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Nightcrawler

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

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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…

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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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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…

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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.

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Female Pleasure Is the Real TV Taboo; Blue Is the Warmest Controversy; Condescending to Vincent Price; Why Journalists Should Learn to Code; an MFA writing workshop for the Bible.

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Why sequels never die; Harper Lee settles her lawsuit; a magazine for the working girl; end-of-life plans; a resurgence of New England's wildlife; Germany's Christian Democrats' unfortunate logo; "The Future With Love" trailer.

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Into the Great Big Boring

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When I was a child I was taught that it was unacceptable to call something -- a movie, a song, an activity -- "boring" because: 1) it doesn't make sense (a thing can't be boring, unless perhaps it is a drill bit; a person feels bored); and 2) it's indefensible, since the quality of "boringness" cannot be isolated or identified as an element of the thing itself; it's a feeling and it is yours).

So, saying something is "boring" is not exactly like saying something in a movie is "funny" or "moving" -- though, again, I'd prefer to place the responsibility for a response on the "feeler" rather than on the object -- because at least you can describe how something is presented or intended to be received as humorous or touching, even if you don't think it is. (Yes, there are exceptions to that, too.) I mean, a joke or a gag or an emotional situation can be objectively analyzed, but there are no agreed-upon cultural standards for evaluating "boring."¹

"Boring," I believe, is more like the word "entertaining" -- too vague to be of much use in a critical vocabulary. So, I might say I found something about a movie "tedious" or "engaging" or some other thesaurus word, but I'll attribute the emotion to myself and my taste, and even then not without a serious attempt to describe what I'm talking about, and to give at least one specific example.²

But now, "boring" is hot, at least in overheated Interwebular film criticism circles, since the publication of Dan Kois' New York Times Magazine piece called "Eating Your Cultural Vegetables," in which he says:

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"I can respect the stupidity of people who think that speed is beauty," agrees Paul Cox

The Australian film director Paul Cox, spoke to a group of students earlier this afternoon. While I 've met Cox a few times before at the annual Ebertfest in Champaign-Urbana, IL, I'd never heard him speak freely to a crowd and was interested in what would be said. Paul enters in casual clothes and walks to the seat in front of the class, unfolds a few pages of yellow papers full of scribbly handwriting and begins speaking in a soft, slow, accented voice.

The title of the speech is "Invent not Imitate," encouraging our generation to break the rules and push the limits. So at first, of course, I'm into it. Slowly, the speech turns from an encouraging nudge towards originality and prioritizing values, to a pretty full blown revolutionary anarchist speech. There is a pessimistic rant about the lack of genuineness and how many artists are "rubbish," specifically at this film festival. Cox rags on any one who even considers the nearby Monaco Grand Prix and car racing relevant or acceptable, and then stomps on organized religion, ex-president Bush, fashion and films like "Pulp Fiction." A student in the crowd asks Paul if there was anything he thought was worth doing, seeing or knowing about and beyond Cox's personal hero, Vincent Van Gogh and some rural Aboriginal tribes with which he'd spent time. It seemed he was not.

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410 East Washington Street

I was born at the center of the universe, and have had good fortune for all of my days. The center was located at the corner of Washington and Maple streets in Urbana, Illinois, a two-bedroom white stucco house with green canvas awnings, evergreens and geraniums in front and a white picket fence enclosing the back yard. Hollyhocks clustered thickly by the fence. There was a barbeque grill back there made by my father with stone and mortar, a dime embedded in its smokestack to mark the year of its completion.

There was a mountain ash tree in the front yard, and three more down the parking on the side of the house. These remarkable trees had white bark that could be peeled loose, and their branches were weighed down by clusters of red-orange berries. "People are always driving up and asking me about those trees," my father said. He had planted them himself, and they were the only ones in town--perhaps in the world. They needed watering in the summertime, which he did by placing five-gallon cans under them with small holes drilled in their bottoms. These I carefully filled with the garden hose from the back yard, while making rainbow sprays over the grass around.

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Sarah Silverman is a genius (still)

I'm posting this not just because I'm (still) in love with Sarah Silverman (though I am), and not just because she's a genius (though, of course, she is), and not just because of the overt political humor in this short film (though The Great Schlep is an inspired idea), but because of how it relates to recent Scanners posts about comedy and understanding what the joke is. (See posts and discussions regarding "Tropic Thunder," "Juneau," and David Foster Wallace.)

So, please watch the above movie and then provide your interpretation of it, by considering my questions after the jump...

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David Foster Wallace on David Lynch

The apparent suicide of David Foster Wallace, shockingly sad and disturbing as the sudden death of Heath Ledger earlier this year, has me revisiting my memories of his writing. I know him from his short stories and nonfiction -- never tackled "Infinite Jest," even though I bought it in hardback when it was first published. I won't put off reading it much longer.

From Premiere magazine, September, 1996: "David Lynch Keeps His Head," anthologized in "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments":

13. WHAT EXACTLY DAVID LYNCH SEEMS TO WANT FROM YOU

MOVIES ARE AN authoritarian medium. They vulnerabilize you and then dominate you. Part of the magic of going to a movie is surrendering to it, letting it dominate you....

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David Foster Wallace, 1962 - 2008

From a commencement address by the late David Foster Wallace at Kenyon University, May 21, 2005:

There are these two guys sitting together in a bar in the remote Alaskan wilderness. One of the guys is religious, the other is an atheist, and the two are arguing about the existence of God with that special intensity that comes after about the fourth beer. And the atheist says: "Look, it's not like I don't have actual reasons for not believing in God. It's not like I haven't ever experimented with the whole God and prayer thing. Just last month I got caught away from the camp in that terrible blizzard, and I was totally lost and I couldn't see a thing, and it was fifty below, and so I tried it: I fell to my knees in the snow and cried out 'Oh, God, if there is a God, I'm lost in this blizzard, and I'm gonna die if you don't help me.'" And now, in the bar, the religious guy looks at the atheist all puzzled. "Well then you must believe now," he says, "After all, here you are, alive." The atheist just rolls his eyes. "No, man, all that was was a couple Eskimos happened to come wandering by and showed me the way back to camp."

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Film criticism: It's not just a job, it's an adventure

View image Glenn Kenny's blog: Bought and paid for.

What if you had a full-time job that you could get done in less than 40 hours a week? I've never really had one of those, but I've rarely had a 9 to 5 job, either. Most of my gigs (the ones I've really liked, whether writing for a daily newspaper or walking and boarding dogs) have averaged more than "full time" because the hours are not fixed -- that is, they are always in flux, somewhere between "flexible" and "unpredictable." In part, they involve being constantly "on call" -- available for unforeseen events. Drop everything: The death of a famous filmmaker requires a career-spanning obit/ tribute/ appreciation right now! A beagle with diarrhea demands comparably urgent attention, and a Great Pyranees with the same problem compels quick, decisive action no matter what hour of the day or night it is. There's no such thing as overtime (or "time off," really, either). That comes with the job.

At Zero for Conduct, film critic and former Village Voice staffer Michael Atkinson asserted the following about those whose job it is to cover the movie front: I'd love to see every magazine employ an army of full-time culture reviewers, and pay them millions, but it doesn't make very much sense, for the simple reason that it's not truly a full-time job....

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