"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.
Tom Shales looks at "Carson on TCM," a weekly series of shows culling great Carson interviews.
"As film exhibition in North America crowds itself ever more narrowly into predictable commercial fodder for an undemanding audience, we applaud those brave, free spirits who still hold faith with the unlimited potential of the cinema." - Roger
After watching Tim Burton's remake of "Planet of the Apes" (2001), I concluded there was no need for another "Ape" movie to ever be made. Thirty-three years of progress in makeup technology didn't help the latter version become any better than the one that inspired it. That's why, hearing there would be a "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" a decade later, I had no expectations and feared the worst, but the results were pleasantly surprising. We often associate the word "remake" with a lack of creativity so when an exception turns out, it's important to look back and try to understand the reasons behind this.
Happy New Year from the Ebert Club!TRAILERS
19th Annual Chicago Underground Film Festival
Marie writes: I have no words. Beyond the obvious, that is. And while I'm okay looking at photos, the video.... that was another story. I actually found myself turning away at times, the suspense too much to bear - despite knowing in advance that he's alive and well and there was nothing to worry about. The bottom of my stomach still fell out...
(click images to enlarge)
Don Siegel's "Dirty Harry" (1971) may not be the greatest film of Clint Eastwood's career but its title character is certainly the one that best defines it. Looking back, it's hard to imagine it took five years for such an acclaimed picture to arrive here in Mexico. Censorship wasn't common in those days but there was something about "Harry." The only other feature that I can recall getting a similar treatment was "Two Minute Warning" with Charlton Heston. Both dealt with mad snipers on the loose so my guess is that someone decided it was better not to give anyone ideas.
Describing Steve James' "The Interrupters," I might sound like I'm talking about some dry public heath study. The centerpiece of the film is a profound theory on human nature. Science and philosophy aside, "The Interrupters" is the closest thing to a real-life superhero origins story that any of us might ever experience. This film is exactly that: a superhero origins documentary. It might be the most powerful movie I have ever seen.
There's nothing quite like the movies if you want to learn what people's hopes and dreams were during the period in which they were made. Take for instance the recent "Up in the Air". In the present when air travel has turned into something to be endured, George Clooney's Ryan Bingham showed us how it can become an enticing way of life. The same subject was also portrayed extensively, under a very different light, some forty years as the "Airport" movies dealt with our fears of dying in new and horrible ways, while glamorizing our dreams of flying first-class, surrounded by a movie star in every seat. As the trailer for one of these features once put it: "on board, a collection of the rich and the beautiful!" They also marked the advent of a new genre (the Disaster Film) as well as the "Ark movie" which Ebert's Little Movie Glossary defines as "mixed bag of characters trapped in a colorful mode of transportation". How many films can claim to this kind of impact?
One of my earliest and most memorable movie going experiences was Franklin Schaffner's 1968's "Planet of the Apes". It was presented in my grade school's Cine Club (sort of a small film festival that played one different, semi-recent movie every Saturday during a period of about a month). For weeks prior to the showing I was mesmerized by the publicity artwork which depicted a caged Charlton Heston being repressed by a gorilla. As an eight year old the movie originally struck me purely as a horror piece but it is the other "little things" that still compel me to write about it after all these years.
What's more, I believe "Planet of the Apes" with all of its different incarnations: original classic, sequels, remakes and TV adaptations, makes for a wonderful example of cinematic "dos and don'ts" At a glance the first entry in the series may seem like just another monster movie but this is hardly the case. It's too bad neither the majority of the filmmakers involved in the sequels, nor Tim Burton in his remake, were ever able to figure this out.
"Beware of artists - they mix with all classes of societyand are therefore most dangerous." ~ Queen Victoriastencil by Banksy, British graffiti artistAnd who inspired a recent film about art...
Dear Club Members;When last I heard, the Grand Poobah was dashing out the door to catch a flight to Cannes, France. One can assume the plane landed safely as he's still Tweeting. :-)
O'Rourke's was our stage, and we displayed our personas there nightly. It was a shabby street-corner tavern on a dicey stretch of North Avenue, a block after Chicago's Old Town stopped being a tourist haven. In its early days it was heated by a wood-burning pot-bellied stove, and ice formed on the insides of the windows. One night a kid from the street barged in, whacked a customer in the front booth with a baseball bat, and ran out again. When a roomer who lived upstairs died, his body was discovered when maggots started to drop through the ceiling. A man nobody knew was shot dead one night out in back. From the day it opened on December 30, 1966 until the day I stopped drinking in 1979, I drank there more or less every night when I was in town. So did a lot of people.
Jay Kovar and Jeanette Sullivan behind the bar
View image Roger Ebert at the 2007 Toronto Film Festival. (photo by jim emerson)
In the middle of the week, while I was away at the Conference on World Affairs so beloved by Roger Ebert, I got my first e-mail (via Treo) from Roger since he underwent his latest surgery January 24. He said he was "Back in the saddle." The next e-mail, hours later, contained an obit/tribute for Charlton Heston and Richard Widmark. Ebert does not waste time.
Sunday's New York Times features a appreciation of Roger's return by A.O. Scott who, as he so often does with movies, gets right to the heart of his subject ("Roger Ebert: The Critic Behind the Thumb"): For his loyal readers Mr. Ebert’s resumption of reviewing (April 1 happened to be the 41st anniversary of his debut in The Sun-Times) is a chance to pick up an interrupted conversation. For those who labor beside or behind him in the vineyards of criticism it is an incitement to quit grousing and pick up the pace.
Not that any of us could hope to match his productivity. Nor could we entertain the comforting fantasy that the daunting quantity of the man’s work — four decades of something like six reviews a week, as well as festival reports, learned essays on classic films and the occasional profile — must entail a compromise in quality. As A. J. Liebling said of himself, nobody who writes faster can write better, and nobody better is faster. The evidence is easy enough to find: in the Web archive, in his indispensable annual movie guides and in a dozen other books.
Recently we lost two American actors who embodied widely different styles, and their passing is a reminder that the very presence of an actor can suggest everything about a film.
Do you like them on a boat?
"Barry Lyndon" opens with a bang.
Any good movie -- heck, even the occasional bad one -- teaches you how to watch it. And that lesson usually starts with the very first image. I'm not talking necessarily about titles or opening sequences (they're worth discussing, too -- but that's another article); I'm talking about opening shots. As those who have been reading Scanners (and my Editor's Notes on RogerEbert.com) know, two of my cardinal rules for movie-watching are:
1) The movie is about what happens to you while you watch it. So, pay attention -- to both the movie and your response. If you have reactions to, or questions about, what you're seeing, chances are they'll tell you something about what the movie is doing. Be aware of your questions, emotions, apprehensions, expectations.
2) The opening shot (or opening sequence) is the most important part of the movie... at least until you get to the final shot. (And in good movies, the two are often related.)
The opening shot can tell us a lot about how to interpret what follows. It can even be the whole movie in miniature. I'm going to talk about some of my favorites, and how they work, and then request that you contribute your own favorites for possible publication in future Scanners columns.
1924: Born April 3, in Omaha, Neb., of Dutch-Irish descent, the youngest of three children of a salesman and an amateur actress. 1938: Enrolls in Libertyville High School as a freshman. 1944: Makes his Broadway debut as the teenage son in the hit "I Remember Mama." 1946: Is named Broadway's most promising actor after he plays a World War II veteran in "Truckline Cafe." 1947: Creates his landmark portrayal of Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" on Broadway. 1950: Makes his film debut in Fred Zinnemann's "The Men," as a paralyzed war veteran. 1952: Receives his first Oscar nomination for "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951). 1955: After losing three consecutive Oscar bids ("Julius Caesar" and "Viva Zapata!"), finally wins for "On the Waterfront" (1954). 1961: Makes his directorial debut on "One-Eyed Jacks," widely regarded as a disaster at the time. 1963: Participates in civil rights march in Washington, D.C., with Charlton Heston, Harry Belafonte, James Baldwin and other luminaries. 1966: Buys a private island off the Pacific coast and lives there off and on for the next three decades. 1972: Is forced to audition for the role of Don Corleone in "The Godfather" because of his diminished reputation in Hollywood. It would become his defining performance. 1973: Rejects the best actor Oscar for "The Godfather" (1972) to protest the treatment of Native Americans and sends Sacheen Littlefeather to the ceremony to make a speech on his behalf.
Q. As someone who was at the Kodak Theatre on Sunday, believe me there were more than five loud people who booed Michael Moore that night (as he claims). (Ziggy Kozlowski, Los Angeles)
TELLURIDE, Colo.--At some point early in his life, Michael Moore must have found himself wearing a baseball cap, a windbreaker, and a shirt hanging outside his jeans, and decided he liked the look. That's what he was wearing when I met him at the Telluride Film Festival in 1989, and that's what he was wearing here Saturday. It is also what he wears in "Bowling for Columbine," his new documentary film, when he goes calling on K-Mart executives and Charlton Heston, the spokesman for the National Rifle Association. He is not necessarily wearing the same shirt and jeans, you understand. His closet must look a lot like Archie's and Jughead's, with rows of identical uniforms. The clothes send a message: Here is a man of the people, working-class. He may be on television but he is not of television. In his films, he is a huge hulking presence at the edge of the screen, doggedly firing questions at people who desperately wish they were elsewhere. His face is usually in shadow because of the baseball cap.
TORONTO--There is a moment in "Bowling For Columbine" when Michael Moore is at a loss for words for perhaps for the first time in his life. The moment comes at the conclusion of one of the public psychodramas he has become expert in staging, in which he dramatizes evildoing (as defined by Moore) in the way calculated to maximize the embarrassment of the evildoer.
TELLURIDE, Colo. -- "This is the world premiere of a movie made in 1957," director Peter Bogdanovich said in introducing the first public screening of Orson Welles' restored "Touch of Evil" here Sunday. And in a sense, he was right.
Q. When you were talking to Charlton Heston on TV as he arrived at the Oscars, you asked about the possibility that "Titanic" could beat "Ben Hur's" record for number of awards. He made a decent point: Any comparison between the two epics would be unfair because there are now more Oscar categories than when "Ben Hur" was released in 1959. If that's the case, then those declaring "a tie" between the films are wrong. (L. D. Paulson, Sacramento, CA)
My first memory, when I heard that David Bradley was dead, was of him drop-kicking a footstool across the living room. Bradley, 77, who died Dec. 19 in Los Angeles, was one of the legendary eccentrics of the film world, irascible and beloved. He launched the career of Charlton Heston, amassed one of the great private film archives and toasted the survivors of silent films at his legendary New Year's Day parties.
LOS ANGELES--Kenneth Branagh's "Hamlet" is one of those grand gestures that restores your faith in the flexibility and imagination of the movies. When so many films seem to march lockstep through versions of the same proven formulas, here's one that takes on perhaps the most enigmatic character in literature, and surrounds him with every single word of "Hamlet"--a play so often cut that many people have never seen it as Shakespeare wrote it.