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Goodbye to Language

Jean-Luc Godard's latest free-form essay film may be, more than anything else, a documentary of a restless mind.

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The Great Invisible

Winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Prize for Documentary, the film is strongest when it focuses on the micro rather than the macro. How the…

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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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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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What they say and what they mean

"I much prefer the kind of story where the reader is left wondering who's to blame until it begins to dawn on him (the reader) that he himself must bear some of the responsibility because he is human and therefore infinitely fallible." -- Richard Yates

"Madame Bovary, c'est moi." -- Gustave Flaubert

A follow-up to my previous post on "Revolutionary Road":

I'm reading Blake Bailey's 2003 biography of Richard Yates, whose "Revolutionary Road" and "The Easter Parade" are among the novels I hold dearest. It's called "A Tragic Honesty," and I think Yates would hate the title. But maybe there are layers to it that I haven't yet discovered. I'm only up to 1959 and, despite a lifetime of alcoholism, emphysema, bipolar depression and a host of other physical and mental troubles, Yates survived until 1992. Perhaps the notion of "tragic honesty" is illustrated below, in Yates' sharp observations about the interplay between story and character in his own work and that of artists he admired. They're applicable to just about any narrative form:

"Another thing I have always liked about ["The Great Gatsby"] and ["Madame Bovary"]," he wrote, "is that there are no villains in either one. The force of evil is felt in these novels but never personified -- neither novel is willing to let us off that easily." [...]

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