The Longest RideProtests began even before The Longest Ride opened on April 10: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals was in full force at the premiere in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Directed by George Tillman, Jr., and based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks, the film features the rodeo, where untrained bulls object to human riders by bucking them. Luke Collins (played by Clint’s son Daniel Eastwood) tries to prove his machismo by staying on top of a bronco longer than anyone else. He impresses a graduating senior from Wake Forest University, and most of the film is a love story folded into a remembrance of another love story, so The Longest Ride is primarily a “date movie” that suggests a college grad can fall for a rancher and a woman in love who wants a big family will settle for a war hero who lost his virility in battle. But cows are not horses, so the sport has no practical purpose. The filming of three rodeos is in North Carolina, where animal torture is illegal
. MH

White GodMeanwhile, Hungary has not ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals of 1987, unlike neighboring Bulgaria and Romania. The film White God (Fehér isten) implicitly implores the county to do, thereby joining most of the rest of Europe. The term “white god” is presumably selected to challenge the view that Hungarians act as if they are gods with absolute power over animals. Directed by Kornél Mundruczó, the film focuses on thirteen-year-old Lili (played by Zsófia Psotta), whose best friend is Hagen, a lovable reddish-brown mixed-breed dog. When her mother leaves town for a three-month stint in Australia to improve her job skills, she parks Lili with her father (Sandor Zsótér), who runs a slaughterhouse for beef in a manner that will displease vegetarians and advocates for animal rights. Her father’s acid personality immediately demonstrates why they divorced. But minutes after Lili takes up residence in her father’s apartment, the landlady insists that the dog must be registered as a mutt. Her father does not want to pay a hefty tax for a dog that he does not like, especially after Hagen’s noises disrupt his sleep, so he abandons the dog to the street. Hagen’s subsequent journey enables filmviewers to see a side of picturesque Budapest that tourists know nothing about. The dog is captured by a homeless man, who sells the dog for cash and food from a restaurant owner, who in turn sells the dog to an underground dog merchant, and soon Hagen is bought again and trained to win in a dogfight (similar to cockfighting). After killing the other dog in a contest, Hagen escapes when the lights suddenly go off and runs wild with several dozen abandoned dogs throughout the city. Eventually, Hagen is captured and sent to a dog pound for possible sale, but his ferocity enables him not only to escape again but also to liberate other dogs, who pose a terroristic threat to the city as they run and bite along the way, with blood flowing in their path. Lili, meanwhile, has been searching for Hagen. Her quest comes to an end as Hagen leads the pack to her father’s slaughterhouse. What happens then will leave filmviewers stunned, so glued to their seats that patrons in West Los Angeles could not get up from their seats in a late night screening as credits rolled. One argument for animal rights is that when society mistreats animals, the result is that humans will mistreat one another, and that thesis is clearly demonstrated throughout the film. For Hungarians, the film may be a paradigm of recent politics in a country where the current prime minister wants to remake the polity as an “illiberal democracy.” Or a paradigm of how some Europeans are treating immigrants. A title at the beginning says that no dog was harmed, and all were adopted afterward, but their acting is absolutely astounding. MH

Age of Uprising
American Sniper
The Better Angels
Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain
Boys of Abu Ghraib
Burning Blue
Camp X-Ray
Cesar Chavez
A Coffee in Berlin
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Dear White People
Devil's Knot
Fifty Shades of Grey
Fort McCoy
Free the Nipple
Giovanni's Island
The Giver
Ilo Ilo
The Imitation Game
The Immigrant
The Interview
The Kill Team
Kill The Messenger
The Last Sentence
Legends of Oz
The Liberator
The Longest Ride
Love Is Strange
The Monuments Men
A Most Wanted Man
Night Moves
The Railway Man
The Retrieval
The Theory of Everything
Walking with the Enemy
White God

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