Heaven Is for Real
Faith-based film tries reaching past its audience, but falls back on preaching to its own choir way too much.
* 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.
Remembrances of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Sam Fragoso ranks all 22 films he saw at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Sam Fragoso on two films at the Sundance Film Festival.
What happens when actors play themselves? Something funny, and often magical, as this Leigh Singer supercut proves. Text by Matt Zoller Seitz.
Marie writes: If I have a favorite festival, it's SXSW and which is actually a convergence of film, music and emerging technologies. However it's the festival's penchant for screening "quirky" Indie movies which really sets my heart pounding and in anticipation of seeing the next Wes Anderson or Charlie Kaufman. So from now until March, I'll be tracking down the best with the zeal of a Jack Russell terrier! Especially since learning that Joss Whedon's modern B/W take on Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" is set to screen at SXSW 2013 in advance of its June 21st US release date; they'll cut an official trailer soon, rubbing hands together!
Marie writes: Once upon a time, a long time ago and in a childhood far, far away, kids used to be able to buy a special treat called a Frosted Malt. Then, with the arrival of progress and the subsequent destruction of all that is noble and pure, the world found itself reduced to settling for a frosty at Wendy's, at least where I live. Unable to support a "second rate" frosted malt for a second longer, I decided to do something about it!
Marie writes: Summer is now officially over. The berries have been picked, the jam has been made, lawn-chairs put away for another year. In return, nature consoles us with the best show on Earth; the changing of the leaves! I found these at one of my favorites sites and where you can see additional ones and more...
Today I walked the streets of Egypt proud--proud of my people and my country. It took us 18 days of protests to force Mubarak and his corrupt regime to resign. Their accounts will be frozen and the billions of dollars that should've gone into building a better and cleaner country will finally be restored for the good of our nation.
Mubarak left and we're all proud of getting rid of a corrupt dictator but it's the incidents I've witnessed with my own eyes throughout this revolution that has me swollen with pride. When Muslims prayed on a bridge, the police sprayed them with water and even though some slipped and fell, they stood back up and resumed. Egyptians of all religions were moved by this and when the water was pointed back at them, they created another front line of prayers. People kept coming in to reduce the impact of the water.
Marie writes: what do you get a man with a massive book collection who has artwork by Edward Lear and huge canvases by Gillian Ayres? What would a man with a Pulitzer and a Webby now renowned for the verbosity of his tweeting, like for his birthday? Much pondering went into answering that. Until suddenly a light-bulb went on above my head! (Click image.)Of course! It's so obvious - turn the Grand Poobah into a super hero! Super Critic: battling the forces of bad movies and championing the little guy, while tweeting where no critic has gone before! In the process, we'll get to see him wearing a red cape and blue tights. Perfect.Note: the artwork was done by Dave Fox of INTOON Productions. He makes personalized comic book covers and animation cels. Diane Kremmer, a long time friend and fellow artist, works and lives with Dave on Pender Island (one of the Gulf Islands off the coast of BC near Washington State.) I spent last weekend with them and took advantage of Dave's cartooning skills. I mention this because he did all the work. I just sat there and drank his wine. :-)
CHAMPAIGN-URBANA -- Michael Tolkin, the writer-director of 1994's "The New Age," which played at Ebertfest on Thursday, surveyed the packed house from the stage of Champaign's historic Virginia Theater and said, "This now doubles the number of people who saw this film on its first release."
The one complaint I heard the most about Ebertfest this year is that it's too much and too short. Is that a contradiction? Very well, Ebertfest contains contradictions. For now, I'm posting photos. Some concluding thoughts coming soon...
"Barfly" director Barbet Schroeder and Sunset Gun blogger Kim Morgan discuss Bukowski and Hollywood.
Meta: Writer-director Charlie Kaufmann ("Synecdoche, New York," right) watches David Bordwell (left) take a photo of the "Far-Flung Correspondents" panel (center, rear).
Roger Ebert introduces the " Far-Flung Correspondents" panel, moderated by Omer Mozaffer (Pakistan via Chicago, right).
Photos from Ebertfest! In a stunning display of legerdemain, I materialized a glass globe out of thin air as Chaz and I were greeting the guests at the President's House...
Took the train down from Wilmette (well, Glenview) yesterday afternoon and, although was publishing new reviews on RogerEbert.com on opening night, I was able to watch the post-film discussions from my room at the Illini Union via Ustream. You can, too. And they've been archived here, as well.
A few notes, tweets, observations from Day 1 & 2:
Charlie Kaufman, the writer and director of "Synecdoche, New York" (2008), my choice for the best film of the decade, will appear after the screening of his masterpiece at Ebertfest 2010. The 12th annual festival will be held April 21-25 at the landmark 1,600-seat Virginia Theater in Champaign-Urbana, and for the first time ever, all festival Q&A sessions and panel discussions will be streamed live on the Internet.
I AM SO PROUD that eight of the Far-Flung Correspondents will be attending Ebertfest 2010, and so sincerely moved that they're providing their own tickets! A shout-out to Ali Arikan, Seoungyong Cho, Weal Khairy, Michael Mirasol, Omar Moore, Omer Mozzafar, Gerardo Valero, and Grace Wang. Only Robert Tan, who has been under the weather, will be missing. They're all bloggers, and will be on a panel Friday morning about the Global Web of Filmlovers.
Do not repeat to anyone until March 26: Charlie Kaufman (above) will appear at Ebertfest after the screening of his masterpiece Synchdoche, NY. THE OFFICIAL SECRET CLUB PASSWORD
"Synecdoche, New York" is the best film of the decade. It intends no less than to evoke the strategies we use to live our lives. After beginning my first viewing in confusion, I began to glimpse its purpose and by the end was eager to see it again, then once again, and I am not finished. Charlie Kaufman understands how I live my life, and I suppose his own, and I suspect most of us. Faced with the bewildering demands of time, space, emotion, morality, lust, greed, hope, dreams, dreads and faiths, we build compartments in our minds. It is a way of seeming sane.
The mind is a concern in all his screenplays, but in "Synecdoche" (2008), his first film as a director, he makes it his subject, and what huge ambition that demonstrates. He's like a
Based on his show-stopping speech at Saturday night's Independent Spirit Awards, if Mickey Rourke wins an Oscar on Sunday night the Oscarcast is going to be a lollapalooza. As his comeback film "The Wrestler" won for best film, male actor and cinematography, Rourke brought the show to a halt and the audience to its feet with an acceptance speech that was classic Mickey. The Indie Spirits are telecast live and unbleeped, which added considerably to the speech's charm.
"Waltz with Bashir," Ari Folman's animated film about an Israeli soldier's flashbacks, has been named best film of 2008 by the National Society of Film Critics, the most prestigious of the critic'a groups giving year-end awards.
This just in:
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS *1. Hanna Schygulla (The Edge of Heaven) - 29 (Strand Releasing) 2. Viola Davis (Doubt) - 29 (on fewer ballots) 3. Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) - 24
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR *1. Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky) 41 (Miramax) 2. Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) - 35 3. Josh Brolin (Milk) - 29
Mike Myers' "The Love Guru" was chosen worst picture of the year in the Second Annual Ninth Annual Village Voice/LA Weekly Film Poll, in which I was but one of 81 balloteers. I may have been fortunate in that I didn't see it. Nor was I exposed to runner-up Alan Ball's "Towelhead," which was followed by a multiple tie for third-lousiest between "Burn After Reading," "Changeling," "Doubt," "Gran Torino," "Rachel Getting Married," "Step Brothers," and "Synecdoche, New York." The reason I mention this first is that most of these films (OK, not "Love Guru") were also chosen by some as among the best movies of the year, and they were directed by a few critical darlings: Joel and Ethan Coen, Clint Eastwood (twice), Jonathan Demme, Charlie Kaufman...
This year's poll favorites:
10) "Synechdoche, New York" (Charlie Kaufman, USA)
9) "Let the Right One In" (Tomas Alfredson, Sweden)
8) "Wendy and Lucy" (Kelly Reichardt, USA)
7) "Milk" (Gus Van Sant, USA)
6) "Waltz With Bashir" (Ari Folman, Israel)
Ten contributors to MSN Movies cast their ballots for the best films of 2008, unaware of what anyone else would pick. A simple point scale was used to weight the choices. And the result is one of the more surprisingly satisfying year-end consensus-mixes I've seen so far. Yeah, I'm one of the participants, and six of my top choices wound up on the aggregate list, but still...
Best of all, each title is accompanied by a micro-mini-essay by one of the critics. It ain't easy compressing one's appreciation into nuggets of less than 250 words, but the effort can occasionally yield its own rewards...
MSN Movies Top 10 (bottom to top):(titles link to individual blurbs)
10. Slumdog Millionaire 9. Wendy and Lucy 8. WALL-E 7. Pineapple Express 6. The Dark Knight
A few weeks ago, the Hollywood trades were observing (or complaining) that, because of the 2008 presidential election, all the big studio Oscar-bait films had been pushed back into December. I mean, how are mere movies going to compete with that cast? "Obama. Biden. McCain. And Sarah Palin as Jaws."
Last year's Oscar-winner, "No Country for Old Men," played the Toronto Film Festival in early September, the New York Film Festival in early October, and began opening around the country November 9. The critics groups split between "NCFOM" (NY) and "There Will Be Blood" (LA, National Society), which was a 2008 release in much of the country.
This year, it's anybody's guess. "Slumdog Millionaire"? "Milk"? "WALL-E"? Something that hasn't won a critical consensus honor yet? (Right now my hunch is that the National Society of Film Critics will wind up going for either "The Wrestler" or "Wendy and Lucy." Just a hunch.)
UPDATE: The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, bestower of the Golden Globules, has announced its nominations... and even with a total of ten best picture slots (in Drama and Comedy/Musical categories) it overlooked "Milk," "The Wrestler" and "The Dark Knight," all of which seem to me like fairly obvious Globuley-Oscary pictures. Sean Penn, Mickey Rourke and Heath Ledger all got acting nods, though. Go fig.
There will be lots to see between now and New Year's Eve -- and I still haven't caught up with "Milk," "Happy-Go-Lucky," "I Loved You So Long," "Ballast," "Rachel Getting Married," "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" -- all of which have already opened theatrically. Still to come: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Nixon/Frost," "Revolutionary Road," "The Reader," "The Wrestler," "Doubt," "Seven Pounds"... none of which, however, have made much of an impact with critics groups.
The East Coast and West Coast critics have agreed on a few things here and there: Sean Penn in "Milk," Sally Hawkins in "Happy-Go-Lucky," Penelope Cruz in "Vicki Cristina Barcelona," "Man on Wire" for documentary, but... well, see for yourself:
Los Angeles Film Critics Association
Picture: "WALL-E" Runner-up: "The Dark Knight"
Foreign language film: "Still Life" Runner-up: "The Class"
Documentary film: "Man on Wire" Runner-up: "Waltz With Bashir"
Animated film: "Waltz With Bashir"
Q. Didja notice "Bummy's Diner" in "Changeling" (where the kid to be exploited as Jolie's "son" is first seen with the drifter in DeKalb)? I just about cried when I saw that most appropriate of tributes -- and better yet, it's vintage 1920s signage on an exterior set that is itself a tribute to Bummy's school of authentic design. All of which makes this moment (see photo) one of the happiest encounters of my lifetime. Just under eight months later, Henry was gone.