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Office Christmas Party

Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…

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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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* 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.

#134 September 19, 2012

Marie writes: Intrepid club member Sandy Kahn came upon the following recipe and wisely showed it to me, so that I might share it in turn with all of you. Behold the morning chocolate cookie - a healthy breakfast treat loaded with good stuff; like fiber and imported French chocolate.

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Life as a poker game

"Maverick" starts with the protagonist in the middle of nowhere. He helplessly sits on a horse; his neck is at the end of a noose tied to a tree branch. The men who put him in this vulnerable situation surround him. They drop a bag containing a snake and ride away. If the horse bolts, Bret Maverick dies. It is one of the most attention-grabbing opening scenes in film.

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Lives across a great divide

May Contain Spoilers

Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon" didn't make a splash when it opened here in Mexico, and it's not the kind of feature that's ever shown on our TV, so hardly anybody I know has even heard about it. It's not an easy movie to describe. When people ask me about its subject, I say something like "It's about a group of people from Los Angeles living in despair who end up feeling better when they all get together and visit the Grand Canyon." Most of them seem to loose interest but the response of those who do see it is mostly overwhelming.

Watching "The Tree of Life" brought "Grand Canyon" to mind. The films couldn't be more different, but both deal with a search for a deeper meaning in our existence-- a sense of helplessness in trying to place ourselves in the grand scheme of things. They also lack defined plots or conventional structures.

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#53 March 9, 2011

Marie writes: every once in a while, you'll stumble upon something truly extraordinary. And when you don't, if you're lucky, you have pals like Siri Arnet who do - and share what they find; smile."Using knives, tweezers and surgical tools, Brian Dettmer carves one page at a time. Nothing inside the out-of-date encyclopedias, medical journals, illustration books, or dictionaries is relocated or implanted, only removed. Dettmer manipulates the pages and spines to form the shape of his sculptures. He also folds, bends, rolls, and stacks multiple books to create completely original sculptural forms.""My work is a collaboration with the existing material and its past creators and the completed pieces expose new relationships of the book's internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception," he says. - mymodernmet

[click images to enlarge]

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"Moozlums" have been here for a long time

May Contain Spoilers

Qasim Basir presents his first feature film, "Mooz-lum," featuring Danny Glover, Nia Long, and Roger Guenveur Smith. Based on true events, it follows the story of Tariq (Evan Ross, son of Diana Ross) as he begins college, hoping to escape his childhood struggles. Estranged from his mother and sister, he spent his youth living at times with a strict, religious father and at times in a local madrassa (Islamic seminary). He is a Muslim college student, enrolling in the Fall of 2001. Simply, it is a story of a man trying to hide from the boy within him, just as all hell is about to break loose.

The movie opens nationally on Friday, 2/11. The title is a play on a common mispronunciation of "Muslim." I shrug when President Obama, despite his childhood in Indonesia, pronounces the term as "Muz-lem," though that is still better than the archaic "Moslem." The point here is not that anyone is intentionally mispronouncing the name. Rather, those of us with Muslim names

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CIFF 2010: Our capsule reviews

• Bill Stamets and Roger Ebert

The 46th Chicago International Film Festival will play this year at one central location, on the many screens of the AMC River East 21, 322 E. Illinois. A festivalgoers and filmmakers' lounge will be open during festival hours at the Lucky Strike on the second level. Tickets can be ordered online at CIFF's website, which also organizes the films by title, director and country. Tickets also at AMC; sold out films have Rush Lines. More capsules will be added here.

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"The Messenger" discussed by Omar Moore of London and San Francisco

May Contain Spoilers

Hello, I'm Omar Moore. I was born and raised in London, where I grew up before moving to New York City with my parents. After branching out in the Big Apple on my own for a number of years, I moved west to San Francisco. I love America and its promise. We all need to do our small part to make this great country even better for all. Where a film is concerned, it is never "only a movie." Images mean something. They have unyielding power and influence, whether in "Birth of A Nation", "Un Chien Andalou", "Night Of The Hunter", "Killer Of Sheep", "Persona", "Psycho", "A Clockwork Orange", "Blazing Saddles", "Straw Dogs", "Soul Man", "Chameleon Street", "Do The Right Thing", "Bamboozled" or "Irreversible". A filmmaker generally doesn't put images in a film if they are meaningless.

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TIFF #8: The protest: A change of mind

I'm writing this the day after first posting this entry. I now regret it. The point I make about artists is perfectly valid but I realize I wasn't prepared with enough facts about the events leading up to the Festival's decision to showcase Tel Aviv in the City-to-City section. I thought of it as an innocent goodwill gesture, but now realize it was part of a deliberate plan to "re-brand" Israel in Toronto, as a pilot for a larger such program. The Festival should never have agreed to be used like this. It was naive for the plan's supporters to believe it would have the effect they hoped for. The original entry remains below. The first 50 or so comments were posted before these regrets.

¶ The tumult continues here about the decision to spotlight Tel Aviv in the City-to-City sidebar program of the Toronto Film Festival. The protesters say the festival is thereby recognizing the "apartheid regime" of Israel. The controversy shows no sign of abating, and indeed on Tuesday it was still big news in the Toronto newspapers, with the Star's front page featuring lineups of those opposing the TIFF decision (including Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Viggo Mortenson, Julie Christie and Danny Glover) and those supporting it (including Jerry Seinfeld, David Cronenberg, Sasha Baron Cohen, Lenny Kravitz, Lisa Kudrow and Natalie Portman).

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1 Julianne Moore + 1 Mark Ruffalo + 1 movie:Putting them all together

View image Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo in Fernando Meirelles' "Blindness."

To supplement the discussion below about acting on film ("Bardem, Ledger and the truth about movie acting"), here's a translated excerpt from the blog of Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles ("City of God," "The Constant Gardener") about the editing of his new film "Blindness," starring Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Gael Garcia Bernal, Danny Glover and Sandra Oh.

This is as concise and valuable a primer on editing and acting as I've seen anywhere.

First Meirelles explains the rough assembly, the loose draft of the film that's usually put together by the editor while the film is still shooting: "This kind of assembly is just putting all the scenes together as they were written in the script. Even if a certain scene did not work out as we planned when we shot it, it will still appear in this rough assembly. (This does not include the scenes that were embarrassing beyond all doubt; some things are better off forgotten.)"

Note that Meirelles is not saying that his actors have flat-out failed, but that certain scenes just don't work and should be tossed right away, if possible. Eventually, after whittling down an assembly of three or four hours (or more) into, say, a 160-minute cut, the challenge may become one of reducing that to around two hours: And at this stage, when you succeed in diagnosing and locating where are the exact problems in the script or its cinematic interpretation, you can... change the design of certain characters, to make the acting more precise and logical than it was in the actual filming of the movie. (That’s why the best advise I can give an actor who wants to develop his career: suck up to the editor. Bring him chocolate, or flowers – if it is a woman editor. Even expensive wine, if your acting was exceptionally weak this time).

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CIFF: All our capsule reviews

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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.

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