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Just Getting Started

Just Getting Started never really gets going. It only kept me thinking, “Is this ever just going to finish?”

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The Rape of Recy Taylor

A documentary with a great subject and powerful testimony, undone by its unnecessarily obtrusive style.

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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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Movie Tips for Newt

House Republicans, who have promised action on their 10-point "Contract With America" in the first 100 days of the new Congress, reach the halfway mark today. No one has been more identified with the GOP's recent surge in Congress than Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). He has used his new position as House speaker to promote his vision of where the country should be heading - and to suggest the viewing of movies as a means of shaping social policy. Who better to give Newt some movie guidance than Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert?

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Last Picture Show

One day it was winter. The next day there was a wet restlessness in the wind, and it was March. We knew it was March because Dan-Dan the Yo-Yo Man always came to town right around St. Patrick's Day. He visited all the grade school playgrounds, driving up in his fat maroon Hudson and jumping out with the yo-yo already in the air. He passed out fliers for the annual yo-yo contest at the Princess Theater.

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The Mystery of the 'Spontaneous Exchange'

It is an open secret that the "spontaneous exchanges" on talk shows are somewhat planned in advance. What has surprised me is how often the hosts depart entirely from the script. In many appearances on the Leno, Carson and Letterman programs, I would estimate that less than half of what happened was foreseen, and in some cases entire appearances were ad-libbed. The "pre-interview" is more like a safety net.

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'Hoop Dreams' Plays Drama Real Life

Some of the best reviews of the year are going to a three-hour documentary about a couple of inner-city Chicago kids who dream of becoming basketball stars in the NBA. "Hoop Dreams" (opening Friday), has come out of the Sundance, Toronto, New York and Chicago film festivals trailing clouds of glory, and critical praise that few fiction films are ever granted. Why are the critics so enthusiastic?

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Silence is golden to Ozu

TOKYO, Japan--People ask me who my favorite directors are, and I mention Hitchcock, Scorsese, Fellini, Welles and Ozu. They nod, but there is a slight pause, and I know they are considering whether to ask me: "Ozu?"

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Dim future for interactive film

"Interactive" is the kind of word I like to interact with by hitting the "delete" key on my computer. I'm asked at least twice a week about the future of "interactive movies," and I am sorry to disappoint, but the answer is: Interactive movies have no future. They're already over with, except as a buzzword often found in the same sentence with terms like "infobahn" and "information revolution."

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