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Split

It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.

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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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Shrader's Mishima: Blood cult

The first thing Paul Schrader wanted to talk about after the Ebertfest screening of his ambitious 1985 "Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters" was his youthful fascination with the primitive rite of "suicidal blood sacrifice." That's what he said his script for "Taxi Driver" was rooted in -- and, no wonder, since he had been raised a strict Calvinist (is that redundant?) and, as he put it, "Christianity is a blood cult" that glorifies sacrificial suicide. In "Mishima" it's the act of seppuku; in "Raging Bull" it's boxing; in "The Last Temptation of Christ" it's crucifixion... To writer-director Schrader, they're all manifestations of the same bloody thing.

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