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Stories We Tell: How we reconstruct the past

By Arthur P. Shimamura
Our memories, in many ways, define who we are as an individual or at least who we think we are. In the recent documentary, Stories We Tell, filmmaker Sarah Polley presents her own tale of the search for her biological father. Through interviews with relative and friends, snapshots, and re-enactments of pertinent events that look like old home movies, the documentary moves like a real-life Rashomon, wherein bits of the “truth” are revealed from various points of views.

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Psychocinematics: discovering the magic of movies

By Arthur Shimamura
Like the great and powerful Oz, filmmakers conceal themselves behind a screen and offer a mesmerizing experience that engages our sights, thoughts, and emotions. They have developed an assortment of magical “tricks” of acting, staging, sound, camera movement, and editing that create a sort of sleight of mind. These techniques have been discovered largely through trial and error, and thus we have very little understanding of how they actually work on our psyche.

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Based on a “true” story: expecting reality in movies

By Arthur P. Shimamura
This year’s academy award nominations of Argo, Lincoln, and Zero Dark Thirty, attest to our fascination of watching “true stories” depicted on the screen. We adopt a special set of expectations when we believe a movie is based on actual events, a sentiment the Coen Brothers parodied when they stated at the beginning of Fargo that “this is a true story,” even though it wasn’t.

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HFR and The Hobbit: There and Back Again

By Arthur P. Shimamura
Is it the sense of experiencing reality that makes movies so compelling? Technological advances in film, such as sound, color, widescreen, 3-D, and now high frame rate (HFR), have offered ever increasing semblances of realism on the screen. In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, we are introduced to the world of 48 frames per second (fps), which presents much sharper moving images than what we’ve seen in movies produced at the standard 24 fps.

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Experiencing art: it’s a whole-brain issue, stupid!

By Arthur Shimamura
We love art. We put it on our walls, we admire it at museums and on others’ walls, and if we’re inspired, we may even create it. Philosophers, historians, critics, and scientists have bandied about the reasons why we enjoy creating and beholding art, and each has offered important and interesting perspectives.

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These days do we really need a Man of Steel?

By Arthur P. Shimamura
As a child, I encountered the Man of Steel in the Adventures of Superman, the 1950s TV series that I watched as morning reruns a decade later. My Superman was “faster than a speeding bullet” and fought for “truth, justice and the American way.” My 26-year-old son, Thomas, encountered a similarly invincible superhero in Superman: The Movie, the 1978 blockbuster which starred Christopher Reeve.

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