• “Marathon Boy” follows the unbelievable story of Budhia Singh, a boy born into the crushing poverty of an Indian slum, sold by his destitute mother, and rescued by a judo coach who runs an orphanage. The coach, Biranchi Das, soon discovers that then-three year-old Budhia has a prodigious talent for running. Jumping on what he sees as a huge opportunity both for himself and the children who depend on him, Das promotes Budhia to the Indian media as a boy wonder, an expression of the unquenchable Indian spirit. By the time he is four, Budhia has run twenty half-marathons and 48 full marathons.

    Buoyed by Budhia’s inexhaustible willpower Das stages one hell of a publicity stunt: a 42-mile run, which could set a new world record.

    Director Gemma Atwal does a masterful job, in this HBO production, of allowing the story to play out in front of her without prejudicing it.

  • No actor has mastered the art of muttering obscenities under his breath more expertly than Dennis Farina. In “Get Shorty,” “Snatch” and other films about low-life criminals, Farina, with his eagle-eyed glare, Charles Bronson-like mustache and clenched-teeth diction, has stolen every scene he’s in merely by spouting off an array of expletives. “The fucking airport,” he barks at a cab driver in “Get Shorty,” disgusted at being put upon to give simple directions. His every eyebrow twitch, stiff-necked shrug and sarcastic overemphasis on every word—as if he’s already explained what he’s saying three times—deliver the message: “I don’t give an inch for you—you give an inch for me.”

    Happily, Farina’s signature macho style is put to good use for much of “The Last Rites of Joe May.” But the film, directed and written by Joe Maggio, stretches Farina’s range to an unexpected level: for the first time, he’s showing genuine hurt and weakness, with astonishingly powerful results. Joe May certainly bears the same hostility and bitterness as Farina’s other characters, but he’s a man with a conscience, a soul, and his brooding takes on a tragic dimension.

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