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The multiple twists, double-crosses and leaps in logic are more likely to prompt giggles than gasps, despite the impressive production values and the earnest efforts…

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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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And now it's all gone...

From Jeff Shannon, Seattle, WA:

You can't tell from the look on my face in the accompanying photo, but this was one of the most memorable times of my life. I can't describe how lucky I feel to have seen the Universal backlot put to such good use -- nearly three years ago now -- and now it's all gone in a blaze of fire and smoke. All of the building facades you see in these photos (and many you don't see) were destroyed by the fire.

All of the sets we all recognize from decades of film and TV...all gone. I feel privileged to have been there under the best of circumstances. What an incredible gift of memories to cherish. By sheer coincidence, Clint Eastwood's "Changeling" (aka "The Exchange") was the last production to extensively use the backlot before Monday morning's fire.

What a tragic loss of film history...but it will be good to see something new and equally useful rise from the ashes...

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