Instant Gratification: “Timbuktu” and four other good films on Amazon Prime and Netflix

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Pick of the week: “Timbuktu (Amazon Prime) — My full review is here. A small town in Mali chafes under the ironclad rule of fundamentalist Muslims in this Oscar-nominated drama which makes both oppressors and oppressed into three-dimensional human beings.

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“Timbuktu”: Hanging onto scraps of humanity while living under jihad

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Some have criticized Mauritanian filmmaker Abderrahmane Sissako’s Oscar-nominated film “Timbuktu” for, amazingly, going too easy on jihadists.

The achingly beautiful film, out on DVD this week from Cohen Media, looks at life under jihadist rule in a small community in northern Mali. The Muslim extremists who rule the town with AK-47s and arbitrary rules are indeed presented as complex human beings, not cartoon villains.

But it’s those glimmers of humanity, of normalcy, that make the cruelty and brutality of life under jihad so piercing for the viewer. Sissako could have made a polemic, but instead the film feels like a window on how life is lived halfway around the world.

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