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The Girl Without Hands

What he does best is create a palpable sense of dread without pushing, without tilting into melodrama.

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Munna Michael

Noisy, silly, and sometimes rather fun. I just wish it weren't such a hot mess.

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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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Listening twice as fast

This letter from his father refers to my interview here with Ian Michael Smith, the 3'2" star of "Simon Birch" in 1991, who is now a student at MIT. The day I talked to him he had just had a cochlear implant installed, to contend with his deafness.

From Steve Smith, Elmhurst, IL:

Just wanted to give you the good news that Ian's hearing improvement is spectacular. He has had his implant turned up several times since he first got it. This, combined with the adjustment that is going on in his brain, results in dramatic improvements to his hearing. His audiologist says she has never seen an implant recipient hear so well. Ian reports that the experience of being in classes and hearing like he does now is "awesome." Classes started again this week for him at MIT. He also reports that things are sounding very close to natural. Recently I was talking to him for quite a while before he revealed that he had been listening to music through his iPod (pumped into his implant) at the same time he was talking to me. Before this, he could not have held a conversation while simultaneously listening to music like that. The improvement in his hearing also makes socializing much easier and he's been enjoying that too now that he's back with his friends on campus. This cochlear implant is really amazing technology.

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