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Penguins of Madagascar

The pacing is so zany, the jokes are so rapid-fire and the sight gags are so inspired that it’s impossible not to get caught up…

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Horrible Bosses 2

The law of diminishing returns, which has afflicted so many comedy sequels over the years, strikes again in “Horrible Bosses 2,” further proving that just…

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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.

#161 March 27, 2013

"As film exhibition in North America crowds itself ever more narrowly into predictable commercial fodder for an undemanding audience, we applaud those brave, free spirits who still hold faith with the unlimited potential of the cinema." - Roger

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#164 April 24, 2013

Marie writes: Now this is something you don't see every day. Behold The Paragliding Circus! Acrobatic paragliding pilot Gill Schneider teamed up with his father’s circus class (he operates a school that trains circus performers) to mix and combine circus arts with paragliding - including taking a trapezist (Roxane Giliand) up for ride and without a net. Best original film in the 2012 Icare Cup. Video by Director/Filmmaker Shams Prod. To see more, visit Shams Prod.

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#151 January 16, 2013

Marie writes: And so it begins!  A new year and another season of Film Festivals and Award shows. The Golden Globes have come and gone and in advance of quirky SXSW, there's Robert Redford's Sundance 2013...

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#137 October 10, 2012

Marie writes: I may have been born in Canada, but I grew-up watching Sesame Street and Big Bird, too. Together, they encouraged me to learn new things; and why now I can partly explain string theory.That being the case, I was extremely displeased to hear that were it up Romney, as President he wouldn't continue to support PBS. And because I'm not American and can't vote in their elections, I did the only thing I could: I immediately reached for Photoshop....

(Click image to enlarge.)

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#119 June 13, 2012

Marie writes: Next door, across a long narrow drive and beyond the row of cedar hedges which run parallel to it, there resides an elementary school dating back to 1965, along with an assortment of newer playground equipment rendered in bright, solid primary colors...I'm sure you know the sort I mean...

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Wesley Morris's Pulitzer Prize-winning hits

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(AP photo)

Earlier this week Wesley Morris of the Boston Globe became only the fourth film critic to receive a Pulitzer Prize, after Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times, 1975), Stephen Hunter (Washington Post, 2003) and Joe Morgenstern (Wall Street Journal, 2005).

A few other movie critics have been named as Pulitzer finalists -- Stephen Schiff (Boston Phoenix, 1983), Andrew Sarris (Village Voice, 1987), Matt Zoller Seitz (Dallas Observer, 1994), Stephen Hunter (Baltimore Sun, 1995), Peter Rainer (New Times Los Angeles, 1998), Ann Hornaday (Washington Post, 2008), A.O. Scott (New York Times, 2010) -- and I've read and admired many of them over the years.

I was first impressed by Morris's writing when he was in San Francisco, where he wrote for both the Chronicle and the Examiner, in the late 1990s. With him and Ty Burr on the movie beat, the Boston Globe now has one of the best critical teams around. And that's saying something: The New York Times team of A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis is far and away the finest in that paper's history.

The Pulitzer submissions from Morris (who's only 36) covered films and subjects such as "The Help," "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol," "The Tree of Life," "Drive," the "Fast and Furious" series, "Scream 4," "Weekend," "Water for Elephants," Sidney Lumet and Steve Jobs. A few excerpts to give you an idea of what earned him the prize:

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#91 November 30, 2011

Marie writes: Did you know that the world's steepest roller-coaster is the Takabisha, which opened earlier this year at the Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park in Yamanash, Japan? The ride lasts just 112 seconds but is packed with exciting features including seven twists, blackened tunnels and a 43m-high peak. But the most impressive thing about Takabisha is the 121 degree free-fall, so steep that it's been recognized by the Guinness World Records as the steepest roller-coaster made from steel!

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#81 September 21, 2011

Marie writes: Roger recently did an email Q&A with the National Post's Mark Medley, which you can read here: "Roger Ebert's voice has never been louder".  And in a nice touch, they didn't use a traditional head-shot photo with the article. Instead they went old school and actually hired an illustrator. Yup. They drew the Grand Poobah instead!  And here it is...pretty good, eh?

Illustration By Kagan Mcleod for the National Post(click to enlarge)

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#75 August 10, 2011

Marie writes: I attended three different elementary schools; St. Peter's, Our Lady of Mercy (which was anything but) and finally St. Micheal's; where I met my Canadian-Italian chum, Marta Chiavacci (key-a-vah-chee) who was born here to Italian immigrants. We lost touch after high school, moving in different directions til in the wake of a trip to Venice and eager to practice my bad Italian and bore friends with tales of my travels abroad, I sought her out again.We've kept in touch ever since, meeting whenever schedules permit; Marta traveling more than most (she's a wine Sommelier) living partly in Lucca, Italy, and happily in sin with her significant other, the great Francesco. I saw her recently and took photos so that I might show and tell, in here. For of all the friends I have, she's the most different from myself; the contrast between us, a never-ending source of delight. Besides, it was a nice afternoon in Vancouver and her condo has a view of False Creek...smile...

(click images to enlarge)

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#69 June 29, 2011

Marie writes: Allow me to introduce you to Bill and Cheryl. I went to Art school with Bill and met his significant other Cheryl while attending the graduation party; we've been pals ever since. None of which is even remotely interesting until you see where they live and their remarkable and eclectic collection of finds. (click to enlarge images.)

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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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A Tarantinian Bank Job

May Contain Spoilers

One of the best things that can happen to a moviegoer is showing up expecting a standard genre film and ending up seeing something better. This was my experience with Roger Donaldson's "The Bank Job" which at first sight seemed like just another Hollywood caper movie in which the inevitable elements could be timed with a stopwatch.

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#48 February 2, 2011

Take a breath and be brave. Very, very brave.... smile....Behold the "Willis Tower" in Chicago (formerly the Sears Tower) - the tallest building in North America and its famous attraction, The Skydeck.  In January 2009, the Willis Tower owners began a major renovation of the Skydeck, to include the installation of glass balconies, extending approximately four feet over Wacker Drive from the 103rd floor. The all-glass boxes allow visitors to look directly through the floor to the street 1,353 feet (412 m) below. The boxes, which can bear five short tons of weight (about 4.5 metric tons), opened to the public on July 2, 2009.

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#39 December 1, 2010

Leslie Nielsen (February 11, 1926 - November 28, 2010) Marie writes: If ever an actor embodied what it means to "be" Canadian, it was Leslie Nielsen... and the pair of fart machines he always used to carry around; one built by himself using plans sent by a friend and another called the "Farter" - a commercial device complete with remote control. For with each perfectly timed "pfft" he invited everyone to laugh with him and see the humour in life. And it's for that laughter he is now best remembered.The much-beloved actor died in his sleep with his wife Barbaree at his side, this past Sunday at the age of 84 in a Florida hospital due to complications from pneumonia. Nielsen has stars on both Hollywood's and Canada's Walk of Fame and was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002. Remembering Leslie Nielsen...and what's that strange noise? - Montreal GazetteLeslie Nielsen: a career in clips, Guardian UKLeslie Nielsen, RIP. "And don't call me Shirley" - Roger Ebert

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#30 September 29, 2010

"Beware of artists - they mix with all classes of societyand are therefore most dangerous." ~ Queen Victoriastencil by Banksy, British graffiti artistAnd who inspired a recent film about art...

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Winslet, Ledger: Who's supporting whom?

"I don't think we need another film about the Holocaust, do we? It's like, how many have there been? You know? We get it. It was grim. Move on. No, I'm doing it because I've noticed that if you do a film about the Holocaust, you're guaranteed an Oscar.... 'Schindler's Bloody List,' 'Pianist' -- Oscars comin' outta their ass."

-- Kate Winslet (in character) on "Extras" (2005)

There are two main reasons I don't do Oscar predictions: 1) I'm bad at it; and 2) the Oscars take place in a corner of the cinematic universe that's only tangentially related to the movies I love. The Oscar ceremonies have been called the Gay Super Bowl and that's as good a characterization as any -- or at least it was, until "Crash" won.

But some peculiarities at the Golden Globules got me to wondering about the Academy rules. Although I remembered that Peter Finch had won a posthumous Oscar for "Network" in 1976, I didn't know for certain if the rules permitted a posthumous nomination -- like, say, for Heath Ledger, who won a Globule for best supporting actor as the Joker in "The Dark Knight." Turns out, nothing in the Academy's Rule Six: Special Rules for the Acting Awards prohibits it.

Perhaps a more pertinent question would be: Is it really a supporting role? Kate Winslet got her hands on two Globules this year -- one for lead performance in "Revolutionary Road" and another for supporting performance in "The Reader." Some have suggested that the latter is a little like considering Faye Dunaway's role in "Chinatown" a supporting one, but I figured the Hollywood Foreign Press Association just wanted to award Winslet a pair of Globulettes for reasons known best to themselves, so they went out of their way to nominate her in separate categories.

UPDATE: Indeed, Oscar voters have nominated Winslet's "Reader" performance in the lead category. She did not receive a nomination for "Revolutionary Road" -- even though she may well have received enough votes to qualify for both. At least, I think that's what this rule says:

5. In the event that two achievements by an actor or actress receive sufficient votes to be nominated in the same category, only one shall be nominated using the preferential tabulation process and such other allied procedures as may be necessary to achieve that result.

[Oscar rules below.]

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Do the Contrarian! It's the White List (again)

I was going to ignore it, I really was. But several people have e-mailed me about the appearance of Armond White's "Better-Than List 2008," and requested an opportunity to discuss it here. Well, OK.

White insists once again that what "it all comes down to" is a contest between "movies you must experience versus movies that threaten to diminish you":

Most of these high-profile films insult one's intelligence, while the year's best movies vanish from the marketplace for lack of critical support. This tragedy is exemplified by the scary acclaim for the year's worst: The atrocious "Slumdog Millionaire" and Pixar's hideous "Wall-E," the buzz-kill movie of all time. Trust no critic who endorses them.

So, it's not really Batman vs. the Joker. It's "Transporter 3" BETTER THAN "The Dark Knight": "Olivier Megaton, Jason Statham and Luc Besson reinvent the action movie as kinetic art, but impressionable teenagers mistook Chris Nolan's nihilistic graphic novel for kool fun."

I can't tell from that sentence (which constitutes the entirety of White's blurb-ument in this case) what the first part has to do with the second part, but it illustrates once again the meaninglessness of plugging movies into equations and pretending it's criticism.

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The BJ

That's the way they're promoting the British heist movie "The Bank Job" -- on the web, anyway. The Flash ads say "The BJ," and then the B and the J move around and spell out the title. Gets your attention, I guess. This follows a catchy set-up slogan that says, "Somebody's Getting Royally Screwed!" Just to put you in a susceptive frame of mind.

Anyway, my review of "The Bank Job" is at RogerEbert.com. Here's an excerpt: A serviceable B-grade British heist movie, “The Bank Job” is no worse than its generic title. And no better. It front-loads the naughty sex and back-loads the plot twists (the titular crime takes place in the middle), but apart from the prominence of Princess Margaret in the subterfuge, it’s a pretty routine job, as the use of the hackneyed phrase “plot twists” earlier in this sentence should indicate.

“The Bank Job” begins with a quick time-shuffle of the sort to which modern audiences have become accustomed. It starts in 1970 in the Caribbean. Literally in it. Brief shots of sub-aquatic toplessness are followed by a quick-and-blurry tropical fornication montage and a little retro-voyeuristic shutterbugging. Next, it’s East London in 1971 and some hoods are making violent threats against a stubbly car shop dealer named Terry Leather (Jason Statham). Then it’s three weeks earlier and...

You know the drill. At first you think Guy Ritchie might be rolling in his grave — only he’s not dead, just his career. That’s the kind of cheap shot you have plenty of time to think about as this movie grinds through its laboriously disjointed exposition....

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