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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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#259 August 19, 2015

Sheila writes: In the films of Spike Lee, the characters often break the fourth wall and speak directly into the lens. There's a break in the action, and the dialogue spoken to the camera feels almost like it's from a documentary, with the "talking head" giving us more information for context. In this cut from the wonderful video-site "Press Play," watch the best To the Camera moments from Spike Lee's films.

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R.I.P. Albert Maysles; What ISIS really wants; Silencing "India's Daughter"; Ford's crash stirs subconscious fears; Profile of "Hangover" producer Scott Budnick, advocate for prison reform.

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Elizabeth Taylor, pagan goddess

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Camille Paglia is known for being both brilliant and wacky (possibly wacko) -- often at the same time, which is probably when she's at her most inspired. A founding contributor at Salon.com (and co-star of "It's Pat: The Movie"), Paglia spoke on the phone to Salon editor Kerry Lauerman yesterday after the news of Elizabeth Taylor's death, and offered up an extraordinary tribute. I just wanted to share some of it with you. Lauerman begins by quoting something Paglia wrote about Taylor in Penthouse in 1992:

"She wields the sexual power that feminism cannot explain and has tried to destroy. Through stars like Taylor, we sense the world-disordering impact of legendary women like Delilah, Salome, and Helen of Troy. Feminism has tried to dismiss the femme fatale as a misogynist libel, a hoary cliche. But the femme fatale expresses women's ancient and eternal control of the sexual realm." Paglia takes it from there:

Exactly. At that time, you have to realize, Elizabeth Taylor was still being underestimated as an actress. No one took her seriously -- she would even make jokes about it in public. And when I wrote that piece, Meryl Streep was constantly being touted as the greatest actress who ever lived. I was in total revolt against that and launched this protest because I think that Elizabeth Taylor is actually a greater actress than Meryl Streep, despite Streep's command of a certain kind of technical skill. [...]

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