Heaven Is for Real
Faith-based film tries reaching past its audience, but falls back on preaching to its own choir way too much.
* 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.
Marie writes: It's no secret there's no love lost between myself and what I regard as London's newest blight; The Shard. That said, I also love a great view. Go here to visit a 360-degree augmented-reality panorama from the building's public observation deck while listening to the sounds of city, including wind, traffic, birds and even Big Ben.
Marie writes: As some of you may have heard, a fireball lit up the skies over Russia on February 15, 2013 when a meteoroid entered Earth's atmosphere. Around the same time, I was outside with my spiffy new digital camera - the Canon PowerShot SX260 HS. And albeit small, it's got a built-in 20x zoom lens. I was actually able to photograph the surface of the moon!
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Marie writes: Behold a truly inspired idea...Age 8: Eileen's pink creature It started with a simple idea: to make a recognizable comfort toy for her 4 year-old son Dani, based on one of his drawing. His school had asked the children to bring in a toy from home; an emergency measure in the event of a tantrum or crying fit. Fearing he might lose his favorite, Wendy Tsao decided to make Dani a new one. Using a drawing he often made as her guide, she improvised a plush toy snowman. Five years later, Wendy Tsao has her own thriving home-based craft business - Child's Own Studio - in which she transforms the imaginative drawings of children into plush and cloth dolls; each one handcrafted and one-of-a-kind. She receives requests from parents all over the world; there's 500 people on waiting list. Note: kudos to club member Sandy Kahn for submitting the piece.
Marie writes: I recently heard from an ex-coworker named Athena aka the production manager on an animated series I'd painted digital backgrounds for. She sent me some great photos she'd found on various sites. More than few made me smile and thus inspired, I thought I'd share them with club members. I've added captions for fun but if you can come up with something better, feel free to submit your wit by way of posted comment. Note: I don't know who the photographers are; doesn't say. (Click pics to enlarge.)
"I want a peanut for every photo you took of me..."
"I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out." - from LIFE ITSELF
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Marie writes: Gone fishing...aka: in the past 48 hrs, Movable Type was down so I couldn't work, my friend Siri came over with belated birthday presents, and I built a custom mesh screen for my kitchen window in advance of expected hot weather. So this week's Newsletter is a bit lighter than usual.
Marie writes: Some of you may have noticed that I have a soft spot for surfing videos. It's not the sport itself - though I do admire it - so much as the camerawork it inspires, and because I have a translucency fetish; I take great pleasure in seeing light pass through something else. There's an ethereal and other-worldly quality to it which elevates my soul; sunlight pouring through a humble jar of orange marmalade enough to make me think I'm looking at God; smile.And so needless to say, when Club member Lynn McKenzie submitted a link to Paul McCartney's stunning new music video called "Blue Sway" - I was utterly captivated. (click image to enlarge.)
Marie writes: Club member and noted blog contributor Tom Dark took this astonishing photograph near his home in Abiqui, New Mexico. The "unknown entity" appeared without warning and after a failed attempt to communicate, fled the scene. Tom stopped short of saying "alien" to describe the encounter, but I think it's safe to say that whatever he saw, it was pretty damned freaky. It sure can't be mistaken for anything terrestrial; like a horse pressing its nose up to the camera and the lens causing foreshortening. As it totally does not look like that at all. (click to enlarge.)
During the first press screening here of "Creation," during a scene when Charles Darwin walks out of church during a sermon on the first book of Genesis, an audience member stood up and walked out. Was he offended by the film? There's no way to say. There were an unusually large number of walk-outs, but who knows if they were leaving for theological reasons, or to get in line for the screenings of "Bright Star" or "Fish Tank," or because of boredom? I hope it wasn't boredom. Although it's a movie with a good deal of talk, at least no one shouted out, "You lie!"
Charles Darwin as Paul Bettany
This will adamantly not be a review of "Creation," which will await its opening. It will be a discussion of some of the thoughts it inspires. I expected the film to be focused on Darwin's theory of the origin of species and the controversy it provoked in mid-19th century, but it is primarily about his domestic life, centering on Down House, Bromley, where he and his wife Emma lived from 1842 until until his death in 1882.
A week or so ago I began to receive feedback that posts weren't being displayed on my entry "Win Ben Stein's Mind," from Dec. 3, 2008. That was my attack on Stein's film "Expelled," which supported Creationism against the Theory of Evolution. The comment thread, having reached 2,648 posts, many of them hundreds of words in length, was fed up, and wasn't going to take it anymore. I consulted the web gods at the Sun-Times. I was told...uh...ahem...perhaps the thread was growing a tad long, and was maxing out the software? After 2,640 posts and 239,093 words, perhaps this was the case.
Q. After reading your review of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," I note that you are the only critic I know of who feels that the increasing darkness of the series is a barrier, as opposed to a credit, to the series. I wonder, do you feel that a lot of critics' enthusiasm for "darkness" and "realism" in today's fantasy filmmaking is misplaced? Do you yearn for more innocence and joy in films where it is clearly an asset and not a liability?
Latest Contrarian Week News:
In his New York Observer year-end wrap-up (and ten-best list), Andrew Sarris attempts to steal the thunder of one of his New York "alternative weekly" rivals.
Sarris writes: Fortunately, modern technology makes it almost impossible for a good movie to get “lost” because of end-of-the-year mental exhaustion. So, with the proviso that I still have a great deal of catching up to do, here are my considered choices for the various 10-best categories, and one of my patented 10-worst lists under the provocative heading of “Movies Other People Liked and I Didn’t.” I am not at all deterred in dishing out my annual supply of negativity by the correspondent who informed me last year that he preferred all the films on my 10-worst list to all the films on my 10-best list. I have long ago become resigned to my fate as a reviled revisionist ever since my first column in The Village Voice in 1960 hailed Alfred Hitchcock as a major artist for "Psycho," and inspired more hate mail than any Voice column had received up to that time. That clinched my job at the ever-contrarian Voice, and I have simply gone on from there.So, how contrarian is the "reviled revisionist" 46 years later? Let's see:
"The Departed" as best film of the year. (Only in New York!)
"Blood Diamond" as #5.
Best Supporting Actresses: 1) Jennifer Connelly, "Blood Diamond" 2) Gong Li, "Miami Vice" 3) Maggie Gyllenhaal, "World Trade Center"
And then there's this: Other striking male performances were provided by: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Alec Baldwin and Anthony Anderson in The Departed; Edward Norton, Liev Schreiber and Toby Jones in The Painted Veil; Wim Willaert in When the Sea Rises; Leslie Phillips and Richard Griffiths in Venus; Clive Owen, Denzel Washington, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe, and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Inside Man; Ken Watanabe, Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase and Shido Nakamura in Letters from Iwo Jima; Greg Kinnear, Steve Carell, Alan Arkin and Paul Dano in Little Miss Sunshine; Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti and Rufus Sewell in The Illusionist; Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Noah Emmerich, Gregg Edelman and Ty Simpkins in Little Children; Keanu Reeves, Christopher Plummer and Dylan Walsh in The Lake House; Nicolas Cage, Michael Pena and Stephen Dorff in World Trade Center; Tim Blake Nelson, Pat Corley, Jeffrey Donovan, Stacy Keach and Scott Wilson in Come Early Morning; Ryan Gosling and Anthony Mackie in Half Nelson; Jason Schwartzman, Rip Torn, and Danny Huston in Marie Antoinette; Matt Damon, Michael Gambon, Alec Baldwin, William Hurt, Billy Crudup, Robert De Niro, Keir Dullea, Timothy Hutton, Eddie Redmayne, Mark Ivanir and Joe Pesci in The Good Shepherd; Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, Kelsey Grammer, James Marsden, Shawn Ashmore, Aaron Stanford, Vinnie Jones and Ben Foster in X-Men: The Last Stand; Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Simon Abkarian, Sebastien Foucan, Jesper Christensen and Tobias Menzies in Casino Royale; Ebru Ceylan and Mehmet Eryilmaz in Climates; Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck and Bob Hoskins in Hollywoodland; Jamie Foxx, Danny Glover, Keith Robinson and Hinton Battle in Dreamgirls; Brian O’Halloran, Jeff Anderson, Jason Mewes, Trevor Fehrman, Kevin Smith and Jason Lee in Clerks II; Justin Kirk and Jamie Harrold in Flannel Pajamas; Stanley Tucci, Simon Baker and Adrian Grenier in The Devil Wears Prada; Will Ferrell, Dustin Hoffman and Tom Hulce in Stranger Than Fiction; Samuel L. Jackson, Curtis Jackson, Chad Michael Murray, Sam Jones III and Brian Presley in Home of the Brave; Harris Yulin, Ty Burrell and Boris McGiver in Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus; Max Minghella, John Malkovich, Jim Broadbent, Matt Keeslar, Ethan Suplee, Joel David Moore and Nick Swardson in Art School Confidential; Joseph Cross, Brian Cox, Joseph Fiennes and Alec Baldwin in Running with Scissors; Jamie Foxx, Colin Farrell, Ciarán Hinds, Justin Theroux, Barry Shabaka Henley, Luis Tosar and John Ortiz in Miami Vice; Michael Sheen, James Cromwell, Alex Jennings, Roger Allam and Tim McMullan in The Queen; Samuel L. Jackson, Ron Eldard, William Forsythe, Anthony Mackie, Marlon Sherman and Clarke Peters in Freedomland; Vin Diesel, Peter Dinklage, Linus Roache, Alex Rocco, Ron Silver and Raul Esparza in Find Me Guilty; Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Stanley Tucci, Morgan Freeman and Ben Kingsley in Lucky Number Slevin; Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Chris Klein, Shohreh Aghdashloo, John Cho, Tony Yalda, Sam Golzari and Willem Dafoe in American Dreamz; Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson and Rory Cochrane in A Scanner Darkly; Adam Beach, Ryan A. Phillippe, Jesse Bradford, John Benjamin Hickey, Jon Slattery, Barry Pepper, Jamie Bell, Paul Walker and Robert Patrick in Flags of Our Fathers; Chow Yun-Fat in Curse of the Golden Flower; Sergi López, Doug Jones, Álex Angulo and Federico Luppi in Pan’s Labyrinth; Bill Nighy in Notes on a Scandal.Take that, A----- W----!
"Beauty is overrated": Patrick Wilson to Kate Winslet in "Little Children."
What are your expectations about the second feature directed by Todd Fields (Nick Nightingale in "Eyes Wide Shut") after "In the Bedroom"? Ditch them -- a smart thing to do before watching any movie. If "In the Bedroom" was the child of Chabrol (specifically "La Femme Infidel"), "Little Children" takes a sample of Todd Solondz's DNA. I don't think it's giving away anything too important to say that "Little Children" is a melodramatic tragi-comedy (co-written by novelist Tom "Election" Perratta, based on his novel), and that the title refers not so much to wee ones who have been born recently as to the immature young adults who are now faced with raising their offspring.
It's a funny, frustrating, even infuriating film -- and at Toronto people seemed to either love it or hate it. I know I did. It just depended on the scene. I think I appreciate it more now, 24 hours later, than I did the moment it was over. It's an odd film, with a wryly intrusive, deep-voiced narrator who appears to be standing just behind the screen reading excerpts from the novel.
Q. In the most recent Answer Man, you discussed the fact that Jennifer Connelly is photographed at the end of a dock or pier in "Dark City," "Requiem for a Dream" and "House of Sand and Fog." In a deleted scene on the DVD of "A Beautiful Mind," there is a sequence where Russell Crowe dreams of Jennifer Connelly running toward a dock on a lake.
Shortly after 7:30 a.m. (CST) Tuesday, Motion Picture Academy President Frank Pierson and actress Sigourney Weaver will walk onstage at the Kodak Theater on Hollywood Boulevard and announce the nominations for the 76th Academy Awards, and this article will instantly become obsolete. But until that moment, we can guess and speculate and predict about this year's nominees, and here goes.
Ebert's Best Film Lists 1967 - present
Q. In the newly released DVD of "Mulholland Dr.," David Lynch gives ten clues to unwrapping the mystery of the movie. What do you make of the clues? (Matt Warshauer, Evanston IL)
I approach this annual task with a sense of foreboding. The 2002 Oscar race rests on shifting sands. There are scarcely even any absolute front-runners, unless it is Jennifer Connolly as best supporting actress. I am sure of one category, then another. Then I change my mind.
Judging by the attacks against it, "A Beautiful Mind" is the most reprehensible film of the year. Amazing it was made, let alone nominated for an Academy Award. The mugging of this film is the most disturbing element of this year's Oscar season.
Ebert's Best Film Lists1967 - present
Q. I just read your review of "Unbreakable." I'm afraid you didn't get the whole point of the movie. This film is not a "serious drama" as you state in your review. The entire movie is tongue in cheek. It's sly and witty, with lots of laughs for those who get the joke. The joke is that the entire movie is a comic book about a new super hero, in which the hero discovers his powers. The very name of the Bruce Willis character, David Dunn, is in the classic comic book tradition of Peter Parker, Clark Kent and Lois Lane." Similarly, Mr. Glass is in the tradition of The Joker, The Riddler, Pruneface, etc. The Bruce Willis character goes out in the rain wearing a hooded poncho reminiscent of Batman's hood and cape. I think the movie is a victim of bad marketing. The previews should have shown some of the lighter scenes to give the audience more appropriate expectations. (Jared Laskin, Los Angeles)
CANNES, France -- Films are booed at Cannes for two reasons: Because they are bad, or because they are infuriating. Those in the second category are likely to be quite good, although they make you so mad, you have to step back and cool off to appreciate their qualities.
Q. I stood for a long time in front of the poster for "Inventing the Abbots," which shows five or six of the major characters piled into the front seat of a car. Something was wrong. Suddenly I realized: There isn't room in the front of that car for all the bodies connected to the heads! The heads are so close together that they apparently do not possess shoulders, arms, chests, torsos, etc. What's up? (Emerson Thorne, Chicago)
John Singleton is all of 26 years old now, and struggling to keep from repeating himself.
Francois Truffaut once said that it was impossible to pay attention to a film shot in the house where you were born because you'd always be noticing that they wallpapered the bedroom. I knew I was in for the same sort of problem in the opening scene of "The Hot Spot" (opening Friday in Chicago). Dennis Hopper's new thriller was made in 1990 but its psychic center is 1957, and Don Johnson, who plays a mysterious stranger from out of town, roars onto the screen in a 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk.