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and laid off more than 100 staff the next day.

The garden reopened to visitors in early June, and Nakanishi says they’re

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