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Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" doesn't have the electricity of the original, mainly because we've already seen it. Nothing more is really revealed…

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To Be Takei

“To Be Takei” is a conventional documentary that has a surprising emotional heft. A fun, informative exploration of the life of actor, activist and Trekkie…

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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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Cast and Crew

* 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.

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How we discuss celebrity deaths; Maria Bello's modern coming-out; filmmaker Ava DuVernay on black films and filming black people; best books of 2013; how graphics are innovating documentaries.

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Sundance Institute Honors Roger Ebert and Filmmaker Ryan Coogler

From the Sundance Institute:

Los Angeles, CA — Last night, Wednesday, June 5, the third annual ‘Celebrate Sundance Institute’ benefit in Los Angeles honored the life and work of beloved journalist and film critic Roger Ebert with the Vanguard Leadership Award in Memoriam. The event also honored filmmaker Ryan Coogler – whose debut feature film, Fruitvale Station, was selected for Sundance Institute's Screenwriters Lab and went on to win both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival – with the Vanguard Award, Presented by Tiffany & Co.

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Hollywood and Indie Worlds Come Together for Roger Ebert Memorial Tribute

Hollywood and indie film directors, actor John Cusack, actor Chris Tucker, comedian and philanthropist Dick Gregory, former Playboy chair Christie Hefner and the president of Sony Pictures Classics, and the lead critics from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, and the Chicago Film Critics Association, will join other celebrities, friends and colleagues to pay tribute to iconic film critic Roger Ebert’s life and prolific career at “Roger Ebert: A Celebration of Life,” this Thursday, April 11, at 7 p.m. at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St.

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#127 August 8, 2012

Marie writes: This week's Newsletter arrives a day early and lighter than usual, as come Tuesday morning, I'll be on a Ferry heading to Pender Island off the West Coast, where I've arranged to visit old friends for a few days and enjoy my first vacation in two years; albeit a brief one. No rest for the wicked. :-)

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A photo of a little girl, and memories of two beloved aunts

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I did a review for our TV show this week of a new film named "I Will Follow," written and directed by Ava DuVernay. I admired it very much. It told the story of a woman who spends a day packing up the house where her beloved aunt has recently died. It was inspired by the director's Aunt Denise, who the film is dedicated to, and stars Salli Richardson-Whitfield as the "favorite niece" who must therefore be inspired to some degree by DuVernay.

Writing the review, I assumed I had never met Ava DuVernay. It turns out I had, back in the 1980s. Today she sent me an e-mail with this photo:

She explained: "When I saw you look into the camera with a smile and give your 'thumbs up,' I felt a joy and a pain, desperately missing my aunt, my love Denise, on whom the film's central relationship is based...and celebrating the approval that I've hoped for. Both emotions at the very same time. I didn't know that was possible.

"I just wanted to let you know. And to show you the attached picture of us, from many years ago. I was a little girl whose aunt took her to stand outside the Shrine Auditorium to watch the stars go to Oscar rehearsal. It was one of our many silly rituals."

I wrote her back that the dedication of one of my books reads, "For my Aunt Martha, who took me to the movies." Here is my Sun-Times written review for "I Will Follow." The film opens March 11 in AMC theaters in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Atlanta and Philadelphia, and March 18 in Chicago. It will then open wider.

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