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Listen Up Philip

The terrific cast all delves into the material full-bore, which contributes to its peculiar resonance. Perry may hate everyone and everything, but in making a…

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Private Violence

A look at the complexity of domestic violence, especially when it comes to the difficulty of prosecuting abusers in a court of law, "Private Violence"…

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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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Arthouse suspense: My month with Abbas and Joe

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For the last month, I've been watching almost nothing but Abbas Kiarostami and Apichatpong Weerasethakul movies -- and it's been the best run of good-to-great movie-watching I've had in years. How did this happen? Well, I was beguiled by their most recent pictures: Kiarostami's "Certified Copy" and Weerasethakul's "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" -- both prize-winners at last year's Cannes Film Festival (best actress for Juliet Binoche, and the Palm d'Or, respectively). For reasons I'll get into in a bit, the only Kiarostamis I'd seen before were two of his biggies, "A Taste of Cherry" (1997) and "The Wind Will Carry Us" (1999); and the only Apichatpong (just call him "Joe") movie I'd seen was "Blissfully Yours" (2002).

The films of both these directors have been widely (mis-)characterized as "difficult" (please see Girish Shambu's excellent rumination on that term here, if you haven't already), but that's not why it's taken me so long to familiarize myself with more of their work. I don't have any good reasons, but I'll be honest: I was put off by the critical hype for Kiarostami, which in the art-cinema world was exceeded (in my perception) only by that for Quentin Tarantino in the pop-art-cinema world. Also, I remember the press screening for "The Wind Will Carry Us" at the Toronto Film Festival and, during the final shot (which was nice but a little too on-the-nose for me), a critic behind me let out a rapturous sigh intended to be overheard by everyone in the vicinity: "Masterpiece!" I admit (I'm only human) that made me a little nauseous, and some of my critic friends who were much more involved in the festival scene than I was at the time were outspoken Kiarostami naysayers, so I didn't feel particularly motivated to seek out more of his work.

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Cannes Report

CANNES, France--For all of the countless words and hours of news I've absorbed about Afghanistan, nothing has provided such an evocative portrait of that troubled land as a film by a 23-year-old Iranian woman that plays here this weekend.

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Movie Answer Man (12/02/2001)

Q. It's said no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" is an excellent film up here in Canada, as was "The Madness of George III." I wonder if the same can be said for the U.S. releases "Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone" and "The Madness Of King George." The point of course, is that these minor title details were changed for American audiences on the assumption they are too stupid to handle the concept of the philosopher's stone of alchemical fame, or to realize seeing George III doesn't mean you've missed parts I and II. Are these decisions made because the suits think I'm really dumb, or is it because they are? (Brady Sylvester, Red Deer, Alberta)

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Cannes 2001: Awards full of surprises

The jury stunned but did not displease a black-tie audience here Sunday night, with the awards for the 54th Cannes Film Festival. It's not that the winners were unpopular, but that they were unexpected. Everyone predicted Nanni Moretti's "The Son's Room," the story of an Italian family devastated by the death of a son, would win something but not the Palme d'Or, or top prize. Everyone expected French legend Isabelle Huppert to win as best actress for her searing performance in "The Piano Teacher," and she did -- but not that the film also would win for best actor and take home the special jury prize.

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Films show prevalence of English

CANNES, France -- The woman hopes to slip illegally into Afghanistan from Iran to save her sister's life. She is helped along the way by a sympathetic doctor. The film is by one of the great Iranian directors. You are already imagining the subtitles at the bottom of the screen, but no: The woman has been living in Canada, speaks English, and narrates the journey into a tape recorder. And the doctor is a black American; they speak English together.

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Giants return to Cannes

CANNES, France-- Forty-one years after his "Breathless" swept in the French New Wave and helped herald the modern era of filmmaking, Jean-Luc Godard is back at the Cannes Film Festival with a new movie. The onetime enfant terrible is now 71, and the 1960s "film generation" that marched under his banner is old and gray, but his very presence inspires a certain trembling in the air as the 54th Cannes festival opens. The giants are back in town.

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