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Think beyond the top layer

Q: Please provide a definition for the "hyperlink film," to which you have made reference in prior reviews. There is a now widespread belief that such films need international flair (as in "Syriana," "Traffic" or "Babel") and multiple languages. Would you agree, or need the parameters be broader so that the earlier works can be included in the definition (as suggested in your review of "Cape of Good Hope")? How many storylines do you need/how connected need they be to constitute a hyperlink film?

Milton Wilkins, St. Louis

A. The term is borrowed from the concept of hyperlink fiction in the early days of computing, in which a text could be read in any order. A movie, of course, can be seen in only one order. For me, a hyperlink movie shows apparently unrelated stories and characters that have a gradually revealed, hidden connection. I don't think languages or story counts have anything to do with it. For an influential example, see Altman's "Nashville."

Q. My sister heard about a movie called "Corpus Christi," in which Jesus is depicted as being gay. Is there such a movie? That would be sad.

Terry Mischke, Redmond, Ore.

A. It would be sad if it was a bad movie, not if it was a good one. A movie's quality is separate from its subject. In any event, no such film exists. It is an urban legend dating back to 1984, kept alive from pulpits, on talk radio and with Internet petitions, but it has never existed. You may find more info at:

Q. I was very much offended by your comparison of Ping-Pong to foosball. At first, I thought, you excluded table tennis from this category, but noticing your silly talk about "faster paddles and slower balls," you obviously lumped these two different activities together. There is a very basic distinction between table tennis and Ping-Pong: You play Ping-Pong, and I play table tennis. After many years of practice, I find it appalling my sport being compared to foosball.

But I guess it is understandable to find such comments uttered in the United States, considering that the No. 1 American male player is rated No. 144 in the world. In a sense this was my biggest fear about the pathetic "Balls of Fury," that it would make table tennis into a bigger caricature than it already was. I am very sad to see you trapped by your own ignorance.

Martynas Aukstuolis, Chicago

A. Wikipedia says: "Ping-Pong is a popular name for the game of table tennis." My research indicates they have the same rules. What am I missing here?

Q. In a recent Answer Man feature, you state, in reference to the "Casino Royale" (2007) character Le Chiffre bleeding from his eyes: "Health tip: If you start to bleed out of your eyes, it's not irrelevant." I can confirm your observation. A few years ago, I began bleeding from my eyes. The doctor told me that the blood was coming from my sinuses. I had a nose bleed, but the blood couldn't exit through my nose, so it passed through a passage between the sinuses and the eye and came out my tear ducts. Because the blood from the sinuses can carry bacteria that could infect the eye, the doctor prescribed a course of antibiotic eye drops for me. Without that treatment, I might have developed a nasty eye infection.

A bit of trivia: This passage, which is called the nasolacrimal duct, can also carry tears from the eye to the sinuses. That's why we sometimes sniffle when we cry.

Gregg W. Jackson, Cupertino, Calif.

A. The next time I'm trapped by my ignorance about table tennis, I plan to weep my nose out and blow my eyes.

Q. Is it true that any film in which Clint Howard appears will have his character wearing some variation of headphones?

Mick Welsh, Phoenix

A. Andy Ihnatko, whose Web site Colossal Waste of Bandwidth maintains the Clint Howard Project, tells me: "Not even close. I think the fellow who contributed this was basing it on "Apollo 13" (featuring Clint as a Mission Control wonk) and "That Thing You Do!" (with Clint as a jazz radio DJ). Maybe he should ask if Clint wears them in every Tom Hanks movie he appears in."

Q. Your reader wanted to know the name of a foreign comedy about an actor who starts out on top of a can of milk that a cow bumps into, and he rolls down the hill. The rest of the film has birds, flies and bees turning against him. The answer appears to be "Lo Scatenato." It was found by Brian Kraft in the newsgroup rec.arts.movies.past-films.

Bill Anderson, Washington, D.C.

A. Movies Unlimited writes: "Italy's premier male model is attacked by the entire animal kingdom. Horses throw him, bees sting him, dogs bite him and bulls charge him! Is it only his imagination or is the harassed hunk the victim of a beastly plot?"

Released in 1967, it stars Vittorio Gassman, Gila Golan and Martha Hyer, and is also known as "The Unchained" or "Tutti Frutti."

Q. In a recent column, you attributed the quote "we don't want nobody nobody sent" to Richard J. Daley (the Real Mayor, as he is known in our house). Actually, that was said by Marshall Korshak to a very young Abner Mikva. The quote was later used as a title of a wonderful book about Chicago politics by the late Prof. Milton Rakove. His daughter Roberta, a friend of mine, has been a student of yours on several occasions.

J.G. Bloom, Chicago

A. Who sent her?

Q. In your review of "This is England," you write that the story could have taken place in any city. In fact, it did: "This is England" is a close rewrite of a critically acclaimed novel called American Skin, originally published in England in 1998. The story, about a boy who falls in with a gang of multicultural skinheads, is set in Chicago, and the author, Don De Grazia, is a hometown boy. This is one of my favorite books, and "This is England" is so close with its characters and scenes (many of which have verbatim dialogue) that it seems De Grazia deserves a shout-out.

Marcus Grindley, Chicago

A. Fair's fair, I guess. Stephen Frears and John Cusack's wonderful Chicago-based film "High Fidelity" was based on a British novel by Nick Hornby.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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