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Guardians of the Galaxy

In many respects, “Guardians,” directed and co-written by indie wit James Gunn, and starring buffed-up former schlub Chris Pratt and Really Big Sci-Fi Blockbuster vet…

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War Story

Director Mark Jackson’s drama is a chilly study in grief starring Catherine Keener as a war-zone photographer shattered by her experiences in Libya.

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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.

Seduced by Sonoma

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As Roger Ebert noted in February, film festivals have become so ubiquitous that there's almost certainly one within driving distance of most film fans in the US. And lots of them are sprouting world-wide. Three years ago, I'd pitched Roger with an "FFC" piece on the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. He advised that I provide a sense of the town and its atmosphere, the people, as well as what the festival itself was like.

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The 2013 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (by way of Oklahoma)

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Seasonal anticipation: as 2013 debuted, many were feeling it. The 28th iteration of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, aka "SBIFF," was on the wind, with jazzed moviegoers soon to converge elbow-to-elbow in a familiar, even familial, and happy bustle on downtown's State Street.

I was among the excited, as this would be my third year covering the festival. And for me, extra sweetening would be provided by the tribute to Daniel Day-Lewis, the oft-reticent acting genius whose reanimation of Abraham Lincoln seemed certain to bring another Best Actor Academy Award -- his 3rd, making him the only actor to surpass Marlon Brando, who received 2.

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#131 August 29, 2012

Marie writes: It's that time of the year again!  The Toronto International Film Festival is set to run September 6 - 16, 2012. Tickets selection began August 23rd. Single tickets on sale Sept 2, 2012. For more info visit TIFF's website.

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#116 May 23, 2012

Marie writes: I've never seen this done before - and what an original idea! Gwen Murphy is an artist who breathes new life into old shoes, transforming them from fashion accessories into intriguing works of art. Thanks go to club member Cheryl Knott for telling me about this. (Click to enlarge.)

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How to Win an Academy Award

The Academy Award winners for the past thirty years have followed consistent molds, primarily in the categories of Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Picture. It is a very simple set of templates that I will explain with excessive evidence. This is not to say that the Academy Awards are a conspiracy run by some secret society, although that idea would be quite fun. Rather, at the very least, there is a subtext to American culture that plays out in the ideas and ideals in American cinema, and it plays out consistently. At the very least, I'm illustrating some unwritten ideals in American culture. Whether or not they are healthy or corrupt, they are there in us. So, "Best Picture" is not a great movie; rather, it is a great movie that fulfills the mold.

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#62 May 11, 2011

Marie writes: allow me to introduce you to Travel Photographer, founded by Chris and Karen Coe in 2003 and their annual contest "Travel Photographer of the Year".After years spent working in the travel industry as a professional photographer and finding it was mostly conventional images making it into print, Chris decided to create a way to showcase great travel photography and broaden people's perception of what it can encompass - namely, that it can be much, much more than a pretty postcard image.The contest is open to one and all; amateur and professional photographers compete alongside each other. Entrants are judged solely on the quality of their photographs. There's a special competition to encourage young photographers aged 18 and under; Young Travel Photographer of the Year. The youngest entrant to date was aged just five, the oldest 88. The competition is judged by a panel of photographic experts, including renowned photographers, picture buyers, editor and technical experts.And the 2010 winners have now been announced. Here's a few random photos to wet your appetite - then you can scroll through the amazing winners gallery!

Enal is around 6 years old and knows this shark well - it lives in a penned off area of ocean beneath his stilted house in Wangi, Indonesia. Photo: James Morgan, UK (Portfolio Encounters: Winner 2010)  [note: click images to enlarge]

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The Unwritten Rules of Oscar

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Shhhhhh. Don't tell a soul. Close Oscar-watchers (and Academy insiders) know that what you are about to read is true -- but few like to talk about these things. When it comes to picking Oscar winners, you can study the stats of Oscars past in search of patterns and clues, but there are certain influential paradigms that defy and transcend conventional statistical analysis.

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Uncommonly good

Are these the nominations for the 76th annual Academy Awards, or more winners from Sundance? This year’s nominations, announced early Tuesday, showed uncommon taste and imagination in reaching beyond the starstruck land of the Golden Globes to embrace surprising and in some cases almost unknown choices. It’s one of the best lists in years.

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Buzz proves to be honest guide

PARK CITY, Utah--Now the buzz has taken over, and I am seeing mostly good, sometimes great, films. You open the Sundance catalog on the first day of the festival and choose your films for the first weekend, and after that you go where the buzz sends you, because audiences are always honest.

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Sundance holds great promise

PARK CITY, Utah--I have just spent an hour with the 2003 program for the Sundance Film Festival, and I am churning with eagerness to get at these films. On the basis of track records, this could be the strongest Sundance in some time--and remember, last year's festival kicked off an extraordinary year for indie films.

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Wrong movies? These aren't

PARK CITY, Utah I spend a lot of my time at the Sundance Film Festival being told I am at the wrong movie. Think how I felt when "Saving Grace," a comedy set in Cornwall and starring Brenda ("Secrets and Lies") Blethyn made this year's top distribution deal of $4 million, and a local TV station asked me what I thought about it. "Saving who?" I asked.

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Telluride earns trust of film fans

The autumn movie season begins for me on the night when the curtain goes up on the first screening at the Telluride Film Festival. After a long summer of special effects, explosions, stabbings, shootings, gross-out comedies, supernatural mystifications, horror stories and movies about the alarmingly sophisticated sex lives of teenagers, September brings relief.

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Movie Answer Man (06/06/1999)

Q. I ask you to think about one issue with "Star Wars -- Episode I: The Phantom Menace." Look at how George Lucas portrays women in this film. It's pretty backward. The main female character, the Queen, spends the entire film making cumbersome costume changes, even at true heights of danger. Is this a good model for women leaders today, let alone in the future? Her attendants have equally vapid things to do, like walk around with blank stares in orange bathrobes--no weapons allowed. Jabba the Hutt is once again surrounded by his harem of female stereotypes and two other female aliens (blue ones with head appendages) are seen giving a manicure to the kid's opponent in the chariot race. Great role models, eh? Later we briefly see two female fighter pilots, but they come out of nowhere and smack of tokenism. Further, until Lucas actually blows up a female fighter pilot in one of his films, we know he'll never view them as equals. (Dave Monks, San Francisco)

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Cannes winners a strange crew

CANNES, France -- The survivors of the 52nd Cannes Film Festival met at the Nice airport on Monday like applicants for an emergency airlift. The carnage of the awards ceremony was still fresh in our minds. A jury led by the Canadian director David Cronenberg had produced a list of awards so peculiar that it is safe to say no one understood it except Cronenberg -- and perhaps some, but not all, of his jury members. "Perverse," Variety called the verdict.

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Candid Cannes

CANNES, France -- One year I arrived in Cannes a little early, two days before the festival was scheduled to begin, and watched the waiters on the famous terrace of the Carlton Hotel as they loaded the good furniture into trucks and unloaded the weather-beaten rattan that I had come to know and love.

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Movie Answer Man (03/14/1999)

Q. I'm puzzled by the seeming moral indifference to the subject matter of "8mm." The "snuff film" theme seems to have barely raised any eyebrows (yours included), in sharp contrast to the recent uproar surrounding "Lolita." Why is the latter considered untouchable, while the former attracts an audience outwardly apathetic to its much darker subject? (George Patrice, DeKalb, IL)

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Movie Answer Man (02/08/1998)

Q. I was watching "Godfather II" the other day and remembered that the scene with Vito sitting on the steps with his family, after he has killed Fannuci, was originally intended to lead into an intermission, which was scrapped somewhere along the way. I'm pretty sure James Cameron never intended on having an intermission for "Titanic," but let's pretend the studio asked you, an up and coming editor, to find a place to insert one. Even though you know it was wrong and that Cameron would surely kill you, where would you have put an intermission? (Frank Mendez, Dallas, TX.)

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Cannes all winners

The Festival International du Film, held annually in Cannes, France, has become the world's most prestigious film festival—the spot on the beach where the newest films from the world's top directors compete for both publicity and awards.

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On the road with Jodie Foster

O ver a period of five days I interviewed Jodie Foster twice about her new film "Nell." The first time, in New York, was for television, and she supplied the smooth sound bites she'd been performing all morning for dozens of visiting interviewers. The second time, in Chicago, was for print, and we talked for more than two hours.

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Triumph For 'Schindler'

LOS ANGELES -- Everyone expected Steven Spielberg and his great film, "Schindler's List," to dominate the 66th annual Academy Awards here Monday night, and they did - with seven Oscars, including best picture and director. But there was no sense of anticlimax; it was one of the most thrilling nights in Oscar history. As academy members rose for two standing ovations, they were obviously moved by Spielberg's triumph.

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Oscar will finally pay its respects to Spielberg

For years, the word around Hollywood has been that Oscar voters have some kind of a grudge against Steven Spielberg. He makes good movies and he makes popular movies, and sometimes he makes both at the same time, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has never awarded its best director award to the most successful director in history.

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