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



Freeheld stumbles over too many hurdles to recommend it. The film’s heart is in the right place, but its focus is not.



Cassel’s latest movie that smartly keeps his innate menace on a slow, low simmer, isn’t nearly as convincing or compelling as its star.

Other Reviews
Review Archives

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…


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
Other Articles
Blog 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.

Thumbnails 8/28/15


"Belle" explains white America's response to racism; Tarantino on "The Hateful Eight"; The bravery of Emmett Till's uncle; In praise of the imperfect photograph; John McNaughton on "The Harvest."

Continue reading →

#202 January 15, 2014

Sheila writes: David Bowie was born on January 8, 1947 (he shares the day with Elvis Presley, two of the biggest RCA artists in their respective generations), and to celebrate Bowie here's a fun "info graphic" on the evolution of the artist through his various ages.

Continue reading →

Thumbnails 11/11/2013


What "Berkeley" teaches us; the latest Cruise kerfuffle; how selling out saved indie rock; SpongeBob SquarePants goes both ways; we are all plagiarists.

Continue reading →

Some of the year's best documentaries


Here is a collection of a dozen of the best documentaries I saw in 2012. It's not a "best of the year" list. Just some good memories of these films.I will not burden you again with another complaint about lists. More than ever, I despise them because they shift focus away from a film and toward a list. When I recently caught up with "Django Unchained," for example, I gave it four stars. The comments section was overrun with readers asking if that meant it was now on my Top Ten list. One reader insisted on knowing which title it replaced. Although the piece was some 2,000 words long, another reader insisted he still wanted to see "my official review."

Continue reading →

The Tale of Two Cetis

We know that "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" (1982) is the best of all of the "Star Trek" movies. I am not stating anything new here. The rest of the series of films struggled to repeat the mastery of this film, and the reboot has also fallen short, thus far. I did, however, watch Star Trek 2 recently to see if the overlooked "Star Trek: First Contact" was able to take the helm as the Best of the Treks. In the process, however, I realized that Star Trek 2 is a much better movie than I remembered. I invite everyone to watch this movie again to appreciate how great it really is. This is a great movie. It is exciting. It is complex. It is emotional and philosophical. It is one of the great adventure movies.

Continue reading →

Phil Ochs: All the news that's fit to sing


"Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune" plays Monday, January 23, at 10 pm EST/PST on PBS American Masters. It will thereafter be available via PBS On Demand, and is currently on Netflix Instant and DVD.

"Mistakes are lodged like harpoons and fish hooks in an intelligent person's soul," says one friend of political folk singer Phil Ochsof the deep depression that eventually led him to suicide in 1976. Och's friends are like that, eloquent and insightful. His mentor Pete Seeger, in particular, speaks like he sings, modulating his voice to give anecdotes a mythic luster and heartbreaking resonance. But after watching "Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune" take a measure of the man's adult life, it seems that some friends put too much emphasis on generic therapist's reasons for his downward spiral -- schizophrenia, alcoholism, declining popularity. It seems that Phil Ochs' fall was inevitable, given the fact that his singing career began when he was barely out of his teens, when JFK's assassination was a couple years off, and crashed after every progressive movement for which his protest songs provided spiritual fuel was crushed.

This is not a standard pop star rise-and-fall story. Ochs was physically involved in the antiwar and social justice movements he sang along with. He headlined, organized and even spontaneously showed up at a staggering number of rallies for various causes. His investment was evident in his performances, presented here with shocking audiovisual fidelity. Even though it's captured on a black-and-white kinescope, a performance of his song "When I'm Gone" feels as clear and urgent as a live event. So, too, is his strumming and crooning at the 1964 Newport Music Festival. (Simply amazing sound and image restoration here.) The sonorous voice and wide, earnest eyes could just as easily belong to a Wall Street occupier serenading Zuccoti Park.

Continue reading →

The rose that grew from concrete

If we are to believe some of his many fans, then Tupac Shakur was never murdered. Rather, he is today living a quiet life, perhaps playing chess under quiet New Zealand clouds with Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley. And while Lauren Lazin bookends her documentary, "Tupac: Resurrection," with his murder, the movie takes us through the turbulent world that formed and informed his biography. The movie convinces us that we have entered not only his mind, but his heart.

Continue reading →

Fest explodes with great films


TORONTO — First the long windup. Then the fast pitch. The Toronto International Film Festival, always front-loaded, exploded over the weekend with movies day and night, all over town, every audience movie-savvy, every theater selling bran muffins right next to the popcorn, thousands of volunteers in their blue T-shirts like a jolly welcoming committee. Never a frown, and believe me, we moviegoers test them plenty.

Continue reading →

Arthur C. Clarke: Star hero

No teenager could possibly have hurried more eagerly to an Elvis Presley concert on that day in the late 1950's when I led a delegation of the Urbana High School Science Fiction Club to attend a speech on the campus of the University of Illinois. The speaker was Sir Arthur C. Clarke, our hero not only for his great science fiction, but also for such concepts as the triangulated space satellite and the "space elevator." The first has paid off already with global communication. The second is still seriously proposed as using infinitely strong strings of Buckyballs to link earth to a space station.

Clarke was erudite, witty, friendly, and signed all my books. It was years later that I met him in connection with his screenplay for "2001: A Space Odyssey," still the greatest of all science fiction films. And years after that when I began receiving reproaches from his home in Sri Lanka that he had not received his quarterly update to the Cinemania CD-ROM. Cinemania, edited by Jim Emerson (now editor of this site), linked reviews, info and bios of movie people with the reviews of such as Pauline Kael, Leonard Maltin and myself.

It was a brilliant idea and became for a time the top-selling consumer CD, but Bill Gates was correct that the future of CDs was on the Internet, as the Internet Movie Database so abundantly proves. Also, IMDb got its content for free, and Cinemania actually paid for its reviews.

I explained sadly to Sir Arthur why there was not and never could be another update of Cinemania, but he died at 90 still unconsoled, and still writing indignant notes to Gates.

He was the most diligent of Answer Man sources. Once one of my reader's complained that in the vacuum of space he should not have been able to hear a tiny "click" when the astro-stewardess grabbed a floating ballpoint pen.

Clarke invited two friends, one a space expert, the other a blind friend with acute hearing, to listen for the click. Just as he thought, he said, there was no click.

Clarke was in the great tradition of classic science fiction -- converted by his first sight of Amazing Stories magazines, welding hard science speculation to robust adventures, and adding some whimsy in the form of "Tales from the White Hart." He died convinced Bill Gates had made a big mistake in not keeping the Cinemania CD-Rom in print.

Continue reading →