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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Some of the images sit there unmoving for too long, but that very same stasis also helps create and enforce the underlying tension, the tormented…

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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.

Bill Clinton: A sinner redeemed

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"Clinton" premieres in two parts: Monday, February 20th and Tuesday, February 21st on PBS's "American Experience" (check local listings for showtimes) and will be available thereafter via PBS on demand. Also on DVD and iTunes.

by Jeff Shannon

I should probably state up front that I was, and always will be, a Clinton supporter. Like our 42nd president, I grew up in a home where John F. Kennedy had been revered as a young, dynamic force of change and hope for the future. When you admire a politician's core conviction, it's at least somewhat easier to overlook, if not forgive, their foibles and shortcomings. As a young quadriplegic in 1991, I saw candidate Clinton as an impressive-enough carrier of JFK's torch, a protector of the disadvantaged who had inherited Jack and Bobby Kennedy's concern for those who found the American dream elusive or entirely out of reach.

That concern was clearly demonstrated by the defining moment of Clinton's presidential campaign. It's one of many pivotal moments captured in the two-part, four-hour documentary "Clinton," the 16th episode of PBS's "American Experience" presidents series. At the second presidential debate in Virginia in 1992, a young African-American woman in the audience asked candidates Ross Perot, Bill Clinton, and incumbent president George H.W. Bush a question that was then on the minds of struggling Americans everywhere:

"How has the national debt personally affected each of your lives, and if it hasn't, how can you honestly find a cure for the economic problems of the common people if you have no experience in what's ailing them?"

That question could easily be recycled as a present-day jab at Mitt Romney, but let's stick to history: Bush simply didn't understand the question, and Clinton seized the opportunity to ensure his victory. Stepping toward the audience in a characteristic display of the sincerity that had propelled his fast-moving career, Clinton demonstrated a concise, compassionate grasp of the question's meaning, and his answer (a reference to the poverty and middle-class struggle he witnessed while campaigning for Congress and Governor in his native Arkansas) left Bush with a classic expression of election-losing dismay.

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Pearl Jam at 20: American Masters? Yes.

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"Pearl Jam Twenty" is available On Demand (check your satellite or cable listings) and premieres on the PBS series "American Masters" at 9 p. m. (ET/PT), Oct. 21. It will be released on Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 25. For additional viewing, the grunge documentary "Hype!" is available on Netflix (DVD only).

by Jeff Shannon

Here in Seattle, we think of Cameron Crowe as an honorary native. When he married Nancy Wilson in 1986, he married into local rock royalty: Nancy and her sister, Ann, are the pioneering queens of rock in Heart, the phenomenally successful and still-touring Seattle-based band that is presently nominated for induction into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. It wasn't long before Crowe became a kind of de facto ambassador of Seattle-based rock.

At the time, the rest of the world still knew Crowe as the rock-journalist wunderkind who started writing for Rolling Stone at age 15 (an experience Crowe would later dramatize in "Almost Famous") and the author-turned-screenwriter of Amy Heckerling's 1982 high-school classic "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." You could reasonably speculate that the seeds of the Crowe/Wilson romance were planted in "Fast Times": Nancy Wilson makes a cameo appearance in the film as "Beautiful Girl in Car," catching Judge Reinhold's character in yet another moment of humiliating embarrassment. One can imagine Crowe thinking "I'm gonna marry that girl." When he actually did, countless male Heart fans turned green with envy.

(By sheer happenstance, I made a friendly connection with Crowe three years before we actually met. Shortly after the newlywed Crowe moved to the Eastside Seattle suburb of Woodinville, he and Nancy placed a mobile home on their rural property to accommodate visits from Wilson's mother. At the time, my father was running a mortgage business specializing in mobile/land sales in Snohomish County, and he closed their deal. When my dad informed Crowe that I was a Seattle film critic and an admirer of his, Crowe sent me a signed copy of Fast Times at Ridgemont High to my dad's office. It was a completely unsolicited gesture of kindness, and a pleasant precursor to later encounters.)

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Who forgives the Gonzo?

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Opening theatrically in New York. Available now through Comcast On Demand, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu. See TribecaFilm.com for details.

by Odie Henderson

"Beware the Gonzo" begins with one of those flash-forwarded scenes where something from later in the film is presented to us as a means of foreshadowing. Being out of context, the scene has the tricky role of piquing the viewer's interest while not being a spoiler. It rarely works, and "Beware the Gonzo"'s opening scene is a big spoiler: a beaten up Eddie "Gonzo" Gilman (Ezra Miller) stares into a video camera and tells us that his actions have cost him his best friends, made him lose his girl, gotten him kicked out of school, and almost caused the divorce of his parents (played nicely by Campbell Scott and Amy Sedaris).

This is supposed to be an apology to all those he has wronged, but instead, it's one of those politician mea culpas, a whiny "my bad if you were upset" speech that never forgets to be more about its subject than atoning for his wrongdoings. Out of context, it seemed pathetic, but I was willing to grant that I didn't have the entire speech at my disposal. However, it hung over the movie, and as I met the interesting and trusting characters, dread crept in; I kept waiting for the moment when Gonzo would stop being the likeable character he is for much of the film and turns into this destructive monster.

This is not a bad thing, mind you, but the film's dark turn treats some rather unsavory matters in eye-rollingly shallow fashion to produce a happy ending. It never makes its case for why we, or anybody in "Beware the Gonzo" should Forgive the Gonzo. If the film were honest, this tale of how power corrupts would have had a bittersweet, life-learning lesson of an ending: The hero learns from his mistakes and carries that lament with him as he moves on. Lacking that courage, director-screenwriter Brian Goluboff should have at least removed the most serious of "Beware the Gonzo"'s sins from the screenplay. The ending would then be easier to swallow. More on that shortly.

Gonzo works for a prep school newspaper run by principal's darling Gavin Reilly (Jesse McCartney). Reilly is a jock who not only edits the newspaper but comes from a long line of school attendees and patrons. Reilly's family has won a prestigious history award for the school two years running, and he is in line to win it its third. Reilly is also a bully (and worse, as we'll discover) who trashes all of Gonzo's article ideas. He and his jocks beat up Gonzo's friend, the wonderfully named Scott Marshall Schneeman (Edward Gelbinovich), giving him an gate-enhanced atomic wedgie. Scott's predicament leads Gonzo to turn his "first day of school" article into an expose on the bullied kids. Reilly edits out all but two paragraphs of Gonzo's article, forcing him to start his own underground newspaper. The first article is all about Scott and his run-ins with the jocks.

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# 73 July 27, 2011

"I love music so much and I had such ambition that I was willing to go way beyond what the hell they paid me for. I wanted people to look at the artwork and hear the music."  - Alex Steinweiss

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Gary Winick: A valediction forbidding mourning

May Contain Spoilers

He had these smiling eyes. And a self-deprecating manner which seemed to belie his very good looks ("He's so cute," my 19-year-old assistant exclaimed), about which he was fairly oblivious. Most of all, he was simply a very good guy.

Gary Winick, a many-hats-wearing filmmaker and digital pioneer, died of complications following a 2 year battle with brain cancer on February 27th, the day of the Academy Awards --- an especially sad irony for a vital man, weeks shy of 50, whose passion for film and storytelling had filled the decades of his adult life.

The private memorial service was held at the Time-Warner Center in Winick's beloved New York. Overlooking Central Park as the sun set, an invited group of 400 (some going back to childhood, some famous, many with whom he'd worked, even some he'd made sure got a decent meal when they were struggling) assembled to watch film clips, to hear and tell stories - to cry, yes, but also to laugh at so many experiences they certainly cherish now.

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'Woodsman' puts Bacon's chops to test

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"I wanted to do something more mainstream," Kevin Bacon said. "I wanted to do something where I actually got paid, you know. I was just coming off of 'Mystic River' and I didn't want to do anything dark." He certainly didn't want to play a child molester who is released from prison and tries to control his obsession, lead a normal life, even have a normal relationship.

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Cannes: The Movies Reloaded

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CANNES, France -- I have seen seven movies here since my last report, and together they will not gross as much as the popcorn sales for "The Matrix Reloaded" in one good-sized state--California, say. I moderated a panel of independent American directors Saturday, put together by the Independent Film Channel at the Variety Pavilion, and "The Matrix" loomed like a thundercloud over the table. As box office records were falling like so many clones of Agent Smith, here we were talking about retarded ice-fishermen in Wisconsin, and a Cleveland file clerk who inspired an underground comic book.

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Sundance holds great promise

PARK CITY, Utah--I have just spent an hour with the 2003 program for the Sundance Film Festival, and I am churning with eagerness to get at these films. On the basis of track records, this could be the strongest Sundance in some time--and remember, last year's festival kicked off an extraordinary year for indie films.

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Wrong movies? These aren't

PARK CITY, Utah I spend a lot of my time at the Sundance Film Festival being told I am at the wrong movie. Think how I felt when "Saving Grace," a comedy set in Cornwall and starring Brenda ("Secrets and Lies") Blethyn made this year's top distribution deal of $4 million, and a local TV station asked me what I thought about it. "Saving who?" I asked.

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George C. Scott: In Memoriam

George C. Scott is dead at 71. He was a powerful screen and stage presence whose enormous range was illustrated by his two famous military roles: Gen. Buck Turgidson in "Dr. Strangelove" and Gen. George C. Patton in "Patton."

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Movie Answer Man (02/07/1999)

Q. In your recent review of "Virus", you commented: "It didn't help that the print I saw was so underlit that often I could see hardly anything on the screen. Was that because the movie was filmed that way, or because the projector bulb was dimmed to extend its life span?"

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Movie Answer Man (06/14/1998)

Q. My wife showed me your review of "The Truman Show," and I was crushed with chagrin to learn the movie is constructed to reveal its secret slowly to the viewer. I've already seen the "Truman Show" commercials revealing the secret. I feel betrayed. This is the third time when the advance info has ruined a surprise. The first was "Terminator 2." On talk shows, Arnold Schwarzenegger beamed, "This time I'm a good terminator! The bad guy is a T-1000, made of liquid metal, which can look like anyone." In the theater, the details are calculatedly ambiguous right until the two terminators confront each other and Schwarzenegger suddenly turns and protects the kid. At that moment, I thought--I shouldn't have known the details beforehand! The same thing happened with "The Empire Strikes Back." Magazines had cover photos: "Here's Yoda! He's an old, eccentric, funny-looking creature who's really a Jedi master!" In viewing the film I realized the audience wasn't supposed to know Yoda's identity until he started conversing with the disembodied voice of Obi-Wan. Now here's "The Truman Show," with a marketing campaign spilling all the beans. My wife contends there is no other possible way for the studio to successfully advertise the movie, but I have to believe there's SOME way to do it. (Chris Rowland, Plainsboro, N.J.)

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Sleeper from Chicago directors wakes up Toronto

TORONTO, Canada--Like scouts at a pre-season game, the North American movie industry is gathered here in Toronto, eyeing the developing autumn movie season. The Toronto Film Festival, now in its 21st year, is the major launching pad for many of the films that will be honored, applauded and damned during Oscar Season, which started, in case you missed it, on Labor Day.

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Jennifer Jason Leigh meets 'Mrs. Parker'

CANNES, France -- The table has long since been cleared for the last time, and the wits who surrounded it rest in their graves, but the idea of the Algonquin Round Table lives on. For a decade, from the 1920s through the 1930s, the brightest and the funniest writers in New York gathered every day for lunch around a huge round table at the Algonquin Hotel, and then they went back to their typewriters and made each other famous by quoting what they said there.

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The lost art of talking is splendidly revisited

CANNES, France -- The table has long since been cleared for the last time, and the wits who surrounded it rest in their graves, but the idea of the Algonquin Round Table lives on. For a decade, from the 1920s through the 1930s, the brightest and the funniest writers in New York gathered every day for lunch around a huge round table at the Algonquin Hotel, and then they went back to their typewriters and made each other famous by quoting what they said there.

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