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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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One "black" Oscar nominee

From Frank Venis, Chicago, IL:

Your column recapping this year's Oscar Nominees made the point that this was one of the rare years that no black actors were nominated. It appears this is technically incorrect. Hailee Steinfeld, nominee for "True Grit," has black ancestry on her father's side. I glanced at perhaps 100 pictures of her on Google after hearing this, and I don't really see any sign of it, nor do I see any sign of her Filipino ancestry, which apparently she also has through her father.

It's a very silly point. After all, she clearly played a white character and I doubt anyone left the theater saying "Wow, that bi-racial girl was really great" or "That half-white actress might be the next Halle Berry." But for some reason I do take comfort in the fact that our genes are being mixed and matched in so many wonderful combinations that it is literally possible to not see "race" on everyone's face.

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