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Love Is Strange

The emotions unleashed by "Love Is Strange" are enormous. It is a patient and, ultimately, transcendent film.

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The Expendables 3

If you’re over 40, this is your “The Avengers.” As slavishly devoted to the old action films of Sly and company as any Marvel Universe…

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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.

#169 May 29, 2013

Marie writes: Every once in while, I'll see something on the internet that makes me happy I wasn't there in person. Behold the foolish and the brave: standing on one of the islands that appear during the dry season, kayacker's Steve Fisher, Dale Jardine and Sam Drevo, were able to peer over the edge after paddling up to the lip of Victoria Falls; the largest waterfall in the world and which flows between Zambia and Zimbabwe, in Africa. It's 350 feet down and behind them, crocodiles and hippos can reportedly be found in the calmer waters near where they were stood - but then, no guts, no glory, eh? To read more and see additional photos, visit "Daredevil Kayakers paddle up to the precipice of the Victoria Falls" at the DailyMail.

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From Seattle, with free refills

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"The Off Hours" is now available on most on-demand platforms including Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and most major-cable services. NOTE: The film is not available through DirecTV. It will be released on DVD in January and will premiere on Hulu and Netflix later in 2012.

by Jeff Shannon

There's never been a better time for filmmaking in the Pacific Northwest. Running the entire spectrum from filmgoers and critics to actors, writers and production talent aplenty, the Seattle film community has always been close-knit and cooperative, and its D.I.Y. resourcefulness has resulted in a slow but steady rise of intermingling talent. (Full disclosure: Several of the creative people mentioned below are casual Facebook acquaintances of mine.) Ten years ago and earlier, you were lucky if your micro-budgeted project got finished and accepted by festivals, and for several years it seemed like the Native American drama "Smoke Signals" (written by Northwest author Sherman Alexie and distributed by Miramax in 1998) would be Seattle's only claim to a locally-produced breakout success.

Undeterred, Seattle's film community continued to percolate like the coffee that stereotypically defines "The Emerald City" for most of the outside world. Abundant indie-film projects, and the passions that fueled their creation, have led to a natural progression of experience and expertise, and this year alone the Sundance film festival hosted four films shot in Washington state. When you consider the local history that led us from "Gas City" (an obscure, no-budget 1978 slacker drama shot among the aging motels and nightspots of Seattle's Aurora Avenue) to the international success of director Lynn Shelton's "Humpday" (2009), it's no wonder that Seattle has become the Northwest's answer to Austin, Texas: A film- and music-loving city (per capita, Seattleites are still the nation's #1 moviegoers) where independent filmmakers can find the talent, resources, and community support to foster their projects from start to finish. Indeed, "Start-to-Finish" is the name of an innovative program, introduced by the Northwest Film Forum in 1998, designed to select and co-produce films with the goal of national and global exposure. Canadian alt-auteur Guy Maddin found NWFF so appealing that he came here to shoot his 2006 film "Brand Upon the Brain!," now available on DVD from the Criterion Collection (and photographed by the gifted Benjamin Kasulke -- see below).

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Detour: the guilty soul of film noir

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The Ebert Club is pleased to share this classic film noir, streaming free. I invite you to join the Club and dive into an eclectic assortment of wonderful and curious finds. Your subscription helps support the Newsletter, the Far-Flung Correspondents and the On-Demanders on my site. - RE

"This movie from Hollywood's poverty row, shot in six days, filled with technical errors and ham-handed narrative, starring a man who can only pout and a woman who can only sneer, should have faded from sight soon after it was released in 1945. And yet it lives on, haunting and creepy, an embodiment of the guilty soul of film noir. No one who has seen it has easily forgotten it." - From my Great Movies review

Detour (1945) Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Written by Martin Goldsmith and Martin Mooney. Starring Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake, Edmund MacDonald and Tim Ryan.

Synopsis: Al is a piano player who sets off hitchhiking his way to California to be with his fiancee. Along the way a convertible driven by Charles Haskell Jr. stops to pick him up. Al is driving while Haskell sleeps when a rainstorm begins and Al pulls over to put up the top. Haskell doesn't wake up and falls out onto the pavement, dead. Al dumps the body, takes Haskell's money, clothes and ID, then drives off in Haskell's car. In voice-over, Al tells the audience that he didn't kill Haskell. After spending the night in a motel, Al picks up another hitchhiker. As it happens, Vera had earlier ridden with Haskell and blackmails Al by threatening to turn him in for murder unless he gives her the money. Note: At the age of 86, Ann Savage was cast by director Guy Maddin to play a shrewish mother in the film My Winnipeg (2007).

For more treasures, go here to join the Club.

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#93 December 14, 2012

Marie writes: If you're like me, you enjoy the convenience of email while lamenting the lost romance of ink and pen on paper. For while it's possible to attach a drawing, it's not the same thing as receiving hand-drawn artwork in the mail. Especially when it's from Edward Gorey..."Edward Gorey and Peter Neumeyer met in the summer of 1968. Gorey had been contracted by Addison-Wesley to illustrate "Donald and the...", a children's story written by Neumeyer. On their first encounter, Neumeyer managed to dislocate Gorey's shoulder when he grabbed his arm to keep him from falling into the ocean. In a hospital waiting room, they pored over Gorey's drawings for the first time together, and Gorey infused the situation with much hilarity. This was the beginning of an invigorating friendship, fueled by a wealth of letters and postcards that sped between the two men through the fall of 1969."

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Guy Maddin: Give him a hand!

Fandor is hosting a Guy Maddin Blogathon all week (September 19-23). As part of it, Fandor Editor-in-Chief Kevin B. Lee and Press Play's Matt Zoller Seitz have collaborated on a fascinating NSFW (silent film nudity!) video essay exploring Maddin's 2004 "Cowards Bend the Knee," which they say might be his masterwork: "It feels like a signpost work, a summary of his techniques and obsessions." A hockey player for the Winnipeg Maroons, Guy Maddin, whose aunt runs a combination beauty parlor and abortion clinic called the Black Silhouette, finds himself the victim of a sinister plot when his girlfriend becomes pregnant. You can watch the essay, "Cut Up in a Dream: Guy Maddin's Cowards Bend the Knee" above (listen closely to the pastiche of popular classics that serve as the musical score); or see the entire feature at Fandor.

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#59 April 20, 2011

Marie writes: Ever since he was a boy, photographer John Hallmén has been fascinated by insects. And he's become well-known for photographing the creatures he finds in the Nackareservatet nature reserve not far from his home in Stockholm, Sweden. Hallmén uses various methods to capture his subjects and the results are remarkable. Bugs can be creepy, to be sure, but they can also be astonishingly beautiful...

Blue Damsel Fly [click to enlarge photos]

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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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The heart of the world and other organs: The singular cinema of Guy Maddin

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•Hank Sartin of Time Out Chicago, Guy Maddin and Chaz Ebert at Ebertfest 2009. • • •Guy Maddin's films look like no others I have ever seen, so why do they remind me of something? Why do they feel like I've seen them before? How do they remind me of memories I don't have? • • •

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Ebert Presents at the Movies

Christy Lemire of The Associated Press and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of Mubi.com will be the co-hosts of "Ebert Presents at the Movies." The two experienced and respected critics will also introduce special segments featuring other contributors and the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Roger Ebert. The new weekly program debuts Jan. 21 on public television stations in 48 of the top 50 markets, representing more than 90% national coverage. It will be produced in Chicago at WTTW, where Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert began taping "Sneak Previews" some 35 years ago.

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The enigmatic case of the oddly persistent mystery writer

• • • Harry Stephen Keeler was the most prolific Chicago novelist of all time -- and perhaps the most forgotten, although perhaps we may have forgotten an even more forgotten novelist. Not even the devoted, even fanatical, members of the Harry Stephen Keeler Society claim significant fame for him.

Yet perhaps no published author in history has produced more convoluted, bizarre plots, one of them related entirely in dialog between two men stranded on a small river island, another concealing its denouement within a Sealed Page at the end.

I came upon Keeler by way of a mysterious e-mail advising me that he had started to Tweet from beyond the grave. I went to @HarrySKeeler. There I found such masterpieces of the Tweet form as these:

• "Cube steak so good," said the idiot blankly. "Like eat fat baby with juice."

• It was like trying to think about the square root of minus zero, or something.

• There is no paternal authority in a family where a woman is running it according to precepts laid down by quack Yogis.

• "He's not called 'Habeas Corpus Gottselig' for nothing," said Bob Landell grimly.

• Socko. Sqush. Right through the back of John's coco. He gurgles on his brew--and he's dead.

• And so--my poor son's head came forth out of the unknown--and then went, again, like--like a butterfly pausing on a mulberry leaf.

• "Guggle-oo--guggle-oo!" he choked gleefully, on his own saliva.

• And comparisons--comparisons odious!--were rearing themselves like impenetrable granite ghosts lined starkly along the fence of reason.

• My forehead was so corrugated that an Eskimo's fur coat, sprinkled with nothing but Lux, could have been washed on it.

There are many more gems, all mined from Keeler's vast lifework.

The go-to man on Harry Stephen Keeler is Richard Polt, whose admirable website offers a biography of the man, insights into the 75 worldwide members of the Society, downloadable texts of some of his novels, and a vast vault of his book jackets, of which I append only a few below. There are also coffee mugs, T-shirts, clocks, and even a Henry Stephen Keeler garment for your dog (S, M, L, XL, and 2XL).

Mr. Keeler exhausted the resources of two or three English language publishers, before continuing to publish in Spanish and Portuguese. When those outlets also dried up, he continued to write anyway. As the New York Times observed:

"We are drawn to the unescapable conclusion that Mr. Keeler writes his peculiar novels merely to satisfy his own undisciplined urge for creative joy."

Keeler received the distinction in 1995 of having one of his novels republished by McSweeney's magazine. Since then, several of his novels have been reprinted by Ramble House, as you can see by the Amazon links at the bottom. • • I know of two admirable websites that may satisfy your curiosity about this author:

Richard Polt maintains an extensive site for the The Harry Stephen Keeler Society, where I found the dust jackets below.

Here is a discussion of the Keeler archives. There is a large gallery of photographs, wherein I found the photo above of Keeler and his first wife, Hazel.

Please visit the YouTube link at the bottom for a short film based on a Keeler short story. • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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• Amazon.com Widgets

• •Three scans kindly sent to me by Guy Maddin: A key to the characters in Keeler's novel "The Iron Ring" • • • • •

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#14 June 9, 2010

From the Grand Poobah: Our Far-Flung Correspondent Gerardo Valero writes: During Ebertfest, Monica and I were able to shoot a few videos which I downloaded in you tube and which I think you all may enjoy. Since she was the one to shoot most of the panel videos; they mostly consist of my own participation but there's plenty of stuff for everybody (our multiple presentations, dinner at the Green Room and what have you) I apologize in advance for the quality of the material. I tell Monica she would be fired from filming a Bourne movie because her cinematography is too shaky. Go HERE to see all the videos.Marie writes: this one is my favorite!  Roger and Chaz at Stake n' Shake!

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Name That Director!

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Click above to REALLY enlarge...

UPDATED 01/28/10: 2:25 p.m. PST -- COMPLETED!: Thanks for all the detective work -- and special thanks to Christopher Stangl and Srikanth Srinivasan himself for their comprehensive efforts at filling the last few holes! Now I have to go read about who some of these experimental filmmakers are. I did find some Craig Baldwin movies on Netflix, actually...

Srikanth Srinivasan of Bangalore writes one of the most impressive movie blogs on the web: The Seventh Art. I don't remember how I happened upon it last week, but wow am I glad I did. Dig into his exploration of connections between Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" and Jean-Luc Godard's "History of Cinema." Or check out his piece on James Benning's 1986 "Landscape Suicide." There's a lot to look through, divided into sections for Hollywood and World Cinema.

In the section called "The Cinemaniac... I found the above collage (mosaic?) of mostly-famous faces belonging to film directors, which Srikanth says he assembled from thumbnails at Senses of Cinema. Many of them looked quite familiar to me, and if I'm not mistaken they were among the biographical portraits we used in the multimedia CD-ROM movie encyclopedia Microsoft Cinemania, which I edited from 1994 to 1998, first on disc, then also on the web. (Anybody with a copy of Cinemania able to confirm that? My Mac copy of Cinemania97 won't run on Snow Leopard.)

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TIFF #1: Darwin, Herzog, the Coens and the Antichrist

I've just finished combing through the list of films in this year's Toronto Film Festival, and I have it narrowed down to 49. I look at the list and sigh. How can I see six films a day, write a blog, see people and sleep? Nor do I believe the list includes all the films I should see, and it's certainly missing films I will see. How it happens is, you're standing in line and hear buzz about something. Or a trusted friend provides a title you must see. Or you go to a movie you haven't heard much about, just on a hunch, and it turns out to be "Juno."

Nicolas Cage in "Bad Lieutenant"

I can't wait to dive in. Knowing something of my enthusiasms, faithful reader, let me tell you that TIFF 2009's opening night is a film about the life of Charles Darwin. The festival includes the film of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road." And new films by the Coen brothers, Todd Solondz, Michael Moore, Atom Egoyan, Pedro Almodovar, Hirokazu Kore-Eda, Alain Resnais and Guy Maddin--and not one but two new films by Werner Herzog. Plus separate new films by the three key talents involved in Juno: The actress Ellen Page, the director Jason Reitman, and the writer Diablo Cody.

Okay, I've already seen two of those. They were screened here in Chicago (Page as a teenage Roller Derby in "Whip It," Cody's script for "Jennifer's Body," starring Megan Fox as a high school man-eater, and that's not a metaphor). I already saw more than ten of this year's entries at Cannes, including Lars on Trier's controversial "Antichrist," Jane Campion's "Bright Star," Gasper Noe's "Enter the Void," Almodovar's "Broken Embraces," Bong Joon-Ho's "Mother," Lee Daniels' "Precious," Mia Hansen-Løve's "The Father of My Children," and Resnais's "Wild Grass." A lot of good films there. Not all of them, but a lot.

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Movies that are made for forever

I have feelings more than ideas. I am tired, but very happy. My 11th annual film festival has just wrapped at the Virginia Theater in my home town, and what I can say is, it worked. There is no such thing as the best year or the worst year. But there is such a thing as a festival where every single film seemed to connect strongly with the audience. Sitting in the back row, seeing these films another time, sensing the audience response, I thought: Yes, these films are more than good, and this audience is a gathering of people who feel that.

Let me tell you about the last afternoon, the screening of a newly restored 70mm print of "Baraka." The 1,600 seats of the main floor and balcony were very nearly filled. The movie exists of about 96 minutes of images, music and sound. Nothing else. No narration. No subtitles. No plot, no characters. Just the awesome beauty of this planet and the people who live on it. The opening scene of a monkey, standing chest-deep in a warm pool in the snow, looking. Looking in a very long and patient shot, which invites us to see through his eyes. Then the stars in the sky above. "Baraka" is a meditation on what it means to be awake to the world.

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The best train set a boy could ever want

It's a good thing Ebertfest is no longer called the Overlooked Film Festival. One of my choices this year, "Frozen River," was in danger of being overlooked when I first invited it, but then it realized the dream of every indie film, found an audience and won two Oscar nominations. Yet even after the Oscar nods, it has grossed only about $2.5 million and has been unseen in theaters by most of the nation.

Those numbers underline the crisis in independent, foreign or documentary films--art films. More than ever, the monolithic U.S. distribution system freezes out films lacking big stars, big ad budgets, ready-made teenage audiences, or exploitable hooks. When an unconventional film like "Slumdog Millionaire" breaks out, it's the exception that proves the rule. While it was splendid, it was not as original or really as moving as the American indie "Chop Shop," made a year earlier. The difference is, the hero of "Chop Shop" wasn't trying to win a million rupees--just to survive.

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Okay, already! I won't watch! Now are you happy?

I would like to apologize to CNN, MSNBC and Fox. I admit my guilt. I watched them on satellite TV. They told me not to. Every time I tuned in, they were advising me to visit their websites, visit them on Facebook, send them e-mails, join their chat rooms, post a comment, Twitter. Yada, yada, yada. I could even check when the polls closed in 49 states I don't live in, even though I voted early. I don't think it was sexual, but I grew alarmed every time Wolf Blitzer asked to Twitter me.

"I can't even take off my coat, and the man lies again!!!"

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Yes, but is it art, too?

(Continuing the discussion, "Yes, but is it art?):

I labeled the above short film ("close up") a critical essay / dream sequence, which is what I intended when I made it last fall. But pretend you saw it at a film festival or a gallery and were told it was a "found footage" composition by a filmmaker whose influences include, say, Bruce Connor, Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Luis Bunuel, Jean-Luc Godard, Dziga Vertov, and/or Guy Maddin. Would you perceive it differently, whether you thought it was any good or not?

What if you were told that it was a meditation on the intersection of the actor's gaze, the camera's gaze, and the gaze into the mirror; of the movies that have been implanted so deeply in our heads that they become part of us; of the human face as blank slate and reflection of thoughts and emotions; of the skull beneath the skin and the vanity of the flesh; of subconscious metamorphoses and/or stream-of-consciousness Surrealist dream-imagery? A densely interwoven montage of images that requires annotation and explanation to fully understand (you know, like Eliot's poetry)? Or a Surrealist experiment in the vein of "Un Chien Andalou," using only silent footage, scored to a multi-tracked collage soundtrack composed of excerpts from two symphonies by Gustav Mahler and stock sound effects?

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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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TIFF 2007: The Award-Winners

Roger Ebert with his "star" -- outside Dusty Cohl's annual Floating Film Festival Chinese dinner in Toronto. (photo by Jim Emerson -- with Kim Robesons's camera)

I've got several planes backed up on the runway (and by that I mean movies to write about lined up in my head) from this year's Toronto Film Festival -- plus a couple posts' worth of photos -- but for now, here are the official TIFF 2007 award winners. I'll have a list of the best of my fest soon. Now I gotta catch a plane...

Audience Award: "Eastern Promises" (David Cronenberg, Canada/USA). My review here. Roger Ebert's here. Runners up: "Juno" (Jason Reitman), "Body of War" (2008) (Phil Donohue and Ellen Spiro).

FIPRESCI International Critics Award: “La Zona” (Rodrigo Pia)

CityTV Award for Best First Canadian Film: "Continel, Un Film Sans Fusil" (Stephane Lafleur)

Artistic Innovation Award: “Encarnation” (Ahani Bemeri)

Diesel Discovery Award: “Cochochi" (Israel Cardernas and Laura Amelia Guzman)

Toronto City Award: "My Winnepeg" (Guy Maddin)

Roger Ebert's dispatch about all the TIFF 2007 awards is here.

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