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Office Christmas Party

Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…

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Harry Benson: Shoot First

The filmmakers are themselves too celebrity besotted to comment in a meaningful way on how Benson’s career balanced depictions of the rich and famous with…

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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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* 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.

#64 May 25, 2011

Marie writes: There's a glorified duck pond at the center of the complex where I live. And since moving in, my apartment has been an object of enduring fascination for Canadian geese - who arrive each Spring like a squadron of jet fighters returning from a mission in France, to run a sweeping aerial recon my little garden aka: playhouse for birds... (click to enlarge)

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The "gay" Dilemma: If it's a joke, what does it mean?

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On the day after the near-mystical cosmic alignment of Columbus Day and National Coming Out Day (did the Postal Service suspend delivery on the day Columbus came out in 1492?), and the very day that a US district judge issued a worldwide injunction ordering the Department of Defense to stop enforcement of its absurd, 17-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for kicking gays out of the military (best of all, the case was brought by the Log Cabin Republicans!), I have found myself reading about a stupid gay joke that's been removed from trailers for the upcoming Ron Howard comedy "The Dilemma," starring Vince Vaughn and Kevin James.

I saw the trailer in front of "The Social Network," October 1. Vaughn's character is speaking to some automotive businessmen (is this a follow-up to Howard's "Gung-Ho"?) and says: "Electric cars are gay. I mean, not homosexual, but my-parents-are-chaperoning-the-dance gay."

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper reportedly went on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and said he was "shocked" that Universal "thought that it was OK to put that in a preview for the movie to get people to go and see it." Universal responded by quickly pulling the scene from the trailer. No word on whether it will remain in the movie, which opens in January.

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The arrival of The Prisoner, then and now: "We Want Information!"

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AMC's re-do of the classic British TV series "The Prisoner" gets under way Sunday night, following the conclusion of "Mad Men"'s third season last week. The new version stars Jim Caviezel as Number Six and Ian McKellen as Number Two. (The great Leo McKern played Number Two a couple times in the original series, and there were some other repeats as I recall, but generally there was a new Number Two each week.)

From the teasers it appears that the new version (tagline: "You Only Think You're Free") takes place in a desert suburb of Dubai rather than a quaint seaside village. (Actually, the new "Prisoner" was shot in Cape Town, South Africa, and Swakopmund, Namibia.) The big white bouncy billowy security devices are back. But I'm most interested in the opening credits sequence, because I became so enamored with the ritualistic nature of the earlier one, as you can see from the following obsessive video analysis originally published in 2008:

(Rescued and reposted months after the death of iKlipz caused all my video essays to disappear from the web. Originally published -- with more on "The Prisoner" here.)

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Poetry in motion -- and it rhymes, too

View image The animated banners, archived, are worth the price of admission alone...

Jonathan Lapper offers an inspired free-associative montage/meditation on the moving part of the movies at Cinema Styles, which you must see. It's called "Frames of Reference," a little under seven minutes long, and it marvelously (too marvelous for words, obviously) orchestrates cinematic motion and memories to Oliver Nelson's "Complex City." (If you suspect you're unfamiliar with the great jazz arranger, think "Stolen Moments" -- which might make a great subtitle for this reference-packed short subject.) My favorite transition: From "Hiroshima, Mon Amour" to "Citizen Kane." You'll see why.

And now, for fans of Richard Lester, Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan (and Leo McKern and Graham Stark and Norman Rossington...), my own movie reference: "Frames of Reference" is "The Tracking, Exploding, Kissing, Watching, Crashing, Throwing, Fainting, Dancing, Drinking, Flying, Falling Backwards Film," though not necessarily in that order. And that's not the half of it....

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Movie Answer Man (06/14/1998)

Q. My wife showed me your review of "The Truman Show," and I was crushed with chagrin to learn the movie is constructed to reveal its secret slowly to the viewer. I've already seen the "Truman Show" commercials revealing the secret. I feel betrayed. This is the third time when the advance info has ruined a surprise. The first was "Terminator 2." On talk shows, Arnold Schwarzenegger beamed, "This time I'm a good terminator! The bad guy is a T-1000, made of liquid metal, which can look like anyone." In the theater, the details are calculatedly ambiguous right until the two terminators confront each other and Schwarzenegger suddenly turns and protects the kid. At that moment, I thought--I shouldn't have known the details beforehand! The same thing happened with "The Empire Strikes Back." Magazines had cover photos: "Here's Yoda! He's an old, eccentric, funny-looking creature who's really a Jedi master!" In viewing the film I realized the audience wasn't supposed to know Yoda's identity until he started conversing with the disembodied voice of Obi-Wan. Now here's "The Truman Show," with a marketing campaign spilling all the beans. My wife contends there is no other possible way for the studio to successfully advertise the movie, but I have to believe there's SOME way to do it. (Chris Rowland, Plainsboro, N.J.)

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