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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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I inspired him (to disagree, but still...)

From Justin J. Francis, San Jose, CA:

I almost think this entire debate on the artistic merit of video games is in itself art. Why? Because it has taken me on an intellectual ride that has brought me to new heights of reason and clarity... and it's been damn entertaining. In the beginning I didn't really have an opinion. Then I started to agree with you that video games aren't art. Then I completely agreed with you. It's funny, because at this point I thought that there couldn't be much more said on the issue.

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Then the letters kept pouring in, many passionately challenging your view, and you so graciously kept publishing them. And lo and behold I began to disagree with you. And now, having heard so many lines of reasoning and after giving it so much thought, I am finally convinced that video games can be and are art. I was deeply into video games when I was younger, and when I got older I got deeply into film. I see both as art forms. What I really wanted to tell you is I'm glad you expressed your opinion that video games aren't art. Because you said this, it unleashed one of the most thought provoking and stimulating debates I have ever encountered. It perplexed and intrigued me enough to want to establish my own viewpoint, because before, I never really thought about it. I appreciate that you welcome viewpoints that conflict with your own, and that you're humble enough to print them for all to read. Clive Barker was dead wrong by calling you arrogant. People should respect you for backing up what you said, and also for inviting different perspectives. After all, it was your initial opinion that spawned all this intellectual dialogue and ultimately shaped and refined my viewpoint.

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