The Farewell Party
High drama and lowbrow, morbid humor get stitched together in this successful tragicomedy about terminal patients and assisted suicide. Works better than expected.
* 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.
A preview of Ebertfest 2015.
An interview with film critic Matt Fagerholm.
This reposted article from The Dissolve is an October 2014 installment of its series, "The Last Great Movie I Saw."
Passes for Ebertfest 2015 will go on sale Saturday, November 1st.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports on the 2014 Ebertfest, including appearances by Oliver Stone & Spike Lee.
Mark your calendar for April 23–27, 2014 and get your pass while they last.
Anath White reflects on Haskell Wexler's short film "The Bus" (which you can watch at the end of the essay).
PRESS RELEASE: CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Terrence Malick's 1978 film "Days of Heaven" won an Oscar for best cinematography, and Roger Ebert likely found that no surprise. It is "above all one of the most beautiful films ever made," Ebert said in a 1997 review. So it's only appropriate that the film will open the 15th annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival on April 17 in the big-screen, newly renovated Virginia Theater in downtown Champaign.
"Something's Gonna Live" (78 minutes) is available via iTunes, Amazon Instant, and DVD.
Architecture's loss was the movies' immeasurable gain. Robert Boyle, Albert Nozaki and Henry Bumstead, classmates at the University of Southern California in the 1930s could not find jobs in their studied profession. They wound up at Paramount Studios, where, as production designers and art directors, they set the stage for some of the movies' most indelible images.
Boyle designed Alfred Hitchcock's "Saboteur," "Shadow of a Doubt," "North by Northwest," "The Birds," and "Marnie." And those are the just the Hitchcock credits. Bumstead earned Academy Awards for his contributions to "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Sting." He received nominations for his work on "Vertigo" and "Unforgiven." Tokyo-born Nozaki was the art director on "The War of the Worlds" and "The Ten Commandments," for which he was nominated for an Academy Award.
• "The Outer Limits" (original series) is available on Netflix (DVD), Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video. • "In Cold Blood" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray) and Amazon Instant Video. • "Cool Hand Luke" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray) and Amazon Instant Video. • "American Beauty" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray) and Amazon Instant Video. • "Road to Perdition" is available on Netflix (DVD and Blu-ray).
by Jeff Shannon Eyes Wide Open: A Single Artist's Vision
Ask anyone who's devoted their life to the study and appreciation of movies and they can probably tell you exactly when they were "bitten by the movie bug," that moment of personal epiphany that sparked an all-consuming passion for what is arguably the greatest, most powerful medium of artistic expression.
In my case, it was Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" that literally changed my life. That's an influential milestone I share with many cinephiles who came of age in the 1950s and '60s, especially those "movie brats" (among them James Cameron, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg) who were drawn to imaginative visions of the future. Because I'd spent most of my childhood outdoors or casually enjoying Disney films and other kid-friendly fare, I didn't see Kubrick's visionary masterpiece until it played a return engagement at Seattle's glorious Cinerama Theater, in 1971, when I was nine years old.
(With its huge, curved Cinerama screen, the Cinerama is still the only theater in Seattle capable of showing "2001" as Kubrick intended. It exclusively hosted the film's original 77-week Seattle run beginning in April 1968, and the fully restored 70-millimeter print of "2001" had its world premiere there, appropriately enough, in 2001, two years after the aging cinema was purchased and beautifully renovated by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. It's now one of only three theaters in the world -- along with the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles and the Pictureville Cinema in Bradford England -- equipped to exhibit three-panel Cinerama, requiring three synchronized projectors for the only seven films created in the three-strip Cinerama process, including 1956's "This Is Cinerama" and 1962's "How the West Was Won." Starting this week [Sept. 30th] and running through mid-October, Seattle's Cinerama is hosting a "70mm Festival" of 15 films, including "2001," that originally premiered there.)
Like no other film before it, "2001" opened my eyes to the power of a single artist's vision and led me to understand the supremacy of a great director. I didn't know it then, but I'd discovered the basis of auteur theory, and while it would be foolish to deny that film is (to echo that award-acceptance cliché) the most collaborative of all art forms, it's no contradiction to embrace the Kubrick quote that greets all visitors to kubrickfilms.com, Warner Bros.' authorized Kubrick website: "One man writes a novel. One man writes a symphony. It is essential for one man to make a film." (Disregard "man"; Kubrick would've been the first to include female filmmakers in his statement.)
Imagine the headline: "Up" Wins Oscar for Best Cinematography. That's essentially what happened Sunday night, but the movie was "Avatar." "Up" won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. "Avatar" won for Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography. Realistically, "Up" and "Avatar" should have also have competed in a new category -- something like Best Computer-Assisted Animation. It's past time to acknowledge the difference between cinematography -- the photographic process that involves capturing light through a lens -- and animation or green screen work that involves compositing digital images in a computer. Both can be extraordinarily impressive. Let's just agree to call them by their right names.
What does it feel like to resemble the Phantom of the Opera? You learn to live with it. I've never concerned myself overmuch about how I looked. I got a lot of practice at indifference during my years as the Michelin Man.
Yes, years before I acquired my present problems, I was not merely fat, but was universally known as "the fat one," to distinguish me from "the thin one," who was Gene Siskel, who was not all that thin, but try telling that to Gene:
"Spoken like the gifted Haystacks Calhoun tribute artist that you are."
"Haystacks was loved by his fans as a charming country boy," I observed.
"Six hundred and forty pounds of rompin' stompin' charm," Gene said. "Oh, Rog? Are those two-tone suedes, or did you step in some chicken shit?"
The real Phantom: Lon Chaney in 1925
"You can borrow them whenever you wear your white John Travolta disco suit from 'Saturday Night Fever,'" I said.
"Yeah, when are you gonna wear it on the show?" asked Buzz the floor director. "Enquiring minds want to know."
"He wanted to wear it today," I said, "but it's still at the tailor shop having the crotch taken in."
"Ba-ba-ba-boom !" said Buzz.
"Here's an item that will interest you, Roger," Gene told me one day, paging through the Sun-Times, his favorite paper, during a lull in the taping of our show. We taped in CBS Chicago's Studio One, home of the Kennedy-Nixon debate.
"It says here, the Michelin Man has been arrested in a fast food court in Hawaii for attempting to impersonate the Pillsbury Dough Boy."
By Roger Ebert
View image Cap'n Dusty Cohl aboard his Floating Film Festival in 2002: Larger than life, then as now. (photo by jim emerson)
Dusty Cohl was a tall man and an even taller character. Larger than life? Absolutely. And he made my life feel larger just knowing him.
Ten years ago, in February of 1998, I first met Dusty aboard his Floating Film Festival. An invitation had been extended to me via Roger Ebert to join the FFF as one of its critic-programmers. (I had the honor of presenting the world premiere of my best friend Julia Sweeney's "God Said 'Ha!'" that year, and will present her latest film monologue, "Letting Go of God," aboard the FFF next month.) I didn't quite know it at the time, but legend has it that Dusty and his wife Joan -- who met most of the programmers (Roger, Richard and Mary Corliss, Kathleen Carroll) at the Cannes Film Festival in the 1970s -- started the FFF after Cannes, and later the Toronto International Film Festival (which Dusty co-founded), got too big and too busy for them to see all their friends, including their fellow Torontonians George and Gail Anthony, Barry Avrich, Bill Ballard and so many others. The Floater was Dusty's way of bringing them all together. On a boat. With movies. And food. And sun. And booze. And cigars. It was and always will be known as Dusty's party.
View image Haskell Wexler photographs Dusty Cohl on the 2002 Floater. (photo by jim emerson)
My first year, I had just turned 40 and immediately became known to Dusty as "Kid." I called him "Cap'n" forever afterwards. But as welcome and accepted as he and Joan made me feel from the get-go, I guess I found his outsized persona somewhat overwhelming or intimidating: I always seemed to be doing something exceptionally awkward (even for me) around him, like walking into walls or getting lost or sticking my foot in my mouth. Many people thought of him as a big kid, but to me he would always be a Big Kid.
Everybody wanted to please Dusty. His approval could light you up inside. My fellow FFF programmers and I noticed that Dusty's smooth and potent blend (as in Crown Royal, the blended Canadian whiskey that was his favorite only drink) of brusqueness and warmth was perfectly expressed in the term he always used with us when signing off a communication -- whether an e-mail or a phone call: "Lovesya."
So long, Cap'n.
(Please see Roger Ebert's personal memories of Dusty -- and more photos -- here.)
Nobody ever seemed to know what Dusty Cohl did for a living. He was a lawyer, and it was said he was "in real estate," but in over 30 years I never heard him say one word about business. His full-time occupation was being a friend, and he was one of the best I've ever made.
Some of the best things I've read about Ingmar Bergman's place in cinema, written since his death (UPDATED 8/01/07):
E-mails to Roger Ebert from filmmakers and writers including David Mamet, Paul Schrader, Sally Potter, Haskell Wexler, Paul Theroux, Richard Linklater, Gregory Nava, Studs Terkel, David Bordwell, David Gordon Green, Paul Cox...
Gregory Nava: This was not the escapist fare of Hollywood, or the pat spirituality of Biblical epic films where God spoke in hallowed tones from a burning bush. With Bergman, God was a spider that lived in the upstairs closet! A shocking and necessary jolt to my Catholic sensibilities. Yes, these films changed me forever -- they cemented my dream to become a filmmaker because if film could do this -- then surely it was the greatest art form of our time. I will never forget the first time I saw the horses standing in the surf against a setting sun, and death with his black cape raised approaching the world-weary knight. "I hope I never get so old I get religious." -- Ingmar Bergman
Peter Rainer, Los Angeles Times: He worked out of his deepest passions and, for many of us, this made the experience of watching his films seem almost surgically invasive. He pulled us into his secret torments. Looking at "The Seventh Seal" or "Persona" or "Cries and Whispers," it's easy to imagine that Bergman, who died Monday, was the most private of film artists, and yet, no matter how far removed the circumstances of his life may have been from ours, he made his anguish our own.
Another way to put this is that Bergman -- despite the high-toned metaphysics that overlays many, though not all, of his greatest films -- was a showman first and a Deep Thinker second. His philosophical odysseys might have been epoxied to matters of Life and Death, of God and Man, but this most sophisticated of filmmakers had an inherently childlike core. He wanted to startle us as he himself had been startled. He wanted us to feel his terrors in our bones. A case could be made that Bergman was, in the most voluminous sense, the greatest of all horror movie directors.
"If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up!" -- Bergman actor Max von Sydow, in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters"
View image Woody Allen's "Love and Death": A Bergman (and Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy...) parody from someone who loved Bergman.
Roger Ebert, RogerEbert.com: What he saw as God’s refusal to intervene in the suffering on earth was the subject of his 1961-63 Silence of God Trilogy, “Through a Glass Darkly,” “Winter Light” (a pitiless film in which a clergyman torments himself about the possibility of nuclear annihilation) and “The Silence.” In his masterpiece “Persona,” (1967), an actress (Liv Ullmann) sees a television image of a monk burning himself in Vietnam, and she stops speaking. Sent to a country retreat with a nurse (Bibi Andersson), she works a speechless alchemy on her, leading to a striking image when their two faces seem to blend.
So great was the tension in that film that Bergman made it appear to catch in the projector and burn. Then, from a black screen, the film slowly rebuilt itself, beginning with crude images from the first days of the cinema. These images were suggested by a child’s cinematograph which his brother received as a present; so envious was Ingmar that he traded his brother for it, giving up his precious horde of 100 tin soldiers.
WEB EXCLUSIVE -- UPDATED 8/2/07: Roger Ebert has received these e-mail observations about the death of Ingmar Bergman:
Interview with L. Ullmann (1975)
Movies 101: Opening Shots Project Introduction
I still have plenty of excellent Opening Shots submissions to edit and post -- and I'm doing my best to get frame grabs to accompany them whenever I can. (Quiz answers coming soon, too.) To no one's surprise, "Star Wars" (1977) has been the most popular nomination -- and for good reasons. But do keep 'em coming. I think of new brilliant opening shots every day, so if your initial ideas have already been mentioned, keep thinking. (Or, if you'd care to add to the discussion of a particular shot, Comments have supposedly been enabled on certain posts -- though I have to approve 'em first.)
A few notes about terminology, just so we can be sure we're all speaking the same language:
shot: a continuous image on film, from the time it begins (when the camera is rolling) until a cut (or fade out or dissolve) takes us to the next image. Sometimes the word "take" -- as in continuous shot -- is used interchangeably, although it is more specifically used to refer to one of several attempts to "get" a certain shot during filming. The editor often chooses between several takes of a given shot, and may cut them into shorter shots, or inter-cut different takes with other shots.)
pan: when the camera pivots horizontally, usually on a tripod. If a shot is strictly a pan, the camera does not move from its location, it just swivels -- as if you were standing still and turning your head. It can, of course, be used in various combinations with any of the other techniques below. The opening shot of "Psycho" is a simple pan. Later, a zoom and a crane shot are used in the opening sequence.
tilt: like a pan, but a vertical movement rather than a horizontal one. The camera does not "pan" up the exterior of a skyscraper from a position on the sidewalk across the street; it "tilts" up. The last shot of Robert Altman's "Nashville" is a simple tilt up to the empty sky.
dolly shot: a shot in which the camera actually moves -- usually when mounted on a dolly or a crane, and often on tracks which have been put down to ensure a smooth-gliding and precise movement.
tracking shot: sometimes used interchangeably with "dolly shot," but technically a shot where the camera moves with, or "tracks," another moving object in the frame -- whether from above, below, ahead, aside, or behind. (See opening shot of "Birth" -- which also appears to use a crane and a Steadicam.)
crane shot: a movement where the camera is mounted on a crane (and sometimes a dolly as well), usually to rise above, or descend to, the scene of the primary action. Lots of movies end with crane shots that raise up on a crane and sometimes dolly back at the same time (think of "Chinatown" or "Silence of the Lambs").
handheld shot: any shot in which the camera operator simply holds the camera manually, whether standing in one place or moving around within the scene. Often characterized by a certain shakiness that we're used to experiencing as more immediate, immersive, or documentary-like than a solid, mounted camera, which can feel more detached and "objective."
Steadicam shot: a Steadicam is a gyroscopic device that, as its name indicates, can be used to eliminate the shakiness of handheld shots for a smoother, more fluid movement -- as if the camera is floating on air. (See "Halloween" for a dazzling example.) In a landmark shot at the beginning of Hal Ashby's "Bound for Glory" (photographed by Haskell Wexler), the Steadicam operator is actually on a crane and lowered to the earth, where he steps off and continues the shot at ground level.
zoom: a zoom lens is simply a sliding telephoto lens that smoothly enlarges or reduces the size of objects in the frame optically, like looking through a adjustable telescope. The camera doesn't necessarily move (though it sometimes does that at the same time), but appears to magnify or decrease whatever it's looking at. As you zoom in on something, the image appears to "flatten." (Recall the famous shot of Omar Sharif riding toward the camera across the desert in "Lawrence of Arabia" -- he never really seems to get any closer because of the long telephoto lens that is used.) The dizzying "Vertigo" effect (after Hitchock's innovation in that film) involves dollying in and zooming out at the same time (or vice-versa) -- an effect employed memorably in a shot of Roy Scheider on the beach when a shark is sighted in "Jaws."
PARK CITY, Utah – Most of Ashley Judd ‘s biggest hits have been thrillers, but most of her very best work has been in closeup character studies. That was true of her first film, “Ruby in Paradise,” and it’s true again of “Come Early Morning,” the story of a small-town woman whose pattern is to get drunk, sleep with a guy she picks up in a bar, and make a quick getaway the next morning.
Roger Ebert's best movie lists from 1967-present
April 20 - 24, 2005
April 20 - 24, 2005