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The Maze Runner

What’s intriguing about “The Maze Runner”–for a long time, at least–is the way it tells us a story we think we’ve heard countless times before…

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20,000 Days on Earth

In his music, he routinely celebrates/deconstructs his public persona: brutalizer, coward, agnostic, and wannabe deity. "20,000 Days on Earth" is accordingly not a biography, but…

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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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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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The traffic in trafficking

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Q: In your review of "Trade," about child sexual trafficking, you raise the issue of how or why such a serious subject should be made "entertaining." I believe you answered that question in your last line when you stated that "the movie seems to have an unwholesome determination to show us the victims being terrified and threatened. When I left the screening, I just didn't feel right." As an adult survivor of these atrocities, I felt that this movie gave a realistic expose of human trafficking. Do you think that a movie like "Trade" needs to try even harder to be entertaining so that viewers can move beyond indifference and allow themselves to be emphatically disturbed as you were, yet find enough relief in the lighter entertaining moments to actually leave feeling moved in a sad but wholesome way?

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Play on, Mr. Barker, by all means!

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Q: Last summer I moved from Vancouver to Toronto, pretty much just so I can attend the film festival here; during my spare time, I am a Ph.D. student studying physics at the University of Toronto. I am curious as to how Toronto Film Festival's People's Choice Award is determined each year. Surely there are many variables involved in the balloting and interpretation of the results.

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Ang Lee: Looking for love

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Q: You wrote from Toronto: "Ang Lee's other films have included 'Eat Drink Man Woman,' 'The Ice Storm,' 'Sense and Sensibility,' 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' and 'The Hulk,' and find if you will the connecting link."

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Think beyond the top layer

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Q: Please provide a definition for the "hyperlink film," to which you have made reference in prior reviews. There is a now widespread belief that such films need international flair (as in "Syriana," "Traffic" or "Babel") and multiple languages. Would you agree, or need the parameters be broader so that the earlier works can be included in the definition (as suggested in your review of "Cape of Good Hope")? How many storylines do you need/how connected need they be to constitute a hyperlink film?

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A companion to 'Labyrinth'

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Q. Just read your Great Movie addition of Del Toro's "Pan's Labyrinth," with its discussion of the New Mexican Cinema. Although you didn't mention it, I wanted to point out that Alfonso Cuaron's absolutely superb G-rated film "A Little Princess" from 1995 is a great companion to "Pan's Labyrinth." They are worlds apart in their execution and yet strikingly similar in many ways, as both follow a young girl escaping to fantasy worlds in the face of the harsh reality of war. Both movies stand on their own, but seeing them again recently in the context of knowing more about the collaboration and friendship of the directors has added greatly to my appreciation of each.

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The 6th Man: A Corleone Mystery

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Q. In the Answer Man for Aug. 17, Phil Giordano asks about a Sixth Man in “The Godfather” who is never identified when the Corleones plan the execution of a police captain. The person he is wondering about is Rocco Lampone, played by Tom Rosqui, who is uncredited in the film, according to the IMDB. Mr. Giordano will remember the earlier scene in the film where Rocco executes Paulie in the car as Clemenza urinates outside (the “leave the gun, take the cannoli” scene).

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'Stardust' memories

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Q. Neil Gaiman claims he holds the record for having sold the most screenplays to Hollywood that were never produced. I thought Harlan Ellison was the gold medalist in that event.

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