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Nightcrawler

A perfect engine of corrosive satire, this drama follows the adventures of an amoral cameraman to its logical and unsettling end.

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Before I Go to Sleep

It’s a screenwriting exercise more than a film. It’s hollow, the kind of quick beach read that could satisfy on a summer vacation (and was…

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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.

#180 August 14, 2013

Marie writes: Much beloved and a never ending source of amusement, Simon's Cat is a popular animated cartoon series by the British animator Simon Tofield featuring a hungry house cat who uses increasingly heavy-handed tactics to get its owner to feed it. Hand-drawn using an A4-size Wacom Intuos 3 pen and tablet, Simon has revealed that his four cats - called Teddy, Hugh, Jess and Maisie - provide inspiration for the series, with Hugh being the primary inspiration. And there's now a new short titled "Suitcase". To view the complete collection to date, visit Simon's Cat at YouTube.

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2315 Words On "Lifeforce." Yes. "Lifeforce."

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Released in the summer of 1985 to critical scorn and near-total commercial indifference, the sci-fi/horror hybrid "Lifeforce" has spent most of the following 28 years languishing in obscurity. If it was remembered at all, it was either because of its massive financial failure--which helped doom the futures of both its producing company and its director--or because of its status as one of the all-time favorite films of Mr. Skin, that beloved repository of on-screen nudity.

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The great ecstasy of the sculptor Herzog

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A man said to the universe: "Sir, I exist!" "However," replied the universe, "The fact has not created in me "A sense of obligation." --Stephen Crane

That man can be found at the center of Werner Herzog's films. He is Aguirre. He is Fitzcarraldo. He is the Nosferatu. He is Timothy Treadwell, who lived among the grizzlies. He is Little Dieter Dengler, who needed to fly. She is Fini Straubinger, who lived in a land of silence and darkness since she was 12. He is Kaspar Hauser. He is Klaus Kinski. He is the man who will not leave the slopes of the Guadeloupe volcano when it is about to explode. He is those who live in the Antarctic. She is Juliana Koepcke, whose plane crashed in the rain forest and she walked out alive. He is Graham Dorrington, who flew one of the smallest airships ever built to study the life existing only in the treetops of that rain forest.

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#139 October 24, 2012

Marie writes: The countdown to Christmas officially begins the day after Halloween, which this year lands on a Wednesday. Come Thursday morning, the shelves will be bare of witches, goblins and ghosts; with snowmen, scented candles and dollar store angel figurines taking their place. That being the case, I thought it better to start celebrating early so we can milk the joy of Halloween for a whole week as opposed to biding adieu to the Great Pumpkin so soon after meeting up again...

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#85 October 19, 2011

Lesson for the day: How to have fun while wasting time... Marie writes: welcome to DRAW A STICK MAN, a delightful Flash-based site prompting viewers to draw a simple stick figure which then comes to life!  Ie: the program animates it. You're given instructions about what to draw and when, which your dude uses to interact with objects onscreen. Thanks go to club member Sandy Kahn who heard about it from her pal Lauren, in Portland Oregon.Note: here's a screen-cap of what I drew; I've named him Pumpkin Head.

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Lars von Trier, meet Klausi Kinski

English translation: "The [Cannes] festival is so sad, its terrible. It may be a ball for the kids and everyone, but SHIT, talk a little quieter!... Cretinous, cretinous, really cretinous! I made a real effort to come here, you understand?! Throw them out, throw them out, make them stop this "press". There are people who work here! Idiots! Illiterates! Mongoloids!"

My review of Herzog's documentary on Klaus Kinski, My Best Fiend. var a2a_config = a2a_config || {}; a2a_config.linkname = "Roger Ebert's Journal"; a2a_config.linkurl = "http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/"; a2a_config.num_services = 8;

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#26 September 1, 2010

From the Grand Poobah: Here in Michigan Oink's ice cream parlor exerts a magnetic pull on helpless citizens for miles around. I can no longer sample their countless flavors, but not log ago I took Kim Severson there. She is a New York Times writer doing a piece on The Pot. Oink's is run by my friend Roger Vink, who says, "May the Oink be with you."

(click photos to enlarge)

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"Cannes, içi, Cannes"

May 12th -- I have arrived. Perhaps it is just because I am writing about my experiences in Cannes this year or perhaps it is just bad luck, but there were many points during these past four days where I thought would not make it here before the festival began. On Saturday afternoon, my sister was running around the house doing some last minute packing and I was reading a fellow Cannes blogger's post about Eyjafjallajokull -- the not-so-friendly, Icelandic volcano. When I realized the volcano was causing travel problems again, I quickly looked up our flight and the status was a big, red "canceled." It was at this point that my emotions erupted right along with the volcano.

Left: My sister, Lily, holds up her sign and makes friendly eye contact with passersby in the hopes of receiving a ticket to the premiere of "Robin Hood."

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#8: April 28, 2010

Photos from Ebertfest! In a stunning display of legerdemain, I materialized a glass globe out of thin air as Chaz and I were greeting the guests at the President's House...

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What price masterpiece? Werner Herzog (Part 2)

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"For me, the border between feature films and documentaries has always been blurred. 'Fitzcarraldo' is my best documentary and 'Little Dieter Needs to Fly' is my best fiction film. I don't make such a clear distinction between them -- they're all movies."

-- Werner Herzog, interview with Index Magazine, 2004 - - - - - - - - - -

"Aguirre, the Wrath of God" was the first Werner Herzog film I ever saw, back when it was released in the United States in 1977. It was one of the first films I ever reviewed, too (for my college newspaper, the University of Washington Daily). All I knew about Herzog at the time was what I'd read in an extraordinary profile by Jonathan Cott in the November 18, 1976, issue of Rolling Stone, which portrayed Herzog as a mad visionary in search of new images, not unlike the obsessed outsiders at the heart of his movies.

I couldn't stop staring at the haunting photograph that surrounded the article, from (as I recall) such films as "Signs of Life," "Even Dwarfs Started Small," "Aguirre," "Kaspar Hauser" and "Heart of Glass." They certainly didn't look quite like any movies I'd seen before. And essential to the spectacle was the knowledge that Herzog had gone to remote and exotic places in order to capture these images and bring them back into the cinema. They were unquestionably photographical realities (imagine Herzog speaking that phrase), not optical tricks created in post-production. The boat in the tree in "Aguirre" -- the one the feverish characters could no longer recognize as real -- was an actual boat in an actual tree, not a miniature or a matte painting. Even the photographic effects -- the time-lapse clouds flowing through the mountains like a river around boulders in "Kaspar Hauser" "Heart of Glass"; or the high-speed "ski-flying" (high-altitude, long-distance ski-jumping) footage that allowed Walter Steiner to float through the air in "The Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner" -- were actual recordings of real-world phenomena.

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Shooting the rapids with Werner Herzog (Part 1)

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"People should look straight at a film... That's the only way to see one. Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates. And film culture is not analysis, it is agitation of the mind. Movies come from the country fair and circus, not from art and academicism."

-- Werner Herzog, 1978 interview quoted in John Sandford's book, "The New German Cinema" (1980)

We knew it was going to be interesting. Seeing "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" (1972) for the first time in 25 years (even though I'd seen it many times before) with Werner Herzog, Ramin Bahrani, Roger Ebert and a Conference on World Affairs Cinema Interruptus audience in Boulder, CO, last week reconfirmed that not only is Herzog a magnificent, instinctive director, but a first-class showman in the carnival tradition, a compelling speaker and storyteller, and a wonderful actor. Some of the wild tales he related to the audience in Macky Hall are, I'm told, also on the director's commentary track of the American DVD of "Aguirre" -- and some I've heard him tell many times over the years, but there's nothing quite like hearing Herzog spin his spiels in the flesh -- even (or maybe especially) when he's a booming voice in the dark.

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The ecstasy of the filmmaker Herzog

I saw "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" for the first time in a defrocked Lutheran Church in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, which Milos Stehlik had taken over for his newly-born Facets Multimedia. "It is a film you must see," he told me. "Bring a pillow. The pews can get hard."

I saw a great film, one of the greatest ever made. An essential film. In 1999, I made it one of the first titles in my Great Movies Collection. Now I wonder if I really saw it at all.

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The best films of 2009

Since Moses brought the tablets down from the mountain, lists have come in tens, not that we couldn't have done with several more commandments. Who says a year has Ten Best Films, anyway? Nobody but readers, editors, and most other movie critics. There was hell to pay last year when I published my list of Twenty Best. You'd have thought I belched at a funeral. So this year I have devoutly limited myself to exactly ten films.

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TIFF #7: It was a very good day

I saw three new movies on Monday. Each one could have been the best film of the day. I can't choose among them, so alphabetically: Werner Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans," Atom Egoyan's "Chloe" and Rodrigo Garcia's "Mother and Child." A story involving a cop uncontrollably strung out on drugs. A story involving a wife who meets a hooker. A story about three woman whose lives are shaped by the realities of adoption. Three considerable filmmakers. Three different tones. Three stories that improvise on genres instead of following them. Three titles that made me wonder, why can't every day be like this?

Nicolas Cage and Werner Herzog were surely destined to work together. Radical talents are drawn to one another. Cage tends to exceed the limitations of a role, Herzog tends to exceed the limitations of film itself. Knowing nothing about conditions during the shoot, my guess is they found artistic harmony. If not, they ended up hardly on speaking terms. Either way would have worked.

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Herzog and the forms of madness

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I had in mind to write about something else this week, but our new software platform for the blog was acting up (as you might have noticed), and in the meantime I received an intriguing communication from a reader, the art critic Daniel Quiles, about Werner Herzog. Yes, there has been a lot about Herzog on the site recently, but in my mind there can never be too much. He and a few other directors keep the movies vibrating for me. Not every movie needs to vibrate, but unless a few do, the thrill is gone.

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Biggest Acting, Best and Worst: Over the top, Ma!

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I believe it was Gordon Gecko who proclaimed: "Ham is good!"

The "Wall Street" supervillain (superhero?) was not advocating violation of any dietary laws, of course, but simply stating a fact: Sometimes Big Acting can be quite enjoyable. Other times, of course, it can be cringe-worthy, irritating, risible, embarrassing. Only you can decide which is which. For you.

Take for example the story of Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest" -- she of "No wire hangers!" and "Eat your meat!" (both precursors of "I drink your milkshake!"). Pre-release publicity reports claimed that Dunaway was giving a serious dramatic performance. But from the very first screenings it was painfully (yet fasciatingly) clear that somebody was going off her rocker -- but which actress was it: Crawford or Dunaway?

Performances pitched at the balcony, or the moon, always take the risk of falling somewhere between "tour-de-force" and "trying way too hard," virtuosity and showboating. And opinions may very about where they come down. (See "A Journey to the End of Taste," below.) You may wince at the Method nakedness displayed by Marlon Brando or James Dean in some of their most intense emotional moments ("You're tearing me apart!"). Or you may rejoice at even the most outré dramatic and/or comedic efforts of Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Penn, Johnny Depp, Bette Davis, Jack Nicholson, Klaus Kinski, Will Ferrell, Robert De Niro, Christopher Walken, Kevin Spacey, Whoopi Goldberg, Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Nicolas Cage, Ben Stiller, Tyler Perry, Owen Wilson, Gene Wilder... while others find them excruciating, overwrought or unintentionally campy.

The bigger the performance, the bigger the risks. Or maybe not. Just look over the history of Oscar nominations for acting.

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A conversation with Werner Herzog

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This is a lightly-edited transcript of an onstage conversation between Werner Herzog and Roger Ebert after the April 2004 screening of Herzog’s “Invincible” at Ebert’s Overlooked Film Festival at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The film involves the story of a Jewish strong man hired to appear as an Aryan god in a vaudeville theater in Germany, at the time of the rise of the Nazi Party.

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Anakin's fans strike back

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Q: I've been revisiting the original "Star Wars" trilogy in preparation for "Episode III." I was shocked to see at the end of "Return of the Jedi" the ethereal image of the older Anakin Skywalker replaced by Hayden Christensen's younger version. The change didn't make any sense, any more than if George Lucas had replaced Sir Alec Guinness with Ewan McGregor. I didn't mind all the other little tweaks, but this left me feeling cheated. More than that, don't you think it's disrespectful to Sebastian Shaw? Jimmy Jacobs, Columbia, S.C.

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It's the end of the 'ride

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- There are times when I wonder why I even go to the new movies at Telluride, since the special programs and retrospectives are so valuable. On Sunday I saw a surprise screening of the latest Werner Herzog documentary and then attended his birthday party on the lawn of the Mason's Hall. And an hour later I was watching a beautifully restored print of the 1931 Bela Lugosi "Dracula," with a new score composed by Philip Glass, who conducted a live performance of it with the Kronos Quintet.

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Telluride gets high marks

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- It's a combination of a film festival and a ski weekend, greatly improved by the absence of snow. Moviegoers at this year's 26th Telluride Film Festival can take the ski lift to the top of the mountain, but what they find there is a little unexpected: the Chuck Jones Cinema, named for the animator who brought Bugs Bunny and Wile E. Coyote to life.

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