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Transcendence

"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.

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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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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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Movies that lose us in the moment

From Jenifer Mills, Gordonville, TX:

Do you still catch yourself being "lost in the moment" even more so than usual during some performances? A good book brings the reader along for and into the ride. In a movie, the viewer is no longer in charge of imagining the tone, decor, atmosphere, and people - a director, the cast, costume and set designers, music compositions, CGI, etc., do all of the work for you. The best movie escapes (even brief ones) occur when the viewer is immersed in a believable reality, character, emotion, or belief, whether fantastical or factual, dark or humorous, chilling or sweet.

My favorite example of a single scene ("The Fugitive"): We know when U.S. Marshall Samuel Gerard first realizes that Dr. Richard Kimble is innocent but pursues him anyway because that's his job. I bet you know the exact moment as well as I do.

My favorite example of an entire movie ("Citizen X"): We experience the hopelessness, self-loathing, fear, and bleak reality displayed by most of the characters, regardless of station, age, self-discipline, or level of humanity.

My favorite example of late ("Changeling"): [SPOILER WARNING] We watch Gordon Northcott act cagey, cruel, drunkenly triumphant, defiant, and delusional. Finally, we escort him to his well-earned death sentence. Although I was in a theater, I was there at a real hanging, feeling no sympathy for the coward but filled with true dread while watching his pathetically self-serving yet very human display, especially when he spat at the guards to slow down and then sang a Christmas carol to comfort himself. Mr. Harner should be nominated for and win the best supporting actor Oscar hands down.

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