Can insanity, normalcy and creativity co-exist in a successful artist? “Frank” offers a unique, funny, entertaining look at what proves to be an unanswerable question.
* 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.
The first day of the Toronto International Film Festival.
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.
It's a sunny, unseasonable 80 degrees as the 2012 Santa Barbara International Film Festival kicks in, but all I want is to be indoors. When you peer at a schedule listing nearly 200 films jammed into 10 days, and you just can't wait, you know you're an addict. This is my third SBIFF so I recognize the signs.
Suddenly each January, there's an extra bustle in this appealing, laid-back town. Downtown on lower State Street, trucks appear bearing vivid banners, soon to be festooned overhead. Special lights and rigging go up at 2 central venues - the precisely restored, historic Lobero and Arlington Theatres. Locals watch to see whether Festival Director Roger Durling changes his hair: one year it was spikey, another year purple. This time it's rather like Heathcliff - longer, romantic.
"Gnarr" (85 minutes) is now available via most major on-demand platforms including cable, satellite, iTunes and Amazon Instant.
by Jeff Shannon
The United States could sure use a guy like Jon Gnarr right about now. Just take a look at the sorry state of our presidential campaigns and then consider what Gnarr achieved in his native Iceland: In January 2010 Gnarr, Iceland's most popular and controversial comedian, began to campaign for the office of Mayor of Reykjavik, Iceland's capital and largest city. What began as a joke snowballed into a seriously funny, but still very serious, protest vote that turned the tide of history.
Earning coverage in The New York Times, Gnarr's campaign was a referendum on the unchecked corruption, cronyism and incompetence that turned the richest country in Europe into the morally and financially bankrupt victim of a nationwide depression. Gnarr's campaign momentum was made possible by a climate of disgust and frustration with a political system that was broken beyond repair. In the wake of financial disaster on an unprecedented scale, Gnarr rode a wave of backlash against a gridlocked establishment.
As the playful yet firmly grounded documentary "Gnarr" unfolds, Americans can easily view the film as a reflection of our current political climate. Accounting for differences in scale (Iceland's entire population is slightly less than that of Wichita, Kansas), Gnarr's mayoral campaign, and the media circus surrounding it, is strikingly relevant to the political and economic woes of the world's top-ranking superpower. Watching the film, you can't help thinking, "What if...? "
Marie writes: many simply know her as the girl with the black helmet. Mary Louise Brooks (1906 - 1985), aka Louise Brooks, an American dancer, model, showgirl and silent film actress famous for her bobbed haircut and sex appeal. To cinefiles, she's best remembered for her three starring roles in Pandora's Box (1929) and Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) directed by G. W. Pabst, and Prix de Beauté (1930) by Augusto Genina. She starred in 17 silent films (many lost) and later authored a memoir, Lulu in Hollywood."She regards us from the screen as if the screen were not there; she casts away the artifice of film and invites us to play with her." - Roger, from his review of the silent classic Pandor's Box.
Lawrence Kasdan's "Grand Canyon" didn't make a splash when it opened here in Mexico, and it's not the kind of feature that's ever shown on our TV, so hardly anybody I know has even heard about it. It's not an easy movie to describe. When people ask me about its subject, I say something like "It's about a group of people from Los Angeles living in despair who end up feeling better when they all get together and visit the Grand Canyon." Most of them seem to loose interest but the response of those who do see it is mostly overwhelming.
Watching "The Tree of Life" brought "Grand Canyon" to mind. The films couldn't be more different, but both deal with a search for a deeper meaning in our existence-- a sense of helplessness in trying to place ourselves in the grand scheme of things. They also lack defined plots or conventional structures.
Who was the first person brought to trial and faced with the death penalty for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln? Most people can be forgiven for thinking it was John Wilkes Booth. They would be mistaken. It was a woman named Mary Surratt, whose connection with the plot against Lincoln remains a matter of debate.
Marie writes: ever stumble upon a photo taken from a movie you've never seen? Maybe it's an official production still; part of the Studio's publicity for it at the time. Or maybe it's a recent screen capture, one countless fan-made images to be found online. Either way, I collect them like pennies in jar. I've got a folder stuffed with images, all reflecting a deep love of Cinematography and I thought I'd share some - as you never know; sometimes, the road to discovering a cinematic treasure starts with a single intriguing shot....
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) Cinematography: Harry Stradling(click images to enlarge)
This e-mail pitch has been going around (with all the identifying information that I've stripped out), and I'm just not sure what to make of it. A "celebrity film critic" is "representing [yellow tail] Reserve wine" and wants to talk about movie-and-wine pairings... and the Oscars:
As you prepare your content for the Oscars, I'm wondering if you're available for an interview with celebrity film critic Ben Lyons? Ben is available for interviews... for either phone or Skype interviews. If you prefer Skype, we can record it and provide back to you as a YouTube video. During the interview, Ben can discuss his Oscar picks, as well as Oscar party planning tips. He is representing [yellow tail] Reserve wine and can also discuss suggested movie and wine pairings. Appreciate your feedback. We only have a few slots left for the day, so I appreciate it if you could get back to me as soon as possible.
Who has accepted this remarkable interview opportunity? I googled "ben lyons" and "movie and wine" and learned that WPIX, former employer of Ben Lyons and Lyons Sr. (Jeffrey), did -- just last September, which is either seven months after the Oscars or five before, depending on how you're counting.
"Something tells me that if I wasn't here you guys would be drinking [yellow tail] Reserve anyway," said Ben Lyons at the top of the segment.
Take a breath and be brave. Very, very brave.... smile....Behold the "Willis Tower" in Chicago (formerly the Sears Tower) - the tallest building in North America and its famous attraction, The Skydeck. In January 2009, the Willis Tower owners began a major renovation of the Skydeck, to include the installation of glass balconies, extending approximately four feet over Wacker Drive from the 103rd floor. The all-glass boxes allow visitors to look directly through the floor to the street 1,353 feet (412 m) below. The boxes, which can bear five short tons of weight (about 4.5 metric tons), opened to the public on July 2, 2009.
Roger and Chaz outside the CBC Studios. They were recently featured on CBS News Sunday Morning to discuss the launch of their new show "Ebert Presents At The Movies".
Actress Jill Clayburgh, whose portrayal of women in the 1970s helped define and and reshape the role of leading lady, died last week of chronic lymphocytic leukemia at her home in Lakeville, Connecticut; she was 66. She's best known for her Academy Award nominated roles in "An Unmarried Woman" (Winner: Best Actress Cannes 1978) and "Starting Over." Roger has remembered her on his site: Jill Clayburgh: In Memory.
Attention Ebert Club Members and fellow would-be chefs....drum roll... Marie writes: At long last, the highly anticipated "The Pot and How to Use it" is set for release! Containing numerous and surprisingly varied recipes for electric rice cookers, it is much more than a cookbook. Originating from Roger's 2008 Nov. blog entry, it includes readers' comments and recipes along side the Grand Poobah's own discerning insights and observations on why and how we cook. 128 pages, paperback format. Sept 21, 2010 release date. Available now for pre-order at Amazon at a discount.
(Click image to enlarge)Chaz visits Roger in the kitchen as he demonstrates the correct way to use the Pot. First, and this is very important; you need to remove the lid... :-)
Virginia Madsen played the significant role of the Angel of Death, named "The Dangerous Woman," in Robert Altman's last film, "A Prairie Home Companion." She wrote down these memories at my request. Altman died on Nov. 20, 2006. I was still in intensive care, and Chaz withheld the news from me. Did Bob guess how near the end was? He was a very intelligent man, a realist, with leukemia and a heart transplant from 11 years earlier.
CANNES, France -- The jury of the 57th Cannes Film Festival insisted Sunday that it awarded its top honor to Michael Moore's anti-Bush documentary not because of its politics, but because of its quality as a film.
CANNES, France -- Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," a documentary denouncing the presidency of George W. Bush, won the Palme d'Or here Saturday night as the best film in the Cannes Film Festival. It was the first documentary to take the Palme since 1956, and was a popular winner; at its official screening it received what the festival director said was the longest ovation in Cannes history.
CANNES, France -- The winners of this year's Cannes Film Festival will be announced at a ceremony Saturday night. As I write, the leading contenders for the Palme d'Or are said to be "The Motorcycle Diaries" from Brazil and "Comme Une Image" ("Look at Me") from France, although there are supporters for "2046" (2005) by China's Wong Kar-Wai, a film I found maddening in its mannered repetition of a few worn stylistic and dramatic strategies. And it is said that Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" will win one of the top prizes; it was cheered longer than any other film in festival history.
Q. Sometimes I'll take a look at the Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) to see how people are reacting to a recent release. To my disbelief, people have rated "Lord of the Rings" the best movie of all time on IMDb's Top 250 list! I thought it was a good action/fantasy adventure but I wouldn't have even included it in my personal Top 100 list. After speaking with many people, I realize that most of those who consider it the best film are also fans of the books. I noticed the same reaction for "Harry Potter:" If the book is great, the movie must be great. Is it possible that movies in the future will simply be visualizations of a book? Will books in the future simply be "test script runs?" Will people rate movies based on how close the visuals and characters look and act like people think they are supposed to? I'm scared. (Bruce M. Arnold, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.)
CANNES, France--The best film at Cannes so far this year was made in 1979. That's the melancholy conclusion of Variety and the Hollywood Reporter, the daily trade journals printed at the festival and I didn't have to read the papers to figure that out.
CANNES, France-- Forty-one years after his "Breathless" swept in the French New Wave and helped herald the modern era of filmmaking, Jean-Luc Godard is back at the Cannes Film Festival with a new movie. The onetime enfant terrible is now 71, and the 1960s "film generation" that marched under his banner is old and gray, but his very presence inspires a certain trembling in the air as the 54th Cannes festival opens. The giants are back in town.
Ebert's Best Film Lists1967 - present
W ith a new home (six screens all at one location) and a streamlined schedule, the 33rd annual Chicago International Film Festival has programmed no less than 53 screenings on this, its opening weekend. All showings will be at the new Cineplex Odeon theaters atop 600 N. Michigan, and one way to attend the festival might be to hang out in the lobby and listen to the buzz.
The cliche is: In the 1950s in America, we were all a little like Ozzie and Harriet. In the decadent 1990s, we're descending into armageddon. Gary Ross' new film "Pleasantville" argues the opposite: In the 1950s we were leading blinkered lives, but it's been steady progress ever since, into today's society where change is seen as an opportunity, not a threat.
Q. I recently saw "The Client" on an United Airlines flight and noticed that the soundtrack had been dubbed to replace profanities with substitute words. I would assume that a bit of violence may also have been removed, for example during the suicide episode. My guess is that the resulting movie would be given a "PG" rating. There are many popular movies that I would love to rent for viewing with my family if only they were rated "G" or (maybe) "PG." Cleaning up the language, removing the sex, and toning down any graphic violence would make very little difference to the entertainment value for many people of the movies I'm talking about. Are "airline edits" available anywhere for rental? Have studios ever considered issuing "family" and "mature" versions of the same movie? (Jon Bale, San Jose, Calif.)
LOS ANGELES -- It happened several years ago. Larry Kasdan was standing on a street corner, and he stepped off the curb and then a woman grabbed him by the collar and yanked him back toward her, and just then a big city bus thundered past, going fast.