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Life struck me as several cuts above “meh” but never made me jump out of my seat.

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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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'Good Night' and good grief!

From: Paul J. Marasa, Galesburg, IL

I just read your Answer Man comments to the would-be reviewer who asked how much of one's politics should enter a review. Your answer is fine; what troubles me is how objective you were. The writer, James Frazer, described himself as a "somewhat politically conservative man" who "hated the film because [he] thought it was smugly left-wing and pompous in the extreme." "Good Night, and Good Luck" was "left-wing" to an "extreme"? Is there anybody left in America who remembers when one didn't have to be a "liberal" to think Joe McCarthy was a venal thug?

Are we so polarized, and so convinced that our values are under siege, that we duck-and-cover with aggressive either-or, for-against absolutes? If recognizing that the McCarthy era was a national embarrassment makes one "left-wing," then "left-wing" must mean "objective."

Elvis Costello was once able to sing, "I used to be disgusted, and now I try to be amused." I wish I could manage the latter.

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