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A Walk Among the Tombstones

Fans of the hardboiled detective, rejoice. Screenwriter-director Scott Frank and actor Liam Neeson, adapting the splendid work of crime novelist Lawrence Block, have brought a…

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The Zero Theorem

Terry Gilliam's first science fiction film since "12 Monkeys" is an inventively designed but oddly inert satire on technology, God and the future of humankind.

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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.

#222 June 11, 2014

Sheila writes: I'll have more information for you about the upcoming Rogerebert.com Google Hangout in the next couple of days. There will be scheduled discussion topics, one of the first ones being about "Life Itself," Steve James' wonderful documentary about the life and work of Roger Ebert. Additionally, June 18 is Roger's birthday, and be sure to check out Rogerebert.com that day for the special features going up to commemorate. Thanks, as always, for being Ebert Club members! In case you missed it, here is the official trailer for "Life Itself."

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Ca va bien: Two Godard Films New to DVD and Blu-ray

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Distribution company Olive Films has released two obscurities by Jean-Luc Godard, 1976's "Comment Ca Va" and 1987's "Soigne ta Droite" (known in the U.S. as "Keep Your Right Up") and while these films may not have the immediate impact of his better-known works, they both reveal a filmmaker who has spent his career challenging himself, his viewers and the very medium of cinema itself in ways that are oftentimes fascinating and frustrating in equal measure.

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The fate of the Jerryphile

I love Jerry Lewis. I love Jerry Lewis so much that I have a friend who, whenever I mention Lewis online, sends me the simple two word message "Rupert Pupkin". That, of course, is the name of Robert De Niro's deranged wannabe in Martin Scorcese's "The King of Comedy". Pupkin is so obsessed with Jerry Langford, the comedian played by Jerry Lewis, that he kidnaps him and takes his place on his talk show.

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#141 November 7, 2012

Marie writes: "let's see what happens if I tickle him with my stick..."(Photo by Daniel Botelho. Click image to enlarge.)

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This cripple is a Smart Ass

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Some of the fiercest and most useful satire on the web right now is being written by a man who signs himself Smart Ass Cripple. Using his wheelchair as a podium, he ridicules government restrictions, cuts through hypocrisy, ignores the PC firewalls surrounding his disability, and is usually very funny. Because he has been disabled since birth, he uses that as a license to write things that others may think but do not dare say.

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It's not nice to call a superhero a "unitard"

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Or: Do comic-book movie blog posts display traffic superpowers?

New York Times film critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis held a discussion of comic-book movies and that subset known as "superhero movies" in advance of the Marvel re-boot, "The Amazing Spider-Man," which opens Tuesday, July 3. (The article will appear in the paper July 1, but is now online.) This, I think, goes to the heart of the matter:

SCOTT:What the defensive [superhero] fans fail or refuse to grasp is that they have won the argument. Far from being an underdog genre defended by a scrappy band of cultural renegades, the superhero spectacle represents a staggering concentration of commercial, corporate power. The ideology supporting this power is a familiar kind of disingenuous populism. The studios are just giving the people what they want! Foolproof evidence can be found in the box office returns: a billion dollars! Who can argue with that? Nobody really does. Superhero movies are taken seriously, reviewed respectfully and enjoyed by plenty of Edmund Wilson types.

I've made some of these arguments many times before, but the one that really stands out for me here is the seriousness with which mainstream critics and intellectuals now approach comic books and comic-book movies. That's unprecedented. Distinctions between popular culture and high culture aren't nearly as rigid as they used to be. Movies that would once have been treated as nothing more than commercial entertainment products are now given serious consideration as artistic achievements. Because they can be both at the same time.

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#95 December 28, 2011

Marie writes: some of you may recall reading about the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver, British Columbia Canada. (Click to enlarge.)

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The Promised Land Will Be Wheelchair-Accessible

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"Lives Worth Living" premieres on the PBS series "Independent Lens" on October 27th at 10:00 p.m. (ET/PT). For more information, visit the film's PBS website and filmmaker Eric Neudel's website.

by Jeff Shannon

To be disabled in America, in 2011, is to occupy the midpoint of a metaphorical highway, some stretches smooth and evenly paved, others rocky and difficult to navigate. When you look back at the road behind, you feel proud and satisfied that people with disabilities (PWD) have made significant progress since the days when we had no voice, no place in society, no civil rights whatsoever. Looking ahead, you see fewer physical obstacles but other remaining barriers, in terms of backward attitudes and ongoing exclusion, that society is still stubbornly reluctant to remove.

Like those of us with disabilities, Eric Neudel's documentary "Lives Worth Living" is situated at that halfway point on the rocky road of progress. In just 54 inspiring and informative minutes, Neudel's exceptional film (airing Oct. 27th at 10pm on the PBS series "Independent Lens") provides a concise primer on the history of the disability rights movement in America. The film culminates with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush on July 26th, 1990.

And yet, it's only half the story. In a perfect world, PBS would immediately finance a sequel so Neudel (who has devoted his career to documenting political and civil rights struggles) could chronicle the first 20 years of the ADA. That history is still unfolding, and the struggle to enforce and fully implement the ADA is just as compelling as the struggle for disability rights throughout the 1960s, '70s and '80s.

(I'll go a step further and say that the subject is worthy of a multi-part Ken Burns approach, echoing the sentiment of veteran disability-rights advocate Lex Frieden, who observes in "Lives Worth Living" that "If you have a good story to tell, it's not hard to get people to watch or listen to it." And the tale of pre- and post-ADA disability in America is a very good story indeed, as packed with human drama as any other fight for equality in all of American history.)

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Why video games are indeed Art

May Contain Spoilers

A few days ago, I was one of many critics who panned the film SUCKER PUNCH. Though I hadn't written my own, I advocated several reviews that I felt reflected my sentiments.

Though I agreed in their disapproval, two words kept on reappearing with each negative review I read: "video game." To say that the film draws greatly upon video game aspects is accurate. But with each citation, my fellow critics continue to beat the dead horse of an argument that video games are a meaningless form of mindless entertainment.

I grew up on movies and on video games, and love and respect what they bring to the table. Though I enjoy them on different levels, they both have given me moments of wonder and serious reflection. As an avid gamer and film lover, I find it a shame to see how one medium has gained artistic acceptance while the other continues to be derided by the mainstream. There are many reasons why they are looked down upon, but if you give them a shot, you just might conclude that video games should be considered art.

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Blood simpletons

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This week, in a review of the film represented by the still above, I got to mention Buddy Hackett. Perhaps you will see why. Also, I found the opportunity to work in references to Don Knotts, Franklin Pangborn, Jerry Lewis, M. Emmet Walsh, Roman Polanski's "Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me But Your Teeth Are in My Neck" (aka "Dance of the Vampires"), the Three Stooges and "No Country for Old Men."

What is this movie, you say? Well, take a look here.

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"Once I had a secret love..." (Royale with Cheese)

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"Once I had a secret love..." -- Doris Day, "Secret Love" (1953)

"Everywhere people stare Each and every day I can see them laugh at me And I hear them say Hey, you've got to hide your love away" -- John Lennon, "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" (1965)

"Girls like me Have to hide our hearts away..." -- Kelly Porter, a fictionalized character based on Lesley Gore in "Grace of My Heart" (1996), singing the song "My Secret Love," co-written by Gore, Larry Klein and David Baerwald

From "Romeo and Juliet" to "Avatar," few romantic myths are as compelling as the Secret Love -- the love that dare not speak its name because society, or families, or the lovers themselves just aren't ready to face it yet. A lot of perfectly ordinary relationships go through this phase, too, for all sorts of reasons. I know a pair of high school seniors who've been seeing each other surreptitiously because his socially conservative South Asian Subcontinental parents don't want him dating while he's in school. But it's really no big deal for either of them.

So, I don't quite get why the French "Come As You Are" McDonald's commercial about the dad, the gay teenager and the secret boyfriend is such a matter of consternation for Bill O'Reilly. Other than, of course, that he is Bill O'Reilly, so it's kind of his job to say things that make him appear ridiculous. The ad employs a perfectly familiar formula -- only this "secret love" story isn't the traditional tale of tortured melodrama; it's a sweet little comedy, an unobtrusive private exchange played out in a bustling public place.

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Name That Director!

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Click above to REALLY enlarge...

UPDATED 01/28/10: 2:25 p.m. PST -- COMPLETED!: Thanks for all the detective work -- and special thanks to Christopher Stangl and Srikanth Srinivasan himself for their comprehensive efforts at filling the last few holes! Now I have to go read about who some of these experimental filmmakers are. I did find some Craig Baldwin movies on Netflix, actually...

Srikanth Srinivasan of Bangalore writes one of the most impressive movie blogs on the web: The Seventh Art. I don't remember how I happened upon it last week, but wow am I glad I did. Dig into his exploration of connections between Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" and Jean-Luc Godard's "History of Cinema." Or check out his piece on James Benning's 1986 "Landscape Suicide." There's a lot to look through, divided into sections for Hollywood and World Cinema.

In the section called "The Cinemaniac... I found the above collage (mosaic?) of mostly-famous faces belonging to film directors, which Srikanth says he assembled from thumbnails at Senses of Cinema. Many of them looked quite familiar to me, and if I'm not mistaken they were among the biographical portraits we used in the multimedia CD-ROM movie encyclopedia Microsoft Cinemania, which I edited from 1994 to 1998, first on disc, then also on the web. (Anybody with a copy of Cinemania able to confirm that? My Mac copy of Cinemania97 won't run on Snow Leopard.)

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Hey, Mr. Fox: Who's the audience? Who cares?

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Without making a big deal of it, New York Times critic A.O. Scott slyly slips several sharp observations about the role of movie critics into this paragraph from his review of "The Fantastic Mr. Fox":

Is it is a movie for children? This inevitable question depends on the assumption that children have uniform tastes and expectations. How can that be? And besides, the point of everything [director Wes] Anderson has ever done is that truth and beauty reside in the odd, the mismatched, the idiosyncratic. He makes that point in ways that are sometimes touching, sometimes annoying, but usually worth arguing about. Not everyone will like "Fantastic Mr. Fox"; and if everyone did it, would not be nearly as interesting as it is. There are some children -- some people -- who will embrace it with a special, strange intensity, as if it had been made for them alone.

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A bar on North Avenue

O'Rourke's was our stage, and we displayed our personas there nightly. It was a shabby street-corner tavern on a dicey stretch of North Avenue, a block after Chicago's Old Town stopped being a tourist haven. In its early days it was heated by a wood-burning pot-bellied stove, and ice formed on the insides of the windows. One night a kid from the street barged in, whacked a customer in the front booth with a baseball bat, and ran out again. When a roomer who lived upstairs died, his body was discovered when maggots started to drop through the ceiling. A man nobody knew was shot dead one night out in back. From the day it opened on December 30, 1966 until the day I stopped drinking in 1979, I drank there more or less every night when I was in town. So did a lot of people.

Jay Kovar and Jeanette Sullivan behind the bar

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Second-guessing the Oscars

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The only additional Oscar prediction I'm prepared to make this year is that Hugh Jackman will be a delightful host for the evening. Famous for playing Wolverine in the X-Men movies, he may not strike you as the life of the party, but I base my prediction on two factors: He's Australian, and he's the youngest of five. Therefore, he's funny, born and bred.

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