In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_ciarjx8fjqum8uh6glepanoyyny

Nightcrawler

A perfect engine of corrosive satire, this drama follows the adventures of an amoral cameraman to its logical and unsettling end.

Thumb_632jg1wy6pgvxzxf5nao5pinefe

Horns

There are some clever ideas in the script from Keith Bunin, based on the novel by Joe Hill, but they get mixed up in some…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

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…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

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…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

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.

#178 July 31, 2013

Marie writes: As the dog days of summer slowly creep towards September and Toronto starts getting ready for TIFF 2013, bringing with it the promise of unique and interesting foreign films, it brought to mind an old favorite, namely The Red Balloon; a thirty-four minute short which follows the adventures of a young boy who one day finds a sentient red balloon. Filmed in the Menilmontant neighborhood of Paris and directed by French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse, The Red Balloon went on to win numerous awards and has since become a much-beloved Children's Classic.

Continue reading →

#122 July 4, 2012

Marie writes: If you're anything like me, you enjoy a good book cover as much as a good story; the best often speaking to inspired graphic design. Indeed, I know I'm not alone in my admiration...Welcome to "The Book Cover Archive" for the appreciation and categorization of excellence in book cover design; edited and maintained by Ben Pieratt and Eric Jacobsen. On their site, you can gaze lovingly at hundreds of covers complete with thumbnails and links and even the name of the type fonts used. Drool....

{click image to enlarge]

Continue reading →

#115 May 16, 2012

Marie writes: Behold a truly inspired idea...Age 8: Eileen's pink creature It started with a simple idea: to make a recognizable comfort toy for her 4 year-old son Dani, based on one of his drawing. His school had asked the children to bring in a toy from home; an emergency measure in the event of a tantrum or crying fit. Fearing he might lose his favorite, Wendy Tsao decided to make Dani a new one. Using a drawing he often made as her guide, she improvised a plush toy snowman. Five years later, Wendy Tsao has her own thriving home-based craft business - Child's Own Studio - in which she transforms the imaginative drawings of children into plush and cloth dolls; each one handcrafted and one-of-a-kind. She receives requests from parents all over the world; there's 500 people on waiting list. Note: kudos to club member Sandy Kahn for submitting the piece.

Continue reading →

The Return of the Autobiographical Dictionary of Film

Ever since David Thomson's "A Biographical Dictionary of Film" was published in 1975, browsers have said that they love to hate Thomson's contrarian arguments -- against John Ford or Frank Capra, Coppola or Kubrick, for example.¹ Fans and critics can cite favorite passages of resonant beauty, mystifyingly vague and dismissive summary judgements, and entire entries in which the man appears to have gone off his rocker. And that's the fun of it.

To be fair, Thomson broke faith with (or has been suffering a crisis of faith in) American movies at least far back as "Overexposures: The Crisis in American Filmmaking" (1981), and he's been writing about his crisis ever since. To put it in a sentence that could serve as the ending of one of his entries: I am willing to believe that he loves (or once loved) movies even if he doesn't like them very much. (Wait -- how does he conclude the Katharine Hepburn piece? "She loved movies, while disapproving of them.")

When I encountered the first edition of this book, the year I entered college, I immediately fell in love with it because it was not a standard reference. It was personal, cranky, eloquent, pretentious, pithy, petty, ambitious... It was, as I think Thomson himself suggested in the foreword to the first or second edition (this is the fifth), more accurately titled "An Autobiographical Dictionary of Film." Many times over the years I have implored my employers or partners to license digital rights to Thomson's book so that it could augment and be integrated with other movie databases and references (at Cinemania, FilmPix, Reel.com, RogerEbert.com)... but we've never done it. What, they would ask, is the "value-add"? (Really. Some people used to talk that way.) As a reference, its coverage is too spotty (Ephraim Katz's Film Encyclopedia is much more comprehensive but also has loads of incomplete filmographies), as criticism it's wildly idiosyncratic (nothing wrong with that) and as biography it's whimsically selective and uneven, leaving as many holes as it fills.

Continue reading →

Where the Mopey Things Are

Primary_wtwta1-thumb-500x304-12622

Spike Jonze's "Where the Wild Things Are" (aka, "The Decline and Fall of the Wild Thing Empire") is not Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are." It's only fair you should know that in advance. The book's illustrations and nine sentences have been turned into a surprisingly (some might even say shockingly) literal-minded 90-minute motion picture about the misery of being a kid. Jonze and co-scenarist Dave Eggers are clearly in touch with their inner-miserable child; they seem to vividly remember all the daily turmoil that childhood is heir to -- the tantrums, fights, scrapes, bruises, fears, anxieties, insults, hurt feelings, bossiness, cruelty, rejection, confusion, heckling, bullying, bragging, pouting, moping, testing, haggling, crying, rage...

Those aspects of childhood trauma are acutely and accurately portrayed in the movie. Every time the fun starts, somebody goes too far (like a puppy who hasn't learned his soft mouth yet), and someone gets hurt or scared or angry or sad or all of those things. The movie's adulterated sensibility is that of an alienated grown-up looking back at the (somewhat romanticized, over-intellectualized) misery of childhood and denying or downplaying the equally real fun stuff -- the in-the-moment joy, the exhilaration of being and imagining and doing and playing. So, in some sense it's a corrective to all those stupid "Isn't it wonderful being a kid?" movies that remember childhood through equally distorted rose-tinted lenses.

Continue reading →

Reading those Oscar tea leaves

Primary_eb20070123oscars70123003ar

Last summer, according to most industry prognosticators, this whole Oscar race thing was supposed to be all over already. Before its release, Clint Eastwood's "Flags of Our Fathers" was widely expected to be greeted with flowers and statuettes. The combination of Eastwood and Paul Haggis (screenwriter of the last two Best Picture winners, Eastwood's "Million Dollar Baby" and Haggis's "Crash") made the Red Carpet look like a cakewalk. "Letters from Iwo Jima" wasn't even on the release schedule for 2006, so as not to interfere with "Flags"' Oscar chances. Martin Scorsese's "The Departed," on the other hand, was cheered as a "return to his (generic) roots, " a straight-up commercial cops-and-crooks movie to follow up his prestige-picture Oscar bids, "Gangs of New York" and "The Aviator," but not something seriously For Your Consideration.

Continue reading →

Indie Spirit Awards: Good news & bad news

"Man Push Cart."

Full list of nominees here.

I haven't seen all the nominees ("The Dead Girl," "American Gun," "Wristcutters: A Love Story," etc.), but, as always, there are some most welcome nominations. (Links below go to my reviews, festival coverage -- or even Opening Shots.)

"Man Push Cart," for best first feature (director Rahmin Bahrani), male lead (Ahmad Razvi) and cinematography (Michael Simmonds). Opening Shot treatment here.

"Half Nelson," for best feature, director (Ryan Fleck), first screenplay (Anna Boden & Fleck), male lead (Ryan Gosling), female lead (Shareeka Epps)

"Pan's Labyrinth," for best feature and cinematography (Guillermo Navarro). (But not Guillermo del Toro for director and screenplay?!?!?!)

"Old Joy," for the John Cassavettes Award.

Paul Dano for "best supporting male" (that's the IFP's category) in "Little Miss Sunshine," which is also nominated for best feature, screenplay, directors -- and Alan Arkin, also nominated for supporting male. I love Arkin (it's all about "Little Murders," people!), but I thought Steve Carell and Dano stole the movie, with Toni Collette and Greg Kinnear close behind.

Catherine O'Hara for best female lead in "For Your Consideration."

Robert Altman, best director for "A Prairie Home Companion."

Biggest disappointments: No documentary nominations for "51 Birch Street" or "The Bridge." The former may have been too deceptively simple and artless (in truth, it's a complex work of art) and the latter too cold and disturbing for many in the Indie tent-party crowd.

I'm still technically on break, but I'll be back to blogging (and editing) Wednesday.

Continue reading →

Catherine O'Hara: Queen of Comedy

View image Catherine O'Hara, the funniest person on the planet, with John Michael Higgins, who's no slouch himself.

Please note that, in the list of Categories in the column at right, there is one topic that still has no entires. That is "Oscars." Because, really, after last year what's even left to joke about? And it's only November.

Nevertheless, I have a couple of Chicago Sun-Times/RogerEbert.com reviews this week, and one of them is of Christopher Guest's "For Your Consideration": Hey, I heard Catherine O'Hara is so splendid in Christopher Guest's latest ensemble comedy, "For Your Consideration," she's a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination.

It's true -- she is that good. And she's long overdue. (I would already have given her an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, a Peabody, a Nobel and a People's Global Golden Choice Award for her performances as Lola Heatherton and Dusty Towne in the 1982 SCTV "Network 90" Christmas special alone.) Also: "Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus":Perhaps the two biggest problems with "Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus" are the last two words of the title. This through-the-looking-glass "Beauty and the Beast" fable has little to do with Diane Arbus, the famous photographer, or with her work, which is not seen in the film. As a Lewis Carroll title card explains, this "is not a historical biography" but instead "reaches beyond reality to express what might have been Arbus' inner experience on her extraordinary path" to becoming an artist. Sure. All that's missing is a sense of who Arbus was, and how the fictional journey depicted in the film is reflected in (or, rather, distilled from) her art.Meanwhile, over at The Onion, the question is considered: "Are Oscar Prognosticators Evil?."

Continue reading →

TIFF: Short cuts

The cast of the Oscar-favorite film, "Home for Purim."

"For Your Consideration" -- Christopher Guest is blessed with the finest comedic stock company since the heyday of Preston Sturges. Guest, Catherine O'Hara (Goddess of Funny), Eugene Levy, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, Parker Posey, Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch, John Michael Higgins, Bob Balaban, Ed Begley Jr., Michael Hitchcock, Paul Dooley, Jim Piddock, Larry Miller... I get a thrill just seeing them share screen space in various combinations (and this time they've added Ricky Gervais and Sandra Oh to the mix). Every few years when they get together (the last time they were together was "A Mighty Wind" in 2003), it's like seeing old friends for whom you will always harbor a deep and abiding affection. Here's hoping they keep reuniting for many movies to come.

In "FYC," the subject isn't so much the movie industry (Guest already made the best American dissection of the contemporary film business back in 1989 with "The Big Picture") as the awards and publicity industry. We join a film in production -- a kind of kosher Tennessee Williams melodrama about a Jewish family in the South during the war, called "Home for Purim." Somebody on the web (or the "World Wide Internet" as the typically clueless HollyLuddites call it) claims the lead actress (played by O'Hara), an '80s sitcom star who's been virtually forgotten by the public and the industry, may be giving an "Oscar-worthy" performance, and a rumor is born that (as in "The Big Picture") takes on a life of its own.

Continue reading →

Drew finds her way `Home'

It's like, you know, I'm talking with Drew Barrymore and she is like so drowning me in words, and I'm like so getting it, and I'm thinking like, here is a girl who is like still only 23 years old and has been in like 30 movies and already grown beyond the problems that most people her age still soooo don't know how to handle.

Continue reading →