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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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Cast and Crew

Critic trashes "worst rock movies" from Woodstock to Scorsese

Chicago music critics and "Sound Opinions" radio co-hosts Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot are hosting an evening devoted to their "best rock movies of all time" Friday at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. They're not saying yet what those will be (besides, let's face it, "This Is Spinal Tap" and "Stop Making Sense" and "The Girl Can't Help It" and...). But DeRogatis was happy to eliminate some of the usual suspects in advance during an interview with the Onion A.V. Club Milwaukee. A few choice comments:

On "The Last Waltz" (Martin Scorsese, 1978): "I'm from the punk era. I believe what's great about rock 'n' roll is community and the tearing down of boundaries. And the basic thrust of 'The Last Waltz' is that these are superheroes so much better than you.."

On "U2: Rattle and Hum" (Phil Joanou, 1988): "I'm not saying it's dishonest. It absolutely shows what they are. They are big, superstar rock stars full of pretension. But for the same reason I have no desire to sit through 'Saw VII'--because torture porn makes my stomach hurt--so does 'Rattle & Hum.' [Laughs.] U2 are assholes, the movie shows them as assholes, but that doesn't make it any fun to watch."

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The best train set a boy could ever want

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.

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Interview with Bette Midler

TORONTO, CANADA - About halfway into "Divine Madness," Bette Midler is doing a series of dirty jokes and somebody in the audience shouts out that she should tell the taco joke. "The taco joke?" Bette asks. "You think I'm crazy? I know what the movie audience will go for, how much I can get away with.... Remember, this is the time-capsule version."

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Martin Scorsese & Co. reassemble Woodstock

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NEW YORK -- They said making a movie about Woodstock was like . . . three days without sleep. The cameramen all wired together, with Wadleigh shouting instructions over the earphones. And Don Lenser crying during the Airplane's set, crying because he was right there on top of them, he practically had his camera shoved down Grace Slick's neck, he was practically in her mouth, and all that noise pounding through him, surrounded by banks of loudspeakers - big mothers! - and crying, you could hear him crying over the earphones, crying because he wasn't able to move because he had to hold the goddam camera steady...

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