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Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books.To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports. When John Wilkes Booth opened fire on President Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre in April 1865, the media was puzzled.

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 Last week I wrote about how the mammoth cost overruns in Boston’s Big Dig project, among other things, continue to resonate when government proposes large scale public works projects.

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Why Jonathan Lethem refuses to grow up.

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Short Cuts

Robert Altman: The Oral Biography By Mitchell Zuckoff (Knopf, 592 pp., $35) Here is your exam question: who is the last American movie director who made thirty-nine films but never won the Oscar for best director? Name the film by that director that cost the most money, and name the film of his that earned the most. Clue: The Departed, which must have been around Martin Scorsese’s thirtieth picture, and did win the directing Oscar, cost $90 million (four times as much as any of this man’s films cost)--so don’t go that way.

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Disgrace Paladin The Other Man Image Entertainment   J.M. Coetzee's novel Disgrace has been made into a film that, in good measure, is faithful to it. Along with the admiration that obviously drew them to the book, the film-makers had to deal with some heavy data. Coetzee is a Nobel laureate; Disgrace won a lofty British award called the Booker Prize; an English newspaper poll lately named Disgrace as the best novel of the last twenty-five years.

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Alex Jones is a husky man with short sandy hair, weary eyes, baby cheeks, and the kind of deep, gravelly voice made for horror-movie trailers. And it’s horror he has in mind. "Your New World Order will fall!" he screams through a megaphone at the shiny façade of a nondescript office building. "Humanity will defeat you!" A syndicated radio host, filmmaker, and all-around countercultural icon based in Austin, Texas, Jones has long been one of the country’s most significant purveyors of paranoia.

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David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews With Hideous Men has been adapted for the screen. Well, parts of it have been adapted--chiefly, the four parts that bear the same title as the book and the film. Wallace’s book is a miscellany of prose outbursts, some that soar in known styles, some that fling aside known styles, some of deliberate wildness. The book evokes much the same reaction as does Godard.

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The Baader Meinhof Complex.  This German film about German terrorists of the 1970s is not only dynamically made and acted, it tries to tell the truth about the reason for the outbursts. Certainly there is a great deal of violence, but there is also some understanding of character and of political texture. (Reviewed 9/23/09) Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. The actor John Krasinski is not only in this film, he adapted and directed it. Drawn from David Foster Wallace’s fiction, it explores contemporary male attitudes toward women with less bravura than Wallace but with considerable insight an

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Odd Surprises

Lorna's Silence Sony Pictures Classics My Fuhrer: The Truly Truest Truth About Adolf Hitler First Run Features One of the more thrilling chapters in film history is the account of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. The joint career of these Belgian brothers has been, since they became known, breathtaking. After some twenty years of documentary work for Francophone television, in the early 1990s they began to make features. The first two were not widely seen.

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Being Human

Quiet Chaos -- IFC Films The Girl From Monaco -- Magnolia Pictures Nanni Moretti, treasured in Europe, is scarcely known in the United States. This schism usually happens with film people whose work is strapped culturally to one country, but Moretti's writing and directing and acting are not only celebrated in Italy, they have prospered elsewhere. Not here, however, though his strongest concern is human commonality. Sometimes, in a career that began in 1973, he has appeared in films directed by others. This is true of his latest, Quiet Chaos.

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