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Guardians of the Galaxy

In many respects, “Guardians,” directed and co-written by indie wit James Gunn, and starring buffed-up former schlub Chris Pratt and Really Big Sci-Fi Blockbuster vet…

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War Story

Director Mark Jackson’s drama is a chilly study in grief starring Catherine Keener as a war-zone photographer shattered by her experiences in Libya.

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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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"Sheep, Galloway, Sheep!"Paul Galloway, a beloved legend

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Paul Galloway as Tootsie on Michigan Ave. (Photo by Jack Lane)

Chicago Sun-Times / February 3, 2009

We will never hear the Sheep Story again. Nor will we enjoy his presence in a room, which was an invitation to good cheer. Paul Galloway, the most incomparable raconteur I ever met in a newsroom, is dead. Everyone who knew him will know what a silence that creates.

I loved the guy. I introduced him to his wife, Maggie. I couldn't see enough of them. It will be impossible to share with you the joy of his company, but I am going to try. Let others write the formal obituaries. All I know is, Paul died at about 3:30 p.m. Monday, at their "winter home" in Tulsa, Okla. There's a Winter Home Story. With Paul, there was a story about everything. He was somewhere in his 70s. When you get to be our age, "somewhere" is close enough.

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"It's a Black President Huey Freeman!" (nsfw)

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I can hardly believe I didn't know that Werner Herzog starred in an episode of "Boondocks." This link was sent to me by a reader. Is that Herzog's own voice.It sounds real to me. In any event, Herzog's precise and implacable narration is essential here, and The Voice is the medium as well as The Message in his documentaries.

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Patty Andrews: Last call for the Bugle Girl

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Patty Andrews of Andrews Sisters rallied troops

By BOB THOMAS, Associated Press Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Patty Andrews never served in the military, but she and her singing sisters certainly supported the troops.

During World War II, they hawked war bonds, entertained soldiers overseas and boosted morale on the home-front with tunes like "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" and "I Can Dream, Can't I?"

Andrews, the last surviving member of the singing Andrews Sisters trio, died Wednesday at 94 of natural causes at her home in the Los Angeles suburb of Northridge, said family spokesman Alan Eichler in a statement.

"When I was a kid, I only had two records and one of them was the Andrews Sisters. They were remarkable. Their sound, so pure," said Bette Midler, who had a hit cover of "Bugle Boy" in 1973.

"Everything they did for our nation was more than we could have asked for. This is the last of the trio, and I hope the trumpets ushering (Patty) into heaven with her sisters are playing 'Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.'"

The Andrews' "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" gave Bette Midler one of her biggest hits. This video shows her performing it over a period of 30 years, always with the same choreography.

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Free sample of Ebert Club Newsletter

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This is a free sample of the Newsletter members receive each week. It contains content gathered from recent past issues and reflects the growing diversity of what's inside the club. To join and become a member, visit Roger's Invitation From the Ebert Club.

Marie writes: Not too long ago, Monaco's Oceanographic Museum held an exhibition combining contemporary art and science, in the shape of a huge installation by renowned Franco-Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping, in addition to a selection of films, interviews and a ballet of Aurelia jellyfish.The sculpture was inspired by the sea, and reflects upon maritime catastrophes caused by Man. Huang Yong Ping chose the name "Wu Zei"because it represents far more than just a giant octopus. By naming his installation "Wu Zei," Huang added ambiguity to the work. 'Wu Zei' is Chinese for cuttlefish, but the ideogram 'Wu' is also the color black - while 'Zei' conveys the idea of spoiling, corrupting or betraying. Huang Yong Ping was playing with the double meaning of marine ink and black tide, and also on corruption and renewal. By drawing attention to the dangers facing the Mediterranean, the exhibition aimed to amaze the public, while raising their awareness and encouraging them to take action to protect the sea.

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Preview some commercials for Superbowl 2013

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Give this page a little time to load.

• Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 3, 2013 at 6:30 EST.

• Price tag: $3.5 million for 30 seconds; $5 million for placement before kickoff.

• A detailed article by Gayle Falkenthal in the Washington Times.

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The man who will live forever in a land of noir

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I've been known to say that in movies, I prefer b&w to color. A b&w film adds by subtracting: The world is in color, so we get that free. B&W steps in and imposes another dimension, separating the content from the mere realistic recording of it. Once, for the fun of it, I adjusted my TV set and watched the color film "LA Confidential" entirely in black and white. Try a little of that someday. You may be surprised. Thanks to Maggie Galloway for the first link.

CYBORG FOUNDATION | Rafel Duran Torrent from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

Under this video on Vimeo, I read:

"Neil Harbisson was born with achromatopsia, a rare condition that causes complete colour blindness. In 2004, Harbisson and Adam Montandon developed the eyeborg, a device that translates colours into sounds. Harbisson has been claimed to be the first recognized cyborg in the world, as his passport photo now includes his device. In 2010, Neil Harbisson and Moon Ribas created the Cyborg Foundation, an international organization to help humans become cyborgs. The foundation has also experimented with other sensory devices, including an "earborg," which translates sound into color, and a "speedborg," which allows people to detect movement through electronic earrings that vibrate.

Directed & Produced & Edited by: Rafel Duran Torrent

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We have heard the chimes at midnight. "Falstaff," by Orson Welles, free online

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Great Movie / Roger Ebert / June 4, 2006

There live not three good men unhanged in England. And one of them is fat and grows old.

How can it be that there is an Orson Welles masterpiece that remains all but unseen? I refer not to incomplete or abandoned projects that have gathered legends, but to "Chimes at Midnight" (1965), his film about Falstaff, which has survived in acceptable prints and is ripe for restoration. I saw the film in early 1968, put it on my list of that year's best films, saw it again on 16mm in a Welles class I taught, and then could not see it for 35 years.

It dropped so completely out of sight that there is no video version in America, Britain or France. Preparing to attend the epic production of both parts of Shakespeare's "Henry IV" at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, I wanted to see it again and found it available on DVD from Spain and Brazil. Both versions carry the original English-language soundtrack; the Brazilian disc is clear enough and a thing of beauty. What luck that Welles shot in black-and-white, so there was no color to fade.

This is a magnificent film, clearly among Welles' greatest work, joining "Citizen Kane," "The Magnificent Ambersons," "Touch of Evil" and (I would argue) "The Trial." It is also magnificent Shakespeare, focusing on Falstaff through the two "Henry IV" plays to his offstage death in "Henry V." Although the plays are much abridged, it is said there is not a word in the film not written by Shakespeare.

Falstaff, "this huge hill of flesh," is one of Shakespeare's greatest characters -- the equal, argues Harold Bloom, of Hamlet. He so dominates the Henry IV plays that although Shakespeare promised he would return in Henry V, he reconsidered; the fat knight would have sounded the wrong note in that heroic tale, and so we learn from Mistress Quickly of his death, as he "babbl'd of green fields."

Welles was born to play Falstaff, not only because of the physical similarity but because of the rich voice, sonorous and amused, and the shared life experience. Both men lived long and too well, were at odds with the powers at court and were constantly in debt. Both knew disappointment, and one of the most sublime moments in Welles' career is simply the expression on his face at the coronation of Henry V, when he cries out "God save thee, my sweet boy," and the new king replies, "I know thee not, old man."

Prince Hal, later Henry V, is played in the film by Keith Baxter, who looks dissolute enough in the roistering at the Boars Head Tavern, but as early as Act 1, Scene 2 is an unpleasant hypocrite in the monologue where he admits his present misdeeds but promises to reform at the right time. In Shakespeare, this is a soliloquy; in Welles, Falstaff listens in the back of the shot and is forewarned. Later, in an echo of that composition, the prince looks impatiently toward the field of battle as Falstaff, behind him, questions the concept of honor. That each man hears the other's intended soliloquy adds a dimension to both.

Welles as director uses some of his familiar visual strategies; the vast interiors of Henry IV's castles contrast with the low ceilings and cluttered rooms of bawdy houses, just as the vast space of Kane's great hall contrasts with the low ceilings and dancing girls of the New York Inquirer. Royalty in "Chimes at Midnight" is framed by vast cathedral vaults, with high windows casting diagonals of light. Welles uses dramatic camera angles, craning to look up at the trumpeters atop the battlements as Henry IV rides off to battle.

At Mistress Quickly's, on the other hand, Falstaff and his roisterers have great freedom of movement involving doorways and posts, barrels and vertiginous staircases, barking dogs and laughing wenches. He and other actors circle verticals and one another as they speak, just as Welles and Joseph Cotten circled in "Citizen Kane" and "The Third Man." And watch the use of deep focus when he begins a shot with Hal seated in the background and, as news of his father's death is conveyed, Hal stands and moves forward, finally looming over the camera in foreground. All one shot.

The scene of the battle of Shrewsbury is justly famous. It lasts fully 10 minutes, chaotic action at a brutal pitch, horses and men confused in smoke and fog, steel crashing against steel, cries of pain, desperate struggles, confused limbs caked in mud and blood, men falling exhausted or dead. Barbara Leaming, one of Welles' biographers, says the scene was created by careful framing; Welles at no time had more than about 100 extras, yet seems to have a multitude, and the violence of the struggle was studied by Mel Gibson before he directed "Braveheart."

The battle is intercut with shots of a fat man in armor, hurrying and scurrying out of the way and finally playing dead. When Hal finds Falstaff flat on his back, he cries out, "What, old acquaintance! Could not all this flesh keep in a little life?" We know Falstaff is not dead, and Welles finds a way to let Hal know, too: the frost on the old man's breath puffs out from beneath his visor. Yes, it was cold. Welles shot on location in Spain, in winter; his first shot shows Falstaff as a tiny figure in a vast field of snow, his last shows Falstaff's coffin being pushed across snow toward his grave, and in several of John Gielgud's speeches as Henry IV, we can see the frost on his breath.

That Gielgud played the king and others such as Margaret Rutherford (Mistress Quickly) Jeanne Moreau (Doll Tearsheet) and Fernando Rey (Worcester) also appeared in the film is a tribute to Welles' reputation, for on a budget of less than $1 million he was, like Falstaff, not prompt to pay. Gielgud plays Henry IV as a dying man almost from his earliest scenes, plagued with guilt because of how he won his throne. His son is no consolation; the king envies Northumberland his son Henry Percy, known as Hotspur (Norman Rodway), and wishes "would I have his Harry, and he mine." He excoriates the thief and whoremonger Hal and his low companions, none lower in deportment or loftier in essential humanity than Falstaff.

How good is Falstaff? Consider the way warm affection illuminates the face of Jeanne Moreau as Doll Tearsheet caresses and tickles her beloved old rogue. Note the boundless affection Falstaff has for all around him, so real that even Quickly forgives his debts and allows him to contract new ones.

Such scenes illuminate the life Welles poured into "Chimes at Midnight." He came early to Shakespeare; he edited and published editions of some of the plays while still at prep school. On stage and screen, he was also Othello and Macbeth, his voice fell naturally into iambic rumbles, he was large enough for heroes and so small he could disappear before Henry V's scorn. He once asked an audience, reduced by a snowstorm: "Why are there so many of me and so few of you?"

There was not something Falstaffian about Welles, there was everything. As a young man he conquered all that came before him (at Shrewsbury a knight meekly surrenders to the old man, awed by his leftover reputation). Welles grew fat and in debt, took jobs unworthy of him, was trailed by sycophants and leeches, yet was loved by good women and honored by those who could see him clearly. And he battled on, Quixotic as well as Falstaffian, commencing grand schemes and sometimes actually finishing them (indeed, his "Don Quixote" can now be seen in intriguing but incomplete form).

The crucial point about "Chimes at Midnight" is that although it was rejected by audiences and many critics on its release, although some of the dialogue is out of sync and needs to be adjusted, although many of the actors become doubles whenever they turn their backs, although he dubbed many of the voices himself, although the film was assembled painstakingly from scenes shot when he found the cash -- although all of these things are true, it is a finished film, it realizes his vision, it is the Falstaff he was born to direct and play, and it is a masterpiece. Now to restore it and give it back to the world.

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"God's Angry Man," by Werner Herzog

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God's Angry Man, Part One

God's Angry Man, Part Two

God's Angry Man, Part Three

God's Angry Man, Part Four

God's Angry Man, Part Five

God's Angry Man, Part Six

The Ballad of Mean Gene Scott

Here is Dr. Gene Scott's Wikipedia entry. A quotation:

"In 1975, Scott began nightly live broadcasts, and eventually satellite broadcasts extended his services and talk shows to many countries.

"Scott became known as much for his stage persona as he was for his preaching skills. He would fill chalkboards with scriptural passages in the original Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic during his exegeses as to their meaning.

"During his live fundraising broadcasts, Scott would typically stare into the camera and tell his viewers to get on the telephone and give if you feel as though the spirit calls for it, often wearing a variety of hats including an English pith helmet or a sombrero.

"Scott showed disdain for other religious broadcasters like Jerry Falwell and Jimmy Swaggart and bristled when people referred to him as a "televangelist," preferring to be regarded as a teacher and pastor.

The word of Dr. Gene Scott continues through the work of his daughter, Pastor Elizabeth Scott. This officiail site includes a biography.

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