Michael Jacobs

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Nanking Review


Excellent
Four years before Pearl Harbor, Japan was already on the march in China, grabbing territory in its quest for imperial expansion. After Shanghai fell, Japanese troops set their sights on Nanking, the capital of China at the time. It was just 160 miles up the Yangtze River.

The events later known as the rape of Nanking happened quickly, over just six horrific weeks at the end of 1937 and into 1938, and because the city was so cut off at the time and the war went on for eight more years, much of the story went untold for decades. It wasn't until writer Iris Chang documented the tragedy in her 1998 book The Rape of Nanking that the true scope of the horror was made apparent. It was that book that inspired Nanking, a highly effective documentary that uses interesting techniques to tell its remarkable story.

Continue reading: Nanking Review

Quiz Show Review


Very Good
People have tried to peg the "end of American innocence" on all sorts of things -- Vietnam, Watergate, the nuclear arms race -- but Robert Redford is, I believe, the first and only person to blame the decline of western civilization on the 21 game show scandal of the 1950s. But there you have it: A curious incident from the past -- and an inevitability, really -- in which upstanding blueblood Charles Van Doren (Ralph Fiennes in a very memorable role) gets caught up in a fixed game show, bringing the show and its producers (but ultimately, no one else) to its knees. Strangely, for such a buildup -- and Redford manages to build quite a snowball of drama in all of this, full of heroes and antiheroes -- the payoff is a real letdown. America survived the quiz show scandals, and trying to overblow the impact of what amounts to a novelty investigation rings a little bit false.

Halloween 5 Review


Weak
A relatively uninspired entry in the Halloween series, Halloween 5 picks up one year after Halloween 4, as Myers continues to hunt for his niece -- who attacked her stepmother at the end of 4 after being possessed by Myers, and is now having visions about where Michael is. Loomis is now a gibbering, scarred lunatic, and stepsister Rachel (Ellie Cornell) is still mega eye candy.

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