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Transcendence

"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.

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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.

#127 August 8, 2012

Marie writes: This week's Newsletter arrives a day early and lighter than usual, as come Tuesday morning, I'll be on a Ferry heading to Pender Island off the West Coast, where I've arranged to visit old friends for a few days and enjoy my first vacation in two years; albeit a brief one. No rest for the wicked. :-)

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#123 July 11, 2012

Marie writes: club member Sandy Kahn has found some more auctions! Go here to download a free PDF copy of the catalog.

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#122 July 4, 2012

Marie writes: If you're anything like me, you enjoy a good book cover as much as a good story; the best often speaking to inspired graphic design. Indeed, I know I'm not alone in my admiration...Welcome to "The Book Cover Archive" for the appreciation and categorization of excellence in book cover design; edited and maintained by Ben Pieratt and Eric Jacobsen. On their site, you can gaze lovingly at hundreds of covers complete with thumbnails and links and even the name of the type fonts used. Drool....

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#104 February 29, 2012

Marie writes: my friend Cheryl sent me the photo below, taken by an ex-coworker (Cheryl used to work for a Veterinarian.) The wolf's name is Alpha; one guess why. He's from the Grouse Mountain Wildlife Refuge in North Vancouver; not a zoo. The veterinary clinic is also located in North Vancouver and Alpha is having his regular dental check up and cleaning. (Click to enlarge.)

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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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#46 January 19, 2011

The Grand Poobah writes: Here's a behind the scenes lookinside our control room! This is where the magic happens.

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Some ways to watch Inglourious Basterds [sic]

"When I'm making a movie, the world goes away and I'm on Mt. Everest. Obama is President? Who cares? I'm making my movie." -- Quentin Tarantino, Village Voice interview (2009)

A wily WWII Looney Tunes propaganda movie that conjures up 1945's "Herr Meets Hare," (in which Bugs Bunny goes a-hunting with Hermann Goering in the Black Forest; full cartoon below) and the towering legends of Sergio Leone's widescreen Westerns -- and about a gazillion other movies and bits of movie history from Leni Riefenstahl to Anthony Mann to Brian De Palma -- Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" is a gorgeous and goofy revenge cartoon, a conceptual genre picture about the mythmaking power of cinema. Re-writing history? That's missing the point by several kilometers. This is pure celluloid fantasy -- an invigorating wallow in the vicarious pleasures of movie-watching by someone who would rather watch movies than do anything else in the world. Except maybe talk about them.

I spent the last week preparing for "Inglourious Basterds" by watching the two Tarantinos I'd missed: both volumes of "Kill Bill" and "Death Proof." (I came to think of it as the Foot-Fetish Film Festival.) So, with that in mind, I thought I'd begin by taking a general look at how I think Tarantino's movies work -- what they do, and what they don't do -- because, although I haven't read more than a few brief passages from other "Basterds" reviews yet, people seem to think there's been a lot of misrepresentation and/or misinterpretation going around (starting with Newsweek and The Atlantic). Some clearly wanted or expected the movie to be something else. A morality lesson, perhaps. But those other movies would not be ones Quentin Tarantino has ever shown any interest in making. "Inglourious Basterds," love it or hate it (and I think it puts most contemporary American filmmaking to shame), it is what it is because it's exactly the way Tarantino wants it to be. Let's consider...

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Kill Bill -- not Jim

I'll be in the hospital most of Friday for my AV node ablation (see my latest film -- a little thing I like to call "Biventricular Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillator" -- at right), but should be out this evening, when I will make an effort to approve comments. So, please, keep 'em coming in.

Meanwhile, although it might not have been the natural choice on the eve of a surgical heart procedure, I watched "Kill Bill Volume 1" last night, an experience I found thrilling (Tarantino and Robert Richardson know how to create images), though not at all involving. But that's the kind of movies Tarantino makes. They are abstract art, not strong stories, not emotional experiences. I thought of Hitchcock, who said his films are not slices of life but slices of cake. Tarantino makes candy necklaces, tasty chunks strung together -- little climaxes without much overall dramatic shape. Sometimes it's a little like ADD De Palma (love that split-screen sequence in the hospital), but Tarantino does not waste a single shot. Every single image has a place, a reason to exist in that particular context (see Dogme 09.8 #1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10), and it's so satisfying in contrast to the random mish-mash action editing of... well, you know the movies I'm talking about. Tarantino's eye makes me delirious with movie love.

Best of all, in Volume 1 there's not much stilted, wordy dialog to distract from the excellence and exuberance of the filmmaking. I'd like to see Tarantino do a silent film someday -- only music on the soundtrack. His music selections, as always, are dynamite, though sometimes too short and inconsequential (see Dogme 09.8 #6 about "segues using snippets of pop tunes that fade out just as they're getting started"). I'd like to see him really stretch out and develop more whole sequences around a piece of music instead of just a tiny piece of a piece of music. (Only reservation: the music during the first part of the fight in the snow between Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu was too slight and slick to fit the gravity of what should have been the climactic confrontation of Volume 1.)

More on Volume 1, Volume 2, "Inglourious Basterds" and other topics of interest after my ablation. (Sing along with the Ramones: "I wanna be ablated!")

JE: Back from hospital, in recuperation mode. I'm feeling much better... Not dead yet!

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Mickey Rourke lets his Indie Spirit fly

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Based on his show-stopping speech at Saturday night's Independent Spirit Awards, if Mickey Rourke wins an Oscar on Sunday night the Oscarcast is going to be a lollapalooza. As his comeback film "The Wrestler" won for best film, male actor and cinematography, Rourke brought the show to a halt and the audience to its feet with an acceptance speech that was classic Mickey. The Indie Spirits are telecast live and unbleeped, which added considerably to the speech's charm.

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