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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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The delightful Mr. Pepys

Realizing I would never read his great book, I got the audiobook and entered the world of the charming Mr. Pepys. Ambitious, lustful, a gossip, well-connected, he witnessed the Great London Fire, the Black Plague and Shakespeare's plays at court, buried gold in his back yard, became Secretary of the Admiralty, seduced servant girls.

Branagh's reading is conversational, confiding and funny. The prose can appear daunting on the page, but he makes it conversational. Pepys' voice comes through, as if he's confiding the low-down on things.

This is good for listening to in the car, because each daily entry is brief, so you don't get stranded in the middle of a long chapter when you have to park. The "home page" of Pepys' Diary. Tweets rhymes with Pepys. Samuel Pepys on Twitter.

Drawing by Richard Levine from the New York Review of Books.

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