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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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HAL 9000: "Affirmative, Dave, I read you."

From Lewis McNeel, San Antonio, TX:

Recently a Mr. Bob Bowman sent you a suggestion that "2001: A Space Odyssey" really ought to get reprinted and shown in IMAX next year for its 40th Anniversary (which I think is a fantastic idea by the way).

Given your own acknowledged practice of occasionally writing your own Answer Man questions under pseudonyms for the purpose of making occasional points and stimulating discussion in interesting ways (nothing wrong with that in my opinion), and given that the central human character in the film "2001" is named Bowman, and given your own playful tendency towards riddle and clue-dropping in your own writing, and given Mr. Bowman's implied technical understanding of the process of re-releasing a film (he used the term "striking new prints"), I was wondering for fun if I might try politely calling you out on this recent post as being another well-meaning yet wholly fabricated question to yourself for the purpose of stoking the discussion of a potential "2001" re-release (again, a fantastic idea)? My sincerest apologies to you if my speculation turns out to be false, and my deepest heartfelt apologies to Mr. Bob Bowman of San Francisco for questioning his actuality, in the event that he really is, in fact, existent.

Ebert replies" The question really did come from Bob Bowman in San Francisco, and I agree it is an idea whose time has come. When I pen letters to the Answer Man, I usually, but not always, use a character name from "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls." However, for all I know, Bob Bowman has a brother named Dave.

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