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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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Opening Shots: Memento

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From Andrew Davies:

I think the first shot of Christopher Nolan's Memento could be best described as the film in miniature because of how the subject of the shot establishes several important elements of the film. The credits begin on a dark screen. The title "MEMENTO" is still there as the shot fades in, placing the title over the image of a hand holding a photograph. Placing the title over the image of the photograph links the word and the image, telling the audience this photograph is a memento of...something.

The photograph, which is that of a man dead on the floor, his blood on the wall and floor, establishes several important things about the film. The photograph first establishes the narrative structure of the film because as it is shaken, the picture fades instead of develops. This represents how the film begins at the end of the story and progresses, so to speak, to the beginning. The fading of the photograph also establishes the mental state of its main character, the man holding the photograph, Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce). Like the photograph, Leonard's memory fades. He has short term memory loss, caused by an intruder who raped and murdered his wife in a home break in. His mission through the film is to find "John G," the name he gives to the intruder. The photograph, in of itself, establishes one of the ways in which Leonard tries to keep track of people and places he will forget is to take photographs of them, writing captions underneath the picture.

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Would you like to see my tattoos?

May Contain Spoilers

Is it love at first sight? It's certainly lust at first sight between them in the beginning. Something clicks inside. They soon begin their secret affair, and then, motivated by their common desire to escape from the world they're stuck in, they hatch a scheme to solve their problems once for all. They have a good plan. They can succeed if they carefully tiptoe along the thin line they draw. However, in the world of film noir, it is usually easier said than done.

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The mesmerizing masterpiece "Memento"

May Contain Spoilers

In the wake of the disappointing "Shutter Island", it's especially gratifying to look back at Christopher Nolan's feature film "Memento" (2001), an indie mystery starring Guy Pearce as a San Francisco man in Los Angeles suffering from anterograde amnesia, or short-term memory loss.

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Ebertfest 2008: Party de Champaign

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The Prince of Denmark, Yukio Mishima and the Incredible Hulk are planning to convene in Champaign-Urbana, IL, for Roger Ebert's Film Festival (April 23-27, 2008). Joining them (off-screen) for the Ebertfest No. 10 will be directors Paul Schrader, Bill Forsyth, Sally Potter and actors Christine Lahti, Aida Turturro, Joe Pantoliano, among others. The emphasis is still on the (re-)discovery of "overlooked" films (with that term defined however Ebert wants to define it), but the festival is now known simply as Ebertfest. The full schedule is here:

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Six from Sundance

PARK CITY, Utah -- A jilted transsexual, a city priest, a rock musician, a man with no memory, a Jewish anti-Semite and a headless chicken. Six movies ranging from good to great. After two more days at the Sundance Film Festival, I review my notes.

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Movie Answer Man (04/06/1997)

Q. One thing that really jumped out at me during the Oscars this year: the comparative screen time for the winners in the supporting and lead acting categories. I would bet that Cuba Gooding Jr. had more screen time than Geoffrey Rush, and that Juliette Binoche had more screen time than Frances McDormand. Now, don't get me wrong: I admired both Rush's and McDormand's performances. But since they respectively beat Billy Bob Thornton and Emily Watson, who appeared in just about every scene in their films, it feels like a cheat! (Chuck Rudolph, New York City)

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Sleeper from Chicago directors wakes up Toronto

TORONTO, Canada--Like scouts at a pre-season game, the North American movie industry is gathered here in Toronto, eyeing the developing autumn movie season. The Toronto Film Festival, now in its 21st year, is the major launching pad for many of the films that will be honored, applauded and damned during Oscar Season, which started, in case you missed it, on Labor Day.

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