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The Last of Robin Hood

A title as good as "The Last of Robin Hood" deserves a better movie. In fact, it deserves a good movie.

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As Above, So Below

It's that rare found-footage film with a strong premise, a memorably eccentric style, and plenty of energy to burn. It's also poorly conceived, and hard…

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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.

#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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#176 July 17, 2013

Marie writes: Last week, in response to a club member comment re: whatever happened to Ebert Club merchandize (turned out to be too costly to set up) I had promised to share a free toy instead - an amusement, really, offered to MailChimp clients; the mail service used to send out notices. Allow me to introduce you to their mascot...

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#174 July 1, 2013

Marie writes: The West Coast is currently experiencing a heat wave and I have no air conditioning. That said, and despite it currently being 80F inside my apartment, at least the humidity is low. Although not so low, that I don't have a fan on my desk and big glass of ice tea at the ready. My apartment thankfully faces East and thus enjoys the shade after the sun has crossed the mid-point overhead. And albeit perverse in its irony, it's because it has been so hot lately that I've been in the mood to watch the following film again and which I highly recommend to anyone with taste and a discerning eye.

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#169 May 29, 2013

Marie writes: Every once in while, I'll see something on the internet that makes me happy I wasn't there in person. Behold the foolish and the brave: standing on one of the islands that appear during the dry season, kayacker's Steve Fisher, Dale Jardine and Sam Drevo, were able to peer over the edge after paddling up to the lip of Victoria Falls; the largest waterfall in the world and which flows between Zambia and Zimbabwe, in Africa. It's 350 feet down and behind them, crocodiles and hippos can reportedly be found in the calmer waters near where they were stood - but then, no guts, no glory, eh? To read more and see additional photos, visit "Daredevil Kayakers paddle up to the precipice of the Victoria Falls" at the DailyMail.

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#166 May 8, 2013

Marie writes: the great Ray Harryhausen, the monster innovator and Visual Effects legend, passed away Tuesday May 7, 2013 in London at the age of 92. As accolades come pouring in from fans young and old, and obituaries honor his achievements, I thought club members would enjoy remembering what Harry did best.

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#141 November 7, 2012

Marie writes: "let's see what happens if I tickle him with my stick..."(Photo by Daniel Botelho. Click image to enlarge.)

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'Saturday Night Live' Lives - Still Loved, Much Needed

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It's with pleasure and excitement that I welcome Tom Shales, a good friend, as a blogger on this site. Tom, the nation's best-known television critic, won the Pulitzer Prize while writing for The Washington Post from 1972 to 2010. His blog will focus on TV and whatever else he feels moved to write about. -- RE

Apparently a new bylaw at "Saturday Night Live," which began its 38th season this weekend, is "The worse the host, the more sketches in which he'll appear." So it was with big let-down Seth MacFarlane, multimillionaire comedy tycoon who hosted the season premiere. Once he arrived on the show's tiny (and, yes, "iconic") stage, he was punishingly omnipresent for the whole 90 minutes.

We can be grateful he didn't grab a cow bell and crash the musical act.

With the exception of MacFarlane - a man who has gone farther with less than perhaps even Tyler Perry -- the series seemed to be in tip-top ship-shape shape, especially considering that it begins a new year minus two of its greatest cast assets: Andy Samberg, off to make more movies, and the incomparably versatile Kristen Wiig, the funniest woman in television since Tina Fey. Or maybe since Gilda Radner. Or maybe since Carol Burnett. Or maybe since, dare we say it, Lucille Ball?

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Bachelorette: Invasion of the b-face girls

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"Bachelorette" opens in theaters September 7, and is available on demand via iTunes, Amazon.com, Vudu.com and Google Play.

By Jana Regan Monji

In this reality-TV ruled world, the word bachelorette seems firmly attached to the legacy of Trista Rehn and the female spin-off of a competitive dating game. Yet in writer/director Leslye Headland's dark comedy, "Bachelorette," the subject isn't the tricks and lines men use in the warfare of love but how three women deal with being on the downside of not-married when the least conventionally attractive of their high school clique is preparing to walk down the aisle. This cocaine-fueled cattiness never rises above callow, although the acting talent is deeper than the script.

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#98 January 18, 2012

Marie writes: Okay, this is just plain cool. This is clearly someone using their brain, in combination with "what the hell, let's just go ahead and try it..."

Dr Julius Neubronner's Miniature Pigeon CameraIn 1903, Dr Julius Neubronner patented a miniature pigeon camera activated by a timing mechanism. The invention brought him international notability after he presented it at international expositions in Dresden, Frankfurt and Paris in 1909-1911. Spectators in Dresden could watch the arrival of the camera-equipped carrier pigeons, whereupon the photos were immediately developed and turned into postcards which could be purchased. (click images to enlarge.) - from The Public Domain Review. Visit the site to see even more photos.

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#49 February 9, 2011

Marie writes: They call it "The Shard" and it's currently rising over London akin to Superman's Fortress of Solitude and dwarfing everything around it, especially St. Paul's in front. I assume those are pigeons flying over-head and not buzzards. Ie: not impressed, but that's me and why I'm glad I saw London before they started to totally ruin it.Known as the "London Bridge Tower" before they changed the name, when completed in 2012, it will be the tallest building in Europe and 45th highest in the world. It's already the second highest free-standing structure in the UK after the Emley Moor transmitting station. The Shard will stand 1,017 ft high and have 72 floors, plus another 15 radiator floors in the roof. It's been designed with an irregular triangular shape from base to top and will be covered entirely in glass. The tower was designed by Renzo Piano, the Italian architect best know for creating Paris's Pompidou Centre of modern art with Richard Rogers, and more recently the New York Times Tower. You can read an article about it at the Guardian.  Here's the official website for The Shard. Photograph: Dan Kitwood.

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Public Edition #4

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This free Newsletter is a sample of what members receive weekly.For Roger's invitation to the Club, go HERE Marie writes: some of you may recall seeing a custom-built "steampunk" microphone stand made for the group Three Days Grace, by sculptor Christopher Conte; there were pictures of it inside the #14 Newsletter.Born in Norway, Christopher Conte was raised and educated in New York, where he currently lives. After earning a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art, he began working in the prosthetics field making artificial limbs for amputees; which he did for 16 years as a Certified Prosthetist. At the same time, he worked in obscurity creating sculptures which reflected his love for biomechanics, anatomy and robotics. In June 2008, he left the field to begin his career as a full-time artist. And you can now view his work portfolio online...

The Sculpture of Christopher Conte

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#35 November 3, 2010

Marie writes: some of you may recall seeing a custom-built "steampunk" microphone stand made for the group Three Days Grace, by sculptor Christopher Conte; there were pictures of it inside the #14 Newsletter.Born in Norway, Christopher Conte was raised and educated in New York, where he currently lives. After earning a Bachelors Degree in Fine Art, he began working in the prosthetics field making artificial limbs for amputees; which he did for 16 years as a Certified Prosthetist. At the same time, he worked in obscurity creating sculptures which reflected his love for biomechanics, anatomy and robotics. In June 2008, he left the field to begin his career as a full-time artist. And you can now view his work portfolio online...

The Sculpture of Christopher Conte

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TIFF #6: Oy vey, such a film you should see

There is something about the Jewish way of humor and storytelling I've always found enormously appealing. I memorized material by Henny Youngman and Myron Cohen at an age when, to the best of my knowledge, I had never met a Jew. I liked the rhythm, the contradiction, the use of paradox, the anticlimax, the way word order would be adjusted to back up into a punch line. There seemed to be deep convictions about human nature hidden in gags and one-liners; a sort of rueful shrug. And the stories weren't so much about where they ended as how they got there.

The serious man is consoled by the friend who has stolen his wife

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Getting "Knocked Up"

At whom is this ad campaign aimed?

Judd Apatow's "Knocked Up" ought to be the most-discussed (and argument-generating) movie of the year so far -- which means it's uncommonly smart and subversive and disturbing (and funny), especially for a summer sex comedy. I happen to think Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, as Pete and Debbie, the bitter and resentful married couple with kids (Mann is Apatow's wife, and the kids in the movie are theirs) are the funniest characters/actors in the picture (and Kristen Wiig: amazing), mainly because their material, and their performances, are so painfully true that it's not funny. Which is what makes it so funny. It helps that all three are top-flight actors with a gift for uncanny understatement. Sometimes you don't even know if the scene is funny or not (like Debbie's suburban ambush of Pete) -- and those are inevitably the most revealing and rewarding kinds of laughs, when you surprise yourself by laughing at how awful and truthful the characters are behaving.

Anyway, I've found that some women don't like the movie, for sex-specific reasons I hope to discuss at length in the near future. Let me offer a few examples now from reviews that I think "get" "Knocked Up" -- and not from my usual suspects, either.

Anthony Lane, The New Yorker:
One night, Ben [Seth Rogen] goes to a bar, picks up a girl, and goes to bed with her. Both are drunk at the time, and both, in consequence, throw up: Ben the next morning (“I just yakked,” he says winningly over breakfast), and the girl—who is no girl but a young woman named Alison (Katherine Heigl), with a growing career on television—some weeks later, into a trash can at work. Here comes the bit that will divide Apatow’s audience and (he hopes) get them arguing over the movie: Alison decides to inform the father and, little by little, to enfold him and his oafish, froggy grin in the gentle business of parenting. Call it the taming of the Shrek. Most women, I imagine, will scoff with incredulity: this is neither a last hurrah (Alison is still in her twenties) nor the ideal time (she has a good job), and Ben is the last slob on earth she would have chosen. Most men, meanwhile, will be too busy watching through their fingers. To them, this is “The Omen.” What's interesting about this paragraph is that it's slightly wrong. We go to the bar with the women, not the men. The gals are swept inside (even though Mann's character is really too old to be there), while we catch a glimpse of Ben and his geek buddies near the front of the line. They've probably been standing out there for hours. (This doorman scene will pay off later -- though I think it's the weakest in the movie.)

My first reaction to the Ben-Alison match was that she would never want to see him again after their one-night stand. But, like so many women, Alison is someone who falls in love with a guy for who she wants him to be, not for who he really is. (She doesn't even know who he is -- and vice-versa.) At the point where she (improbably) lets him back into her life, it's because she now views him as "the father of her child" (which, in her view though not our society's, gives him some marginal rights) and as Pete and Debbie indicate cynically at the breakfast table in front of the kids, men and women who are in love get married and have babies. Or men and women who have babies get married and fall in love. Or something like that. Alison wants to be in love with the father of her child (their child, she insists), so she is determined to make herself believe that's the case, even when it isn't, because that's the way it should be. And maybe she can even make him believe it.

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