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Just Getting Started never really gets going. It only kept me thinking, “Is this ever just going to finish?”

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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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Jonathan Rosenbaum on the life of a critic

This week film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum, 65, retires from a 20-year stint at the Chicago Reader. In this interview, posted at The Reader's site, Rosenbaum looks back at his career (writing, editing, blogging) and ruminates on what he'd like to do next, which includes the freedom to not have to see movies he has no interest in seeing. People who are not film critics have no idea how precious that freedom can be. (Rosenbaum also has a few choice words for out-of-control commenters on The Reader's blog that make me grateful for the readers and commenters we have here.) You can see Part II here, in which he expounds on film as politics and vice-versa, Barak Obama, "Charlie Bartlett" and "There Will Be Blood," which he sees as "simpleminded" and less-than-"challenging."

JR's authoritative, confrontational (sometimes even doctrinaire) style has sometimes provoked me to take issue with him, but I'm always interested in what he has to say -- and will continue to be. May his "retirement" (not from writing, from The Reader) be an eminently productive one!

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