"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.
* 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.
Marie writes: Last week, in response to a club member comment re: whatever happened to Ebert Club merchandize (turned out to be too costly to set up) I had promised to share a free toy instead - an amusement, really, offered to MailChimp clients; the mail service used to send out notices. Allow me to introduce you to their mascot...
Marie writes: Every once in while, I'll see something on the internet that makes me happy I wasn't there in person. Behold the foolish and the brave: standing on one of the islands that appear during the dry season, kayacker's Steve Fisher, Dale Jardine and Sam Drevo, were able to peer over the edge after paddling up to the lip of Victoria Falls; the largest waterfall in the world and which flows between Zambia and Zimbabwe, in Africa. It's 350 feet down and behind them, crocodiles and hippos can reportedly be found in the calmer waters near where they were stood - but then, no guts, no glory, eh? To read more and see additional photos, visit "Daredevil Kayakers paddle up to the precipice of the Victoria Falls" at the DailyMail.
While Cannes's red-carpet crowd toasts the Coen brothers' tuneful "Inside Llewyn Davis," the parallel programs have also turned a spotlight on America.
Marie writes: my art pal Siri Arnet sent me following - and holy cow! "Japanese artist Takanori Aiba has taken bonsai trees, food packaging, and even a tiny statue of the Michelin Man and constructed miniature metropolises around these objects, thus creating real-life Bottled Cities of Kandor. Explains Aiba of his artwork:"My source of creations are my early experience of bonsai making and maze illustration. These works make use of an aerial perspective, which like the diagram for a maze shows the whole from above (the macro view) while including minute details (the micro view). If you explore any small part of my works, you find amazing stories and some unique characters." ( click to enlarge.)
Marie writes: It occurred to me that I've never actually told members about the Old Vic Tunnels. Instead, I've shared news of various exhibits held inside them, like the recent Minotaur. So I'm going to fix that and take you on a tour! (click image to enlarge.)
Lesson for the day: How to have fun while wasting time... Marie writes: welcome to DRAW A STICK MAN, a delightful Flash-based site prompting viewers to draw a simple stick figure which then comes to life! Ie: the program animates it. You're given instructions about what to draw and when, which your dude uses to interact with objects onscreen. Thanks go to club member Sandy Kahn who heard about it from her pal Lauren, in Portland Oregon.Note: here's a screen-cap of what I drew; I've named him Pumpkin Head.
Marie writes: I love illustrators best in all the world. There's something so alive about the scratch and flow of pen & ink, the original medium of cheeky and subversive wit. And so when club member Sandy Kahn submitted links for famed British illustrator Ronald Searle and in the hopes others might find him interesting too, needless to say, I was quick to pounce; for before Ralph Steadman there was Ronald Searle... "The two people who have probably had the greatest influence onmy life are Lewis Carroll and Ronald Searle."-- John LennonVisit Kingly Books' Ronald Searle Gallery to view a sordid collection of wicked covers and view sample pages therein. (click to enlarge image.) And for yet more covers, visit Ronald Searle: From Prisoner of War to Prolific Illustrator at Abe Books.
It's a wrap for the 2010 Muriel Awards, but although the winners have been announced, there's still plenty of great stuff to read about the many winners and runners-up. ('Cause, as we all know, there's so much more to life than "winning.") I was pleased to be asked to write the mini-essay about "The Social Network" because, no, I'm not done with it. (Coming soon: a piece about the Winkelvii at the Henley Gregatta section -- which came in 11th among Muriel voters for the year's Best Cinematic Moment.)
You might recall that last summer I compared the editorial, directorial and storytelling challenges of a modest character-based comedy ("The Kids Are All Right") to a large-scale science-fiction spectacular based on the concept of shifting between various levels of reality/unreality -- whether in actual time and space or in consciousness and imagination. (The latter came in at No. 13 in the Muriels balloting; the former in a tie for No. 22.) My point was that, as far as narrative filmmaking is concerned, there isn't much difference. To illustrate a similar comparison this time, I've used a one-minute segment out of "The Social Network" (Multiple levels of storytelling in The Social Network). You might like one picture better than the other for any number of reasons, but I find their similarities more illuminating than their differences:
The bottom line: Casey Affleck thinks of it as a performance and not as an act, and he thinks of "I'm Still Here" as a film, and not a hoax. In an interview where he revealed details behind the making of his controversial film with and about Joaquin Phoenix, he also said:
• David Letterman was not in on the performance, and what you saw on his show was really happening.
• Phoenix dropped out of character when he was not being filmed or in public.
• The drugs and the hookers were staged. The vomiting was real.
• Toronto Report #6
We now have it on Casey Affleck's word that "I'm Still Here," the film about Joaquin Phoenix's apparent descent into self-destruction, was a hoax. We cannot doubt this. Well, perhaps we can; the possibility exists that Affleck caught so much shit after the release that he decided to back off from his devastating portrait of his brother-in-law. But let's agree it is a hoax.
Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of Jim Thompson's "The Killer Inside Me" is one of the deepest, darkest films noir ever made -- an unflinchingly nasty, nihilistic piece of work that pulls no punches, literally or figuratively. This is what noir is all about: facing the worst possibilities of human nature, a bottomless sense of dread that makes you feel like you're drowning in fetid bog of blood (see "Macbeth"). And it's all your fault, the undeniable consequences of following your own overpowering desires, of making your own messy mistakes. And maybe some rotten luck -- the kind you invariably bring on yourself.
Not that we totally identify with our deadpan sociopathic narrator and main character, but that's precisely what happens to Lou Ford, the clean-cut young deputy sheriff of Central City, Texas, (Casey Affleck, in another masterful performance to rank with his work in "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford"), a small-town psycho with a taste for compulsive, 1950s pulp sadism (really dirty, dangerous stuff -- let's say S&M without the safe word). One murder becomes necessary to cover the previous one until Lou is stepp'd in blood so far that, should he wade no more, returning were as tedious as go o'er.
The full-screen In Memoriam montage is linked below.
It was the best Oscar show I've ever seen, and I've seen plenty. The Academy didn't bring it in under three and a half hours, but maybe they simply couldn't, given the number of categories. What they did do was make the time seem to pass more quickly, and more entertainingly. And they finally cleared the logjam involved in merely reading the names of the nominees. By bringing out former winners to single out each of the acting nominees and praise their work, they replaced the reading of lists with a surprisingly heart-warming new approach.
I had a feeling Hugh Jackman would be a charmer as host, and he was. He didn't have a lot of gag lines, depending instead on humor in context, as when he recruited Anne Hathawy onstage for their duet. His opening "low budget" song-and-dance was amusing, and we could immediately see how the show would benefit from the reconfigured theater.
by Roger Ebert
* Denotes winner.
From the Associated Press
by Roger Ebert
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.
TORONTO, Ont. -- Sometimes in a smaller theater, away from the searchlights and the 24-hour fans making privacy impossible for poor Brad and Angelina, you find an independent film that is miraculous. Such a film is “Chop Shop,” by Ramin Bahrani, the Iran-born American director whose “Man Push Cart” made such a stir three years ago. That film was about an immigrant from Pakistan trying to make a living in New York with a rented coffee-and-bagel cart. It was shot on a shoestring in less than three weeks, and won the critics’ prize at London and three Independent Spirit Awards, including best first feature. It embodied, I said in my review, the very soul of Italian neorealism.
TORONTO, Ont. -- It’s not often you see films that are perfect. I have just seen two of them here at the Toronto Film Festival, and two others that are extraordinary, and a documentary that is spellbinding. Do I love everything? Not at all. I just happened to have an ecstatic period of moviegoing, that’s all, and that’s enough.
PARK CITY, Utah -- I took a day off to cover the Oscars, and I'm nine films behind. That's nine I've seen, not nine I've missed. They are so various and in many cases so good that the problem is to write about them without sounding like a crazed cinemaniac.
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.
CANNES, France--Three conversations at Cannes:
TORONTO--If the 27th Toronto Film Festival closes after two days, it will have shown six wonderful films and one magnificently bloody-minded one--and I do not exclude the possible greatness of entries I have not yet seen.
PARK CITY, Utah--I walked out of the screening of "Gerry" and was pounced on by three women who had just seen the film.
PARK CITY, Utah -- I have seen 11 films so far at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and the most affecting involves a couple of kids from a Chicago public housing complex who were given tape recorders by National Public Radio, and asked to record the story of their lives.