Southbound is a prime example of a horror omnibus film: even the weaker segments have something to recommend them.
Q. One of my favorite haunted house stories, "Night Stalks the Mansion," was supposed to be made into a movie and released to the public in fall of 2009. There's a website for the movie and I have sent emails the producer and the production company and have received no replies. Is this movie going to be released? Steve Wheeler, Wyoming MI
A. The original book has many fans, and the website is atmospheric, but as a general rule if a movie has no listing in IMDb, there are no production plans. In fact, this is the first title I've ever encountered with a website but no IMDb listing.
Q. I saw the South Korean thriller "The Chaser" on IFC two weeks ago. It brought so many emotions out in me. The most potent was anger. The South Koreans like killing off people in their movies that you don't want to die. They seem to revel in it. I was angry at "The Host" for that, among others.
At one point I yelled "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!" loudly enough to wake my downstairs neighbor at 2 in the morning). I've never done that before. Screamed in complete outrage at a movie. I'm willing to bet that if I do it again it will probably be while watching a South Korean film. I fully understand that not all films will have or must have a happy ending. I've seen plenty but why do the South Koreans have such a hard on for killing people they make you care about? And they are masters at it. Andrew P. Malik, West Haven, Conn.
A. I have a feeling you haven't watched your last South Korean thriller. They are consistently violent and remorseless, and consistently well-made. Which is better? A thriller where characters we care about get killed, or a thriller where characters we don't care about get to live?
Q. Well, sure, agreed. The Music Box probably is the best place to see a movie in Chicago (I read your tweet). It's the best place where I've seen a movie in Chicago, but I'm a 23 year old suburbanite, wishing towards urbanism in my recession-plagued nothingness. I love the Music Box, it truly is a classic venue. But twenty-something miles west is the "Tivoli Theater" of Downers Grove! It's literally a spit away from the train tracks that offer a 23 minute ride into The Loop, and it is so much better. It's a one screen landmark. Sure, you've probably heard of it by now. It is a beautiful historical landmark -- and the world's second sound theater. Point is, I think you should give The Tivoli some publicity. John Wilmes, Downers Grove
A. The Tivoli is indeed a jewel box, superbly programmed. I was limiting myself to Chicago, but you are right that we must cherish these treasures wherever they can be found. Such structures will never again be constructed, so they're part of our heritage, and can continue as great venues into the future. Aw, I'm getting worked up.
Look how the Chicago Loop has benefitted by saving the Chicago, Oriental, Palace, Michael Todd and Cinestage and recycling them into a theater district showcasing the Goodman Theater.
Q. I figure you must get this type of question frequently so please be patient with me. I am interested in knowing why a film that is critically acclaimed like "Crazy Heart" is arriving South Florida for the first time today and the arrival is limited to only four theaters in all of South Florida. And, those four theaters are not what one would consider main or popular theaters and locations. Steve Bloom, South Florida
A. You're lucky you got it that soon. The film was heavily previewed for movie critics in December, and because it was indeed so good it cleaned up most of the year-end prizes by critics' groups, and Jeff Bridges won the Golden Globes and now got the Oscar nomination. That was all precisely accordion to the 20th Century-Fox plans and/or hopes. Now it goes into wide release the Friday after the nominations, along with such other Oscar beneficiaries as "An Education" and "The Last Station."
Q. Re: the Answer Man question inspired by "The Book of Eli" about how long it would take to walk from New York to Los Angeles, Google actually maps out the most direct route here: http://j.mp/9xHv5g It requires 680 directions, and Google suggests it will take 37 days, 18 hours. But I think we might want to stop and sleep once in a while. So, using Mr. Theroux's numbers: 2,777 miles divided by 19 miles a day is about 146 days. Divide it by 7 to find the number of rest days you'll need and we get 21 days. Add the rest days in and it would take about 167 days or 5 1/2 months. Now my question is, how many pairs of shoes would you need? Mike Kory
A. I think these old Hush Puppies should hold out that long. It's amazing that Google has walking directions. My favorites are: "#555.Turn left at Jackrabbit Dr. #556. Slight left toward Coal Slurry Pipeline" They prudently note: "Use caution – This route may be missing sidewalks or pedestrian paths."
Q. Bill Stamets asked if there were any post apocalyptic films that showed America as a better place. The Star Trek universe is set after the world-wide Eugenics Wars, which is what caused Khan (Ricardo Montalban) to flee Earth in the Original Series episode "Space Seed." That episode was the genesis for what became "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan." The character of Cmdr. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) also alluded to the wars in the film "Star Trek: First Contact." The scenes on Earth are all set in the post-war years, but before the human renaissance that gave birth to the Federation. The Star Trek series is not marketed as a post-apocalyptic series per se, but it is a hopeful future after a devastating world war. Harry Thomas, San Antonio Express-News
A. Given the Black Plague, I guess we're living in a post-apocalyptic world now.
Q. Re: the reader who asked if there was ever a positive movie about post-Apocalyptic America: the people seemed to behave fairly decently towards each other in "Testament." I am pretty certain that there are others along these lines but none are coming to mind. I'd have said "The Bed Sitting Room" but that was England. Peter Sobcynski, Chicago
A. "Testament" remains one of the best American independent films. It blew me away at Telluride. America after the Bomb.
Q. Does it makes any sense to you the fanfare made over "Avatar" dethroning "Titanic" as all time box office champ considering no inflation adjustment was done and there is a 10 year period between the release of both movies? Then again the "Titanic" record only stands if you consider the box office receipts from other movies such as "Gone With the Wind" are considered also in non-adjusted dollars. And "Avatar" and "Titanic" were released at a time when we knew the DVD is coming in a few months, thus lowering any urgency to see it repeatedly in a theater.Gerardo Valero, Mexico City
A. This question, which comes up every time a box office record is challenged, inspiring debates which usually dribble off with, "But there are no reliable box office figures for 'Birth of a Nation'." It is impossible to find authoritative figures accounting for box office prices, inflation, and reporting accuracy. All we know is that if a movie was really successful, it's always mentioned in stories like these.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
A piece on the American experience reflected through four films at the Sundance Film Festival by an Ebert Fellow.
A peculiar film, poised somewhere between satire and dream logic.
So tired of slave movies; Abuses in NYC ticketing industry; Rosenbaum on "La belle noiseuse"; Hollywood's Westmore fa...