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Mr. Turner

Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere"—which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love—yet…

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Annie

The new version of "Annie" is fashionably artificial and not very well directed, but its unabashed good cheer is very welcome.

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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.

Charlatan, Louisiana

May Contain Spoilers

On Netflix Instant

Robert Duvall's "The Apostle" (1997) is the story of a preacher who believes he has unique permission to phone call the Divine. As is the case with such preachers, the rules of goodness and morality seem to apply to everyone else before they apply to him. Meaning, he is above the law until he gets frightened for breaking the law. So, his combination of impious exhilaration, impatient devotion, and self-righteous rage reveals a man in sunglasses, open palms, and fiery sermons, who plants trees while burning bridges. I love this movie as much as I despise its central character. This movie exists only because of its central character.

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How would time travel work with the classic Darwinian theory?

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Q. You make a good point in your review of “A Perfect Getaway” that many filmmakers can’t seem to resist giving away the entire plot or best jokes in their trailers. The trailer for “Valkyrie,” for instance, practically showed the entire film, saving me the time and expense of going to see it. As a history buff, I would have loved to have seen “Valkyrie,” but the endless trailer spoiled it for me. Why do you think so many filmmakers are hellbent on spoiling their work by giving away the story in previews?

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Stark beauty, dark vision

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Q. In your review for "The Dark Knight," you say that the Joker is a product of his father's poor treatment, but that's just one story he uses to explain his scars. Another is that he did it for his wife, and Batman interrupts before he offers a -- most likely -- different story. I think the point was that he doesn't have a cause. Who's wrong here?

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'Crash'-ing a joyous Oscar party

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LOS ANGELES - "Crash," a film about the complexities of racism in the American melting pot, was named the year's best picture here Sunday at the 78th Academy Awards. It tells interlocking stories about many of America's ethnic groups, and cops and criminals, the rich and the poor, the powerful and powerless, all involved in racism. The film's circular structure shows how a victim on one day could be a victimizer on another, and doesn't let anyone off the hook.

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Cash to benefit Katrina victims

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CHICAGO -- To aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, a special preview screening of Twentieth Century Fox's "Walk the Line" will be hosted September 25th by film critics Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper. The film brings to life the story of the young Johnny Cash (Joaquin Phoenix) and his love affair with June Carter Cash (Reese Witherspoon).

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Toronto #1: Top o' the world!

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TORONTO – Is the Toronto Film Festival the most important in the world, or does it only seem that way? In recent years I’ve described it as second only to Cannes. Now the Toronto critic Liam Lacey says flatly: “Toronto now has the most important film festival in the world -- the largest, the most influential, the most inclusive.” Yes, you say, but he is a Canadian, so of course he thinks that. Lacey is ready for you: “One reason the Toronto festival has probably not received its full recognition is, frankly, because it takes place in Canada.”

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Telluride #2: Bio-pics lay Oscar bait

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TELLURIDE, Colo. – Oscar season opens every September with the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, and again this year, biopics seem to be leading the field. Last year in September we got our first looks at “Ray,” “Hotel Rwanda” and “Kinsey,” and so far this year the leading contenders are “Walk the Line” and “Capote.” If no two people could be more different than Ray Charles and Alfred Kinsey, no two other people could be less alike than Johnny Cash and Truman Capote.

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Telluride #1: Premieres & rarities

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TELLURIDE, Colo. – When I first came to the Telluride Film Festival in 1980, screenings were held in Quonset huts and city parks, the old Nugget theater on Main Street, and in the faded glory of the tiny Sheridan Opera House, built when this was a boom town in mining days. The 2005 festival, which will be held over Labor Day weekend, still uses the opera house, but has added so many state-of-the-art theaters, some of them constructed inside the old Mason's Hall and the school gyms, that it feels like the most happening art movie town in America.

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