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Guardians of the Galaxy

In many respects, “Guardians,” directed and co-written by indie wit James Gunn, and starring buffed-up former schlub Chris Pratt and Really Big Sci-Fi Blockbuster vet…

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War Story

Director Mark Jackson’s drama is a chilly study in grief starring Catherine Keener as a war-zone photographer shattered by her experiences in Libya.

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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.

A comedy that keeps swimming

No cinematic genre lends itself less for repeated viewings than comedy. Finding a truly funny picture is hard enough (not that you could tell from the typical reactions at a "Fockers" screening) and besides, how many times can people laugh at the same joke? Comedies also tend to age the worst. Among those that I recall once driving audiences wild here in México were "The Party" (1967), starring Peter Sellers, with all the guests falling into a pool full of bubbles, and Peter Bogdanovich's zany screwball feature "What's up Doc?" (1972), but watching them today mostly leaves me cold.

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#132 September 5, 2012

Marie writes: According to the calendar, summer is now officially over (GASP!) and with its demise comes the first day of school. Not all embrace the occasion, however. Some wrap themselves proudly in capes of defiance and make a break for it - rightly believing that summer isn't over until the last Himalayan Blackberry has been picked and turned into freezer jam!

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Adam Sandler's house of cruelty

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"Through my films I'm eventually trying to one day tell the truth. I don't know if I'm ever going to get there, but I'm slowly letting pieces of myself out there and then maybe by the time I'm 85, I'll look back and say, 'All right, that about sums it up.'" -- Adam Sandler, interview clip used in the 2012 Oscar broadcast

What if those schlocky Adam Sandler movies that you either think are funny or you don't really aren't just schlocky Adam Sandler movies that you either think are funny or you don't? What if they don't have much to do with movies at all, but are more like leveraged derivative instruments (I don't actually know what those are) or synthetic collateralized debt obligation (CDO) transactions, devised by accountants to provide maximum returns with minimum effort -- that promise investors profits for next-to-nothing? Ultra-low-budget production values and minor league actors, writers and directors (except for Sandler himself, who gets $25 million-plus up-front plus a heavy chunk of the gross), subsidized by egregious product placements, make for maximum risk minimalization.

As a moviegoer and a critic, all I care about is what's on the screen -- or isn't. But there's so little on the screen in Adam Sandler movies, that I confess I'm bewildered at what some claim to see in them. So, if you're curious about, say, how the production cost of the average Adam Sandler comedy jumped from about $30 million to about $80 million overnight... well, just keep reading.

The so-called " flop" of "That's My Boy" this past weekend (Sandler's second after "Jack and Jill" -- almost a trend!) has been greeted with schadenfreude in some quarters, but it disregards the likelihood that financial arrangements have long been in place that ensure a Sandler movie has to really, seriously tank before it winds up actually losing money.* Who knows -- there may be the equivalent of credit default swaps that protect Sony and Happy Madison from disappointing returns. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that there are investment devices that allow the backing companies to actually make money by placing wagers predicting the underperformance of a given movie, just to hedge their bets. Everybody wins, right?

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Gary Winick: A valediction forbidding mourning

May Contain Spoilers

He had these smiling eyes. And a self-deprecating manner which seemed to belie his very good looks ("He's so cute," my 19-year-old assistant exclaimed), about which he was fairly oblivious. Most of all, he was simply a very good guy.

Gary Winick, a many-hats-wearing filmmaker and digital pioneer, died of complications following a 2 year battle with brain cancer on February 27th, the day of the Academy Awards --- an especially sad irony for a vital man, weeks shy of 50, whose passion for film and storytelling had filled the decades of his adult life.

The private memorial service was held at the Time-Warner Center in Winick's beloved New York. Overlooking Central Park as the sun set, an invited group of 400 (some going back to childhood, some famous, many with whom he'd worked, even some he'd made sure got a decent meal when they were struggling) assembled to watch film clips, to hear and tell stories - to cry, yes, but also to laugh at so many experiences they certainly cherish now.

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#60 April 27, 2011

The Grand Poobah shared the following recently and which struck me as just the thing to put in here - for it amounts to someone inventing a moving still akin to those seen on the front page of Harry Potter's famous newspaper."You know how people sometimes say that jazz is the only truly American art form? Animated GIFs are like the jazz of the internet: they could only exist, and be created and appreciated, online. That said, PopTart Cat is not exactly on par with Thelonious Monk. But photographer Jamie Beck and motion graphics artist Kevin Burg may have finally found a way to elevate the animated GIF to a level approaching fine art, with their "cinemagraphs" -- elegant, subtly animated creations that are "something more than a photo but less than a video." - fastcodesignAnd sadly, they won't work in here; Movable Type doesn't like animated gifs. It's easily solved however, just visit Far Better Than 3-D: Animated GIFs That Savor A Passing Moment to see an assortment in play!

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Which is the monster? The creature, or the creator?

May Contain Spoilers

Raging Bull, Henry V and Heat are primary examples of films acclaimed on their releases and steadily more since then. But this is far from being the case with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: slaughtered by the majority of critics in 1994, when it was released, the movie by British director Kenneth Branagh didn't please the audience either, becoming an embarrassing box office flop in the career of its director, which had so far been in ascension.

Even the surprising casting of Robert De Niro in the role of the "monster" wasn't enough to attract the attention of the audience, which therefore lost the opportunity to witness yet another immensely sensitive performance by the actor - and I use the word "monster" in quotes because DeNiro may have played many in his brilliant career (Louis Cyphre, Al Capone, Max Cady and even Jake La Motta come to mind), but the creature conceived by British writer Mary Shelley certainly isn't one of them. At least, not in Branagh's beautiful version.

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Cutting the Basterds

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After the devastating news of Sally Menke's death last week, I read some moving and heartfelt tributes to her... and yet, some of them didn't seem to understand what an editor actually does, or what made Menke's work in particular so remarkable.

I suppose just about anybody could string together a rough assembly of a movie. All you have to do is follow the script and put things in the right order, as Sir Edwin, the great Shakespearean actor played by John Cleese, said of words in a play: "Old Peter Hall used to say to me, 'They're all there Eddie, now we've got to get them in the right order.'"

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Hecklers as critics, critics as hecklers and comics as critics

Psychologists say that depression is rage turned inward. Stand-up comedy, on the other hand, is rage turned back outward again. (I believe George Carlin had a routine about the use of violent metaphors directed at the audience in comedy: "Knock 'em dead!" "I killed!") In the documentary "Heckler" (now on Showtime and DVD) comedian Jamie Kennedy, as himself, plays both roles with ferocious intensity. The movie is his revenge fantasy against anyone who has ever heckled him on stage, or written a negative review... or, perhaps, slighted him in on the playground or at a party or over the phone or online.

"Heckler" (I accidentally called it "Harangue" just now) is an 80-minute howl of fury and anguish in which Kennedy and a host of other well-known and not-well-known showbiz people tell oft-told tales of triumphant comebacks and humiliating disasters, freely venting their spleens at those who have spoken unkindly of them. At first the bile is aimed at hecklers in club audiences (with some particularly nasty invective for loudmouthed drunken women), then it shifts to "critics" -- broadly defined as anybody who says something negative about a figure whose work appears before a paying public. Some of the critics are actually interested in analysis; some are just insult comics who are using the Internet as their open mic. It gets pretty ugly, but it's fascinating -- because the comics, the critics and the hecklers are so much alike that it's no wonder each finds the others so infuriating.

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Monty Python season

Rarely has an American political candidate triggered so many associations with a famed British comedy troupe of stage, screen, television and phonograph recordings:

"I used to think that Michael Palin was the funniest Palin on earth.... [Sarah Palin] is like a nice-looking parrot, because the parrot speaks beautifully and kinda says 'Aw, shucks,' every now and again, but doesn't really have any understanding of the meaning of the words that it is producing, even though it's producing them very accurately.... I mean, Monty Python could have written this." -- John Cleese, co-founder of Monty Python's Flying Circus (Clip here.)

(See above. Monty Python did.)

"But Palin is as ridiculous as the competitors from Monty Python's Upperclass Twit of the Year competition, jumping over hurdles that are nothing more than a stack of matchbooks." -- Anne Lamott, Salon.com

"Cue marching band music and a big cartoon foot. US Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, hackers have revealed, has used a Yahoo! free webmail account to talk government business with aides." -- David Winder, ITwire

"As Monty Python used to say, 'No one expects the Spanish Inquisition' -- which is another way of saying that no one expects the unexpected." -- Mark J. Penn, Politico

So many times over the last nine years (especially the last nine years) I have watched politicians on television and thought of John Cleese. No so much of the parrot sketch (to which he also alludes in the quotation above) but of another beloved Python bit he did...

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Film criticism: It's not just a job, it's an adventure

View image Glenn Kenny's blog: Bought and paid for.

What if you had a full-time job that you could get done in less than 40 hours a week? I've never really had one of those, but I've rarely had a 9 to 5 job, either. Most of my gigs (the ones I've really liked, whether writing for a daily newspaper or walking and boarding dogs) have averaged more than "full time" because the hours are not fixed -- that is, they are always in flux, somewhere between "flexible" and "unpredictable." In part, they involve being constantly "on call" -- available for unforeseen events. Drop everything: The death of a famous filmmaker requires a career-spanning obit/ tribute/ appreciation right now! A beagle with diarrhea demands comparably urgent attention, and a Great Pyranees with the same problem compels quick, decisive action no matter what hour of the day or night it is. There's no such thing as overtime (or "time off," really, either). That comes with the job.

At Zero for Conduct, film critic and former Village Voice staffer Michael Atkinson asserted the following about those whose job it is to cover the movie front: I'd love to see every magazine employ an army of full-time culture reviewers, and pay them millions, but it doesn't make very much sense, for the simple reason that it's not truly a full-time job....

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'South Park' Held Hostage: Day 12

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Oh, it just keeps getting more and more twisted. A Daily Dish reader from Canada notes that the banned-in-the-UK (and US) "South Park" episode ridiculing Tom Cruise and Scientology, "Trapped in the Closet," has been hastily rescheduled for showing on Canadian television, where it is now set to play Friday. Will the Forbidden Episode actually make it to Canadian screens? Andrew Sullivan wonders what this means: "Canada is now ahead of the U.S. in terms of free speech? Maybe Viacom and Tom Cruise don't get to veto what TV viewers can watch there."

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`Bringing out' Scorsese

Martin Scorsese's new movie, "Bringing Out the Dead," is one of his best. That means a lot when you are arguably the greatest active American director. The film, which opens Friday, stars Nicolas Cage as a paramedic whose runs through Hell's Kitchen are like a bus route through Dante's Inferno.

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