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“The Birth of a Nation” and Moral Dissonance

(10/12/16 4:00am)

When, if ever, should the actions of an artist negate the value of their art? In 1977, filmmaker Roman Polanski pled guilty to the drugging and statutory rape of a 13-year-old girl. Twenty-five years later, he won an Academy Award for Best Director for his film “The Pianist.” A gripping biopic about a Jewish man’s attempts at surviving Nazi Germany’s occupation of Warsaw, “The Pianist” is largely considered mandatory viewing in order to understand the terrifying nature of the Holocaust. It was also made by a rapist. Is that to say that a historically important and significant story should not be heard because of the actions of a single artist?

Recess reviews: 'Masterminds'

(10/05/16 4:00am)

If the intention of directing is to leave a unique fingerprint on a film, then director Jared Hess’s mark would be unmistakable: tonally deadpan, visually drab and awkward in every sense of the word. In terms of his past work, “Napoleon Dynamite” was painted in hues of brown and yellow, “Gentlemen Broncos” thrived on socially inept and dimwitted characters and “Nacho Libre” felt at home with daft subject material. So why is it that his most recent film, “Masterminds,” feels like a juvenile attempt at comedy when it had all of the artistic underpinnings that make Hess’s films so humorously sound?