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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 8, 2007 / 27 Mar-Cheshvan 5768

Another Mob Hit: ‘American Gangster'’bests ‘The Godfather’

By George Will


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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "American Gangster" opened last weekend, and many of those who bought tickets — $43.6 million worth from Friday through Sunday — surely came away feeling as Mark Twain did when he said his memory was so powerful he could remember things that never even happened. Many moviegoers must have thought: I remember seeing this brand-new movie before.


They did. Its emulations of "The Godfather" are obviously intended to be obvious. But these genuflections to the archetype make "American Gangster" more, not less, interesting as a symptom of something permanent in the American mind — cynicism for sentimentalists.


In "The Godfather," bloody murders of Michael Corleone's rivals occur while the movie cuts back and forth from the mayhem to him in church. In "American Gangster," brutalities ordered by Frank Lucas are carried out as he brings a turkey on a platter to a table around which his extended family has gathered in a Thanksgiving tableau that mimics a famous Norman Rockwell painting. Message: Morality can be compartmentalized; family values can coexist with criminality.


Mario Puzo's "The Godfather" — one of the best-selling novels in the four centuries since Cervantes essentially invented the genre — has an epigraph from Balzac: "Behind every great fortune there is a crime." In the novel, some rival Mafiosos meet in a bank, beneath a portrait of Alexander Hamilton, patron saint of American commerce, who, Puzo wrote, "might have approved of this peace meeting being held in a banking institution. Nothing was more calming, more conducive to pure reason, than the atmosphere of money."


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In "American Gangster," Frank Lucas, proud of the purity of his Blue Magic heroin, upbraids a dealer for selling a less pure product under that name. He denounces the "trademark infringement" that damages "the brand." Message: A drug kingpin can master MBA-speak; the line between commerce and crime is blurry.


Lucas, played by Denzel Washington with a grace alternately feline and feral, really lived in the Harlem of the 1970s. He rose to dominate New York's heroin trade by cutting out the (white Mafia) middlemen, buying heroin directly from Southeast Asian producers and having it shipped to America in military aircraft — eventually, in the caskets of Vietnam casualties.


Richie Roberts (played by Russell Crowe), the cop who brought Lucas down, had a personal life as disordered as his professional life was tidy. Roberts was dangerously honorable: He found almost $1 million in cash and turned it in, thereby convincing corrupt cops, of whom there were many at the time, that he might turn them in, too. The rewards of corruption were huge as New York became, for several decades, a dystopia.


Around the middle of the 20th century, the cowboy, that solitary man living outside civilization, came to town as a private detective, often operating outside the law. Then, in 1972, the movie "The Godfather" managed to present the organization men of organized crime as paragons of individualism. Puzo called them "men who had refused to accept the rule of organized society, men who refused the dominion of other men." That was, of course, balderdash: Every Mafioso in the movie was utterly dominated by the hierarchy, at the apex of which sat Don Corleone.


In spite of its self-conscious coldbloodedness, the "Godfather" movie is sentimental. Its picture of Don Corleone judiciously administering the common law of gangsterdom is about as accurate a portrayal of organized crime as Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe" is an accurate portrayal of the unwashed brutes who made the Middle Ages a good epoch not to have lived in.


"American Gangster," like "The Godfather," invites viewers to admire business acumen for its own sake — when Lucas was brought down, the government seized assets worth $250 million — and entices viewers into the moral vertigo of forgetting the human carnage among users of the high-quality heroin that Lucas's organizational skills enabled him to sell cheap. But the movie, to its credit, repeatedly and abruptly halts its manipulation of viewers by roughly yanking them back to the reality of suppurating needle sores.


In "The Godfather," the visible victims were, so to speak, all in the family; they were criminals who had chosen their line of work because they liked it. In "American Gangster," the visible victims include the crying infant on the filthy mattress, next to the mother who has nodded off on a heroin high.


The labored and familiar facets of "American Gangster" — facile cynicism about commercial practices and "family values" — echo "The Godfather." The realism of "American Gangster," which is the more mature movie, is its own.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

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