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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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After the controversy...?

From: Foster Freed, Parksville, B.C., Canada

I just want to thank Roger Ebert for his advocacy of "Crash", a film that has been subjected to some very shallow negative responses. Is it a perfect film? Of course not! But so many of those who attack the film appear to be oblivious to its deep complexities. Rarely does one experience a film in which each character repels and yet -- at the same time -- elicits profound sympathy and empathy. My sense is that the movie is as controversial as it is, in part, because it touches a nerve. And so liberals are offended that the film treats racism as a matter of personal decision, rather than a systemic evil that can simply be manipulated away with new legislation. And so conservatives seem to be offended that the Los Angeles Police are depicted as complex human beings with demons of their own, rather than as embodiments of everything that is good in our society.

Hopefully, once the controversy dies away, the film will be seen with greater detachment, so that it's invitation to personal soul-searching can be taken up by a wider circle of viewers.

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