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The Farewell Party

High drama and lowbrow, morbid humor get stitched together in this successful tragicomedy about terminal patients and assisted suicide. Works better than expected.

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Sunshine Superman

I found Jean Boenish’s philosophical musings less than persuasive. And I don’t think my fear of heights was the reason for my bias.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Jason Reitman in conversation

Jason Reitman is not only a gifted director, but a forthright and thoughtful one. After three features ("Thank You for Smoking," "Juno" and "Up in the Air"), he has achieved, at the age of 34, firm standing on the A List.

He visited Chicago on Jan. 29 to appear on the Oprah program, and stopped off at my house on his way to the airport. Having only just discovered the video capability of a new camera, I took these videos. They are hand-held, shaky and need editing. But what Reitman says is perceptive and worth sharing.

Also in the room: My wife Chaz, off camera to the left. Reitman's wife, the actress Michelle Lee, to his right. Chicago publicist Janet Hillebrand on the sofa in front of the windows. The voice on my MacBook is sometimes heard.

The sculpture is "Warrior Woman," which Chaz and found in a London gallery that holds an exhibition called "Not in the Spring Exhibition," for works not accepted in the annual show of new works by the Royal Academy of Arts. In other words, Refuseniks. Jason and Michelle are standing in front of an abstract by the British expressionist Gillian Ayres. RE • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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