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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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Film family portraits

Meet the Torrances -- Jack, Wendy and Danny. Artist Kirk Demarais has painted family portraits of some other families in your extended cinematic neighborhood, who've likely been invited guests in your home many times, including the Griswolds, the Johnsons, the Lundegaards, the Emersons, the Plainviews and the Freelings. Take a look.

The artist explains his inspiration and his methodology below:

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The family portrait format felt perfect since this type of photography is basically a study in pure affectation. And what's great about them is that the veneer of smiles is always too transparent to disguise the strain, the physical discomfort, the uneasiness, and often the volatile emotions bubbling beneath. Amazing how we don our most painful clothes and stand under all-illuminating heat lamps in a vain attempt to appear natural, happy, and "at our best." Then we send this piece of fiction to everyone we know. I vividly recall the agony of being forced to rest my hand on my sister's shoulder for literally minutes at a time!

So when you drop these familiar movie families into the equation you've got a double layer of irony. Anyone who's seen these films gets flashes of the horrors each tribe is destined for. I also liked the idea of creating would-be movie props that could be at home in the families' respective fictional dwellings. [...]

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I tried to vary the styles somewhat from piece to piece based on each film and family. For instance, I figured the Torrances' photo would come from a K-Mart type store so it's slightly misframed and the lighting is severe in an attempt to match Kubrick's. In contrast, "National Lampoon's Vacation" was shot using very direct and saturated lighting, so when it translated into my colored pencils it made the piece feel flat and really cartoony from the very beginning.

(tip: Andrew Sullivan)

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