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

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Don't Think Twice

Mike Birbiglia's beautiful, sneakily profound comedy shows a world where "Yes, and ... " is the default.

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Star Trek Beyond

The Star Wars-ification of Star Trek continues; better than the others, but still not good enough.

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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.

#268 January 7, 2016

Sheila writes: Happy New Year! In the wake of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," I came across a video put together by violinist Taylor Davis, where she plays the famous themes from John Williams' original score, both "light" and "dark." Arranged, orchestrated and performed by Davis, it's a fun and rousing celebration of the possibilities inherent in that music. Have a look!

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Days of Ebertfest: The 2013 schedule

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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.

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Something's Gonna Live: Classic movies by design

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"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.

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A Master Emerges: Conrad Hall and "The Outer Limits"

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• "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.)

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Avatar and Oscar again raise thequestion: What is cinematography? (Part 1)

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.

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Siskel & Ebert at the Jugular

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."

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My Cap'n, Dusty Cohl (1929 - 2008)

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.

Lovesya.

(Please see Roger Ebert's personal memories of Dusty -- and more photos -- here.)

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