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Abuse of Weakness

An examination of power, greed, emotional manipulation and simple need that is gripping and powerful to behold even if you don't know the story behind…

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The Expendables 3

If you’re over 40, this is your “The Avengers.” As slavishly devoted to the old action films of Sly and company as any Marvel Universe…

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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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* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.

A Master Emerges: Conrad Hall and "The Outer Limits"

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• "The Outer Limits" (original series) is available on Netflix (DVD), Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video. • "In Cold Blood" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray) and Amazon Instant Video. • "Cool Hand Luke" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray) and Amazon Instant Video. • "American Beauty" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray) and Amazon Instant Video. • "Road to Perdition" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray).

by Jeff Shannon Eyes Wide Open: A Single Artist's Vision

Ask anyone who's devoted their life to the study and appreciation of movies and they can probably tell you exactly when they were "bitten by the movie bug," that moment of personal epiphany that sparked an all-consuming passion for what is arguably the greatest, most powerful medium of artistic expression.

In my case, it was Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" that literally changed my life. That's an influential milestone I share with many cinephiles who came of age in the 1950s and '60s, especially those "movie brats" (among them James Cameron, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg) who were drawn to imaginative visions of the future. Because I'd spent most of my childhood outdoors or casually enjoying Disney films and other kid-friendly fare, I didn't see Kubrick's visionary masterpiece until it played a return engagement at Seattle's glorious Cinerama Theater, in 1971, when I was nine years old.

(With its huge, curved Cinerama screen, the Cinerama is still the only theater in Seattle capable of showing "2001" as Kubrick intended. It exclusively hosted the film's original 77-week Seattle run beginning in April 1968, and the fully restored 70-millimeter print of "2001" had its world premiere there, appropriately enough, in 2001, two years after the aging cinema was purchased and beautifully renovated by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. It's now one of only three theaters in the world -- along with the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles and the Pictureville Cinema in Bradford England -- equipped to exhibit three-panel Cinerama, requiring three synchronized projectors for the only seven films created in the three-strip Cinerama process, including 1956's "This Is Cinerama" and 1962's "How the West Was Won." Starting this week [Sept. 30th] and running through mid-October, Seattle's Cinerama is hosting a "70mm Festival" of 15 films, including "2001," that originally premiered there.)

Like no other film before it, "2001" opened my eyes to the power of a single artist's vision and led me to understand the supremacy of a great director. I didn't know it then, but I'd discovered the basis of auteur theory, and while it would be foolish to deny that film is (to echo that award-acceptance cliché) the most collaborative of all art forms, it's no contradiction to embrace the Kubrick quote that greets all visitors to kubrickfilms.com, Warner Bros.' authorized Kubrick website: "One man writes a novel. One man writes a symphony. It is essential for one man to make a film." (Disregard "man"; Kubrick would've been the first to include female filmmakers in his statement.)

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#82 September 28, 2011

Marie writes: Summer is now officially over. The berries have been picked, the jam has been made, lawn-chairs put away for another year. In return, nature consoles us with the best show on Earth; the changing of the leaves!  I found these at one of my favorites sites and where you can see additional ones and more...

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#81 September 21, 2011

Marie writes: Roger recently did an email Q&A with the National Post's Mark Medley, which you can read here: "Roger Ebert's voice has never been louder".  And in a nice touch, they didn't use a traditional head-shot photo with the article. Instead they went old school and actually hired an illustrator. Yup. They drew the Grand Poobah instead!  And here it is...pretty good, eh?

Illustration By Kagan Mcleod for the National Post(click to enlarge)

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#57 April 6, 2011

Marie writes: ever stumble upon a photo taken from a movie you've never seen?  Maybe it's an official production still; part of the Studio's publicity for it at the time. Or maybe it's a recent screen capture, one countless fan-made images to be found online. Either way, I collect them like pennies in jar. I've got a folder stuffed with images, all reflecting a deep love of Cinematography and I thought I'd share some - as you never know; sometimes, the road to discovering a cinematic treasure starts with a single intriguing shot....

A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Cinematography: Harry Stradling(click images to enlarge)

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The best films of 2009

Since Moses brought the tablets down from the mountain, lists have come in tens, not that we couldn't have done with several more commandments. Who says a year has Ten Best Films, anyway? Nobody but readers, editors, and most other movie critics. There was hell to pay last year when I published my list of Twenty Best. You'd have thought I belched at a funeral. So this year I have devoutly limited myself to exactly ten films.

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Who you calling a robot?

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Q. I just noticed your driver’s education high school teacher (from your “License To Drive” review) and your boss at Crystal Lake Pool in Urbana (from your “Adventureland” review) are both amazingly named Oscar Adams! He sure got around and played some important roles in your early life!

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The Lonely Critic

In the days before aggregators like RottenTomatoes and Metacritic created the appearance of instant-consensus by assigning numerical values to opinions, it was more fun to have an opinion of your own because it wasn't quantified and averaged with everybody else's.

The tendency now is to view critical opinion as a measurement -- and I'm not just talking about rating systems like stars or letter grades or thumbs. Those things may be mistaken for substantial observations, for the simple reason that the idea of a four-star rating is more tangible than, say, a sentence like, "This tension between realism and spectacle runs like a fissure through the film and invests it with tremendous unease," from Manohla Dargis's rich and revelatory New York Times review of "There Will Be Blood." But Dargis's sentence actually conveys a hell of a lot more about the movie than "Four Stars!" does. (Times critics don't do star ratings, which means that somebody at RottenTomatoes and Metacritic has to actually read the reviews and make them up. The results can be incongruously amusing. Sometimes they don't read very closely.)

When what somebody has to say about a movie is subordinated to a numerical scale -- and then all the grades themselves are plotted on a curve.... well, who cares about the textures of the experience: What percentage did it get on the TomatoMeter?!?!

I bring this up because of an experience Roger Ebert describes having last week:

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Love and hate and "Knowing" -- or, do wings have angels?

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Either I'm wrong or most of the movie critics in America are mistaken. I persist in the conviction that Alex Proyas's "Knowing" is a splendid thriller and surprisingly thought-provoking. I saw the movie at an 8 p.m. screening on Monday, March 16, returned home and wrote my review on deadline. No other reviews existed at that time. Later in the week, I was blind-sided by the negative reaction. And I mean really negative.

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A roll of whose dice?

Is the universe deterministic, or random? Not the first question you'd expect to hear in a thriller, even a great one. But to hear this question posed soon after the opening sequence of "Knowing" gave me a particular thrill. Nicolas Cage plays Koestler, a professor of astrophysics at MIT, and as he toys with a model of the solar system, he asks that question of his students. Deterministic means that if you have a complete understanding of the laws of physics, you can predict with certainty everything that will happen after (for example) the universe is created in the Big Bang.

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The year nobody deserved to win

CANNES, France -- Can there be a Cannes Film Festival without a winner? Is the jury obligated to award the Palme d'Or? Could they send a message by refusing to award the top prize? These and other murmurings and mutterings are growing louder, and they add up to a depressing consensus: Going into the closing weekend, there is no film that seems great enough to deserve the Palme.

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