Cinema: An Epic of Eavesdropping

The Big City. The harrowing beauty of Satyajit Ray's film making is not easy to analyze. It is a quality both evanescent and palpable, as if the Indian director had found a way to take the lens off his camera and allow life itself to touch the raw film. Whether or not Ray's latest film to reach the U.S. is his masterpiece is beside the point; each of his works is a version of perfection.

Into a squalid Calcutta tenement apartment six lives are crowded: a gentle, ineffectual bank clerk, his wife and their small son, his parents and his sister. Money...

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