One of the best times you'll have at the movies this year, and possibly the year's best film overall.
* 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.
A sampling of the lively, devoted audience at Ebertfest in 2014.
Marie writes: Widely regarded as THE quintessential Art House movie, "Last Year at Marienbad" has long since perplexed those who've seen it; resulting in countless Criterion-esque essays speculating as to its meaning whilst knowledge of the film itself, often a measure of one's rank and standing amongst coffee house cinephiles. But the universe has since moved on from artsy farsty French New Wave. It now prefers something braver, bolder, more daring...
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.
Marie writes: Intrepid club member Sandy Kahn discovered the following Danish designers "Monstrum" who make extraordinary playgrounds for children. I think they're the stuff of dreams, whatever your age. Indeed; behold the Rahbek kindergarten in Frederiksberg, Denmark, and Monstrum's first playground...
The Rocket and The Princess Tower! "Just like a set design, a playground must have an inspiring front that attracts children, and a functional backside with climbing, sliding and relaxing options. The idea of the playground is to combine a girl's mind with a boy's approach into one big common playground. The princess tower consists of three floors, and the rocket has two floors. From the top floor of the Rocket, you can slide down the 6 m long double slide together with an astronaut friend." (click to enlarge.)
Marie writes: my art pal Siri Arnet sent me following - and holy cow! "Japanese artist Takanori Aiba has taken bonsai trees, food packaging, and even a tiny statue of the Michelin Man and constructed miniature metropolises around these objects, thus creating real-life Bottled Cities of Kandor. Explains Aiba of his artwork:"My source of creations are my early experience of bonsai making and maze illustration. These works make use of an aerial perspective, which like the diagram for a maze shows the whole from above (the macro view) while including minute details (the micro view). If you explore any small part of my works, you find amazing stories and some unique characters." ( click to enlarge.)
"Pearl Jam Twenty" is available On Demand (check your satellite or cable listings) and premieres on the PBS series "American Masters" at 9 p. m. (ET/PT), Oct. 21. It will be released on Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 25. For additional viewing, the grunge documentary "Hype!" is available on Netflix (DVD only).
by Jeff Shannon
Here in Seattle, we think of Cameron Crowe as an honorary native. When he married Nancy Wilson in 1986, he married into local rock royalty: Nancy and her sister, Ann, are the pioneering queens of rock in Heart, the phenomenally successful and still-touring Seattle-based band that is presently nominated for induction into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame. It wasn't long before Crowe became a kind of de facto ambassador of Seattle-based rock.
At the time, the rest of the world still knew Crowe as the rock-journalist wunderkind who started writing for Rolling Stone at age 15 (an experience Crowe would later dramatize in "Almost Famous") and the author-turned-screenwriter of Amy Heckerling's 1982 high-school classic "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." You could reasonably speculate that the seeds of the Crowe/Wilson romance were planted in "Fast Times": Nancy Wilson makes a cameo appearance in the film as "Beautiful Girl in Car," catching Judge Reinhold's character in yet another moment of humiliating embarrassment. One can imagine Crowe thinking "I'm gonna marry that girl." When he actually did, countless male Heart fans turned green with envy.
(By sheer happenstance, I made a friendly connection with Crowe three years before we actually met. Shortly after the newlywed Crowe moved to the Eastside Seattle suburb of Woodinville, he and Nancy placed a mobile home on their rural property to accommodate visits from Wilson's mother. At the time, my father was running a mortgage business specializing in mobile/land sales in Snohomish County, and he closed their deal. When my dad informed Crowe that I was a Seattle film critic and an admirer of his, Crowe sent me a signed copy of Fast Times at Ridgemont High to my dad's office. It was a completely unsolicited gesture of kindness, and a pleasant precursor to later encounters.)
I have feelings more than ideas. I am tired, but very happy. My 11th annual film festival has just wrapped at the Virginia Theater in my home town, and what I can say is, it worked. There is no such thing as the best year or the worst year. But there is such a thing as a festival where every single film seemed to connect strongly with the audience. Sitting in the back row, seeing these films another time, sensing the audience response, I thought: Yes, these films are more than good, and this audience is a gathering of people who feel that.
Let me tell you about the last afternoon, the screening of a newly restored 70mm print of "Baraka." The 1,600 seats of the main floor and balcony were very nearly filled. The movie exists of about 96 minutes of images, music and sound. Nothing else. No narration. No subtitles. No plot, no characters. Just the awesome beauty of this planet and the people who live on it. The opening scene of a monkey, standing chest-deep in a warm pool in the snow, looking. Looking in a very long and patient shot, which invites us to see through his eyes. Then the stars in the sky above. "Baraka" is a meditation on what it means to be awake to the world.
It's a good thing Ebertfest is no longer called the Overlooked Film Festival. One of my choices this year, "Frozen River," was in danger of being overlooked when I first invited it, but then it realized the dream of every indie film, found an audience and won two Oscar nominations. Yet even after the Oscar nods, it has grossed only about $2.5 million and has been unseen in theaters by most of the nation.
Those numbers underline the crisis in independent, foreign or documentary films--art films. More than ever, the monolithic U.S. distribution system freezes out films lacking big stars, big ad budgets, ready-made teenage audiences, or exploitable hooks. When an unconventional film like "Slumdog Millionaire" breaks out, it's the exception that proves the rule. While it was splendid, it was not as original or really as moving as the American indie "Chop Shop," made a year earlier. The difference is, the hero of "Chop Shop" wasn't trying to win a million rupees--just to survive.
Have you heard about the new thriller involving U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald? The story calls him "Dubois" and he's played by Matt Dillon, but he's Fitzgerald, all right. Kate Beckinsale plays "Rachel Armstrong," who is clearly New York Times reporter Judith Miller, in Fitzgerald's famous 2005 case involving the Valerie Plame affair.
From: Josey Foo, Farmington, NM
SANTA MONICA, Ca. - On the eve of the Academy Awards, the Independent Spirits Awards sometimes provide advance clues to Oscar winners. But Saturday's indiefest under the big tent on the beach at Santa Monica spread the awards so evenly that omens were hard to spot. "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crash," thought to be the Oscar front-runners, both won -- "Brokeback" for best picture, "Crash" for best first film by a director.
I was reading Charles Dickens the other day, and realized in a different way why "Crash" is such a good and useful film. Dickens is the best storyteller in the history of the novel, and although I've read him pretty much from end to end, I got into an argument about the character in "The Squid and the Whale" who tells his son that A Tale of Two Cities is "minor Dickens." I thought this opinion was correct, but I re-read it for the first time since I was a child, and found that it was not minor Dickens after all.
You could be winging your way to an all-expenses-paid vacation to the Mexican Riviera if you manage to best the master at his own game.
List of the 78th annual Oscar nominations announced Tuesday in Beverly Hills, Calif., by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
While the winners won't be announced until March 5, you can cast your vote now.
Although I agree with you that Paul Haggis’ film "Crash" has redeeming social value and tackles the still tenuous if not overt racism in this country, I don’t agree it is a great movie. The actors and the interweaving storyline are on point but the constant barrage of clichéd dialogue accompanied by melodramatic music was almost comical. The scene where Matt Dillon’s character is holding Thandie Newton in his arms while a biblical car fire raged against the sweeping soundtrack hit me over the head so hard I had two pop three Advil.
While I respect your optimism in your recent column, "In Defense of the Year’s ‘Worst Movie,’” I feel very strongly that “Crash” is not only misguided but dangerous, and so I can only say the same for your column. The film’s presentation of racism is so superficial, so painfully clichéd, that it threatens to actually close people’s eyes to the ways in which racism most frequently and most dangerously presents itself. Almost immediately your column falls into the trap of which many critics of this film are so wary.
Q: Re: "Glory Road" and coach Don Haskins. Thought you would be interested to know that Mr. Haskins received roughly $375,000 for the movie. The players received about $7,500 apiece. When Haskins found out how little the players received, he insisted that his portion be divided evenly amongst all. Everyone then received roughly $37,000, including Mr. Haskins. What a man. Leta Mohrman, El Paso, Texas
Hopefully the 'debate' about the quality of Paul Haggis' "Crash" won't rage on. For what it's worth, I thought it was an exceptional film even if, at times, the characters were 'archetypal.' Haggis made obvious attempts to give depth to each character beyond their racism. The characters played by Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon both exhibit rather vehement racism but each for different reasons. In fact, we are given reasons (or at least excuses) for each character's feelings. In particular, I felt compelled to comment on the first letter you printed on your website. Jake Wolff wrote: "The movie has no subtlety, no shades of gray. The characters move from people who disgust us to people who we pity from scene to scene. They are not at all real; they are defined completely by their racism and their victimhood. Sure, it makes us say, “It’s bad to treat people that way!” But as we say it, we are not acknowledging the less obvious and much more complicated ways in which we are prejudiced ourselves."
Selections from the RogerEbert.com reader mail inbox regarding “Crash” and Roger Ebert’s defense of his top movie of 2005 against attacks from some critics:
Chicago’s film critics Monday named "Crash" as their No. 1 movie of 2005, beating out tough contenders "Brokeback Mountain," "Good Night, and Good Luck," "A History of Violence," and "King Kong" (2005).
Directors Guild (DGA)Producers Guild (PGA)Screen Actors Guild (SAG)Writers Guild (WGA)Updated January 5, 2006 -- Because the membership of the motion picture guilds -- the Writers Guild (WGA), Directors Guild (DGA), Producers Guild (PGA), Screen Actors Guild (SAG), etc. -- largely overlaps with the branches of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who select the Oscar nominees in their categories, you can infer a lot about the Oscars based on the guilds' awards. It's rare indeed that a movie can actually win an Oscar for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, or major acting awards without at least a nomination from the corresponding industry guilds -- or that it can win the Best Picture Oscar without first getting a nod from the PGA, DGA or WGA.
CANNES, France -- Regulars are beginning to murmur cautiously that this may be one of the best Cannes Film Festivals in recent years. Even Lars von Trier's sequel to "Dogville" is a success. One strong film has followed another, and every day the buzz about possible festival winners gets revised.
"I wanted to do something more mainstream," Kevin Bacon said. "I wanted to do something where I actually got paid, you know. I was just coming off of 'Mystic River' and I didn't want to do anything dark." He certainly didn't want to play a child molester who is released from prison and tries to control his obsession, lead a normal life, even have a normal relationship.
TORONTO -- Sometimes it's good to sit down in a quiet corner and take a deep breath and stop running as fast as you can. This year at the Toronto Film Festival, I've averaged three to four films a day and talked about movies in interviews, at lunch, in hotel lobbies, in elevators, corridors, standing next to hot dog stands, waiting in line for coffee, lingering on theater sidewalks and walking down the street. The phone is ringing right now.