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A full feature with a storyline that an enterprising six-year-old might have thought was a little too rudimentary.

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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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Little screen captures big stars' imaginations

My digital camera slips into my pocket and goes with me to every screening at the Toronto Film Festival. You never know who you'll meet: Helen Shaver bounding out of an elevator, LeVar Burton on his way to a movie, Denzel Washington in the lobby of the Four Seasons at midnight. At the end of the day I download my catch, slipping the photo card out of the camera and into my Mac G3 Powerbook. Software allows me to crop the photos and fiddle with the exposure, and then I load them into e-mail and zap them off to the paper.

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The camera has a little screen on the back that shows what each photo will look like. This turns your subjects into collaborators. Movie stars, of course, are tired of having their photos taken, but if you show them the instant result, they become accomplices, squinting at the photo and suggesting a new pose. I shot Jeff Bridges with Jeff Dowd, for example, because Bridges played a character based on Dowd in "The Big Lebowski."

They were just smiling at the camera. They looked at the little digital screen and Dowd said, "I got a better idea." That's the one I used.

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