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Stronger

Some of it is too broad, and I wish it dug a little deeper at times, but this is one of those rare inspirational films…

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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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The Man Who Foretold the Future

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By Roger Ebert / March 6th, 1988

Los Angeles, California - A 1982 documentary narrated by the late Orson Welles has become an overnight hit at California video rental stores, where customers are willing to pay up to $6 a night to view a prediction that California will be destroyed by an earthquake in May 1988.

The movie, named "The Man Who Foretold the Future," was produced by television tycoon David L. Wolper nearly six years ago, and languished in oblivion. It uses old newsreel footage and scenes from Hollywood and foreign features to illustrate the prophecies of the medieval scholar Nostradamus.

Welles, looking appropriately solemn and posed with a cigar and world globe in an opulent library, narrates the story of Nostradamus. And there is footage shot especially for this film showing that when the scholar's body was dug up two centuries after his death, he wore a plaque carrying the exact date of his exhumation.

In the video, Nostradamus is said to have predicted the rise and fall of Napoleon and Hitler, as well as the atomic bomb, the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, and World War III, which he believed will start in 1994.

But for Californians, it is the earthquake prophecy that has made the tape a hot item on the rental circuit. Welles doesn't beat around the bush: A fire from the center of the Earth will cause the quakes, and "Nostradamus has given us the exact month," he intones, "and the year: May 1988."

Sales clerks at the busy 20/20 Video Store on La Cienega Boulevard told me the tape is renting like crazy, and the overnight fee has been raised to $6, reflecting the demand. Spokesmen for Warner Bros. Home Video confirm that "The Man Who Foretold the Future" has emerged as a surprise hit from their backlist.

At the end of the film, Wolper adds a footnote saying that the producers "do not agree with any of the prophecies."

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Take my hand, I'm a stranger in Paradise

Two hand models. The top video has been posted as a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the lower one.

The Creepy Hand Model: Ellen Sirot with Michaela Watkins from Michaela Watkins

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John Prine: A concert in Ireland

I've already posted a lot of John Prine, but I had never seen these particular videos before. The high-quality sound and picture are explained because they're from a concert he did for Irish television. Prine is the best poet-songwriter of his generation. Period.

This is the first time I ever heard John call "Hello in There" his favorite song, but I'm not surprised. I've seen more people cry during this than any other song. When we were dating, Chaz and I were on the highway and I slipped in the tape, and later I looked over and saw tears running down her cheeks.

In addition to being a song, this is a short story.

An earlier post on John Prine with more songs, and the first review he ever received.

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Manuel de Oliveira is 102: A tribute

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The first three scenes from "A Talking Picture" (2003)

The complete film is streaming on Netflix Instant, which introduces it: "A beautiful history professor (Leonor da Silveira) and her 8-year-old daughter embark on a Mediterranean cruise from Lisbon to Bombay. Along the way, they talk about myths, legends and the milestones of Mediterranean civilization. Their compelling discourse about the history of Western civilization eventually includes the ship's captain, Comandante John Walesa (John Malkovich). Also stars Catherine Deneuve, Irene Papas and Stefania Sandrelli."

Three other films by de Oliveira are streaming on Netflix.

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Why is film criticism important?

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This is an excerpt from a 90-minute interview conducted in 2005 by the TV Academy's official Archive of American Television. The following year, after cancer surgery, I would lose the ability to speak.

It was filmed on the fourth balcony set we used for the show. It wasn't obvious on TV that the co-host chairs were elevated and angled toward each other for better eye contact. Soon after "Ebert and Roeper" was canceled, that beautiful set was destroyed.

Gene Siskel and I never taped on this set at WLS (ABC Chicago). All of our shows were taped at WTTW (PBS), WGN and WBBM (CBS).

Yes, the show did win an Emmy, from the Chicago TV Academy. It was awarded to Sneak Previews when we were originally at PBS. Below are Siskel & Ebert with Thea Flaum, our first WTTW producer, who conceived the format of the show and had the idea of putting us in a balcony. I would give anything to watch an archive interview with Siskel, but he died in 1999, before the Archive project began.

The full 90-minute interview is online at the Archive of American Television, where you can search hundreds of interviews.

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"Rosebud" was a rather tawdry device

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Can you spot props from the movie? Before scrutinizing this frame from the film, you should watch the scene. Embedding has been disabled, but go here to view the ending of "Citizen Kane.

Here are my Great Movies review of the film, and my Viewer's Companion to Citizen Kane. The 2-disc Special Edition includes my commentary track.

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Public Edition #5

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This is a special free sample of the Newsletter members receive weekly. It contains content gathered from several past issues and reflects the diversity of what you'll find inside the Ebert Club. For Roger's invitation to the Club, go HERE.

"There is a stubbornness about me that can never bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me." - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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Pauline Kael's favorite film: "Menilmontant"

Maggie: What was your favorite movie in your entire life?

Pauline: In my entire life? Well, there's a French movie that probably you've never heard of that I like best...

Maggie: And what was the French movie?

Pauline: "Menilmontant," a silent movie made in 1924 by Dmitri Kirsanov starring his beautiful Russian-born wife, Nadia Sibirskaya.

--From "Afterglow: A Last Conversation With Pauline Kael" by Francis Davis

Another critic who loves it: Ed Howard.

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My master thinks this is art

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These are photographs of dogs by Tim Flach, collected in a London exhibition at Osborne Samuel Ltd, . at 23a Bruton Street.

The web page explains:

Dogs is Tim Flach's follow-up to the successful Equus, applying the same wildly creative vision he first gave to horses, to dogs. Here, Flach once again sets out to document fully the lives of animals whose history is powerfully linked to our own and to provide a unique perspective on one of our closest companions: this time, dogs. Using photographs of dogs both solitary and in groups, as well as in varied settings and locations, Flach uses his lens to present a inimitable and engaging portrait of the physical and spiritual lives of dogs around the globe. Dogs delves deep into the psyche of this enduring bond to create an exquisite study of man's best friend, and promises to deliver one of the most appealing, popular and exciting photographic tributes to dogs ever published. This is one of Flach's contact sheets:

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e. e. cummings talks dirty (nsfw)

Newly posted by Tom O"Bedlam, whose Spoken Verse has hundreds of lovingly performed poems. It is a labor of love.

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