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Lucy

Scarlett Johansson is an intriguing blank in Luc Besson's "Lucy," which is stranded somewhere between a stranger-in-a-strange-land action thriller and apocalyptic science fiction.

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Hercules

Dwayne Johnson tries, but he’s surrounded by poor CGI and a terrible adaptation of yet another comic book. Ian McShane steals what little movie there…

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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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* 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.

These guys make Guy Ritchie's career all the more insignificant

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I was recently on a plane from Chicago to Seattle and Guy Ritchie's "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" (2011) was playing. I didn't watch it (to paraphrase "Night Moves": "I saw a Guy Ritchie movie once...") but every time I looked up at the screens, the same thing would happen: The action would speed up and slow down within individual shots. In the days of film, you might call it overcranking and undercranking, but this was digital. You remember "The Matrix." It was all very 1999.

Shortly thereafter I saw this video (and many others) by Genki Sudo / World Order. I find their movements, accomplished with their bodies in real time and not with camera tricks, mesmerizing (robot moves aside, reminiscent of David Byrne's "Once in a Lifetime") and somehow quite moving. They're getting at something profound about the rhythms of technology and biology and modern rituals. And, as a side effect, they make Guy Ritchie's directorial career look all the more insignificant.

L to R: Takashi Jonishi, Yusuke Morisawa, Ryo Noguchi (chief choreographer), Genki Sudo (vocal, producer & director, retired Ultimate Fighter), Masato Ochiai, Akihiro Takahashi, Hayato Uchiyama.

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#114 May 9, 2012

Marie writes: Intrepid club member Sandy Kahn discovered the following Danish designers "Monstrum" who make extraordinary playgrounds for children. I think they're the stuff of dreams, whatever your age. Indeed; behold the Rahbek kindergarten in Frederiksberg, Denmark, and Monstrum's first playground...

The Rocket and The Princess Tower! "Just like a set design, a playground must have an inspiring front that attracts children, and a functional backside with climbing, sliding and relaxing options. The idea of the playground is to combine a girl's mind with a boy's approach into one big common playground. The princess tower consists of three floors, and the rocket has two floors. From the top floor of the Rocket, you can slide down the 6 m long double slide together with an astronaut friend." (click to enlarge.)

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#88 November 9, 2011

The Grand Poobah writes: Unless we find an angel, our television program will go off the air at the end of its current season. There. I've said it. Usually in television, people use evasive language. Not me. We'll be gone. I want to be honest about why this is. We can't afford to finance it any longer.

To read the full story, visit "The Chimes at midnight" on the Blog.

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#85 October 19, 2011

Lesson for the day: How to have fun while wasting time... Marie writes: welcome to DRAW A STICK MAN, a delightful Flash-based site prompting viewers to draw a simple stick figure which then comes to life!  Ie: the program animates it. You're given instructions about what to draw and when, which your dude uses to interact with objects onscreen. Thanks go to club member Sandy Kahn who heard about it from her pal Lauren, in Portland Oregon.Note: here's a screen-cap of what I drew; I've named him Pumpkin Head.

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TIFF 08: The omnivore's dilemma

How to plan my Toronto schedule when there are a few dozen movies screening every day and I want to keep from knowing much of anything about them before I see them, so that I can (as much as humanly possible) avoid preconceptions, false expectations, artificial festival "buzz," and other distractions that have little or nothing to do with what's on those screens? (See last year's accounting: "What did I know and when did I know it?")

The first thing I look for are the names of directors whose work I'm interested in following (or whose work I think I would like to follow). This year, for example, Danny Boyle, Kevin Smith, Rod Lurie and (as previously mentioned) Guy Ritchie all have films in this year's festival -- which, in my case, leaves more room to accommodate movies by directors I like. Not only for megastar filmmakers like the Dardennes and the Coens, but for Terence Davies ("The Long Day Closes"), Rian Johnson ("Brick"), Ramin Bahrani ("Chop Shop"), Katherine Bigelow ("Blue Steel"), Jerzy Skolimowski ("Deep End"), Kelly Reichardt ("Old Joy"), Michael Winterbottom ("A Cock and Bull Story" -- who makes two or three movies a year, it seems)... Those parenthetical titles, of course, are earlier films by these filmmakers. I don't even remember most of the titles from this year yet, because I haven't seen the movies. I've just been circling times and places on my screening schedule.

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TIFF 08: The waiting-for-it-to-start post

Oh, I have plenty to write about. Some of it even about TIFF, which officially kicks off Thursday. But I have to get up early to get to the first press screenings Wednesday morning. They start, auspiciously, with the new Guy Ritchie film, "Rocknrolla," at 9 am. (That's 6 am real time.) So, that means I can sleep in at least until 9:30 or 10. On the other hand, it would be nice to cover some films that probably won't get wider distribution. Ritchie sure fits that bill.

Meanwhile, Bloor Street looks like Gitmo (new construction!) and all Torontonians want to talk about is the governor of Alaska -- either with great concern or great disdain. (The Canadians have been openly laughing at us, nervously, for eight years.)

The movies will surely offer a welcome respite from the horror-comedy of the world at large right now...

Nighty-night. Be seeing you.

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The BJ

That's the way they're promoting the British heist movie "The Bank Job" -- on the web, anyway. The Flash ads say "The BJ," and then the B and the J move around and spell out the title. Gets your attention, I guess. This follows a catchy set-up slogan that says, "Somebody's Getting Royally Screwed!" Just to put you in a susceptive frame of mind.

Anyway, my review of "The Bank Job" is at RogerEbert.com. Here's an excerpt: A serviceable B-grade British heist movie, “The Bank Job” is no worse than its generic title. And no better. It front-loads the naughty sex and back-loads the plot twists (the titular crime takes place in the middle), but apart from the prominence of Princess Margaret in the subterfuge, it’s a pretty routine job, as the use of the hackneyed phrase “plot twists” earlier in this sentence should indicate.

“The Bank Job” begins with a quick time-shuffle of the sort to which modern audiences have become accustomed. It starts in 1970 in the Caribbean. Literally in it. Brief shots of sub-aquatic toplessness are followed by a quick-and-blurry tropical fornication montage and a little retro-voyeuristic shutterbugging. Next, it’s East London in 1971 and some hoods are making violent threats against a stubbly car shop dealer named Terry Leather (Jason Statham). Then it’s three weeks earlier and...

You know the drill. At first you think Guy Ritchie might be rolling in his grave — only he’s not dead, just his career. That’s the kind of cheap shot you have plenty of time to think about as this movie grinds through its laboriously disjointed exposition....

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