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As Above, So Below

It's that rare found-footage film with a strong premise, a memorably eccentric style, and plenty of energy to burn. It's also poorly conceived, and hard…

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The Last of Robin Hood

A title as good as "The Last of Robin Hood" deserves a better movie. In fact, it deserves a good movie.

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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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Raising free-range kids

I wrote recently about my childhood growing up in Downstate Illinois. I mentioned me and my friends roaming all over town on our bikes, walking to the movies and the swimming pool on our own, and riding our bikes through rain water backed up after thunderstorms. Also, for that matter, through piles of burning leaves. One of my classmates wrote to mention that the Boneyard, the creek running through town, was a drainage canal. "What?" I asked. "Where we caught crawdaddies?"

One of the comments on the entry was from a reader in Florida who said, rather sadly, that his 15-year-old son had just taken his first unsupervised bike ride through the city park. When he was growing up, he said, things were different. But not "today." We use that word today as code for the dangers lurking everywhere in modern society. Another reader sent me a link to a web site advocating the raising of Free Range Children. I learned this has become something of a movement, cheered by a book by Lenore Skenazy. The movement believes we are punishing our kids by over-protecting them.

Certainly today we take for granted things that we never imagined in our own childhoods, like child car seats, bike helmets, bottled water, security guards, sunblock, hand sanitizer and childproof bottles. I mentioned my childhood memory that we boys would pee behind trees, shrubbery, or garages ("If you run home, your mom might grab you and make you do something"). I forgot to mention that one of the reasons we needed to pee is that when we got thirsty we drank out of garden hoses--our own, and anybody else's.

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