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Listen Up Philip

The terrific cast all delves into the material full-bore, which contributes to its peculiar resonance. Perry may hate everyone and everything, but in making a…

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Private Violence

A look at the complexity of domestic violence, especially when it comes to the difficulty of prosecuting abusers in a court of law, "Private Violence"…

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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.

#211 March 19, 2014

Sheila writes: I came across a fascinating 1964 interview with Bruce Lee. He is such an engaging presence. I liked in particular his analogy of kung fu to a glass of water, but there's lots of great stuff here.

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Ebert's Top Movies of 2012

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A funny thing happened on the way to the Oscars. Not to the Oscars. To me. I sustained a hairline fracture of my left hip. I didn't fall. I didn't break it. It just sort of... happened to itself. Most of the time, it causes me no pain at all. But my left leg won't bear any weight, nor can I walk on it. This pain is off the charts. It has nothing to do with cancer. It's plain bad luck.

The good news is that I've seen the films of one of the best recent years in cinema. I wrote more than 300 reviews in 2012 -- a record -- and it was unusually difficult to leave out many of the quote-unquote "best" films in 11th place.

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And the nominees are...

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With the 2013 Oscarcast moved up to Feb. 24, movie fans are already in a lather over the possible nominees, especially since again this year there can be "up to" ten finalists in the Best Picture category. I claim no inside knowledge (I'm still waiting to hear from my friend Deep Oscar), but it's never too early to speculate.

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Toronto #1: Good films are back in season

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The Toronto Film Festival is universally considered the opening of Academy Awards season, and the weary moviegoer, drained after a summer of exhausted superheroes and franchises, plunges in it with joy. I've been attending since 1977, and have watched it grow from a bootstrap operation, with the schedule improvised from day to day, into one of the big four (with Cannes, Venice and Berlin).

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#130 August 22, 2012

"Dear Mr. Spider;I am profoundly sorry to have taken you from your home in the woods, when I was picking Himalayan Blackberries on Monday afternoon. I didn't see you fall into my bucket and which was entirely my fault; I must have bumped into your web while reaching for a berry. Needless to say, I was surprised upon returning home with my bucket full, to suddenly see you there standing on a blackberry and looking up at me." - Marie

(photo recreation of incident)

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Are these America's most prominent filmmakers?

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My friend Richard T. Jameson sent an e-mail with the subject line: "Why am I depressed?" In it he quoted the first two sentences of an April L.A. Weekly story headlined "Movie Studios Are Forcing Hollywood to Abandon 35mm Film. But the Consequences of Going Digital Are Vast, and Troubling":

Shortly before Christmas, director Edgar Wright received an email inviting him to a private screening of the first six minutes of Christopher Nolan's new Batman movie, "The Dark Knight Rises." Walking into Universal CityWalk's IMAX theater, Wright recognized many of the most prominent filmmakers in America -- Michael Bay, Bryan Singer, Jon Favreau, Eli Roth, Duncan Jones, Stephen Daldry.

It was that second sentence, RTJ said, that tripped him up. (Later, in a Facebook post, he recommended the article itself, but followed that second sentence with the comment: "The parade's gone by, all right."

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"Zodiac": Not your usual serial killer movie

May Contain Spoilers

With films like "Zodiac" (2007) David Fincher has become Hollywood's serial-killer specialist and yet his entries from that genre seem to have more in common with "The Insider" than with "Psycho" or "The Silence of the Lambs" He shows a great fascination with the details surrounding each case, than with their heroes and villains. His approach is usually just as meticulous when inspired by fictional works ("Seven", "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") as by real-life events. Perhaps it is Oliver Stone's "JFK" that this film most resembles; obsession is at both their cores.

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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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A great love story: "Brokeback Mountain"

May Contain Spoilers

What's the last great love story you've seen on film? I don't mean your typical "rom-coms" with contrived meet-cutes that rely heavily on celebrity star power. I'm talking about a genuine romance between two richly defined characters. If your mind draws a blank, you're not alone. Hollywood, along with much of the filmmaking world, seems to have either forgotten how to portray love affairs in ways that once made us swoon. Whatever the reason, be it due to our changing times or priorities, we might not see any significant ones for some time.

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#51 February 23, 2011

Marie writes: In a move which didn't fail to put a subversive smile on my face, works by the mysterious graffiti artist Banksy began to appear recently in Hollywood as Academy Awards voters prepared to judge Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is up for best Documentary. (Click to enlarge.)

The most controversial thus far was painted on a billboard directly opposite the Directors Guild of America HQ on Sunset Boulevard. A poster advertising The Light Group (a property, nightclub and restaurant developer) was stenciled over with images of a cocktail-guzzling Mickey Mouse grasping a woman's breast. As it was being removed, a scuffle broke out between workmen and a man claiming the poster was his "property" - presumably triggered by the fact that an authentic piece by Banksy is worth thousands. To read more visit Banksy targets LA ahead of Oscars at the Guardian.  And to see more pictures go HERE.

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Power to the people

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Q. I'm just curious, what led you to give "Black Swan" a rating of 3.5 stars, while "The Wrestler" got 4? The two films have been compared a lot, so I'm interested to hear why you thought one was slightly better than the other.  (Sarah S. Evans, Indianapolis)

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#38 November 24, 2010

Marie writes: The local Circle Craft Co-operative features the work of hundreds of craftspeople from across British Columbia and each year, a Christmas Market is held downtown at the Vancouver Convention Centre to help sell and promote the work they produce. My friend and I recently attended the 37th Christmas Market and where I spotted these utterly delightful handmade fabric monsters by Diane Perry of "Monster Lab" - one of the artist studios located on Salt Spring Island near Washington State...it's the eyes... they follow you. :-)

(click to enlarge)

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#36 November 10, 2010

Actress Jill Clayburgh, whose portrayal of women in the 1970s helped define and and reshape the role of leading lady, died last week of chronic lymphocytic leukemia at her home in Lakeville, Connecticut; she was 66. She's best known for her Academy Award nominated roles in "An Unmarried Woman" (Winner: Best Actress Cannes 1978) and "Starting Over." Roger has remembered her on his site: Jill Clayburgh: In Memory.

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On actors who are too gay to be in the Musicals

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Some people are proposing a boycott of Newsweek because of a silly article that criticizes gay actors -- specifically on TV's "Glee" and in the Broadway revival of the Bacharach-David Musical "Promises, Promises" -- for acting too gay in straight roles. This strikes me as fundamentally hilarious for several reasons, the most obvious of which are:

1) I didn't know anyone needed additional incentive to not read Newsweek, since circulation figures indicate that lots and lots of people have been not reading it without making any concerted effort not to do so.

2) "Glee" and "Promises, Promises" are both Musicals, for god's sake. Where would the Musical be without the participation of gay actors? The movie version of "Paint Your Wagon" -- that's where. You Musical fans want to spend the rest of your lives watching and listening to Clint Eastwood singing "I Talk to the Trees"? Then go ahead and complain that gay performers are too gay to star in Musicals.

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The Eleven Worst Ambiguous Movie Endings

Everybody hates it when they don't explain everything that happened by the time the movie is over. What we need at the end is not open-endedness but clarity, loose-end tying-up, closure. We need more movies like "Psycho" (unfortunately Simon Oakland has passed, but Larry King is still with us) and "Mulholland Dr." -- movies that take a little time to explain exactly what happened so we're not left feeling stupid all the way home. You know what they say: The difference between a comedy and a tragedy is where you end the story. Well, the same goes for the ending: The difference between a good ending and a bad ending is how good the ending is. Here are eleven of the most outrageously unsatisfactory ambiguous endings in movie history:

"Gone With the Wind" (1939) Scarlett O'Hara says, "I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all... tomorrow is another day." That's not the ending of a movie -- that's the beginning of act three! Put up or shut up, Scarlett. Clark Gable has just said the word "Damn" at you and that's it? If tomorrow is such another day, then bring it on!

"Casablanca" (1942) What do you mean Ingrid Bergman goes off with Paul Henreid and all Bogart's left with is the barest hint of a homosexual future with Claude Rains? At the end he puts her on a damn plane (something about how she doesn't amount to a hill of beans) and he and Rains walk off into the fog together as Bogart says, "Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship." Whoa! What the hell happened then? What if "Brokeback Mountain" ended right after Heath Ledger threw up? What kind of ending would that be? And how does Peter Lorre figure into it?

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The Dirty Harry scene

View image "Dirty Harry" (1971). This poster design wasn't actually used for the original release, though Critic Gary Giddins noted that this was the "DH" poster on display in Eastwood's Malpaso office in 1988. Typeface: Is that a Helvetica font?

In celebration of the DVD release of David Fincher's Director's Cut of "Zodiac" (only a few minutes longer -- I'm not sure what has been changed or added see below), here's a scripted scene, from an undated draft, that you won't find in any version of the movie: INT. MOVIE THEATER -- NIGHT

Graysmith and Toschi sit in the dark while "Dirty Harry" unspools on the screen in front of them.

MOVIE POLICE CAPTAIN (O.S.) He calls himself the Scorpio Killer. From what we understand, he's planning on targeting a school bus full of children.

CLINT EASTWOOD (O.S.) That's not gonna happen.

THE AUDIENCE around Graysmith and Toschi burst into APPLAUSE.

ON SCREEN -- The final scene. Clint has cornered the SCORPIO KILLER. Holding his Magnum .44 on him.

CLINT EASTWOOD (CONT'D) ... maybe I fired five bullets, maybe I fired six. In all the confusion, I lost count. So the only question is, do you feel lucky? Do you? Punk?

A beat. Apparently the Scorpio Killer feels lucky and goes for his gun. Clint blows his head off.

People cheer again. Graysmith and Toschi exchange a look...

And then BURST OUT HYSTERICALLY LAUGHING. At the absurdity of it all. They get some looks, but that only makes them laugh harder. They can't stop. Doubled over. Tears run down their faces. A release of all the built up tension... What a beautiful, ambiguous scene. I wonder if they could have made it work on film without having to spell it out.

In "Zodiac" itself, Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) goes into the lobby for a smoke, and Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) approaches him for the first time. He shyly introduces himself and, awkwardly, tells Toschi how the movie ended. Toschi makes a defensive remark along the lines of, "So much for due process..." The movie (like "No Country for Old Men") never allows its characters or its audience even a vicarious catharsis. It's all about not knowing -- and having to live with the knowledge of not knowing...

UPDATE: 1 Day Later: January 9, 2008: Please see Zac's comment below for exact notations on the differences between the theatrical and director's cuts of "Zodiac." (I cannot imagine a more fitting response to the movie than this kind of detective work!)

Also: In Fincher's commentary on his movie's "Dirty Harry" scene, he says that Toschi (on whom Steve McQueen modeled his performance in 1968's "Bullitt") was "amused" at the Hollywood take on Zodiac, and that people began to say things to him like, "Guess Dirty Harry solved your case!" Fincher suggests maybe the Eastwood movie provided a kind of artificial closure for the public that they would never get in life, and that perhaps they began to lose interest in Zodiac afterwards because of it. (Four "Dirty Harry" sequels were released between 1973 ("Magnum Force"] and 1988 ["The Dead Pool"].) Fincher recalls that, as he and his family were moving away from the Marin area in 1976 (when he was about 13 or 14), he wondered if they'd ever caught the Zodiac.

As Mr. Peel observes below, Eastwood's voice and likeness are conspicuously absent from "Zodiac." Even a shot of the standee in the lobby is chopped at the neck.

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Toronto #4: Perfection times two

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TORONTO, Ont. -- It’s not often you see films that are perfect. I have just seen two of them here at the Toronto Film Festival, and two others that are extraordinary, and a documentary that is spellbinding. Do I love everything? Not at all. I just happened to have an ecstatic period of moviegoing, that’s all, and that’s enough.

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Toronto #2: Deliver us from evil

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TORONTO, Ont. -- Oh, what a sad man, and oh, what a sad journey he endures to find inner peace. Jeremy Podeswa's "Fugitive Pieces," which opened the 32nd Toronto Film Festival here Thursday night, is a rare film that deals without compromise with the long, dark lifetime of the soul.

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Toronto #1: 2nd city for film festivals

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TORONTO, Ont. -- And now the ecstasy and madness begins. The 32nd Toronto Film Festival opens Thursday with no fewer than 15 films, and that’s before it gets up to speed. The Trail Mix Brigade is armed with their knapsacks, bottled water, instant snacks, text messengers and a determination to see, who knows, six, seven, eight films a day.

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