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Gore Vidal

'Heart of a Dog' and 'Best of Enemies' document love and hate (respectively) relationships

Typically, documentaries explore the hot-button issues of the day — political repression, social injustice. But the focus is sometimes much more internal. Two of this season's Oscar short-listed documentaries — "Heart of a Dog" and "Best of Enemies" — project the extremes of love and hate, respectively, so viscerally that each becomes fascinating in its own way.

"Heart of a Dog," directed by performance artist-musician Laurie Anderson, evokes a dreamy landscape filled with poetic musings about love, memory, 9/11, death and the intense love she had for her late rat terrier, Lolabelle. The more traditional "Best of Enemies,"...