By Bob on July 21, 2011 4:29 AM

Miral is one of those films that would be easy to overlook. It didn't receive a major studio push like the Harry Potter franchise and the subject - while topical - isn't very well understood by Americans. Director Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) serves up a distinctly Palestinian view of the Arab/Israeli conflict and does it so well it is blindingly hard to ignore.

"Ignore" is the central theme of this illuminating and often disturbing film. In fact, the title "Miral" comes from the actual name of a red desert flower that, "You see growing along side of the road and never notice". Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) plays Miral, a Palestinian girl who is raised in an orphanage and as a young adult is swept up in the intifada.


As a child, Miral is mentored by Hind Husseini (Hiam Abbass) a woman with a strong commitment to peace that she instills in each and every one of her orphan "children". Husseini is steadfast in her belief and resolute in her desire that education - not conflict -- is the only way to achieve a lasting peace.


Miral's father Jamal (Alexander Siddig) is a devout Muslim who agrees with the educator's approach. Soon, the maturing Miral finds herself at odds with the teachings of Husseini and Jamal and what's going on outside the orphanage gates.


She's not convinced that the peaceful way is the only way. A love interest, Hani (Munich's Omar Metwally) shows her the path to extremism and he leads her to the battle lines where she has to dodge tear gas and bullets. Her peace-loving father and mentor/mother are not amused and that's when Miral must choose.    


It's based on Rula Jebreal's semiautobiographical novel and also includes stellar performances by Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave. But Pinto is the real standout here. She's luminous and has no trouble carrying this epic story on her slim shoulders.


Miral doesn't wash over you with a pre-packaged message. It invites you to stop and think. And in the stopping and the thinking there's a good chance you'll see something of beauty that you've probably overlooked. 

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Diabetes-Friendly Chicken Burrito Bowl

ChickenBurritoBowlEverydayDiabetes 600.jpg

By Laura Cipullo and Lisa Mikus, authors of Everyday Diabetes Meals
Image credit: Colin Erricson

Prepare your own Mexican quick fix with this Chipotle-inspired bowl. Carbs are moderated by filling the bowl with beans, extra veggies and chicken. No need for rice, since the beans count as carbs.


If you love tomatoes, increase the quantity to 1/2 cup, but note that the carbohydrates will also increase.

If preparing this recipe for one person, cut all of the ingredients in half. Or simply prepare the full recipe up to the end of step 2 and store leftover chicken and vegetable-bean mixture in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the microwave on High for 1 to 2 minutes, or until heated through, and continue with step 3.

Health Bite: The iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper and zinc in black beans help to keep bones strong and healthy.

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Windy City

It's been almost 18 years since Alison Krauss gave us a solo album, but the wait is over with Windy City. The release (her fifth solo studio album) features ten covers of classic songs (and some bonus tracks) she picked with producer Buddy Cannon.

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