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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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Get On Up

Tate Taylor’s biopic of James Brown is frustratingly mainstream and safe. Chadwick Boseman makes a great James Brown, and all your favorite songs are represented.

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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.

#168 May 22, 2013

Marie writes: Now this is really neat. It made TIME's top 25 best blogs for 2012 and with good reason. Behold artist and photographer Gustaf Mantel's Tumblr blog "If we don't, remember me" - a collection of animated GIFs based on classic films. Only part of the image moves and in a single loop; they're sometimes called cinemagraphs. The results can be surprisingly moving. They also can't be embedded so you have to watch them on his blog. I already picked my favorite. :-)

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When Silence is not Golden

Dedicated to all those who lost family members prematurely, and to two students -- one struggling with addiction, and the other who lost her father.

This is grief. The silence that comes with a loved one's death is like no normal silence. It is in our culture that we respond to this stillness with stillness upon stillness. We try to think of death as that leap into some great beyond, perhaps finally letting our loved one's fluorescent inner radiance free. In the process, those loved ones take with them the air from within our lungs. So, in coping, we respond to their perceived new freedom by restricting ourselves with strict boundaries. And, as we cope with loss, we find relief in reunions. Time begins to jump around as we sit in the moment in front of us, leaping between moments in the past, frightened by the cloud in the future. The reunions open old happy memories that help turn that searing, salty burn of the tears into a blankety warmth. But, in our culture, the reunions often end quickly, leaving us alone in the darkness, unable to sleep. This is grief. And, this is what I observed in the first half hour of Susanne Bier's soft-spoken "Things we Lost in the Fire" (2007).

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#119 June 13, 2012

Marie writes: Next door, across a long narrow drive and beyond the row of cedar hedges which run parallel to it, there resides an elementary school dating back to 1965, along with an assortment of newer playground equipment rendered in bright, solid primary colors...I'm sure you know the sort I mean...

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Watching the World Slip Away

May Contain Spoilers

This prickly film haunts me. I am now older than James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, and Malcolm X. I am at that age where the infinite world of my childhood bedroom is now replaced by a complicated mass of interwoven needs, wants, and concerns. The soundtrack of my youth is a summer of wind blowing through fragile leaves, with katydids buzzing along. The rattling taps of rain on our roof has now given way to the plastic clicking of this keyboard and various other mechanical monsters. Under it all is an ongoing hiss of noise. I also sometimes fall into that trap of looking at today through the telescope of an idealized yesterday; that outlook is a slick valley that is difficult to climb out of and easy to slide back into. Jack Nicholson in Sean Penn's"The Pledge" (2001) is likewise watching the world change. More than that, he is watching his world slip away from him.

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Life beyond Rationality and Compassion

May Contain Spoilers

Have you ever been hit so hard that you've been left in a permanent daze? I'm speaking of a defining event that, in a matter of moments, changes everything for you, permanently. Maybe it's a collision. Maybe a life event like a tragedy or a divorce. You're at the epicenter of the calamity. The destruction hits you right between the eyes. And while you make sense of what hit you, if you ever do, your loved ones bear the brunt of the hurricane that you become. Like a set of ripples, it realigns everything you do. Peter Weir's "Fearless" 1993 shows us the effect of a plane crash, and tells us that when we get hit with such cataclysms, no single way resolves the trauma.

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#27 September 8, 2010

The Grand Poobah writes: I saw this stag in the Michigan woods near our country place, where I am still working on my memoir. (click to enlarge)

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Wolfman versus Werewolf

May Contain Spoilers

Something strange happened to me while watching the recent Benicio del Toro movie "The Wolfman." I suddenly realized I wasn't being scared in the very least. Nada. Like Dr. Chilton once said referring to Hannibal Lecter in "Silence of the Lambs" "my pulse never got above 80".

Despite the movie's constant and frantic attempts to scare the audience with surprising and loud growls, with beheadings and half-eaten corpses, nothing worked, I've a hard time understanding why.

Is it my attitude towards the genre?

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Moments Out of Time 2008

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At MSN Movies, Richard T. Jameson and Kathleen Murphy continue their tradition of conjuring indelible cinematic moments of the previous year -- made all the more indelible by their luminous descriptions of them. A few samples, from some terrific movies, and some not-so-terrific ones:

• In "The Edge of Heaven," a brown ribbon of road glowing under the last shrinking patch of blue in a lowering, end-of-day sky ...

• "In Bruges": The twinkle and the glower: First views of the "Belgian s---hole" by, respectively, Ken (Brendan Gleeson) and Ray (Colin Farrell) ...

• In "Revolutionary Road," April stands in milky light with her back to us, gazing out her picture window as blood pools at her feet. Hats off to Douglas Sirk . ...

• As a hospital explodes in the background, a nurse sporting an obscene mask of white, black and red greasepaint totters in the street, gazing into the camera as though daring us not to get off on the way the Joker plays in "The Dark Knight" ...

• "I was a guard!" -- the courtroom profession that instantly defines the literal and moral limits of Hanna Schmitz's (Kate Winslet) imagination, and perhaps a nation's, in "The Reader" ...

• In "Che," the most romanticized revolutionary ever (Benicio Del Toro) staggers up a steep wooded hillside, wheezing with asthma. ...

• A scene of pastoral skinny-dipping suddenly turns cold and black with the threat of death, and in "Tell No One," nothing afterward is as it seems. ...

• Wendy (the superb Michelle Williams) gazes helplessly from the backseat of a cop car as her tethered golden Lab recedes from view -- the first in a cascade of losses in "Wendy and Lucy."...

• "The Happening": Mark Wahlberg delivering a monologue to a houseplant, just in case ...

• "Let the Right One In": At snowy evening, a man making his way home passes out of a tunnel, and the dark little creature Eli drops on him as if from above the screen itself. ...

• "Burn After Reading": Chad Feldheimer's last grin (Brad Pitt, sublime) ...

Many more here.

Care to contribute some of your favorite movie-moments from the past year?

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TIFF 08: Revolution and starvation, personal and political

"The war is over. The revolution has just begun." -- Che Guevara (Benicio Del Toro), after Cuban guerillas have overthrown Batista's dictatorial regime on New Year's Day, 1959, in "Che"

Even without titles or credits, the running time of the gorgeous digital print of Steven Soderberg's "Che" that screened at the Toronto Film Festival was listed as 261minutes (that's four hours and 21 minutes for those of you without calculators). The working title for the epic was "Guerilla," then "Che," and despite Benicio Del Toro's fully-lived performance as Che Guevara, a more suitable title might be "Revolutions." Because this doesn't feel so much like a biopic as a documentary portrait of the recipes for political revolutions, successful and failed, in Cuba and Bolivia. The titles may rhyme, but nobody's going to mistake "Che" for "Ray."

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A teacher wins the Cannes film festival

Director Laurent Cantet accepts the Palme d'Or, surrounded by his cast.

For the first time in 21 years, a French film has taken the top prize at the Cannes film festival, and in a rarity for Cannes, the Palme d’Or was awarded unanimously. The prize could have easily been named “The Golden Apple” rather than the The Golden Palm since it went to “The Class” ("Entre Les Murs"), the Laurent Cantet film about a young teacher who tries to reach his class of primarily immigrant children in a school on the outskirts of Paris. Confronted with their apathy and sometimes outright hostility, he questions them in a Socratic fashion until they begin to ask themselves if perhaps an education might be relevant to them. This film moved me to tears and so of course I thought that, in the grand tradition of Cannes, it had no chance of winning the top prize.

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Vegas, baby, yeah!

View image De Niro in "Casino." Las Vegas is a Hollywood movie.

From my piece on Sin City in the Movies at MSN Movies: The world has other gambling meccas -- Monte Carlo, Atlantic City, Reno -- but none as storied or mythologized as Las Vegas, an American dream-zone strategically located in the arid wasteland between Hoover Dam and Hollywood. The neon oasis is a concrete mirage: The closer you get, the more real the place becomes, but when you reach out to grab it, it slips through your fingers anyway. A surreal amalgamation of landmarks historical and imagined (Egypt, New York, Camelot), it rises out of shimmering heat and dust, a dazzling C.B. DeMille monument to profligate waste and the proposition that anything can be purchased or accomplished for a price.

Vegas is a Hollywood movie made corporeal, a surreal experience built on sand, powered by electricity, riches and promises of desires fulfilled. The electricity comes from the dam, the money comes from the odds that always favor the house, the desires come from the human heart (as well as a bit lower and to the right). But how sinful can sin be in a place called Sin City, where everything sinful in the outside world is overtly or tacitly permitted?

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CIFF: All our capsule reviews

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UPDATED 10/16: Here are brief reviews of all the Chicago Film Festival movies we have seen, in alphabetical order, written by Bill Stamets and Roger Ebert. More will be added as we view them. For a full CIFF schedule, go to www.chicagofilmfestival.com or call (312) 332-FILM.

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Some sure bets and wild cards for awards

Shortly after 7:30 a.m. (CST) Tuesday, Motion Picture Academy President Frank Pierson and actress Sigourney Weaver will walk onstage at the Kodak Theater on Hollywood Boulevard and announce the nominations for the 76th Academy Awards, and this article will instantly become obsolete. But until that moment, we can guess and speculate and predict about this year's nominees, and here goes.

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