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Jimi: All Is by My Side

What’s fascinating about “Jimi: All Is By My Side” is not only its decision to show us this particular chapter in Hendrix’s life, but also…

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The Boxtrolls

"The Boxtrolls" is a beautiful example of the potential in LAIKA's stop-motion approach, and the images onscreen are tactile and layered. But, as always, it's…

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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.

Desert island DVDs (Matt's & mine & yours)

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Matt Zoller Seitz devotes his final Friday Night Seitz slideshow at Salon (he's starting as New York Magazine's TV critic Monday -- most deserved congrats!) to a list of his "Movies for a desert island." His rules: ten movies only, plus one short and one single season of a TV series, for a total of 12 titles. "Part of the fun of this exercise," he writes, "is figuring out what you think you can watch over and over, and what you can live without."

Matt's titles include "What's Opera, Doc?," Season One of "Deadwood," Bob Fosse's "All That Jazz," Terrence Malick's "The New World" (surprise!), Terrence Davies' "The Long Day Closes" (my #1 film of 1992), Joel & Ethan Coen's "Raising Arizona" (a movie I like, but consider among their lesser efforts) and Albert and David Maysles' "Salesman." Click here to see the complete list and Matt's comments.

OK, I'm game. So, the challenge, as MZS sets it up, is not just to pick "favorites," but to choose pictures that will stand up to repeated viewing since nobody is going to get you (or vote you) off the island and "It is assumed that you'll have an indestructible DVD player with a solar-recharging power source, so let's not get bogged down in refrigerator logic, mm'kay?"

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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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Public Edition #5

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This is a special free sample of the Newsletter members receive weekly. It contains content gathered from several past issues and reflects the diversity of what you'll find inside the Ebert Club. For Roger's invitation to the Club, go HERE.

"There is a stubbornness about me that can never bear to be frightened at the will of others. My courage always rises with every attempt to intimidate me." - Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

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#24 August 18, 2010

The Grand Poobah's report from the Michigan woods: I'm still out here flashing back for my memoirs. We drove to nearby Sawyer to load up on groceries for one of my recipes for The Pot; we're having the neighbors in for dinner. It is impossible to visit Sawyer without my assistant, Carol Iwata, visiting the soda fountain at Schlipp's Pharmacy. Here she's just finished slurping up a chocolate milk shake made with chocolate ice cream. If you look hard you can see the pharmacist in the mirror.

(click to enlarge)

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The evolution of a hat

View image Figure #1.

View image Figure #2.

(My final contribution to the Close-Up Blog-a-thon at the House Next Door, which just wrapped.)

Warning: This post (and the short film montage/hommage I put together to accompany it, above) may contain spoilers.

Jesus, Tom, it's the hat.

Take a look at the four shots from Joel and Ethan Coen's "Miller's Crossing" on this page: three close-ups of the same hat and a long shot of another one with a body under. The hat in all three close-ups, hat belongs to Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne). The other one is on the head of his boss and friend, Leo O'Bannon (Albert Finney). But let's re-wind a little bit.

The movie is set into motion with a close-up of three ice cubes plopped into a glass tumbler. We don't see Tom, our main character until the next shot, where he appears behind the bald head of a man (Johnny Casper, played by Jon Polito) who's delivering a lecture into the camera -- or just past it -- about friendship, character, ethics. Tom is the one who put the cubes into the glass and poured himself some whiskey. He crosses the room out of focus, moves past the camera, and when we see a reverse angle, he's standing behind and to the side of Leo. His tumbler of whiskey is in the frame, but his head isn't. When we finally do get a look at his mug, he's not wearing a hat. Meanwhile, Casper's henchman, the cadaverous Eddie Dane (J.E. Freeman) stands behind his boss, holding his hat. And wearing one. It's a sign of respect.

View image Figure #3.

View image Figure #4.

When Tom leaves the room at the end of the scene, he puts on his hat. Then there's this strange credits sequence, like a dream in a forest, with a canopy of autumnal branches overhead. On the forest floor, a hat falls into the foreground of the frame, the title of the film appears (Figure #1), and the hat blows away into the distance. In the next close-up, Tom is roused from a stuporous slumber. He sits up and feels his head, for his hangover and for his hat.

"Where's my hat?" Tom asks.

"You bet it, ya moron," says the friend who woke him up. "Good thing the game broke up before you bet your shorts."

Turns out, the hat left with Mink and Verna. Together, they are the link between Tom's hat and his shorts. We've already heard, in the opening scene, that Mink (Steve Buscemi) is "the Dane's boy." Mink appears only in one brief scene at the Shenandoah Club, explains the whole movie ("as plain as the nose on your -- Turns out he's also involved with "the Schmatte," bookie Bernie Birnbaum (John Turturro), who also happens to be the brother of Verna (Marcia Gay Harden), Leo's twist and Tom's secret squeeze and the subject of Johnny Casper's opening rant.

Got that, or do I have to spell it out for ya?

OK, here's the deal:

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What I learned from Johnny Caspar...

View image The first of Johnny. (Notice the indistinct image of Tom making his entrance in the background.)

(and it ain't nuttin' about et'ics).

Every single time I shave I think of Johnny Caspar. I can't help it. And it's not just because I love the obnoxious little character. And the actor who plays him, Jon Polito. Or that I think "Miller's Crossing" may be the greatest motion picture of the last 20 years. Or that it's among my lieblingsfilme.

It's because this one thing Johnny Caspar says near the end of the picture makes sense. I've tried it, and I don't notice any difference, but it seems like it oughta work. It's also the last thing -- a relatively trivial piece of practical advice -- that he utters in the movie, making his exit rather poignant, even for such a repulsive character.

Here's the way Joel and Ethan Coen describe it in their script (though it's not exactly this way in the movie): ... the car pulls into frame to stop at the curb [in front of the Barton Arms apartments] with the camera framed on the driver's window. The driver has a small bandage on his left cheek. We hear Caspar's voice as we hear him getting out the back:

CASPAR Ya put the razor in cold water, not hot--'cause metal does what in cold?

DRIVER I dunno, Johnny.

We hear the back door slam and Caspar appears in the front passenger window.

CASPAR . . . 'Ats what I'm tellin' ya. It contracts. 'At way you get a first class shave.

DRIVER Okay, Johnny.

As Caspar walks off, the driver slouches back, pulls his fedora over his eyes and folds his arms across his chest. Now, art has taught me a great deal about how to live life (or how one should, anyway). But it's also passed along innumerable little (and not so little) bits of pragmatic knowledge. What are some of these kinds of things you've learned from the movies? Some people might say that "Psycho" taught 'em how not to take a shower, but that's not what I mean. I mean advice about the real world. Give us the character (and/or actor), the title, and the tip you picked up...

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