WATCH: Obama Says Of Police Shootings, 'Change Has Been Too Slow'

President Barack Obama speaks on the recent police shootings in the U.S. at a hotel in Warsaw early Friday morning.

President Barack Obama speaks on the recent police shootings in the U.S. at a hotel in Warsaw early Friday morning. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama laid out stark statistics on the systemic racial inequities of the criminal justice system late Thursday, shortly after arriving in Poland for a NATO conference.

Speaking from Warsaw just after midnight local time, he addressed police violence and race in the wake of two high-profile shootings of African-American men by law enforcement officers.

Alton Sterling was shot by police in Baton Rouge, La., on Tuesday; video showed him lying on the ground at the time he was shot. Philando Castile was shot by an officer in suburban St. Paul, Minn., on Wednesday; his girlfriend, live streaming video immediately after the shooting, said Castile had been reaching for his wallet, because police requested his ID, when he was shot.

The president said he could not comment on the two shootings themselves because both are under investigation. But he did speak directly about failings in the administration of justice when it comes to race.

White House YouTube

“These are not isolated incidents,” Obama said. “They are symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system.”

He laid out some statistics:

“According to various studies — not just one but a wide range of studies that have been carried out over a number of years — African-Americans are 30 percent more likely than whites to be pulled over.

After being pulled over African-Americans and Hispanics are three times more likely to be searched.

Last year African-Americans were shot by police at more than twice the rate of whites.

African-Americans are arrested at twice the rates of whites.

African-American defendants are 75 percent more likely to be charged with offenses carrying mandatory minimums. They receive sentences that are almost 10 percent longer than comparable whites arrested for the same crime.

[I]f you add it all up, African-American and Hispanic populations, who make up only 30 percent of the general population, make up more than half of the incarcerated population.

“Now these are facts. And when incidents like this occur, there’s a big chunk of our fellow citizenry that feels as if because of the color of their skin they are not being treated the same.

“And that hurts.

“And that should trouble all of us.”

“This is not just a black issue. It’s not just a Hispanic issue,” Obama said. “This is an American issue that we should all care about, all fair-minded people should be concerned.”

The president praised the “overwhelming majority” of police officers for doing a tough job well, and said there’s no contradiction between supporting police officers and calling out systemic biases across the criminal justice system.

“When people say black lives matter, that doesn’t mean blue lives don’t matter, it just means all lives matter — but right now the big concern is the fact that right now the data shows black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents,” the president said.

“This isn’t a matter of us comparing the value of lives. This is recognizing that there is a particular burden that is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens. And we should care about that. And we can’t dismiss it.

“We can’t dismiss it,” he repeated.

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Live Video After Police Shooting Brings New Immediacy To Bearing Witness

A screenshot from the video that Diamond Reynolds live-streamed in the aftermath of a police shooting.

A screenshot from the video that Diamond Reynolds live-streamed in the aftermath of a police shooting. Diamond Reynolds via Facebook/Screenshot by NPR hide caption

toggle caption Diamond Reynolds via Facebook/Screenshot by NPR

Seconds after a policeman shot a man named Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., his girlfriend started live-streaming the aftermath live on Facebook.

In the graphic, emotional video, streamed as she sits next to Castile, who is bleeding profusely from gunshot wounds, Diamond Reynolds calmly tells viewers that they have been pulled over by police for a broken taillight. She says Castile told the officer that he had a licensed firearm and the officer asked for Castile’s driver’s license and registration. Then, Reynolds says, the officer shot Castile multiple times in the arm. Her 4-year-old child sits in the back seat of the car throughout the incident.

“Please don’t tell me that he’s gone,” says Reynolds, who uses the name Lavish online. “Please, Officer, don’t tell me that you just did this to him.”

As of Thursday evening the video has been viewed 4.2 million times. Even as it was streaming live, commenters offered Reynolds words of encouragement and concern. For example: “Don’t stop recording.” “Can somebody please go get the baby.” “Get the cop’s full name.” And, “I’m in tears.”

You can read our full coverage of the incident here.

This is the latest footage of a violent encounter with police to grab public attention, whether through surveillance tape, dash and body camera videos, or footage shot by bystanders.

But what sets this video apart from most other prominent examples is that it was streamed live, Amara Aguilar tells The Two-Way. Aguilar is a digital journalism professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

“This incident has really given viewers an unfiltered view of what happened to this woman,” Aguilar says. “And it’s heartbreaking, it feels very raw.”

That rawness has a lot to do with the immediacy of a live video.

“Because it was live, it was streaming as it happened, it wasn’t something that stayed on a device and could be confiscated or used as evidence or not released until later on,” Aguilar says.

The highly public nature of a live video also has the potential to offer some measure of protection to the person streaming, Aguilar says, though she says it doesn’t appear the police were aware of Reynolds’ broadcast.

Aguilar notes that it’s important to remember what we don’t see: the shooting itself. “Certainly the video was really, really powerful, but it captured a certain moment in time and not anything before that,” Aguilar says.

There also may be a practical advantage to live-streaming: It can be used to broadcast a call for help. Toward the end, Reynolds tells viewers where she is and pleads for someone to come.

The Facebook Live feature is newly available to all users and, as Aguilar notes, we are likely to see its uses evolve over time, from the mundane to the disturbing.

Last month, a live video shot in Chicago appeared to show a police officer beating a man, resulting in a lawsuit against the officer, as the Chicago Tribune reports.

The Guardian notes, “In France, a 25-year-old man killed a French police commander and the commander’s partner on Tuesday, then he took to Facebook Live with a 12-minute video encouraging followers to kill prison staff, police officials, journalists and lawmakers.”

“We have seen people use the technology in a very frightful and horrific way,” Aguilar says, “and that raises a lot of questions about Facebook’s role, and also their power in disseminating this information and being a platform for this information.”

Reynolds’ video briefly disappeared from Facebook, which raised questions about whether the company was censoring content, according to TechCrunch. Facebook said in a statement to the news site that the video was down because of a “technical glitch.” It now contains a graphic-content warning: “Videos that contain graphic content can shock, offend and upset. Are you sure you want to see this?”

In a separate video later, Reynolds explains — as we reported — why she started to live-stream the incident. “I did it so that the world knows that these police are not here to protect and serve us,” she says. “They are here to assassinate us. They are here to kill us because we are black.”

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Politicians React To Two Deaths Of Black Men By Police

A memorial is left on July 7 for Philando Castile, following his death by a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minn.

A memorial is left on July 7 for Philando Castile, following his death by a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minn. Stephen Maturen/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Alton Sterling, a black man, was shot and killed by police outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge, La. The Department of Justice is investigating his death, which was captured on video.

Then on Wednesday, Philando Castile, another black man, was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn. His girlfriend used Facebook to broadcast the immediate aftermath of the shooting. His mother pointed to a larger pattern of police killing African-Americans.

Some politicians were quick to respond, while others have remained silent.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton seemed unusually candid when addressing the shooting in his state.

“Would this have happened if … the driver and passenger were white? I don’t think it would’ve,” Dayton said at a press conference Thursday. “So I’m forced to confront and I think all of us in Minnesota are forced to confront that this kind of racism exists.”

Earlier that day, Dayton addressed protesters outside his home, calling the killing a “senseless tragedy.” He said he spoke with President Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, and said he would urge the U.S. attorney general and the head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division to open whatever investigations they deemed appropriate.

When he said the incident was not the “norm in Minnesota,” a protester responded, “It’s normal for us.”

Dayton was quiet for a moment after, but promised that “justice will be served in Minnesota.”

Nationally, here’s what the president, presidential candidates and other politicians had to say:

President Obama

The president will speak about the shootings when he arrives in Poland Thursday night. But on Thursday afternoon, Obama posted a lengthy reaction to both shootings on his Facebook page. In it, he said that all Americans should feel “deeply troubled” by the killings and that he was encouraged that the U.S. Department of Justice had opened up an investigation in the Louisiana case. He went on to allude to a broader pattern of police violence against African-American men:

“But regardless of the outcome of such investigations, what’s clear is that these fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.

To admit we’ve got a serious problem in no way contradicts our respect and appreciation for the vast majority of police officers who put their lives on the line to protect us every single day. It is to say that, as a nation, we can and must do better to institute the best practices that reduce the appearance or reality of racial bias in law enforcement.”

The statement ended by urging Americans to ensure “a future where all of our children know that their lives matter.”

Hillary Clinton

On Wednesday, Hillary Clinton released a statement reacting to the death of Sterling in Louisiana. Like President Obama, Clinton’s statement also alluded to the larger pattern of African-American deaths at the hands of police officers, saying, “too many African American families mourn the loss of a loved one from a police-involved incident.” Clinton also said she was glad that the Justice Department is investigating the killing.

The statement went on to propose several strategies to combat the issue:

“We need to ensure justice is served. That begins with common sense reforms like ending racial profiling, providing better training on de-escalation and implicit bias, and supporting municipalities that refer the investigation and prosecution of police-involved deaths to independent bodies. All over America, there are police officers demonstrating how to protect the public without resorting to unnecessary force. We need to learn from and build on those examples.”

Thursday morning, Clinton tweeted a second reaction, this time to the death of Castile in Minnesota. This tweet was signed with an H, an indication that Clinton herself wrote it.

America woke up to yet another tragedy of a life cut down too soon. Black Lives Matter. #PhilandoCastile -H

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 7, 2016

Later in the day, her Twitter account tweeted another reaction that mentioned the two incidents together.

Alton Sterling Matters.
Philando Castile Matters.
Black Lives Matter. pic.twitter.com/GmUFN9sDH6

— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) July 7, 2016

Bernie Sanders

Although not the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sanders has remained in the presidential race. He wrote several tweets condemning the two deaths:

We need real criminal justice reform so that people can walk down the street without worrying about whether they’ll get harassed or shot.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 7, 2016

And also called for changes to the criminal justice system.

The violence that killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile has become an all too common occurrence for people of color and IT. MUST. STOP.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 7, 2016

Donald Trump

At the time of publication, Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee had not publicly reacted to the deaths of Castile or Sterling.

However, in an August 2015 appearance on Meet The Press, Donald Trump was asked about the Black Lives Matter movement. His response:

“It’s a massive crisis. It’s a double crisis. What’s happening and people. You know, I look at things. And I see it on television. And some horrible mistakes are made. At the same time, we have to give power back to the police because crime is rampant.”

In January of this year, Trump said that police are the “most mistreated people in this country” during a GOP debate on Fox.

If a statement is released or if Trump tweets any reactions to the recent killings, this post will be updated accordingly.

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Want Kids To Eat More Veggies? Market Them With Cartoons

Sammy Spinach (far left), Erica Eggplant, Todd Tomato and other characters in the Super Sprowtz gang with Roger, the super hero trainer (center).

Sammy Spinach (far left), Erica Eggplant, Todd Tomato and other characters in the Super Sprowtz gang with Roger, the super hero trainer (center). Courtesy of Super Sprowtz hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Super Sprowtz

Be it SpongeBob SquarePants or Tony the Tiger, food companies have long used cartoon characters to market their products to children. But that tactic can also sway younger kids to eat fresh vegetables, according to a new study.

Sammy Spinach, Oliver Onion, Colby Carrot, Suzy Sweet Pea and a slew of cartoon vegetable characters with superpowers were developed as puppets by a nonprofit organization called Super Sprowtz. Using live puppet performances across the country and short videos featuring the veggie characters with stars like basketball legend Shaquille O’ Neal, the organization has been trying to make vegetables more appealing to children.

One video has all the characters singing and dancing to the tune of Beyoncé’s “Put a Ring On It.” The revamped chorus? “If you’d like to eat healthy, put a veggie on it.” (Perhaps the creators were acquainted with little kids’ love of this song.)

David Just, a behavioral economist at Cornell University, and his colleagues wanted to know if Beyoncé-belting veggie superheroes could actually change children’s eating habits. So they joined forces with Super Sprowtz and borrowed their characters to test them in elementary school cafeterias.

YouTube

In three participating schools, the researchers showed the Super Sprowtz videos on TVs in the cafeterias near the salad bar. In two schools, they festooned the salad bar with a large vinyl banner showing the brightly colored veggie heroes. In three additional schools, the cafeteria featured both the videos and the salad bar banner, while two other schools had neither the videos nor the banner and served as a controls for the experiment.

Students in schools with the banner alone grabbed nearly twice as many servings of vegetables as those in control schools. But in the schools with both the banner and the video messages, the effect was even more pronounced: Students put three times as many vegetables on their lunch trays. The schools where only videos were shown didn’t see a significant increase in how much veggies kids served themselves.

“The [banners] are visible from a long ways away,” Just notes. He thinks that drew more children to the salad bar. “And if they had the TV once they got there, then they were [even] more likely to try” the vegetables.

The study included students from kindergarten through fifth grade. It makes sense that kids in this age range would be swayed by cartoon characters, says Andrew Hanks, a scientist at Ohio State University’s Food Innovation Center and the main author of the study. “These are animated characters, and kids at that age like these kinds of things,” he says.

Food and beverage companies know this, too, says Margo Wootan, a nutrition policy expert at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Kids are exposed to $2 billion worth of food marketing to kids each year,” she says. Most of this marketing, she says, is “using characters to promote unhealthy food to kids” — highly processed foods like cereals or sugar-filled fruit snacks.

Former White House chef Sam Kass and Colby Carrot at a salad bar launch in New York City.

Former White House chef Sam Kass and Colby Carrot at a salad bar launch in New York City. Courtesy of Super Sprowtz hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of Super Sprowtz

“My take on this is that these kids are going to experience marketing in some form,” says Hanks. “Why don’t we expose them to marketing to make healthy choices? As we show in this study, it can have a powerful impact.”

Wootan agrees. She’s part of a group of organizations that has pushed the food industry to cut down on the use of cartoon characters to sell foods high in calories, fat, sodium and sugar to children.

Schools trying to sell kids on healthier lunches are at a comparative disadvantage, she says, because “they are not marketing school lunch as cool.” Using Zach Zucchini and Miki Mushroom is a great way to make healthier lunch seem hipper to students, she adds. And while familiar media characters may be more persuasive, she says that most schools don’t have the money to license SpongeBob to market healthful lunches.

“I think doing something like this, certainly you can target entire schools,” says Christina Economos, a childhood nutrition researcher at Tufts University. She says the findings also suggest that researchers need to better explore the role of branded media in getting kids to eat healthier foods. Child health activists have already tried similar experiments. For example, three years ago, Sesame Workshop partnered with the Produce Marketing Association and Partnership for a Healthier America to use Big Bird, Elmo and Abby Cadabby in messaging that aimed to make vegetables and fruits more appealing to kids.

However, marketing campaigns alone can’t ensure that kids continue to choose healthful foods, cautions Economos. These efforts will need to be complemented with the good old (but less cool) tool called nutrition education, which has been shown to be effective in changing children’s food habits. “There has to be education that supplements this,” Economos says.

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Just Fur Fun, Peeking At 'The Secret Life Of Pets'

Max (Louis C.K.) in The Secret Life of Pets.

Max (Louis C.K.) in The Secret Life of Pets. Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures hide caption

toggle caption Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures

The mediocre animated comedy The Secret Lives of Pets is based on an original idea by Chris Meledandri, the head of Illumination Entertainment, the studio responsible for the Despicable Me movies and their popular spinoff Minions. That idea? Toy Story but with house pets, which really tests the elasticity of the word “original.” For animal lovers, however, the hook (“Ever wonder what your pets do when you’re not home?”) is mainlined catnip, given the degree to which we already anthropomorphize our beloved kitties and pups (and hamsters and fish and falcons). The fantasy may relieve a little guilt, too: It’s nice to imagine them socializing and having adventures than sitting around bored, waiting for their owners to return from work.

The Toy Story cribbing doesn’t stop there. The film includes furry analogs to Woody and Buzz in the rivalry-turned-friendship between a beloved old dog and an attention-grabbing new one, and the action moves from a contained living space to the chase-filled openness of the wider world. Viewed generously, The Secret Lives of Pets has recognized a winning formula and followed it appealingly, with brightness, pace, and a fusillade of slapstick and verbal gags. Yet the Toy Story comparisons are obvious enough to measure all the ways the new film falls short: the dimmed sophistication of the jokes and cultural references, the thinly distinguished characters, the gloppy sentimentality. “It’s not Pixar, but it’ll do” may get families in the theater, but it’s not an inspiring proposition.

Louis C.K. does make an adorable terrier, though, and his caustic tone establishes the Manhattan setting more efficiently than the opening, which lays the Taylor Swift song “Welcome to New York” over shots of the skyline. He voices Max, the happy resident of an apartment building that flutters with social butterflies whenever humans are not around. (The humans leave a lot of windows ajar.) When his owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) adopts a large, fluffy adorable companioned named Duke (Eric Stonestreet), Max resents the divided attention and does his best to sabotage his new roommate. Their relationship changes when Duke tricks Max into slipping away from their dog walker and it’s up to Max’s friends — led by Gidget (Jenny Slate), a spirited Pomeranian, and Chloe (Lake Bell), a gluttonous cat — to track them down.

The complications pile up. Max and Duke come across “The Flushed Pets,” a cult of sewer-dwelling nasties, led by a vindictive bunny (Kevin Hart), that chase them all the way to Brooklyn. The search party expands to include a hawk named Tiberius (Albert Brooks) and Pops (Dana Carvey), an old dog with wheels for back legs who has the connections to help navigate the sewers and back alleys of the city. Their journey would seem extremely unlikely had small fish not pulled off the aquatic equivalent a few weeks ago in Finding Dory.

At a certain point, The Secret Life of Pets drops the “secret” part that was so essential to its appeal. The pets stop acting like pets when human eyes are on them and suddenly a couple dozen of them are piled into a taxicab blazing across the Brooklyn Bridge. It may be nitpicky to question the internal logic of a film where one dog has ninja skills and another can grasp and turn a set of keys underwater, but the further it ventures into the improbable, the worse it gets. Perhaps because it reneges on its initial promise: These are not how pets act when their owners are not around. This is how they act when they’re in a Madagascar sequel.

The best scenes are the precious few domestic ones that bookend the film, when the pets are introduced via a clever series of comic vignettes and the apartment building turns into a bustling social hotspot. They may chat it up, but the pets are still recognizable as animals, in all their particular enthusiasms and desires, and defined sweetly in relationship to the owners who love them. The Secret Life of Pets drifts away from the fantasy that sparked it, until the pets don’t seem like pets anymore.

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A Television Giant Comes Into Focus

Norman Lear in Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You.

Norman Lear in Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You. Music Box Films hide caption

toggle caption Music Box Films

If Norman Lear hadn’t invented Archie Bunker, someone else would have had to. The caustic, bigoted blue-collar worker ruled television throughout the 1970s on All in the Family, sitting in his easy chair and vocalizing many of the most abhorrent thoughts that, until then, most Americans kept to the privacy of their own easy chairs. Archie’s old-world mind was the dying star around which the bright new Lear comedy universe could orbit. That universe expanded ever outward through the decades, from the pioneering TV feminism of Maude to The Jeffersons, a rare look at a middle-class black family on television. Figures that were created to oppose Archie’s views were, in the changing cultural landscape, now allowed to express their views on their own.

Lear, who will turn 94 this month, remains sharp as a tack. The new documentary on his life, Norman Lear: Just Another Version Of You, is a brisk, entertaining tour of the industry he ruled for so many years. It’s also a feature-length trailer for his recent memoir, which he reads aloud from at several points as part of elaborate, glossy performances. But as long as the man can reflect with such astounding clarity on his accomplishments, such a film is a valuable document.

The movie is directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, who have become quite the un-pin-downable documentary duo — their credits include the sinister religious-right dispatch Jesus Camp and the glorified ruin porn of Detropia. This is a more straightforward effort. Ewing and Grady mix traditional biography style (archival video, talking heads) with a more stylized narrative device: a child actor playing a younger Lear interacts with him on an empty stage, visualizing the link between the man’s difficult upbringing and his chosen medium of success.

That technique points to one smart thing the documentary does, which is difficult to do in biographical films: illustrating how formative events early in life push someone down their chosen path. The film’s impressionistic editing lets us draw lines from Lear’s father, a criminal with an abusive streak, to Archie; from Lear’s daily train rides alongside Harlem tenement buildings to Good Times; from the virulent anti-Semitic sermons of Father Charles Coughlin to Lear enlisting in WWII; and from his second wife, the outspoken feminist Frances, to Maude.

Like Blazing Saddles, that other taboo-busting barnstormer of 1970s culture brought to you by a still-living Jewish WWII vet, All In The Family couldn’t be made today. Even the brief clips played over the course of the film are shocking. Archie’s open disgust for anyone not like him manifests itself early and often, in the ugliest possible language. (“A guy who wears glasses is a four-eyes. A guy who’s a f— is a queer,” he says, in one of several choice lines.) In Saddles, though, the bigots were clearly the villains. Archie is a much more complicated picture, because — as TV critics like The New Yorker‘s Emily Nussbaum have written — he is an antihero. His family is forced into his company much as families across America were forced to confront the older generation over deeply ingrained prejudices.

And that dynamic continues today across all families. Yet as much sense as Lear makes when he explains, over and over again, why he made the show as nasty as it was, the film ends without truthfully interrogating the fact that many All in the Family viewers (including Richard Nixon, in his White House tapes) simply agreed with Archie, and that there are still far too many Archies visible in America more than three decades later.

This is all the more disappointing because the passage of the film dealing with Good Times and The Jeffersons is remarkably candid. We learn about the tensions that often flared on the set of Good Times when the actors felt the catchphrase-spouting J.J. was undermining efforts to honestly depict a working-class black family. Good Times was such a hot potato that one day the Black Panthers stormed into Lear’s office demanding to see “the garbageman,” and, soon after that, Archie’s upwardly mobile neighbor George Jefferson got his own show, one where he could tell the world what he really thought of it. “Good Times was for white people,” deadpans Russell Simmons, one of many famous faces we see who were inspired by Lear’s work. “The Jeffersons was for black people.”

The other stuff left on the cutting-room floor is more understandable. We hear little of the legendary disputes between Lear and Carroll O’Connor, who had to work against his own beliefs to portray Archie. We learn about Lear’s political advocacy group, People For The American Way, but we receive little insight into the group’s activities or any impact they might have had. Oh, and Lear owns an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, a fact that floats into this film from nowhere and leaves in a puff of smoke.

But for those who see in television history the story of America coming to terms with itself, Lear’s life and career is our two-way mirror. Maybe Just Another Version Of You is about a “garbageman” (he was certainly a fan of recycling), but that’s still a job we’re all better off for someone having done.

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A Story Of Sisters And The Pain They Carry

Sachi Koda (Haruka Ayase) in Our Little Sister.

Sachi Koda (Haruka Ayase) in Our Little Sister. Sony Pictures Classics hide caption

toggle caption Sony Pictures Classics

On the surface Our Little Sister, a new film from Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda, feels like nothing much is going on. Three grown sisters travel from their pretty seaside town in rural Japan to attend the funeral of their father, who had abandoned them to marry another woman. The young women end up taking their half-sister, Suzu Asano (the enchanting Suzu Hirose), who’s just entering her teens, back to live with them in the family home they’ve shared for years. Suzu is personable and eager to please, but her arrival comes as close to a triggering event as this all but plotless film ever gets, nudging each sister to revise her view of their parents and the wounds they inflicted.

What follows is both less programmatic and less long-faced than it sounds. Life goes on pretty much as it always has, with Suzu settling into her new life and her new siblings’ affections. A boy shows interest; there’s a rapturously photographed bike ride through trees laden with cherry blossom. But the new status quo is uneasy, its fragility exacerbated by a visit from the girls’ mother, who wouldn’t exactly qualify as Mom of the Year. When the kindly owner of the local diner, a de facto mother to the girls, confronts unwelcome changes of her own, at least two of the sisters are forced to face up to the ways in which they may be repeating the very flaws they resent so much in their parents.

Our Little Sister continues Kore-eda’s focus on the plight and the resilience of children who suffer abandonment or neglect, but the film lacks the sense of emotional emergency of his searing 2004 domestic drama Nobody Knows, which charted the flagging fortunes of small siblings afflicted with a feckless, unstable mother. Perhaps the comparison is unfair. Nobody Knows examined the inner workings of a real-life tragedy that dominated the headlines for a long time and sparked a national debate about the degradations of the supposedly stable Japanese family. Adapted from a popular graphic novel some of whose internal conflicts Kore-eda softened for the movie, Our Little Sister works in small shifts of emotional temperature, its turmoil observed with a serenity some might find enervating or oppressive.

Best seen, perhaps, as the view from later in life when equanimity and the bigger picture rule, the movie bestows a forgiving compassion on all its troubled souls, even those of the misbehaving dead. As always, Kore-eda shares his belief in the power of ceremony and ritual that, more than any epiphany or redemption, act as healing markers in the relentless flow of life. “That was a good funeral,” observes one satisfied mourner who had reason to know the desires of the deceased better than anyone else present. Our Little Sister ends as it began, with the sisters contemplating the surge and knock of the waves that lap the shores of their circumscribed universe. Only now they reverse the adjectives they once used to dismiss their father as “kind and useless,” a critical revision that reflects their appreciation of the lasting gift he has left them. She’s standing right beside them.

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Philando Castile's Girlfriend Speaks Out: 'I Need Justice; I Need Peace'

Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, is consoled as she talks about his shooting death with protesters and media outside the governor's residence in St. Paul, Minn.

Diamond Reynolds, the girlfriend of Philando Castile, is consoled as she talks about his shooting death with protesters and media outside the governor’s residence in St. Paul, Minn. Jim Mone/AP hide caption

toggle caption Jim Mone/AP

Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds, the woman who live-streamed the aftermath of a police shooting that left her boyfriend dead, is demanding justice.

Reynolds delivered an emotional soliloquy to the activists and reporters who had gathered in front of the Minnesota governor’s mansion on Thursday.

“They took his life for no reason,” she said. “They did this to my daughter and they did this to me and I want justice and I want peace.”

Reynolds said a police officer opened fire as Philando Castile reached for his wallet. She said Castile was a gentle, hardworking man, who had welcomed her daughter as his own. She said that police didn’t provide first aid and then they held her into the early morning without giving her food or water.

She said that she started to live stream her encounter because she wanted to world to see the truth. She was afraid that police would tell a different story.

“I did it so that the world knows that these police are not here to protect and serve us,” she said. “They are here to assassinate us. They are here to kill us because we are black.”

Reynolds said that she will get through this but she’s not sure how her four-year-old daughter, who witnessed the whole thing, will fare.

We’ll leave with a video of Reynolds’ full comments:

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