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"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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Deeper into movies

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"Reservoir Dogs": Opening credits.

The death of Sherman Torgan, owner and proprietor of the New Beverly Cinema, reminded me of an evening in 1993 when my friend Julia Sweeney and I met up with Quentin Tarantino, Tim Roth, Lawrence Tierney, Chris Penn, and Michael Madsen (I think that was the whole crew) at Insomnia (Beverly and Poinsettia, near El Coyote) and did "The Walk" down Beverly Blvd. to the theater, where those guys were going to do a Q&A with the audience after a showing of "Reservoir Dogs." We were a block down the street before I consciously realized we were re-enacting the opening credits of the movie -- in streetclothes. I wondered if anybody on the street had a flash of recognition as they drove by, one of those little "Did I just see that?" moments that happens so often in a moving vehicle, and especially in Los Angeles.

I just had another one of those experiences this evening. Hadn't eaten all day and suddenly I knew I just had to have a club sandwich: crispy bacon, turkey, ham, lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese -- maybe a slice of red onion -- on rye or wheat toast. It became my holy grail, the focal point of my existence. I went to a nearby sports bar-type restaurant near the University of Washington, a place I remembered from college, where I knew I could get just such a sandwich, quickly and painlessly. I was sitting in the bar and just before the waiter appeared, a song started playing and -- again, before I was even aware of it -- I was lifted out of the book I was reading and transported somewhere else.

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Last scene of the last episode of "The Sopranos": Best movie of 2007, so far.

It was Journey: "Don't Stop Believin'." And I got goosebumps. How the hell did that happen? Two months ago I wouldn't even have recognized the song. I still don't remember it existing before the last scene of "The Sopranos." But now, it was invested with a power that transformed my awareness completely. I felt a tension, an excitement, a wistfulness that had nothing to do with the song as it had previously existed and everything to do with the context in which I'll now hear it forever. I sat, a little bit dazed, and soaked up the atmosphere, pretending it was a diner in Jersey. When the guy arrived to take my order, I got a club. And onion rings.

Got any stories of moments when you suddenly felt you were in a particular movie? If so, I'd love to hear 'em....

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