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Alpha

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Minding the Gap

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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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Street scene: Movie theater, snow, rain, promise

This photo was sent to me by a reader, Chris Aiello. At first I processed it as an atmospheric street scene with a movie theater. Then I read the marquee. That placed it in the early 1960s, and I remembered that Jonas Mekas' "Guns of the Trees" (1961) was a film I reviewed in the early days of the ill-fated Town Underground theater in Chicago (now the Park West).

Aiello told me, "That was the St. Charles movie theater NYC. Circa 1962." And reader Irving Benig added, "East 12th in the Village ."

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The "Ginsberg Hoover and Nixon" refers to Allen Ginsberg, who read his poetry on the sound track.

My first thought was that the scene in the photograph looked cold and lonely. Then I read the marquee and thought, no, that's simply how it would have looked on a winter's day. Inside it would have been warm, and the beam from the projector would have made a cone in the cigarette smoke.

When I left the theater it would have been dark and I would have looked around for a place to get a bowl of chili. I could read while eating it. I had the paperback of Norman Mailer's Advertisements for Myself in the pocket of my corduroy sports coat, under my thin khaki raincoat.

The Internet Movie Database lists only one review of the film, this one.

I went looking for a clip or a trailer of "Guns of the Trees," and there wasn't one. Adding the search term "Jonas Mekas," I found the short film below. You never know what you might find.

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