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Amy

Sometimes, it feels as if we are eavesdropping on day-to-day conversations rather than just hearing the usual litany of platitudes and regrets.

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Stray Dog

"Stray Dog" largely succeeds because Granik's technique complements her subject. Both he and the film are modest in their goals and cherish the value of…

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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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Cinematic Bests

Place to sit: Sit twice as far back as the screen is wide. Try to choose the side of the theater farthest from the main entrance door; more people will choose the other side, lessening your chance of having someone sit in front of you.

Theater: A toss-up between the 900 N. Michigan theaters and the big screen at McClurg Court. Movie-going experience At the Music Box on N. Southport, where you get the sense that both the staff and your fellow audience members have a serious love of movies.

Popcorn: Not to be found in a movie theater. Go to one of the Garrett's outlets in the Loop.

Creative programming: The Film Center of the Art Institute, which presents directors, genres and whole national cinemas. Get on their mailing list.

Way to attend advance screenings of major movies: Become a member of the Chicago Film Festival and/or the Film Center of the Art Institute. Both have sneak previews more or less monthly for their members, often with the directors or stars in attendance.

Offbeat video store: Facets Multimedia, both in its original location at 1517 W. Fullerton and in its new video store in Bookseller's Row at 1520 N. Milwaukee, specializes in classic, art, foreign, documentary and experimental films. Tens of thousands of titles, including 6500 foreign movies, most of which are subtitled.

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