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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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Writer Profiles: Scout Tafoya

We have some amazing writers, film critics and video essayists at RogerEbert.com, and as we head into the home stretch of this year, we would like to remind you of some of their work. Although we have many talented critics who contribute reviews and articles occasionally during the year, these particular profiles will highlight the work of our critics who have contributed the most reviews and/or video essays. I would like to start off this series by spotlighting the visual work of the very talented Scout Tafoya.Chaz Ebert, publisher

Thoughts on 2016 (so far):

Earlier this year I saw one of the greatest movies of all time and then got on a train to go to a funeral. That so perfectly encapsulated what 2016 felt like to me. Flashes of brilliance undercut by a current of utter tragedy. And in film it was no different. The movie I saw that day was the restoration of "On The Silver Globe," whose brilliant director Andrzej Żuławski had died only a few weeks prior, and that missive from a forgotten past felt more alive and vital to me than any of the new movies I'd seen all year. I was deeply depressed that movies were not providing me an escape from the hostile and violent political climate. I had to face every grim reality and as anyone could tell you, this year was one of the most upsetting in recent memory. Thankfully since then I've found the few handful of completely astounding new movies that made me fall back in love with film again after months feeling adrift. I want more singularity of vision, more completely rapturous form, more fearlessness, less impersonal direction. I want movies that aren't afraid of looking death in the eye, of making a friend of horror and misery, because right now we're at a terrifying, bleak crossroads, and our art needs the fortitude to withstand the force of the world's problems. "Manchester By The Sea," "Certain Women," "Kate Plays Christine," "Elle," Sieranevada, "The Lost City of Z," "Neruda," "Cosmos," "Everybody Wants Some!!," "A Quiet Passion," "Sunset Song," "Knight of Cups," "Cosmos," "Fire At Sea." Those films made this horrible year worth enduring. More like them, please.

Excerpt from Scout's Movie Love Questionnaire (read the full Q&A here):

Anyone who's sat next to me at NYFF press screenings knows I laugh obnoxiously loud (Fellow Ebert writer Glenn Kenny can attest to this, as can Nick Newman, Greg Cwik, Monica Castillo and Eric Barroso and most of the Lincoln Center patrons, most of whom probably have voodoo dolls in my likeness). My girlfriend gets angry when I laugh at things without warning her because it's so loud. I was asked to laugh less loudly by the management at a matinee of "Me & Orson Welles" once because people had complained. I think I ruined "Manchester by the Sea" and "Listen Up, Philip" for everyone at Walter Reade. I still lose my mind laughing at the Lonely Island movies ("Hot Rod," "Macgruber," "Popstar"), the Jackass films, "A New Leaf," "Young Frankenstein," "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother." Any film that requires rewinding to watch a joke again is ok by me. I can't think of a single answer to this but I remember the second time I saw David Wain's "They Came Together" I thought I was going to die. I was doubled over on my floor. 

Scout's installments of The Unloved series so far published in 2016:

Part 25: "Big Fan"

Part 26: "Absolute Beginners"

Part 27: "City of Industry"

Part 28: "Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals"

Part 29: "Knight of Cups"

Part 30: "Torn Curtain" and "Topaz"

Part 31: "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me"

Part 32: "Youth Without Youth"

Part 33: "Ride with the Devil"

Part 34: "Lord of Salem"

Check out all of Scout's reviews and interviews here.

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