A plug: Go see, or rent, the film "Frozen River." Wondefully acted, beautifully written, surely directed. It's about a white far upstate New York woman struggling to survive, economically, who links up uneasily with a younger Mohawk woman to smuggle illegal immigrants across the frozen St. Lawrence River. Americans avoid depressing films, about Iraq, about poverty. This is as honest a look at poverty in America today, and racism, and loneliness, that you could imagine. It's hardly a triumph-of-the-human-spirit bit of phony uplift. And yet it grips you and it holds you and you feel better about the human race when it's over.
For an ongoing conversation and news reports about arts journalism, go to the blog of the National Arts Journalism Program, here.