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The Good Dinosaur

A film that has some promising elements and which often seems as if it is on the verge of evolving into something wonderful but never…


The Danish Girl

The Danish Girl lacks an immediacy and vibrancy, as well as a genuine sense of emotional connection.

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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…


Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Great Movies and mortality

From: Dave Shaefer, Baltimore, MD

I have been viewing as many of the movies in your book "Roger Ebert: the Great Movies" as I can get my hands on. (Netflix has a great selection.) Today I saw "Ikiru", one of Kurosawa's works and I found it to be one of the best movies I have ever seen. Perhaps the fact that I have been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor (brain stem) created a resonance with the story's main character, Watanabe. I could feel his despair for a wasted life in the Japanese bureaucracy, pushing papers but without a lasting accomplishment. It was very emotional for me having the feeling that I may be at the end of my days, and interesting that a film created more than 50 years ago could produce such a reaction in me. Fortunately for me, I have been a teacher in a school for students with chronic behavioral problems during the last 14 years of my working days (I am 59), and I have the comfort of knowing I have had a positive influence on many of those young people. So I do not despair of my life's work, but know I have done some things that will live beyond my life. Watanabe's desire for a final lasting testament to his 'wasted' life was reminiscent of Nicholson's character in "About Schmidt." It must be a common human thread that makes us take stock in our lives as we face our mortality.

Two other Japanese films about reconciliation with death: Ozu's "Tokyo Story" and Kore-Ada's "After Life." (RE)

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