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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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#298 March 21, 2017

Matt writes: In his list ranking the best films of 1987, Roger Ebert included Taylor Hackford’s “Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!,” calling it “the year's best musical documentary, a rollicking and sometimes revealing record of the attempt by Rolling Stone Keith Richards to stage a 60th birthday concert for Berry, at which the pioneer of rock and roll would at last be accompanied by a well-rehearsed backup band.” After Berry passed away last weekend, our critic Glenn Kenny penned an insightful obituary that paid tribute to Hackford’s film. “Aside from being a superb portrait of Berry—and of Richards, whose intelligence and clear devotion to music here belies his sometime rap as a wizened five-string-zombie,” wrote Kenny, “[it] is one of the great rock and roll documentaries.” And of Berry, Kenny argued, “For all the great things he achieved, he deserves to be the fifth face on Mount Rushmore.”

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Django Unchain my heart (and set me free)

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Quentin Tarantino has found his actor in Christoph Waltz -- someone who can speak Tarantinian fluently and still make it his own. When Waltz uses a self-consciously ostentatious word like "ascertain" (as in, "I was simply trying to ascertain..." -- the kind of verbiage QT is as likely to put in the mouth of a lowlife crook as a German dentist, or a Francophile plantation slavemaster, for that matter), it sounds right. As someone to whom Tarantino's dialog often sounds cliche-ridden and cutesy, it's a pleasure to hear Waltz saying the words in character rather than simply as a mouthpiece for the writer-director.

Oh, stop. This isn't sounding the way I want it to.

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#137 October 10, 2012

Marie writes: I may have been born in Canada, but I grew-up watching Sesame Street and Big Bird, too. Together, they encouraged me to learn new things; and why now I can partly explain string theory.That being the case, I was extremely displeased to hear that were it up Romney, as President he wouldn't continue to support PBS. And because I'm not American and can't vote in their elections, I did the only thing I could: I immediately reached for Photoshop....

(Click image to enlarge.)

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'Aviator' leads Oscar nominations

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"The Aviator" leads with 11 nominations. Jamie Foxx was nominated in two categories. A little film named "Sideways" won five nominations, but one of them was not for its star, Paul Giamatti. "Finding Neverland" was the dark horse, in a tie with "Million Dollar Baby" with seven nominations apiece.

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