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Troop Zero

Pleasant enough but never quite as emotionally gripping as a coming-of-age story about acceptance can be, Troop Zero scores a handful of memorable moments when…

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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 Unloved, Part 62: Sweet Movie

"If you find this review unsatisfactory, so do I: The movie defies criticism even while it seems to demand it, and I keep on thinking about it even while I know I'm not getting anywhere." 

That's Roger Ebert on "Sweet Movie," which he saw when it was still new and setting fire to his critical faculties. He interviewed its director Dušan Makavejev and described their encounter thusly: He grins. He is a big, bear-like man with an embracing personality, and he tells the story as if we're supposed to see the perfect humor of it all, not learn a lesson. Then he says, "That's what I'd like my films to do - to bring people to see in themselves things they might otherwise never accept." Later Ebert would call the man "one of the great free spirits of moviemaking in our time."

I agree even if I found "Sweet Movie" a more coherent experience than Ebert. More than that I thought it revelatory, beautiful, one-of-a-kind. It changed what I knew about motion pictures. Makavejev wasn't content to make anyone else's movie. He invented his own kind of film. And "Sweet Movie" was the apex of his new form. It was too radical and fearlessly scatalogical for its time and remains too strange to catch on now. But to me, this is one of the finest films ever made. 



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