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Goodbye to Language

Jean-Luc Godard's latest free-form essay film may be, more than anything else, a documentary of a restless mind.

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The Great Invisible

Winner of the SXSW Grand Jury Prize for Documentary, the film is strongest when it focuses on the micro rather than the macro. How the…

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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.

#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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#168 May 22, 2013

Marie writes: Now this is really neat. It made TIME's top 25 best blogs for 2012 and with good reason. Behold artist and photographer Gustaf Mantel's Tumblr blog "If we don't, remember me" - a collection of animated GIFs based on classic films. Only part of the image moves and in a single loop; they're sometimes called cinemagraphs. The results can be surprisingly moving. They also can't be embedded so you have to watch them on his blog. I already picked my favorite. :-)

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#150 January 9, 2013

Marie writes: Behold the amazing Art of Greg Brotherton and the sculptures he builds from found and re-purposed objects - while clearly channeling his inner Tim Burton. (Click to enlarge.)

"With a consuming drive to build things that often escalate in complexity as they take shape, Greg's work is compulsive. Working with hammer-formed steel and re-purposed objects, his themes tend to be mythological in nature, revealed through a dystopian view of pop culture." - Official website

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#144 November 28, 2012

Marie writes: Behold a living jewel; a dragonfly covered in dew as seen through the macro-lens of French photographer David Chambon. And who has shot a stunning series of photos featuring insects covered in tiny water droplets. To view others in addition to these, visit here.

(click images to enlarge)

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#143 November 21, 2012

Marie writes: When I first learned of "Royal de Luxe" I let out a squeal of pure delight and immediately began building giant puppets inside my head, trying to imagine how it would look to see a whale or dragon moving down the street..."Based in Nantes, France, the street theatre company Royal de Luxe performs around the world, primarily using gigantic, elaborate marionettes to tell stories that take place over several days and wind through entire cities. Puppeteers maneuver the huge marionettes - some as tall as 12 meters (40 ft) - through streets, parks, and waterways, performing their story along the way." - the Atlantic

(Click images to enlarge.)

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#137 October 10, 2012

Marie writes: I may have been born in Canada, but I grew-up watching Sesame Street and Big Bird, too. Together, they encouraged me to learn new things; and why now I can partly explain string theory.That being the case, I was extremely displeased to hear that were it up Romney, as President he wouldn't continue to support PBS. And because I'm not American and can't vote in their elections, I did the only thing I could: I immediately reached for Photoshop....

(Click image to enlarge.)

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The Moth Diaries: Young hearts aflutter

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"The Moth Diaries" is now available via IFC On Demand, Sundance Now, iTunes and other outlets. It opens in theaters April 20th.

A secret co-star of "The Moth Diaries" is cinematographer Declan Quinn. He brings to this tale of supernatural incidents at a girl's boarding school a palette of navy, teal and black to match the school uniforms, and pale flesh tones out of Vermeer. No great innovation there, but quite striking in the service of the story. Director Mary Harron makes sure these images don't overwhelm the drama by casting young ladies with powerful presences.

Model-actress Lily Cole's broad face and wide set eyes are terrifyingly beautiful, or maybe just terrifying. Either way, her turn as Ernessa, the mysterious new girl on campus, gives the "The Moth Diaries" a more solid reason for being than its familiar, "Twilight"-tinged plot. She's a head taller than the rest of the girls, striking an improbable balance between willowy and robust. Her famously red hair is dyed a deep brown (or covered in a masterfully applied wig), providing a stark frame for that porcelain doll face. In one scene, without the aid of special effects, her fleshy yet spindly arms seem to stretch out of proportion, like some Tim Burton creation. (It's easy to imagine Burton tripping over himself to add her to his gallery of living 19th century humanoids, alongside Lisa Marie, Christina Ricci and Helena Bonham-Carter.) The mystery: Is Ernessa some kind of vampire, witch, ghost or... what?

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Public Edition #1

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Edited by Marie Haws, Club SecretaryFrom Roger Ebert: Club members receive the complete weekly Newsletter. These are abridged and made public on the site three weeks later. To receive the new editions when they're published, annual dues are $5. Join here.From The Grand Poobah: Reader Steinbolt1 writes in: "Mark Mayerson has been putting together mosaics of all the scenes from specific Disney animated films, and is currently working through Dumbo. Each scene has the specific animator(s) who worked on the film listed above it. This is my favorite post on Dumbo, so far: Mayerson on Animation: Dumbo Part 5 "The only humans we've seen previously are in sequence 3. They are all white and wearing uniforms that clearly mark them as circus employees. When we get to this sequence, the only humans we see are black. As they are disembarking from a railroad car, we know that they are also employees, but they don't get uniforms. The roustabouts are the ones who do the heavy lifting, regardless of the weather. Why aren't the rest of the employees helping? I guess the work is beneath them. Let's not forget that the circus wintered in Florida, at the time a Jim Crow state." - Mark Mayerson; animator, writer, producer, director, Canadian.

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The Return of the Autobiographical Dictionary of Film

Ever since David Thomson's "A Biographical Dictionary of Film" was published in 1975, browsers have said that they love to hate Thomson's contrarian arguments -- against John Ford or Frank Capra, Coppola or Kubrick, for example.¹ Fans and critics can cite favorite passages of resonant beauty, mystifyingly vague and dismissive summary judgements, and entire entries in which the man appears to have gone off his rocker. And that's the fun of it.

To be fair, Thomson broke faith with (or has been suffering a crisis of faith in) American movies at least far back as "Overexposures: The Crisis in American Filmmaking" (1981), and he's been writing about his crisis ever since. To put it in a sentence that could serve as the ending of one of his entries: I am willing to believe that he loves (or once loved) movies even if he doesn't like them very much. (Wait -- how does he conclude the Katharine Hepburn piece? "She loved movies, while disapproving of them.")

When I encountered the first edition of this book, the year I entered college, I immediately fell in love with it because it was not a standard reference. It was personal, cranky, eloquent, pretentious, pithy, petty, ambitious... It was, as I think Thomson himself suggested in the foreword to the first or second edition (this is the fifth), more accurately titled "An Autobiographical Dictionary of Film." Many times over the years I have implored my employers or partners to license digital rights to Thomson's book so that it could augment and be integrated with other movie databases and references (at Cinemania, FilmPix, Reel.com, RogerEbert.com)... but we've never done it. What, they would ask, is the "value-add"? (Really. Some people used to talk that way.) As a reference, its coverage is too spotty (Ephraim Katz's Film Encyclopedia is much more comprehensive but also has loads of incomplete filmographies), as criticism it's wildly idiosyncratic (nothing wrong with that) and as biography it's whimsically selective and uneven, leaving as many holes as it fills.

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#19 July 14, 2010

From The Grand Poobah: Reader Steinbolt1 writes in: "Mark Mayerson has been putting together mosaics of all the scenes from specific Disney animated films, and is currently working through Dumbo. Each scene has the specific animator(s) who worked on the film listed above it. This is my favorite post on Dumbo, so far:

Mayserson on Animation: Dumbo Part 5"The only humans we've seen previously are in sequence 3. They are all white and wearing uniforms that clearly mark them as circus employees. When we get to this sequence, the only humans we see are black. As they are disembarking from a railroad car, we know that they are also employees, but they don't get uniforms. The roustabouts are the ones who do the heavy lifting, regardless of the weather. Why aren't the rest of the employees helping? I guess the work is beneath them. Let's not forget that the circus wintered in Florida, at the time a Jim Crow state." - Mark Mayerson; an animator, writer, producer, director and Canadian. :-)

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Coming down from those 6-hour dinners...

May 22 -- The past three days have been a whirlwind of films, panel discussions and French-style dining (meaning 6-hour dinners that start at 8 pm at the earliest). All of this has resulted in minimal sleep or in some extreme cases, no sleep at all. On Wednesday, after a solid week into the festival and with less than a week to go, the atmosphere becomes more restless than usual. People can feel the end approaching and a repressed feeling of panic can emerge.

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Beware of all jokes requiring punch lines

U.S. Senate apologizes for slavery and segregation: http://bit.ly/G46Cu. Bob Byrd breaks down on Senate floor. "Too soon. Too soon."

I think that's a funny joke. Normally, I find set-up/punch-line jokes the lowest form of humor (far below puns and slapstick in their paucity of imagination), and I regard them warily, not unlike the way Thoreau viewed "all enterprises that require new clothes." But I cracked up when I saw this tweet from Robert A. George. To find it funny, I guess you'd have to know that Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) is very, very old, and that he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his youth. But in the ad hominem '00s, many people would first look at the identity of the joke teller before deciding if it was humorous.

Robert A. George, eh? Wait a minute -- he's a conservative and a libertarian! He's black! He's a naturalized American citizen, born in Trinidad (and Tobago)! He's a Catholic! He's a blogger, a Twitterer, a Facebooker, a New York Post columnist, a stand-up comedian, a comic-book geek! Soooooo, of course he's going to make that joke about Bob Byrd, right?!?!

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Bill Maher: Dumb jokes for the TV talk show set

"Remember during the campaign when John McCain attacked Obama for acting like a celebrity and we all laughed at the grumpy old shellshocked fool? Well, it turns out he was right. [...] It's getting to where you can't turn on your TV without seeing Obama."

What grumpy old shellshocked fool said that? It was comedian Bill Maher, whose approach to political satire is to talk about televised presidential photo ops as if they were interfering with, or substituting for, policy-making. I mean, the guy admits he thinks what he sees on TV is "news," and then he watches PR puff pieces about presidential puppies and romantic nights out on Broadway and thinks it's Obama who lacks substance? Turn off the boob tube, Bill, and read a newspaper or a web site -- or a blog. If you wanted to learn something about politics (and "topical humor") from TV, you should be watching Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, not Leno. But I warn you, it's going to make you feel as tired and ancient as your schtick. You may as well be telling jokes about airline food and Geritol. (Anybody remember Geritol? That's my point.)

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Smilin' through with Mike Leigh

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TORONTO -- Mike Leigh is 65 years old and universally acclaimed as one of the leading British directors, although "Happy-Go-Lucky" is only his tenth theatrical feature sine 1971. There's a reason for that. He went another 17 years before making "High Hopes" in 1998, although he kept busy with BBC films and stage work. His problem was, he couldn't get financing to make a film without a screenplay, and he famously has two conditions to make a film: (1) No outside interference, and (2) the screenplay is devised in collaboration with the actors, after the project has started.

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The World's Fastest Remake?

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Q. You aren't a big fan of colorized movies, and I agree that the studios should leave the original movies alone. Black and white is beautiful, and is indeed more dreamlike. Colorization does mess with the lighting--but, in a way, can it help encourage people to see black and white films? Let me give you an example: my kids love Shirley Temple, although they've only seen the colorized versions on video. Since they're kids they don't like b&w now, but maybe when they're older they'll appreciate how grand b&w really is. Can it introduce older films to them by using elements they know, so later they can go back and experience it the way it was really meant to be seen? A lot of people don't like b&w after all. (Dan Carell, Natick MA)

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An unforgivable lapse into tabloid sensationalism (in song)

View image Mug shot: July 24, 2007.

HEADLINE; "Lohan defends herself after arrest AP, LOS ANGELES (July 24, 2007) -- Lindsay Lohan says she's innocent.

The 21-year-old actress was arrested and released on bail for investigation of misdemeanor driving under the influence and with a suspended license, and felony cocaine possession, early Tuesday in Santa Monica, less than two weeks after completing her second trip to rehab.

"I am innocent ... did not do drugs they're not mine. I was almost hit by my assistant Tarin's mom I appreciate everyone giving me my privacy," Lohan wrote in an e-mail to "Access Hollywood" host Billy Bush, the show reported on its Web site Tuesday night.

Police found cocaine in one of Lohan's pockets during a pre-booking search, Sgt. Shane Talbot said. Police initially said Lohan was also being booked for investigation of transporting a narcotic but later said she was not.

Police received a 911 call from the mother of Lohan's former personal assistant saying that Lohan was chasing her in an SUV, said Lt. Alex Padilla. The assistant had quit hours before, he said.

Authorities found Lohan and the woman in a "heated debate" in the parking lot of Santa Monica's Civic Auditorium at about 1:30 a.m.

Lohan's arrest comes as she still faces DUI allegations connected to a Memorial Day weekend hit-and-run crash in Beverly Hills. The actress completed more than six weeks in rehab less than two weeks ago, and had checked into a recovery clinic in January.

She had worn an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet since her July 13 release from rehab and was tested daily to support her sobriety, her attorney, Blair Berk, said. She said Lohan had relapsed and was receiving medical care at an undisclosed location. Lohan's publicist, Leslie Sloane Zelnik, had no comment. This story moved me to write a song, to the tune of "Unforgettable":

Uninsurable, that's what you are Always crashing in your fancy car Tabloid photos, so embarrassing Flash your breasts when you're out Paris-ing Media whore is a role you adore, but you're

Unemployable for picture work Unprofessional, and quite a jerk Keep the cast and crew awaiting you And you wonder why they're hating you Fear next year, you're carbon-dating your career

Unreliable, and more each day Less than "adequite" in every way Stanwyck wore an anklet to seduce Not to monitor her booze abuse You're a boor, a poor excuse for loose, too

Uninsurable, in Calvin Klein Unendurable, no sign of spine Famous for your notoriety Not ability, insobriety Pie-eyed claims of future piety, pooh!

Uninsurable, such a cliché Scourge of SAG, Double-, and Triple-A Liquored-up but not Anonymous "Lindsay" has become synonymous With pathetic DUI arrests, eeww...

See also: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Denials Go Better Without Coke

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Revulsion

Screeeeech! The "jewel"-encrusted Sidekick doesn't help.

Edward Copeland asks: Do certain performers affect you like the sound of nails on a chalkboard? He lists Danny Huston, Kevin Costner, Kate Capshaw and Kim Cattrall among his most shudder-worthy. Some have charisma on the screen, and some don't. Or, at least, some of us are mystified by what others see in them (I could never understand the whole Ronald Reagan-as-president thing; he always seemed to me like a minor audioanimatronic attraction at Disneyland: Doddering Moments With Mr. Reagan, the Non-Communicator).

For me, it really is an involuntary, visceral response. I'm not sure I can adequately explain my instinctive revulsion for the following (in some cases the reaction has developed over time, like an allergy, as if I've built up antibodies against them), but here they are, in no particular order:

Tom Cruise. Incapable of convincingly expressing any emotion beyond grim determination. Unless it's intensely focused ambition.

Adam Sandler. Pauly Shore, but with a more limited range. Always looks as though he's going to start laughing at how funny he thinks he is. (Yes, I make an exception for "Punch Drunk Love," but I still would rather have been watching someone else. And that one had Mary Lynn Rajskub. She saves America every week on "24," and she saved Sandler's behind in this movie.)

Robin Williams. Not well-cast in human roles. (See all of the above.)

Cuba Gooding, Jr. His career after he won an Oscar for "Jerry Maguire" has made it almost impossible to sit through any of the good stuff he did before then. Tried to watch "Boyz N the Hood" recently? It's so preachy and sanctimonious it almost looks like a Matty Rich film now, but in fairness that's probably more John Singleton's fault than Gooding's alone.

That blonde heiress with the dead-trout eyes who's famous for her night-vision porno video and being in the tabloids a lot. Perfect example of "horrisma." She's like Ann Coulter in drag. Or not in drag. I'm not really sure which. But both have all the appeal of impetigo.

Chris Rock. The comedy version of Tom Cruise. Always trying way too hard to convince you... of something.

Sandra Bullock. Like watching a coconut on a stick.

Mel Gibson. "Braveheart" finally did it for me (and that was a whole five years before "What Women Want"). He enjoyed torturing himself way, way too much. Just as there is Young Elvis and Fat Elvis, there's Young Mel (pre-"Lethal Weapon 2") and Creepy Mel ("Air America" forward). Watching "The Road Warrior," it's hard to comprehend what later became of that cool guy who once played Mad Max.

Harrison Ford. Once he had a sense of humor about himself -- on screen, at least. It doesn't help that he hasn't made a decent movie ("Clear and Present Danger") in 13 years. He's great in "The Conversation," though.

Katie Holmes. Zombified. Why do I even know who she is?

Shaved vagina girl. Has she made any movies or is she just on the Internets?

Lindsay Lohan. From Mean Girl to Lucky Girl (cast with Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin in an Altman movie). Now it's over. She's the Alicia Silverstone of tomorrow, but without the comic timing. Ten years ago, John Waters might have been able to salvage her career. Now it's too late. (OK, I'm sorry: That Alicia Silverstone crack was too mean -- to Alicia Silverstone.)

Jim Carrey. See Chris Rock, above.

Natalie Portman. It's as though she aspires to be forgettable, like generic "citrus"-flavored Pixy Stix. For some reason she reminds me of Veruca Salt on Xanax and I want her to swell up into a big blueberry. But I feel that way about nearly everyone who appeared in the "Star Wars" prequels.

More comments at Copeland's place.

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TIFF: 'RFK: The Disaster Movie'

Wayne Newton and Suzanne Pleshette -- er, Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore stud the all-star cast of "Bobby."

We're told that Emilio Estevez's "Bobby" takes place at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968, but it feels like it was originally released back around then. It's "Earthquake" with the RFK assassination as the disaster. It's "Airport." It's "The Towering Inferno." A whole bunch of familiar actors play "colorful" characters swarming around the hotel, and their day will culminate in the death of a Kennedy. They talk about the movies -- new stuff like "The Graduate," "Bonnie and Clyde," "Planet of the Apes" -- but a retired doorman played by Anthony Hopkins explicitly invokes the model for "Bobby" and and its ilk: "Grand Hotel," the 1932 picture with Greta Garbo and an all-star cast. And "Bobby" treats the assassination as an event as strangely distant from its own present-tense as "Grand Hotel" was from 1968.

Sure, the requisite modern political parallels are present, as they are in virtually every film at the Toronto Film Festival this year. On the screen, on TVs in hotel suites, over the soundtrack, are actual speeches and sound bites from Democratic senatorial candidate Robert F. Kennedy, talking about how the country has lost its way in the quagmire of Vietnam, and championing rights for minorities and low-wage workers, etc., etc., etc. (It comes as a bit of a shock to remember that politicians were once articulate and sounded like they knew the meanings of the words they were saying.)

But why make "Bobby," which screened at the Toronto Film Festival as a "work-in-progress"? Why turn this traumatic national event into a Hollywood soap opera? The performances are fine for this kind of glitzy manufactured melodrama ("Where Were YOU When They Shot RFK?"), and on that level it's swell, trashy fun. It's just that the whole concept is inappropriate.

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