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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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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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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.

#230 August 6, 2014

Sheila writes: Nelson Carvajal and Jed Mayer, over at Press Play, present a video and an essay about the "scary summer" of 1979. It's a beautiful blend of autobiography and cultural and film memories from that particular summer. Jed Mayer writes: "As tag-lines go, George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead sports a pretty good one: 'When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the earth.' I stared for weeks at the lurid poster bearing these ominous words. It hung in the front windows of the Maplewood Mall multiplex. Looking back, I think a more fitting tag-line might have come from a speech given by President Jimmy Carter later that same summer: 'Often you see paralysis and stagnation and drift. What can we do?'" Well worth a look!

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Richard Linklater's long-gestating"Boyhood"; "Gravity" opens Venice Film Festival; how social media giants should police their sites; haters are gonna hate; life is meaningless in "The Canyons"; Obama's speech commemorating the March on Washington's 50th anniversary; a '70s Tom Waits documentary.

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Seduced by Sonoma

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As Roger Ebert noted in February, film festivals have become so ubiquitous that there's almost certainly one within driving distance of most film fans in the US. And lots of them are sprouting world-wide. Three years ago, I'd pitched Roger with an "FFC" piece on the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. He advised that I provide a sense of the town and its atmosphere, the people, as well as what the festival itself was like.

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#131 August 29, 2012

Marie writes: It's that time of the year again!  The Toronto International Film Festival is set to run September 6 - 16, 2012. Tickets selection began August 23rd. Single tickets on sale Sept 2, 2012. For more info visit TIFF's website.

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#114 May 9, 2012

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.)

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Top secret leakage from my 2010 Muriels ballot!

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It's a wrap for the 2010 Muriel Awards, but although the winners have been announced, there's still plenty of great stuff to read about the many winners and runners-up. ('Cause, as we all know, there's so much more to life than "winning.") I was pleased to be asked to write the mini-essay about "The Social Network" because, no, I'm not done with it. (Coming soon: a piece about the Winkelvii at the Henley Gregatta section -- which came in 11th among Muriel voters for the year's Best Cinematic Moment.)

You might recall that last summer I compared the editorial, directorial and storytelling challenges of a modest character-based comedy ("The Kids Are All Right") to a large-scale science-fiction spectacular based on the concept of shifting between various levels of reality/unreality -- whether in actual time and space or in consciousness and imagination. (The latter came in at No. 13 in the Muriels balloting; the former in a tie for No. 22.) My point was that, as far as narrative filmmaking is concerned, there isn't much difference. To illustrate a similar comparison this time, I've used a one-minute segment out of "The Social Network" (Multiple levels of storytelling in The Social Network). You might like one picture better than the other for any number of reasons, but I find their similarities more illuminating than their differences:

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#27 September 8, 2010

The Grand Poobah writes: I saw this stag in the Michigan woods near our country place, where I am still working on my memoir. (click to enlarge)

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Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a friend have been debating about my qualities as a film critic, and they've involved a considerable critic, Dan Schneider, in their discussion. I will say that he has given the question a surprising amount of thought and attention over the years, and may well be correct in some aspects. What his analysis gives me is a renewed respect and curiosity about his own work.

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50 greatest music films ever

Barbie as Karen in "Superstar."

Maybe there should just be a category in the right column for "Lists." Here's one from the film and music writers of Time Out London (which will always be the only real Time Out) called "50 greatest music films ever except for 'Spinal Tap'." No, I added those last four words, but the editors explain in their intro that "we’re celebrating great films – dramas and documentaries – about real musicians."

As if David St. Hubbins and Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls never actually toured in the flesh? As if they aren't at least as "real" as, say, KISS or the Monkees or Hootie and the Blowfish, which contained no one named "Hootie" and nobody named "Blowfish." (BTW, the Ramones weren't really "Ramones"! Those were just stage names!) Oh, and Gus Van Sant's "Last Days" was about a guy named "Blake." Michael Pitt looked like Kurt Cobain, but it was only about Cobain in the sense that "Velvet Goldmine" is about Bowie or Iggy Pop or Lou Reed, or "Grace of My Heart" is about Carole King or Brian Wilson or any of the Brill Building writers (even though a lot of them wrote songs for the movie). Then there's "'Round Midnight" (which is on the list) with Dexter Gordon playing Dale Turner, a fictionalized version of Bud Powell...

View image Downey, CA: "What happened?" Third shot of "Superstar." Compare to second shot of "Zodiac" -- establishing a neighborhood, from a car on the street...

So, OK: No "Spinal Tap." But no "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco"? No "You're Gonna Miss Me: A Film About Roky Erickson"? No "Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser"? No "X: The Unheard Music"? No "The Girl Can't Help It"? No "Wattstax"? No "Woodstock"? No "The Kids are Alright"? No "No Direction Home"? No "The Buddy Holly Story"? No "Theramin: An Electronic Odyssey"? No "Heart of Gold"? No "The Filth and the Fury"? No "We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen"? No "La Bamba"? No "Kurt and Courtney"? See how much fun this is? Really, though, I'd substitute any of these for several of the selections on the list.

But, OK, many of my favorites are included: "24 Hour Party People," "Jazz on a Summer's Day," "Stop Making Sense," "DIG!," "Art Pepper: Notes from a Jazz Survivor" (his autobiography, "Straight Life," is the best account of addiction I've ever read), "The Decline of Western Civilization Parts I and II (The Metal Years)"...

View image No one here gets out alive.

At the toppermost of the poppermost: Todd Haynes' 1987 "Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story," a 45-minute lo-fi "dramatization" that was never officially released because of music clearance troubles (that is, brother Richard wouldn't let Haynes use any Carpenters tunes). Still, after 20 years as an "underground" item, it's available from Google Video here. It's something you really need to see: a documentary-style biopic of Karen Carpenter performed mostly by Barbie dolls. Yes, its a parody (so are most musical biopics, including others on the list -- see the upcoming Jake Kasdan/Judd Apatow picture, "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" for more on that score). But it presents straightforward facts about anorexia that could have been excerpted from any PBS or 16mm educational doc of the period. It's also a formula showbiz melodrama. But for all the layers of artifice, like Haynes' Sirk opera "Far from Heaven," it becomes strangely, hypnotically -- and genuinely -- moving. Prepare yourself for Haynes' Dylan fantasia, "I'm Not There," by watching "Superstar" and "Velvet Goldmine."

ASIDE: From an interview with Haynes at The Reeler: I actually think that it's easier for people who know less about Dylan to go with it, if they're up for something different. Clearly, that's the first thing: Whether you know Dylan or not, you have to surrender to the movie to have a good time at all and get anything out of it. If you have a lot of Dylanisms in your head, it's kind of distracting, because you're sitting there with a whole second movie going on. You're annotating it as you go. It's kind of nice to sit back and let it take you. I think people get it: Even if you don't know which are the true facts and which are the fictional things, and when we're playing with fact and fiction, from the tone of it, you know that it's playing around with real life. In a way, that's what biopics always do. They just don't tell you that they're doing it, and they don't make it part of the fun. You have to follow the Johnny Cash story and just sort of think, "This is what really happened." Of course, you know it's being dramatized, but you're not in on the joke. You're not in on the game of that. In this movie, at least, you get tipped off to it.Oh yeah, but about that list. Here it is. Make of it what you will:

1 "Superstar: the Karen Carpenter Story" (Todd Haynes, 1987) 2 "Don't Look Back" (DA Pennebaker, 1967) -- Bob Dylan 3 "Gimme Shelter" (David Maysles/Albert Maysles/Charlotte Zwerin, 1970) --Rolling Stones 4 "24 Hour Party People" (Michael Winterbottom, 2002) -- Manchester scene 5 "Topsy-Turvy" (Mike Leigh, 1999) -- Gilbert and Sullivan 6 "Monterey Pop" (DA Pennebaker, 1968) -- concert 7 "Be Here to Love Me" (Margaret Brown, 2004) -- Townes Van Zandt 8 "Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould" (Francois Girard, 1993) -- Glenn Gould 9 "Cocksucker Blues" (Robert Frank, 1972) -- Rolling Stones 10 "Bird" (Clint Eastwood, 1988) -- Charlie Parker 11 "The Last Waltz" (Martin Scorsese, 1978) -- The Band & Friends farewell concert 12 "Rude Boy" (Jack Hazan, David Mingay, 1980) -- The Clash 13 "Scott Walker: 30 Century Man" (Stephen Kijak, 2006) -- Scott Walker 14 "Bound for Glory" (Hal Ashby, 1976) -- Woody Guthrie 15 "The Decline of Western Civilization Parts I & II" (Penelope Spheeris, 1981, 1988) -- LA punk; '80s metal & hair bands 16 "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" (Jeff Feuerzeig, 2005) -- Daniel Johnston 17 "Sweet Dreams" (Karel Reisz, 1982) -- Patsy Cline 18 "Art Pepper: Notes from a Jazz Survivor" (Don McGlynn, 1982) -- Art Pepper 19 "Elgar" (Ken Russell, 1962) -- Edward Elgar 20 "Rust Never Sleeps" (Neil Young, 1979) -- Neil Young 21 "The Future is Unwritten" (Julien Temple, 2006) -- Joe Strummer 22 "DiG!" (Ondi Timoner, 2004) -- Brian Jonestown Massacre, Dandy Warhols 23 "Some Kind Of Monster" (Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky, 2004) -- Metallica 24 "A Hard Day's Night" (Richard Lester, 1964) -- The Beatles 25 "Jimi Hendrix" (Joe Boyd, 1973) -- Jimi Hendrix(more)

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7th time "Up" for Apted

In 1964, director Michael Apted interviewed a group of seven-year-old British schoolchildren for a BBC television documentary called "7 Up." Apted, now known for directing such features as "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "Gorillas in the Mist," has since returned to film these subjects every seven years. They are now 49. Roger Ebert, who lists the "Up" series among his ten greatest films of all time, interviewed Apted in London for the release of the latest installment, "49 Up," which will be seen in American theaters beginning in October.

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Three new Ebert articles

We have three new pieces by Roger Ebert on RogerEbert.com this week:

Ebert's review of "The Queen"

An interview with director Michael Apted regarding "49 Up"

PLUS: Roger's latest recovery update

(And I have a review of "Infamous," the new Truman Capote movie.

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Roger Ebert writes from rehab

As most of you know, Roger Ebert has been undergoing physical therapy in a rehabilitation facility in Chicago, and -- great news! -- is recovering well and has filed his first review since June (of Stephen Frears' "The Queen") for Friday. We'll also have Roger's interview with Michael Apted about "49 Up," which is going into limited release around the country in October and November. Meanwhile, read Roger's latest letter from rehab here. An excerpt: During all of this, I didn't lose any marbles. My thinking is intact and my mental process doesn't require rehabilitation.... -- although, curiously, I found myself more interested in plunging into the depths of classic novels ("Persuasion," "Great Expectations," "The Ambassadors") than watching a lot of DVDs. I prefer to see the new Oliver Stone, Martin Scorsese and Clint Eastwood films on a big screen, for example. But our "Ebert & Roeper" producer Don DuPree brought around a DVD of "The Queen" (2006), and when I viewed it, I knew I wanted to review it.

A few more recent movies also will be reviewed, but I won't be back to full production until sometime early next year. The good news is that my rehabilitation is a profound education in the realities of the daily lives we lead, and my mind is still capable of being delighted by cinematic greatness.

I plan to have my Overlooked Film Festival again in April, and cover the Academy Awards and Cannes. I can't wait to be back in the Sun-Times on a full-time basis, and to rejoin Richard Roeper in the "Ebert & Roeper" balcony.

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Seventh time 'Up' for Apted

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In 1964, director Michael Apted interviewed a group of seven-year-old British schoolchildren for a BBC television documentary called "7 Up." Apted, now known for directing such features as "Coal Miner's Daughter" and "Gorillas in the Mist," has since returned to film these subjects every seven years. They are now 49. Roger Ebert, who lists the "Up" series among his ten greatest films of all time, interviewed Apted in London for the release of the latest installment, "49 Up," which will be seen in American theaters beginning in October.

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'Chicago' leads the parade

"Chicago" waited 27 years to make the transition from stage to screen, but finished strong, winning 13 nominations Tuesday as the 75th annual Academy Awards nominations were revealed. After last year's best-picture nod for "Moulin Rouge," the movie's front-runner status signals a rebirth of the movie musical.

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Mick moves into movies

PARK CITY, Utah -- Mick Jagger is taller than you'd think, thin as a rail, dressed in clothes that were never new and only briefly fashionable. There is a studious unconcern about appearance, as if, having been Mick Jagger all these many years, he can wear whatever he bloody well pleases.

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Indies in the spotlight

PARK CITY, Utah -- Sundance has become the nation's most important film festival through an unbeatable combination: inconvenient location, lousy weather, overcrowded screening facilities, municipal hostility, and a 10-day lineup of films that in some cases will never be heard of again.

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Movie Answer Man (05/07/2000)

Q. A cell phone story. While I was watching "Frequency," a lady one row back took a call and conducted a conversation--unnerving, evoking comments all around her--but at least it was during a light-hearted scene in the movie. Still, "cinema rage" must have coiled up inside me. And it struck during the double showdown. I was confused enough by the plot. Then came another electronic warble. Immediately all my unspoken protests from the first incident spring to the surface: The lady does NOT have her phone on vibrate. She's NOT by an aisle seat, so she CAN'T duck out of the room quickly. She's NOT switching the phone off, but engaging in conversation. This resultyed in me saying, "Hang up!" And, about three seconds later, louder, "Hang it UP!" I didn't hear any more out of her, but I had residual adrenalin pumping through my body, and for about the next two minutes, and could not concentrate. So at the climax of the movie, someone's phone went off and, I guess, so did I. (Jim Carey, Glen Ellyn, IL)

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Movie Answer Man (09/26/1999)

Q. "Stigmata" is not as silly as you say. My friends and I left the theater having experienced a dazzling and powerful film. You talked about demonic possession. The spirit (not the demon) that possessed Frankie was a Catholic priest angry at the Church because it would not publish what he believed to be the gospel Jesus himself wrote. We don't have a demon who wants to ravage the world and kill people, as silly horror movies portray. We have a priest who wants to be heard, and his only way to get this word out to the world is through possessing the atheist, Frankie. Nor does "Stigmata" imply that the stigmata itself comes through the rosary. It comes due to the possession by the spirit of Father Almeida. At the end of your review you talk about Catholics and the outrage that this film has caused. A Catholic friend watched it with us and thought it was incredible. He even agreed with the corruption of the Catholic Church which was illustrated in the film. (Nathan Miller, Castleton VT)

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Movie Answer Man (04/19/1998)

Q. Why don't more movies offer us "credit cookies" over the closing credits to munch on? Out-takes, party scenes, blown dialog, scenery, something! They have a choice between blackness and something; why not use the more entertaining something? (Steven D. Souza, Honolulu)

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