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Thirst Street

The result is a slow-motion car crash that you intimately experience from both in and outside the car.

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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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A few calm words about The List

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The king is dead. Long live the king. Welles' "Citizen Kane" has been dethroned from the Sight & Sound list of the greatest films of all time, and replaced by Hitchcock's "Vertigo." It's not as if nobody saw this coming. The list first appeared in 1952, and "Vertigo" (1958) made the list for the first time only in 1982. Climbing slowly, it placed five votes behind "Kane" in 2002. Although many moviegoers would probably rank "Psycho" or maybe "North by Northwest" as Hitch's best, for S&S types his film to beat was "Notorious" (1946). That's the one I voted for until I went through "Vertigo" a shot at a time at the University of Virginia, became persuaded of its greatness, and put it on my 2002 list.

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Oh, how I wish you could hear this!

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As the world watched the incredible opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the same thought was on many minds: How in the world can London possibly top this in 2012? Faced with that challenge, director Danny Boyle seems to have been inspired by the title of a Monty Python film: "And now for something completely different."

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A shot in the dark

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Catie and Caleb Medley went to the doomed midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises." It was a movie they'd been looking forward to for a year, her father said. Gunfire rang out. The bullets missed Catie, who was pregnant. Caleb was shot in the eye. On Tuesday, their son Hugo was born. Caleb is listed in critical condition, and the cost of emergency treatment for his head wound has already reached $2 million. The Medleys were uninsured.

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The mega-epic pissing contest

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Peter Jackson caused a bit of a stir by announcing that he would shoot his forthcoming "The Hobbit" at 48 frames per second. The film will be released in two parts, in December 2012 and December 2013, and he revealed recently that Part One will be two and a half hours long. One wonders how much of this burden the lovable little creatures can carry on their shoulders.

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There is something and not nothing

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The mind of a theoretical physicist must be a wonderful place. It can consider things that for me are only words, and will always be words. It can make play with multiple dimensions. It can contemplate black holes. It can not only theorize the existence of the Higgs boson, but can devise an experiment to find it--an experiment that succeeds.

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This cripple is a Smart Ass

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Some of the fiercest and most useful satire on the web right now is being written by a man who signs himself Smart Ass Cripple. Using his wheelchair as a podium, he ridicules government restrictions, cuts through hypocrisy, ignores the PC firewalls surrounding his disability, and is usually very funny. Because he has been disabled since birth, he uses that as a license to write things that others may think but do not dare say.

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Doing the right thing

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The Supreme Court has done us all a kindness. Obamacare shows the human community working at its best. For me, that's what it finally comes down to. If all of us, even the least fortunate, have access to competent medical attention, isn't that a wonderful thing? The poor, the old, the unemployed, those with pre-existing conditions?

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Quvenzhané. A small force of nature.

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She is the small, determined center of Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts of the Southern Wild," which opens July 6 and seems destined for a Best Picture nomination from the Academy. Quvenzhané Wallis was six when she filmed the role. She and all of the other actors were non-professionals. Incredible.

I interviewed Quvenzhané, her co-star Dwight Henry and her director Benh Zeitlin during their Chicago visit. This video was edited by Paul Meekin. My print interview with Quvenzhané follows.

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Movies don't stream themselves

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This will be the year that revenue from streaming passes revenue from DVD sales, according to a recent article in the Hollywood Reporter.

How do we feel about this? I ask as a movie-watcher who subscribes to Netflix, Hulu and Fandor, and also rents online from Amazon and Vudu. iTunes gets none of my business because the iTunes Store has been misbehaving on my computer. I average three streaming movies a week and three or four on DVD. I'm not an average consumer, because a lot of my viewing is for work. But often of an evening I'll stream for pleasure. All of my streaming happens through a Roku Player on HDTV.

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