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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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4 for Friday: Ricky Bobby, Descent, Miss Sunshine, Night Listener

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Cal Naughton, Jr. and Ricky Bobby drink beers and talk about peanut butter and ladies.

I've got reviews of four new releases on RogerEbert.com this week, and all the movies are actually pretty good (or even better) for a change!

"The Descent" -- the scariest and most cinematically adept horror-thriller in years. (Don't look it up, don't watch the TV spots or the trailer -- just go. Now. Read reviews later.)

"Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" -- Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as NASCAR drivers. Did you laugh at that title? Then you'll probably laugh at the movie.

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"Little Miss Sunshine" -- Steve Carell, Toni Collette, Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin. What more do you need to know? (Except, maybe, why they'd open a comedy with Carrell and Kinnear opposite a Will Ferrell comedy, in which Carrell was also offered a role but had to pass for scheduling reasons.)

"The Night Listener" -- a Hitchockian thriller, based on a novel by Armistead Maupin, also starring Toni Collette, and a performance by Robin Williams that is not only watchable but relatively nuanced. Who'da thunk it?

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