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Office Christmas Party

Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…

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Harry Benson: Shoot First

The filmmakers are themselves too celebrity besotted to comment in a meaningful way on how Benson’s career balanced depictions of the rich and famous with…

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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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Public Edition #5

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.
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"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
Brontë Sisters Power Dolls. This fake commercial was shot in 1998. It's educational value was deemed somewhat suspect. It was never aired.
Made in Dagenham (2010) Directed by Nigel Cole. Starring Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Daniel Mays, Geraldine James, Jaime Winstone, Miranda Richardson, Richard Schiff, Rosamund Pike and Rupert Graves. Synopsis: A dramatization of the real 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant, where female workers walked out in protest against sexual discrimination. In theaters Dec 17, 2010.
Pandora's Box - LuLu's Mr. Brightside is a fan-made video featuring a compilation of HD clips from the DVD and set to Mr. Brightside by the band The Killers. Pandora's Box is now available on Netflix Canada as well as in the United States. Note: you can always turn off the volume if The Killers aren't your cup of alternative rock...
From "Afterglow: A Last Conversation With Pauline Kael" by Francis Davis
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.
Louis Malle's "Ascenseur pour l'échafaud" (1958) with Jeanne Moreau is considered a French film noir masterpiece. It's also a gorgeous B/W film. Song by Miles Davis: Generique.  Also known by the alternate films titles "Frantic" & "Elevator to the Gallows"scene: Moreau is a mistress looking for her married lover, whose disappeared..
Ahh, B/W movies....
The Man Who Wasn't There (2001) Written & directed By Joel and Ethan Coen. Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Frances McDormand, Michael Badalucco, James Gandolfini, Katherine Borowitz, Jon Polito, Scarlett Johansson, Richard Jenkins, Tony Shalhoub and Christopher Kriesa. Synopsis: A laconic, chain-smoking barber blackmails his wife's boss and lover for money to invest in dry cleaning, but his plan goes terribly wrong...
Books are always better though.... Ooo, what's this?
The "Bibliochaise" is a book chair designed by Nobody&co. in Milan, Italy. Veneered in oak painted cream or black, with a wax finish and leather cushions with removable covers in a wide range of colors, it holds 5 meters of books and can be yours for just £4,270. Or you could draw inspiration from the idea and visit Home Depot where they sell wood... :-)
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The Necktie (2008) by Jean-François Lévesque. Using a mix of puppet and hand-drawn animation, The Necktie tell the story of Valentin and his quest to find meaning in his life. Stuck for years in a dead-end job, boredom has replaced all his aspirations and hopes for the future and he has forgotten about the things that used to bring him joy. Then, on his 40th birthday, he rediscovers an old accordion hidden in the depths of his closet....
Une Histoire Vertebrale (2006) by Jérémy Clapin is truly delightful and moving award-winning animated short about a lonely man with a dog and a pronounced stoop who lives next a cinema, where he dreams of happiness and love in a world where being different can make finding someone almost impossible...
Marie writes: Cordell Barker is one of Canada's greatest animators and his award winning short The Cat Came Back (1988) is one of the most beloved. Nominated for an Oscar, and based on the century-old folk song of the same name, The Cat Came Back tells the tale of old Mr. Johnson and his increasingly manic attempts to rid himself of a little yellow cat...
A group of engineers and designers from San Francisco send their second balloon into Near Space on June 5, 2010. Shot with a pair of HD Hero Cameras from GoPro, they launched the balloon from the California coast near Davenport; it eventually landed in Crows Landing 70 miles away. Peak altitude was 80,000 feet. Acquired GPS, pressure, accelerometer, and temperature data with a Shadowbox (www.shadowboxlive.com). The payload was tracked with a SPOT satellite personal tracker....
Pigeon: Impossible (2009) Written, directed and produced by Lucas Martell. Additional story by Austen Menges, Scott Rice and Gopal Bidari. Music by Christopher Reyman. Five years in the making and his first animated film, this award-winning short tells the story of a rookie secret agent faced with a problem seldom covered in basic training: what to do when a curious pigeon gets trapped inside your multi-million dollar, government-issued nuclear briefcase....
The Grand Poobah writes: This 1970s video reduces "King Kong" to its essentials and adds some additional monsters. The director, Rob Hampton, grew up to direct a lot of television, not surprisingly involving monsters...
Ebert writes: This was posted by Todd Yates to my Facebook page and it had Ebert club written all over it. Before the age of video, and its tools falling into general hands, this might have been a famous "underground film." Now it's just another nice YouTube post...Silent Film Edition of "Luke, I am you father" from Star Wars (2007) by San, Tom D and Mr Bâtard for the Bouge ton Mool site in response to the theme "Anachronism". In June 2010, it was then reworked by San and Les Singes Hurlants (The howling Monkeys.)
Now, I assume most of you have seen this but for those who haven't....
The following is staged a reenactment of the first Princess Leia/Darth Vader scene from Star Wars as performed on a New York City subway car. It's one of over 100 different missions by the group "Improv Everywhere" since they started in 2001, New York.
I Am Number Four (2011) Directed by D.J. Caruso and produced by Michael Bay. Based on the book by Pittacus Lore. Starring Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Kevin Durand, Callan McAuliffe and Jake Abel. Official blurb: "D.J. Caruso ("Eagle Eye," "Disturbia") helms an action-packed thriller about an extraordinary young man, John Smith (Alex Pettyfer), who is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. Changing his identity, moving from town to town with his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John is always the new kid with no ties to his past. In the small Ohio town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected, life-changing events--his first love (Dianna Agron), powerful new abilities and a connection to the others who share his incredible destiny."
Super 8 (2011) In 1979, a train carrying important cargo from Area 51 is destroyed, causing its contents to be unleashed upon the world. Directed by J.J. Abrams, Produced by Steven Spielberg. Teaser trailer. No release date yet.
Who Do You Trust: I thought this was an animated short, but turns out it's a game trailer! Question: if you were Wonder Woman, would you fight in a strapless top? Just saying. :) That aside, it's well done, the animation is impressive...and Batman is in it...
Batman is considered a detective, you know... segue...Sherlock 2010 cast.jpg
Sherlock is a re-imagining of the Conan Doyle stories, with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role and Martin Freeman as his Watson. The three 90-minute episodes are set in modern-day London and written and created by Doctor Who writers Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat for the BBC1. Across between 'Withnail and I' and The Bourne Ultimatum, at its heart this adaptation takes its cue from Sir Conan Doyle who also set his stories in the present day. The original Watson was wounded and sent home after serving in Afghanistan; so is this one. Holmes used to send cables - now he sends texts, and Watson's dispatches to the Strand Magazine are replaced by a blog. And the "three-pipe problem" is now "a three-patch problem," as seen on Sherlock's nictoine patch-covered arm. The street names are the same, the places too, 221B Baker street still serving as home and where an equally modern Mrs. Hudson is on hand to disapprove of all the mess - "I am not your housekeeper!" I've seen the series and loved it; the writing is so sharp it makes me grin:
"I'm not a psychopath, Anderson, I'm a high-functioningsociopath, do your research." - Sherlock Holmes
PBS has since aired Sherlock on Masterpiece Mystery, but if you missed it, you can still watch the series over at PBS where all 3 episodes will be streaming online for free until December 27, 2010: Only available in the US. However there is a region 1 DVD available now at the PBS store.
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Note: in early spring 2011, Benedict Cumberbatch will be appearing with Jonny Lee Miller (in alternating roles) in Danny Boyle's "Frankenstein" - a new play by Nick Dear based on the novel by Mary Shelly, at the National Theatre in London.Wish you could see it?  You can via National Theatre Live - the best of British Theatre broadcast live to cinemas around the world!  Go HERE to locate a venue near you. And yes, it's playing in Canada. :-)
Speaking of the British.....
Shaun the Sheep: series 1, episode 1: "Off the Baa!" - A cabbage rolls into the lawn, then a game of football breaks out. Things get worse when the pigs want it for lunch...
The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello (2005) is an award-winning Gothic horror short feature made in a style of silhouette animation developed by director Anthony Lucas and inspired by the work of authors Edgar Alan Poe and Jules Verne. In the frontier city of Carpathia, Jasper Morello discovers that his former adversary Doctor Claude Belgon has returned from the grave. When Claude reveals that he knows the location of the ancient city of Alto Mea where the secrets of life have been discovered, Jasper cannot resist the temptation to bring his own dead wife Amelia back. Nominated for an Oscar and BAFTA award.
La Dama y la Muerta - The Lady and the Reaper (2009) Written and directed by Javier Recia Gracia. This 2010 Oscar-nominated animated short film tells the comedic story of a sweet old lady living alone, waiting for the arrival of death so as to meet her beloved husband again. And sure enough Death shows up.. but then something happens....and I'm not gonna tell you what it is!  And you'll never guess. Ever. Not in a million years...
Marie writes: An unwittingly amusing "Withnail and I" Blu-ray trailer DVD came free with The Sunday Times back on June 14, 2009...pay close attention to the other titles mentioned at the end.....smile....
Eric Powell is an award-winning writer and artist who worked on comics titles like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Hellboy: Weird Tales, Star Wars Tales and numerous others. He didn't find real success however until he launched his critically acclaimed dark comedy series "The Goon" which was picked up by Dark Horse Comics. A feature film adaptation is currently in production by David Fincher (FIGHT CLUB) and Blur Studios. Clancy Brown will voice The Goon and Paul Giamatti will be Franky. The story revolves around a creature-punching mob enforcer & his mouthy buddy, and their misadventures in a bizarre monster-filled town. No release date. Here's the teaser trailer:
Warning: Graphic Violence. Not for small children, Mom.
The following teaser was shown at Fantastic Fest, TX: "Citizen Jane" stars Michelle Rodriguez as Charlotte Foster Jane, a lethal assassin hell bent on avenging the murder of her parents in this guns blazing, action packed retelling of Orson Welles 1941 classic, Citizen Kane. In Theaters Sept 5, 2011. Yes. It's a real movie: Official site.
Which brings us to the always popular B-Rated Movie Trailers! FREE MOVIES!
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) aka: The Case of Jonathan Drew. Directed and written by Alfred Hitchcock. Starring June, Ivor Novello, Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney. Plot: A serial killer known as "The Avenger" is on the loose in London, murdering blonde women. A mysterious man arrives at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Bunting looking for a room to rent. The Bunting's daughter is a blonde model and is seeing one of the detectives assigned to the case. The detective becomes jealous of the lodger and begins to suspect he may be the avenger. NOTE: The movie is based on the book of the same name - the first to offer a solution to the Jack The Ripper killings as based on an anecdote told to the painter Walter Sickert by the landlady when renting a room; she said that the previous tenant had been Jack the Ripper.
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) is a suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released by Gaumont British. It was one of the most successful and critically acclaimed films of Hitchcock's British period. Hitchcock then remade the film in 1956 for Paramount; the only time he ever remade one of this movies. The two films are different however in tone, setting, and many plot details.The story concerns a British couple on vacation in St Moritz, Switzerland, Bob and Jill Lawrence (Leslie Banks) and (Edna Best), and their daughter Betty (Nova Pilbeam), and befriend a foreigner, Louis Bernard (Pierre Fresnay), staying in their hotel. One evening as Jill dances with Louis, she witness his assassination as a French spy. Before dying, the spy passes on to them some vital information to be delivered to the British consul. You can watch the entire film below. Public domain.
The Black Raven (1943) Directed by Sam Newfield. Screenplay by Fred Myton. Starring George Zucco, Wanda McKay, Robert Livingston, Noel Madison, Glenn Strange and Byron Foulger. A group of strangers are brought together in an old, dark house and must contend with two murders and $50,000 in stolen money. Oooo.... :-)

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