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The Congress

"The Congress" is a roll call of the orgiastic pleasures and bountiful comforts that art provides, and, a reminder of what waits for us when…

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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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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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* 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.

Dark Horse and the Samurai Tradition

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Sometimes a Dark Horse is a good bet. Dark Horse has done well over the last few decades since Mike Richardson founded the comic book company in 1986 in Oregon, six years after he opened his first comic book store, Pegasus Books in Bend, Oregon. While Dark Horse has been the home for canceled TV series to continue such as "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," feature films have been made from Dark Horse Comics series such as the 1994 "The Mask," "Timecop," the 2004 "Hellboy" or the 2005 "Sin City," the recently released "R.I.P.D." and the upcoming 2014 "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For." Dark Horse also has a samurai tradition.Richardson is very interested in Japanese culture. At SDCC, Dark Horse and Richardson brought the creator of "Lone Wolf and Cub," the 77-year-old Kazuo Koike and announced a new eleven-volume series "New Lone Wolf and Cub." "Lone Wolf and Cub" is Dark Horse's best-selling series of all time.The original "Lone Wolf and Cub" (子連れ狼) was a 28-volume manga series from the 1970s with ukiyo-e stylized illustrations. The series first came to the U.S. in 1987, published in English translation by First Comics. After First Comics closed down in 1991, Dark Horse Comics picked up the manga and completed the series in English.The story follows the widowed Ōgami Ittō and his three-year-old son, Daigorō. The Yagyū clan has made false accusations, discrediting Ōgami (which literally means wolf and thus the title). Ittō and his son seek revenge. The manga series became a Japanese movie series in the 1970s.Speaking through an interpreter, Koike said that if the movie series had been remade, he would have wanted the late Akira Kurosawa to direct. Since Kurosawa is unavailable, he'd love to get the chance to direct the story himself. For Ittō, his choice of actors would be either Keanu Reeves or Johnny Depp, but he has no recommendations for the chief villain.It should come as no surprise then that when asked Koike listed the 2005 horror Keanu Reeves horror movie "Constantine" and the 1999 French-Spanish-American Johnny Depp thriller "The Ninth Gate" as two of his five favorite movies. Also on that list were the TV series "Criminal Minds," "24" and "Castle." Too bad Nathan Fillion wasn't around Dark Horse although his presence was felt in so many other places and ways at SDCC.As for Koike's favorite samurai flicks, he lists the "Lone Wolf and Cub" series and pointedly commented he doesn't like American samurai movies. That might be a blow to Tom Cruise and his "The Last Samurai."In a later interview, Dark Horse creator Michael Richardson and Stan Sakai laughed at the notion of Keanu Reeves in the upcoming "47 Ronin" which is set for a Christmas Day release. When Richardson got wind of an American movie remake of this famous story about 47 masterless samurai who carefully plot to avenge their master who was forced to commit ritual suicide after a confrontation with the villainous Lord Kira, he decided the time was right for Dark Horse to have their own version of the "47 Ronin."Richardson remembers meeting Roger Ebert in Cannes, when a desperate Ebert ran up to him and said he had to see this movie, "The Mask." Richardson gave up his seat and got a good review. He expressed sadness at Ebert's recent death.A self-proclaimed "fan of Japanese culture," Richardson had first learned about the 47 ronin more than two decades ago. Many movies have been made on this famous true story. Richardson noted that "Every time I saw one of the movies, there was something different" and from all of these he worked with source material and photographs of the actual sites and choose Stan Sakai to collaborate on a manga series. The series is five issues of varying length and the story is told from the perspective of the 48th ronin."That's never been done before," said Sakai. Being a third-generation Japanese American, artist Sakai knew about the story since the fourth grade. "I really wanted to get it right," he commented. Sakai had also been to the temple where the 48 are buried and used his own photos as reference for the beginning of the manga series.Sakai, who created "Usagi Yojimbo," feels that while Americans have become more familiar with samurai the perception has changed markedly over time. "I think now people just think of samurai as straight warriors. They forget the sense of honor and the cultural aspects. The samurai practiced the tea ceremony, ikebana and poetry."As the writer, Richardson felt it was important that this series have a sense of authenticity and consulted with Kazuo Koike. Richardson sees the samurai as the mythical character of Japan, "Each culture comes up with a mythical character, like for America, it's the Western and the gunfighter and the code of the West." Both the samurai and the gunfighter are outsiders who are known by the weapon they control. Richardson pointed out that Kurosawa's movies inspired a few Westerns including the 1964 spaghetti Western "A Fistful of Dollars" (from the 1961 "Yojimbo").Richardson had problems narrowing down to five favorite movies, listing the 1941 "Citizen Kane," the 1962 "Lawrence of Arabia," the 1940 "The Grapes of Wrath," the 1974 "Chinatown" and "The Godfather" (Parts I and II) as his favorites. For samurai movies, his choices were "Seven Samurai," "Yojimbo," "Sanjuro," and Hiroshi Inagaki's "Samurai Trilogy" starring Toshiro Mifune as Musashi Miyamoto ("Musashi Miyamoto" in 1954, "Duel at Ichijoji Temple" in 1955 and "Duel at Ganryu Island" in 1956). The first movie of the trilogy won a 1955 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The trilogy is referenced in Quentin Tarantino's 2003-2004 two-film series "Kill Bill."Sakai also listed "The Godfather" and the "Seven Samurai," in his favorite movies, but also included the original 1933 movie "King Kong," the 1931 Boris Karloff "Frankenstein," Humphrey Bogart's 1941 "The Maltese Falcon" and the 1961 "West Side Story."For samurai movies, Sakai listed "Satomi Hakken-den" (里見八犬伝) which is based on a Japanese epic novel about dog warriors, the original 1962 "Zatoichi" because Sakai is not a fan of Beat Takeshi's 2003 version which included clog-dancing, "Sanjuro" over "Yojimbo," "Seven Samurai" and the 1965 "Samurai Assassin." Both Sakai and Richardson enjoyed Takeshi Miike's "13 Assassins."With a long list of movies that are based on series from Dark Horse Comics and a smaller list of movies that inspired Dark Horse Comic series such "Star Wars" "Predator" and "RoboCop," Richardson requires his interns watch a list of movies that began at 100 and continues to grow.Kazuo Koike was Dark Horse Comics' guest of honor. "Lone Wolf and Cub" is Dark Horse's best-selling series of all time and continues with an eleven-volume series "New Lone Wolf and Cub" with Koike teaming up with Hideki Mori (the original artist for the series, Goseki Kojima passed away). The new series will be published in 2014. The fifth and final volume of "47 Ronin" was published July 3 and is currently available.

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#175, July 10, 2013

Marie writes: I've been watching a lot of old movies lately, dissatisfied in general with the poverty of imagination currently on display at local cinemas. As anyone can blow something up with CGI - it takes no skill whatsoever and imo, is the default mode of every hack working in Hollywood these days. Whereas making a funny political satire in the United States about a Russian submarine running aground on a sandbank near a small island town off the coast of New England in 1966 during the height of the Cold War - and having local townsfolk help them escape in the end via a convoy of small boats, thereby protecting them from US Navy planes until they're safely out to sea? Now that's creative and in a wonderfully subversive way....

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#172 June 19, 2013

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...

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#170 June 5, 2013

Marie writes: Behold a truly rare sight. London in 1924 in color. "The Open Road" was shot by an early British pioneer of film named Claude Friese-Greene and who made a series of travelogues using the colour process his father William (a noted cinematographer) had been experimenting with. The travelogues were taken between 1924 and 1926 on a motor journey between Land's End and John O'Groats. You can find more footage from The Open Road at The British Film Institute's YouTube channel for the film. You can also explore their Archives collection over here.

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#164 April 24, 2013

Marie writes: Now this is something you don't see every day. Behold The Paragliding Circus! Acrobatic paragliding pilot Gill Schneider teamed up with his father’s circus class (he operates a school that trains circus performers) to mix and combine circus arts with paragliding - including taking a trapezist (Roxane Giliand) up for ride and without a net. Best original film in the 2012 Icare Cup. Video by Director/Filmmaker Shams Prod. To see more, visit Shams Prod.

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#159 March 13, 2013

Marie writes: Did you know that if you wear your contact lenses too much and too long during the cold, winters months - and with the windows closed and the heat cranked-up, that you can develop an annoying eye condition? Because you can. Ahem. And so for the time being, I'll be spending less time staring at my monitor and more time resting my eyes. The Newsletter will still arrive as usual each week, but it won't be as huge. That said, it will contain a few extra goodies to make up for it, by way of curious finds. And speaking of finding stuff...."On Thursday, March 7, 2013, SpaceX's Grasshopper doubled its highest leap to date to rise 24 stories or 80.1 meters (262.8 feet), hovering for approximately 34 seconds and landing safely using closed loop thrust vector and throttle control. Grasshopper touched down with its most accurate precision thus far on the centermost part of the launch pad. At touchdown, the thrust to weight ratio of the vehicle was greater than one, proving a key landing algorithm for Falcon 9. The test was completed at SpaceX's rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas." - by Neatorama

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#155 February 13, 2013

Marie writes: If I have a favorite festival, it's SXSW and which is actually a convergence of film, music and emerging technologies. However it's the festival's penchant for screening "quirky" Indie movies which really sets my heart pounding and in anticipation of seeing the next Wes Anderson or Charlie Kaufman. So from now until March, I'll be tracking down the best with the zeal of a Jack Russell terrier!  Especially since learning that Joss Whedon's modern B/W take on Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing" is set to screen at SXSW 2013 in advance of its June 21st US release date; they'll cut an official trailer soon, rubbing hands together!

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#133 September 12, 2012

Marie writes: As TIFF 2012 enters its last week and the Grand Poobah nurses his shoulder in Chicago (having returned home early for that reason) the Newsletter presents the final installment of Festival trailers. There was a lot to chose from, so many in fact there was no room for theatrical releases; they'll return next week. Meanwhile, enjoy!

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#54 March 16, 2011

From the Grand Poobah: After much planning with festival director Nate Kohn, here is the schedule for Ebertfest 2011, which Ebert Club members are of course the first to learn about. This schedule is tentative; several guests may be added.Wednesday April 275:00 pm Reception at University President's House (VIP passholders only)7:00 pm METROPOLIS Restored, with the Alloy Orchestra.-----------------Thursday April 289:00 am For Ebert Club members: Meet & Greet coffee and pastries, hosted by Chaz and Roger Ebert at the Illini Union.10:30 am Panel Discussion 1 (Nate Kohn moderates festival guests), Illini Union1:00 pm UMBERTO D, by Vittorio De Sica.3:30 pm MY DOG TULIP, with directors Paul and Sandra Fierlinger in person.8:00 pm TINY FURNITURE (98 min). In person: Kyle Martin, producer; David Call, actor; Alex Karposky, actor.------------------Friday April 299:00 am Panel Discussion 2, (Eric Pierson, moderator), Illini Union10:30 am Panel Discussion 3 (Far Flung Correspondents, Omer Mozaffer, moderator), Illini Union1:00 pm "45365," with directors Turner Ross and Bill Ross in person4:00 pm ME AND ORSON WELLES, with director Richard Linklater in person8:30 pm ONLY YOU, with director Norman Jewison in person-----------------Saturday April 3011:00 am A SMALL ACT. In person: Patti Lee, producer; Jennifer Arnold, director; Hilde Back.2:00 pm World Premiere: LIFE, ABOVE ALL. In person: Oliver Stoltz, producer; Khomotso Manyaka, actor; Michael Barker, distributor.6:30pm LEAVES OF GRASS. In person: Tim Blake Nelson.9:30pm I AM LOVE. In person: Tilda Swinton.---------------Sunday May 1Noon: LOUDER THAN A BOMB. In person: Jon Siskel and Greg Jacobs, directors; Kevin Coval, artistic director and founder; five poets will perform.For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit EBERFEST 2011Metropolis Restored (1927) Directed by Fritz Lang

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