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Beuys

In terms of provocation, Beuys could certainly provoke viewers into reading a book on its subject instead.

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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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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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Hope Springs From 'Sirens'

Filmgoers should be cheered by the news that an Australian film named "Sirens" is doing strong business at the nation's box offices. It is loosely inspired by the life and times of a colorful painter named Norman Lindsay, who shocked his country in the 1930s with an unconventional lifestyle that included large numbers of beautiful women who were his models, muses and, occasionally, lovers.

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On movies and ratings

One of the first things I remember learning about the movies was that they were a Possible Occasion of Sin. That was in Catholic grade school, where we were advised to avoid such Occasions by carefully observing the Legion of Decency ratings printed every week in Our Sunday Visitor.

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