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Solo: A Star Wars Story

An engaging but unnecessary bit of backstory for one of blockbuster cinema's most beloved characters.

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First Reformed

A stunning, enrapturing film, a crowning work by one of the American cinema’s most essential artists.

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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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The ascent of vulgarity

From Clark Douglas, Griffin GA:

I would never have guessed that I would have found a review of the film "Step Brothers" particularly moving. However, I was deeply moved by your review. Sometimes I think I am living in a nightmare, too. What has happened to this world of ours?

There have been several occasions in recent years when I have sat in a theatre, saddened and confused by the reactions of the audience members around me. This happens most frequently in some of the more brutal horror films, where audiences laugh with glee and cheer as some sweet and innocent person is killed in a horrible way (the terrifying rape scene in the remake of "The Hills Have Eyes" inspired such behavior in my local cinema). As you pointed out in this review, it also happens with increasing frequency in comedies.

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At this point in time, vulgarity no longer retains much shock value. It's become common currency in today's communication. Bad manners and crass behavior have become so run-of-the-mill that it takes something truly ugly to get many audience members to laugh. Why are people so comfortable with seeing other people treated so badly? Have we lost our capacity for compassion?

The recent action flick "Wanted" nicely sums up everything that bothers me about a certain segment of modern cinema. The film suggests that the only way to be truly happy in life is to do whatever your darkest impulses urge you to do, no matter how many people are hurt in the process. Many audience members seemed to applaud this sentiment. Is that what it's going to come to? Is that what we're moving towards? A world where everyone is willing to do anything to anyone in the name of self-help? Anyway, I've rambled enough. I think I'd better go re-watch "A Prairie Home Companion" now.

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