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Mr. Turner

Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere"—which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love—yet…

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Annie

The new version of "Annie" is fashionably artificial and not very well directed, but its unabashed good cheer is very welcome.

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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.

Late-Night: Later Than You Think

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By Tom Shales

Jimmy Kimmel still comes across like a guy who crashed a party and got caught at it, yet adamantly refuses to leave. He has no real business being there -- hosting a late-night network talk show, that is -- and may even know in his dark little heart that he's out of his depth, but he's gotten away with it for ten years, so why pull out now? Since he's probably making $25 million a year or so, and ABC has agreed to underwrite the subterfuge, it's hard to imagine Kimmel voluntarily getting the hell out of Dodge.

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Beautiful people staring at each other

May Contain Spoilers

Sometimes, I just want to stare at beautiful people, even if they spend most of the movie just staring at each other. I think it's in the eyes, especially when the eyes are smiling. Sometimes, I just want to sigh, watching them longing for each other. Ashutosh Gowariker's 2008 film, "Jodhaa Akbar" let me do so, for three hours.

This Indian film is an unabashed epic that targets that greatest of all Indian epics, K. Asif's 1960 film, "Mughal-e-Azam" ("The Greatest of Mughals"). It is a prequel of sorts: "Jodhaa Akbar" tells us the story of the Mughal Emperor Akbar and his wife Jodhaa; "Mughal-e-Azam" is about their son, Jehangir. Like any other man of withering virility and receded hairline, I like beautiful things and beautiful people, and "Jodhaa Akbar" is loaded with carved reddish palaces, golden decorations, and silk scarves of every color. And beautiful people.

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The last days of Tiny Tim

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I first saw Tiny Tim very early in his career, in Greenwich Village in the winter of 1962-63. There was a convention of college newspaper editors, and a few of us -- I remember Jeff Greenfield coming along -- went to the Black Pusssycat and found ourselves being entertained by a man the likes of whom we'd not seen before. He was already locally popular.

In another year, Tiny Tim was famous. I believe no one remembers how famous. The Beatles asked him to sing "Nowhere Man" on a bootleg Christmas recording. He did a night at Royal Albert Hall. He was married to Miss Vicki on the Tonight Show, still one of the top-rated TV shows of all time.

I lived at the Sunset Marquis on Alta Loma, half a block down from Sunset, while I was writing "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls." Tiny Tim was a fellow resident, along with Van Heflin, Roy Scheider, Elaine May, Jackie Gayle and Harold Ramis. Tiny Tim kept very much to himself. The one or two times I saw him, he was polite and formal. The friendly all-night desk clerk confided, "I don't think he's much like you see on TV. He seems more serious."

He was very famous for a long time, and then faded from view. He continued to perform all the time. Money was not the object. Dare we speculate he simply loved the songs and the singing of them?

After the videos (there are dozens online), I've included much of the biographical essay by Wikipedia.

From Wikipedia:

Herbert Khaury (April 12, 1932 November 30, 1996), better known by the stage name Tiny Tim, was an American singer, ukulele player, and musical archivist. He was most famous for his rendition of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" sung in a distinctive high falsetto/vibrato voice (though his normal singing voice was in a standard male range). He was generally regarded as a novelty act, though his records indicate his wide knowledge of American songs. He had no official middle name, though some web sites report it to be "Butros", his father's first name, while during his televised wedding his middle name was given as "Buckingham". His headstone reads "Khaury/Herbert B/Tiny Tim/1932-1996".

Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Tiny Tim developed something of a cult following. In the 1960s he was seen regularly near the Harvard University campus as a street performer, singing old Tin Pan Alley tunes. His choice of repertoire and his encyclopedic knowledge of vintage popular music impressed many of the spectators. One admirer, Norman Kay, recalled that Tiny Tim's outrageous public persona was a false front belying a quiet, studious personality: "Herb Khaury was the greatest put-on artist in the world. Here he was with the long hair and the cheap suit and the high voice, but when you spoke to him he talked like a college professor. He knew everything about the old songs.

Between 1962 and 1966 Tiny Tim recorded a number of songs at small (almost microscopic) recording companies, with several of them being made as "acetates" and one actually released as a 45 record. These songs illustrate that even very early on he had a decided drive for success and was getting noticed in a positive way, despite his looks and unusual manner. However he also recorded one entire batch of songs that would come back to disastrously haunt him at the peak of his greatest fame.

Tiny Tim appeared in Jack Smith's Normal Love, as well as the independent feature film You Are What You Eat (his appearance in this film featured him singing the old Ronettes hit, "Be My Baby" in his falsetto range; also featured was a rendition of Sonny and Cher's I Got You Babe, with Tim singing the Cher parts in his falsetto voice, along with Eleanor Barooshian reprising Sonny Bono's baritone part. These tracks were recorded with Robbie Robertson and the other members of what was going to become known as The Band. The latter performance led to a booking on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, an American television comedy-variety show. Dan Rowan announced that Laugh-In believed in showcasing new talent, and introduced Tiny Tim. The singer entered, blowing kisses, and sang "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" to Dick Martin.

This stunt was followed by several more appearances on Laugh-In and a recording contract with Reprise Records. He made a name for himself as a novelty performer, guesting with Johnny Carson, Ed Sullivan, and Jackie Gleason. At the height of his career, he was commanding a weekly salary of $50,000 in Las Vegas, Nevada. "Tiptoe Through the Tulips" became Tiny Tim's signature song. He sang it in homage to its originator, singer-guitarist Nick Lucas. He invited Lucas to sing at his wedding in 1969.

In 1968, his first album, God Bless Tiny Tim, was released. It contained an orchestrated version of "Tiptoe Through the Tulips", which became a hit after being released as a single. The other songs displayed his wide-ranging knowledge of the American songbook, and also allowed him to demonstrate his baritone voice, which was less often heard than his falsetto. He did his second recorded version of "I Got You Babe", this time singing a "duet" with himself, taking Cher's part in falsetto, and Sonny's part in the baritone range. "On the Old Front Porch" extends this to a trio, including a boy (Billy Murray), the girl he is courting (Ada Jones), and her father (probably Murray again). Another notable song was a cover of "Stay Down Here Where You Belong", written by Irving Berlin in 1914 to protest the Great War. It is written from the standpoint of Satan talking to his son, and is a powerful condemnation of those who foment war: "To please their kings, they've all gone out to war, and not a one of them knows what they're fighting for... Kings up there are bigger devils than your dad." (The comedian Groucho Marx also used this song as part of his own act, at least in part to irk Berlin, who in later years tried in vain to disown the song.

Reprise followed up "Tulips" with another single, "Bring Back Those Rockabye Baby Days", in which he sang this "mammy song" in baritone in the style of Harry Richman, and lapsed into his higher register only for a few moments near the end of the song. The record did receive some radio exposure in America but was not nearly as successful as the novelty song "Tulips". "Rockabye Baby Days" fared better in the UK, where music hall songs were still remembered fondly.

Before another legitimate Reprise Tiny Tim album could be released a small record label got hold of some of his very early recordings and overdubbed them with canned applause, creating a fictional "live concert" recording to cash in on Tiny Tim's popularity with an album, Concert in Fairyland.[citation needed] This release damaged Tiny Tim's recording career and sales of his next two albums. Regardless, Tiny Tim recorded and released two more albums for Reprise, Tiny Tim's Second Album 1968, and For All My Little Friends, 1969, a collection of children's songs. the latter was nominated for a Grammy Award. In addition, he recorded six more songs, which Reprise released as his final three singles.

On December 17, 1969, Tiny Tim married Victoria Mae Budinger (aka "Miss Vicki") on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, a publicity stunt that attracted some 40 million viewers. Tiny wrote his own marriage vows, including the promise to be "not puffed up." He and Miss Vicki made even more news a month later with the announcement that they were expecting a baby, with comedians at the time suggesting the name VicTim. The baby was miscarried, but a subsequent child was born healthy and survived. In contrast to the romance-oriented publicity of their wedding, Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki mostly lived apart, and divorced eight years later. Their daughter, Tulip Victoria, is now married and living in Pennsylvania with four children.

In August 1970, Tiny Tim performed at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 in front of a crowd of 600,000 people. His performance, which included English folk songs and rock and roll classics, was a huge hit with the multinational throng of hippies. At the climax of his set, he sang "There'll Always Be an England" through a megaphone which brought the huge crowd to its feet. This can be seen in the 1995 movie of the event, Message to Love.

After the career highlight in the UK, however, Tiny Tim's television appearances dwindled, and his popularity began to wane. He continued to play around the United States, making several lucrative appearances in Las Vegas. When he lost his Reprise recording contract he founded his own record label, and humorously named it Vic Tim Records, as a pun on the combination of his wife's name with that of his own. In 1971 and 1972 his Vic Tim label would release his next five singles, but then it ceased to exist. A lone single followed on Scepter Records in 1972. In 1973 he founded another record company which he dubbed Toilet Records, but this also folded. It was three years before he was able to record and release another record in the United States, but he did release two singles on the Bellaphon label in West Germany in 1973, a combined single from these was released by Polydor Records in the UK and Belgium in 1974. In 1976 he recorded again in the US and, from that point on, one or more virtually every year through 1990.

Also in 1976 a young teenage boy (and aspiring punk-rock musician) named Richard Barone succeeded essentially on the spur of the moment on getting Tiny Tim recorded onto a number of cassettes and then into a local recording studio, and thus recorded two whole albums of material. One of these albums finally saw release only in late 2009.

In 1979 and 1980 Tiny Tim went to Australia where he was able to record his first fully planned studio albums since 1970. Three albums were produced by record producer Martin Sharp. Only a few hundred copies were made of the first and only 1000 of the second. None of these were ever released in the U.S. at the time they were made. These would be Tiny Tim's last albums until 1986.

In 1985, he hired a teenage disc jockey named Rick Hendrix from WHKY in North Carolina to manage his dates. Living at the Olcott Hotel in New York City, the duo began to revive the once-famous icon. Tiny Tim released the song, "Santa Claus Has Got the Aids This Year",and joined the Alan C. Hill circus. In 1986/87 he starred as a ukulele-playing psycho clown in the cult B-grade horror film Blood Harvest (1987), directed by Bill Rebane.

In 1988, Tiny Tim released a country single for the Nashville-based NLT records entitled "Leave Me Satisfied". He spent time promoting it to country radio and fans that year, and made a visit to Nashville during Country Music Fan Fair, now called the CMA Music Festival. He actually recorded an entire country album in 1989 but this has to date never been officially released. Additionally he recorded a follow-up country album which seemingly true-to-form has never yet been released.

In the 1990s, as interest in Tiny Tim picked up, he released several albums, including Rock (1993), I Love Me (1993) and Girl (1996). He also recorded his last music video with New York's punk rock band, Ism.[6] The recording was a remake of "Tiptoe Through The Tulips" but was never officially released. He made several appearances on The Howard Stern Radio Show, made a cameo in Stern's film, Private Parts (1997), and occasionally appeared on other television programs. Tim also worked with a number of other artists, including Brave Combo (his backing band on Girl) as well as Sydney based rock band His Majesty with whom he recorded the albums Tiny Tim Rock and Tiny Tim's Christmas Album, both of which were produced by Sydney artist and writer Martin Sharp. He was also championed by, and collaborated with, the bands Current 93 and Nurse With Wound.

Toward the end of his life, Tiny Tim became a fixture at "Spooky World", an annual Halloween-themed exposition in Shakopee, MN , just outside Minneapolis He also appeared in tongue-in-cheek television commercials for area merchants. He befriended a young musician and neighbor, Conductor Jack Norton, acted as his mentor, and taught Norton how to play the ukulele.

In September 1996, he suffered a heart attack just as he began singing at a ukulele festival at the Montague Grange Hall (often confused in accounts of the incident with the nearby Montague Bookmill, at which he had recorded a video interview earlier that same day) in Montague, Massachusetts. He was hospitalized at the nearby Franklin County Medical Center in Greenfield for approximately three weeks, before being discharged with strong admonitions to no longer perform, due to his frail health and the difficulty of proper dietary needs for his diabetic and heart conditions. While playing at a Gala Benefit at The Woman's Club of Minneapolis on November 30, 1996, he suffered another heart attack on stage. He was led out by his third wife, Susan Marie Gardner ("Miss Sue", whom he had married on August 18, 1995) who asked if he was okay. He responded, "No, I'm not."

He collapsed shortly thereafter and was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died after doctors tried to resuscitate him for an hour and fifteen minutes. He is interred in the mausoleum of Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.

In 2000, the Rhino Handmade label released the posthumous Tiny Tim Live at the Royal Albert Hall. This recording had been made in 1968 at the height of Tiny Tim's fame, but Reprise Records never released it. The limited-numbered CD sold out and was reissued on Rhino's regular label. In 2009, the Collector's Choice label released I've Never Seen A Straight Banana, recorded in 1976. The album was a collection of rare recordings of some of Tiny Tim's favorite songs from 1878 through the 1930s, along with some of his own compositions.

Tiptoe through the window By the window, that is where I'll be Come tiptoe through the tulips with me

Oh, tiptoe from the garden By the garden of the willow tree And tiptoe through the tulips with me

Knee deep in flowers we'll stray We'll keep the showers away And if I kiss you in the garden, in the moonlight Will you pardon me? And tiptoe through the tulips with me

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How do they get to be that way?

How would I feel if I were a brown student at Miller Valley Elementary School in Prescott, Arizona? A mural was created to depict some of the actual students in the school.

Let's say I was one of the lucky ones. The mural took shape, and as my face became recognizable, I took some kidding from my classmates and a smile from a pretty girl I liked.

My parents even came over one day to have a look and take some photos to e-mail to the family. The mural was shown on TV, and everybody could see that it was me.

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#3: March 24, 2010

I AM SO PROUD that eight of the Far-Flung Correspondents will be attending Ebertfest 2010, and so sincerely moved that they're providing their own tickets! A shout-out to Ali Arikan, Seoungyong Cho, Weal Khairy, Michael Mirasol, Omar Moore, Omer Mozzafar, Gerardo Valero, and Grace Wang. Only Robert Tan, who has been under the weather, will be missing. They're all bloggers, and will be on a panel Friday morning about the Global Web of Filmlovers.

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The O'Reilly Procedure

Bill O'Reilly has been brought low by the same process that afflicted Jerry Springer. Once respected journalists, they sold their souls for higher ratings, and follow their siren song. Springer is honest about it: "I'm going to Hell for what I do, and I know it," he's likes to say. O'Reilly insists he is dealing only with the truth. When his guests disagree with him, he shouts at them, calls them liars, talks over them, and behaves like a schoolyard bully.

I am not interested in discussing O'Reilly's politics here. That would open a hornet's nest. I am more concerned about the danger he and others like him represent to a civil and peaceful society. He sets a harmful example of acceptable public behavior. He has been an influence on the most worrying trend in the field of news: The polarization of opinion, the elevation of emotional temperature, the predictability of two of the leading cable news channels. A majority of cable news viewers now get their news slanted one way or the other by angry men. O'Reilly is not the worst offender. That would be Glenn Beck. Keith Olbermann is gaining ground. Rachel Maddow provides an admirable example for the boys of firm, passionate outrage, and is more effective for nogt shouting.

Much has been said recently about the possible influence of O'Reilly on the murder of Dr. George Tiller by Scott Roeder. Such a connection is impossible to prove. Yet studies of bullies and their victims suggest a general way such an influence might take place. Bullies like to force others to do their will, while they can stand back and protest their innocence: "I was nowhere near the gymnasium, Sister!" A recent study of school shootings found that two-thirds of all the shooters were victims of bullying, and perceived themselves as members of persecuted minorities.

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Remembering Gene

Gene Siskel and I were like tuning forks. Strike one, and the other would pick up the same frequency. When we were in a group together, we were always intensely aware of one another. Sometimes this took the form of camaraderie, sometimes shared opinions, sometimes hostility. But we were aware. If something happened that we both thought was funny but weren't supposed to, God help us if one caught the other's eye. We almost always thought the same things were funny. That may be the best sign of intellectual communion.

Gene died ten years ago on February 20, 1999. He is in my mind almost every day. I don't want to rehearse the old stories about how we had a love/hate relationship, and how we dealt with television, and how we were both so scared the first time we went on Johnny Carson that, backstage, we couldn't think of the name of a single movie, although that story is absolutely true. Those stories have been told. I want to write about our friendship. The public image was that we were in a state of permanent feud, but nothing we felt had anything to do with image. We both knew the buttons to push on the other one, and we both made little effort to hide our feelings, warm or cold. In 1977 we were on a talk show with Buddy Rogers, once Mary Pickford's husband, and he said, "You guys have a sibling rivalry, but you both think you're the older brother."

Once Gene and I were involved in a joint appearance with another Chicago media couple, Steve Dahl and Garry Meier. It was a tribute to us or a tribute to them, I can't remember. They were pioneers of free-form radio. Gene and I were known for our rages against each other, and Steve and Garry were remarkable for their accord. They gave us advice about how to work together as a successful team. The reason I remember that is because soon afterward Steve and Garry had an angry public falling-out that has lasted until this day.

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Dude, where's my breakfast?

Breathless reports have swooped around the web about John Anderson, film critic for Variety, pounding the legendary publicist Jeff Dowd (aka The Dude) at Sundance. There was a jab to the chest! One to the shoulder! Dowd kept his guard down! A punch to the head! Anderson turned and walked away, then came back and threw his best right to the jaw!

I have this blow-by-blow account from The Dude himself. Park City Police Officer Bob deBotelho responded after a call from the Yarrow restaurant, collected eyewitness testimony, and offered

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Space-age brain freeze

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Q. I've just read your review for "Sunshine" (2007), and I'm confused. You say that according to Isaac Asimov, the human body can survive in the cold vacuum of space for longer than I might think. I was under the impression that, in space, a naked human would initially freeze to death, and then summarily explode.

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A 'Grizzly' matter

May Contain Spoilers
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Q. Any comment on the story that they're talking to Philip Seymour Hoffman about playing you in a proposed biopic about Russ Meyer? Bill Zwecker, Chicago

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Movie Answer Man (07/02/2000)

Q. Just heard that Mike Nichols is planning to do a remake of "Kind Hearts and Coronets," starring Robin Williams and Will Smith. Nichols is quoted as saying he plans to "change the main theme from class struggle to race relations, and change the ending." How, then, is this a remake? (Ken Bearden, Wyandotte, MI)

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Movie Answer Man (10/10/1999)

Q. I have heard that at least one special effect in "Three Kings" was filmed by inflicting damage to a cadaver. Is this so? Were arrangements made with the deceased prior to death, along the lines of donating one's body to science? What do you think are the ethical considerations here? I'd love to see the movie, but I feel this is going too far. (Patrick Logan, Portland OR)

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Movie Answer Man (02/22/1998)

Q. Something I haven't seen anyone mention about the fictional story in "Titanic." If Rose had only stayed in the lifeboat when she had the chance, then Jack would have been able to survive by floating on the debris that saved her life. (Larry Boyers, Nashville, TN)

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Movie Answer Man (11/30/1997)

Q. I saw "Starship Troopers" this weekend, and paid particular attention to the scene in which school kids stomp a bunch of cockroaches. It appeared to me that at least some of the beasties that got stomped were real, since they were walking around, but the film had the usual SPCA thingy at the end. Was this a special effects shot? Or did the SPCA lower their standards after Men in Black? (Dominick Cancilla, Santa Monica, CA.)

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Movie Answer Man (05/18/1997)

Q. In your review of "Volcano," you wrote, "I expected to see a mountainous volcano in "Volcano," towering high over Los Angeles. But the movie takes place at ground level." We all know how to tell "Volcano" and "Dante's Peak" apart, right? "Dante's Peak" had an andesitic cone volcano which occurs at a subduction zone (in this case where the Pacific Plate is subducting beneath the North American Plate). "Volcano" consists of a flood basalt system which occurs over a "hot spot" on the continental crust. See? Completely different movies--right? (Robert Haynes-Peterson, Boise, Idaho)

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Rodman finds niche as action star

Dennis Rodman, star of basketball, movies, books and pro wrestling, is still a little stunned by the spotlight. Before the premiere of "Double Team," the new Jean-Claude Van Damme action thriller where he gets second billing, he mused about his function as a publicity-generating machine: "I never ever expected that my career would turn into such a media hype: In San Antonia, I was doing the same thing, but I guess the media are stronger in Chicago, and being linked with Michael Jordan and a championship team didn't hurt."

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Movie Answer Man (01/01/1994)

Q. This year several actors seem to be potential Oscar nominees for more than one film, including Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Day-Lewis, Debra Winger, Tommy Lee Jones, Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood and Emma Thompson. What happens if they split their votes between two movies? For example, could Hopkins get enough total votes for "Shadowlands" and "The Remains Of The Day" to be nominated, but get shut out because they are divided? (Ronnie Barzell, Chicago)

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