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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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Bill Maher attempts to corroborate his theory that Americans are stupid by behaving like one

"If u get a swine flu shot ur an idiot." -- Bill Maher, Twitter, September 26, 2009

"This is not a liberal versus conservative issue. This is a science versus nonsense issue." -- Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times health blogger

Bill Maher may as well believe in Creationism, for all he knows about science or religion. (See above.) The problem I've always had with him is that, no matter what position he may take up, his reasoning is likely to be manifestly unsound. Listen to him talk and most of the time you soon realize he doesn't know what he's talking about. It doesn't matter if you eventually "agree" with his stance because he's reached it for invalid reasons.

Take his latest anti-vaccine pronouncement, made to Bill Frist on Maher's HBO show: "I would never get a swine flu vaccine, or any vaccine. I don't trust the government, especially with my health." OK, fine. If Maher doesn't "believe" in vaccines, or the ability of the U.S. to provide a working one, he's free to pass and to keep himself quarantined if he gets sick so he doesn't infect anybody else. When he reaches Medicare qualification age (he's 53) he can choose not to take advantage of it or any other health insurance he doesn't believe in and pay cash for his hospitalizations and medical treatments. But telling people (like young people and pregnant women) who are at high risk from serious flu complications not to get vaccinated because he doesn't "believe" in vaccines or doesn't "trust the government"? That's sick.

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Cannes #7: Tarantino the glorious basterd

Leave it to Quentin Tarantino to find a climax unique in the history of war movies. Also trust QT to get away with a war movie that consists largely of his unique dialog style, in which a great deal of action is replaced by talk about the possibilities of action. His "Inglourious Basterds," which premiered Wednesday morning here at Cannes, is a screenplay eight years in the writing, and you can't fill 148 minutes with descriptions of special effects. At least not if you're a motormouth like Tarantino.

My review will await the film's August 21 opening. I know, I wrote a lot about "Antichrist," but with this one I'd like to hold out until opening day. No, that doesn't mean I disliked it. It means it inspired other kinds of thoughts--about Cannes, Tarantino, and the way the movie industry seems to be going these days.

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