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  • Issue of
  • May 20-26, 2009
  • Vol. 29, No. 32

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Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • American Violet

    The freeway to hell gets a fresh coat of asphalt in this sturdy, well-intentioned but ultimately sleepy slice of Southern small town race relations. The film is based on the true story of a series of controversial, racially charged police raids of a Texas housing project, with the 2000 Bush election chaos as backdrop. Among the dozens of African-American residents rounded up and hauled to jail is volatile single mother Dee Roberts (Nicole Behaire), who’s in the midst of a nasty custody struggle, but is really only guilty of unpaid parking tickets. The ruthless local D.A. (Michael O’Keefe) pads his tough-on-crime stats by trumping charges against disenfranchised, easy targets such as Dee and leaning heavily on them to take a plea deal. But this feisty gal won’t cave, she’s not about buckle under and risk losing her kids over the stain of a false drug felony. Help arrives from a cavalry of do-gooding ACLU attorneys, led by Tim Blake Nelson, determined to make a stand against endemic prejudice and a rigged system.
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  • The Scene
  • Lemon Tree

    Salma (Hiam Abbass) is a fortysomething Palestinian widow who literally lives off the fruits of her land — a 50-year-old lemon grove that sits on the border between Israel and the West Bank. Unfortunately, politics come calling when Israel’s new defense minister (Doron Tavory) moves in next door. His men view her grove as a potential security threat and want it removed. Salma enlists Ziad Daud (Ali Suliman), a young Palestinian attorney to defend her rights, pushing the case all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court. Along the way she falls into an improbable romantic relationship with Ziad as the media catch hold of her story. Meanwhile, life on the other side of the fence also becomes rocky, as the minister’s cloistered wife, Mira (Rona Lipaz-Michael), has deep misgivings about who her husband is and the choices he makes.
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