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As a fetish object, it’s impressive. But as a fully satisfying feature-length drama, it’s a bust.

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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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Tell me a story, Act II: Acts

View image Story diagram stolen -- er, borrowed -- from "Observations on film art and Film Art."

Kristin Thompson, author of "Storytelling in the New Hollywood: Understanding Classical Narrative Technique," a book I can't believe I haven't read and have therefore just ordered, explores her observations and theory of story structure in a blog entry called "Times go by turns," which gets to the heart of how movie storytelling works by showing how familiar structures involve the use of more than the "three acts" we're accustomed to thinking about. She was inspired by the Society for the Cognitive Study of the Moving Image conference in June at the University of Wisconsin in Madison -- and, boy, does that ever sound like something that would be up my street. (Also: See my post "Tell me a story... or don't.")

Kristin writes:

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