In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

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Goodbye to Language

Jean-Luc Godard's latest free-form essay film may be, more than anything else, a documentary of a restless mind.

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Before I Go to Sleep

It’s a screenwriting exercise more than a film. It’s hollow, the kind of quick beach read that could satisfy on a summer vacation (and was…

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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.

#232 August 20, 2014

Sheila writes: In lieu of the recent release of "Get On Up," the James Brown biopic (check out Odie Henderson's review on Rogerebert.com, and you can also check out the video interview with star Chadwick Boseman and director Tate Taylor), I went scrolling through Youtube the other day, enjoying various James Brown clips. I came across this delight: James Brown giving a dance lesson.

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#229 July 30, 2014

Sheila writes: Author John le Carré wrote a gorgeous and painful reminiscence of Philip Seymour Hoffman in the New York Times. Le Carre wrote, in part: "... His intuition was luminous from the instant you met him. So was his intelligence. A lot of actors act intelligent, but Philip was the real thing: a shining, artistic polymath with an intelligence that came at you like a pair of headlights and enveloped you from the moment he grabbed your hand, put a huge arm round your neck and shoved a cheek against yours; or if the mood took him, hugged you to him like a big, pudgy schoolboy, then stood and beamed at you while he took stock of the effect."

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#214 April 16, 2014

Sheila writes: It was announced last week that the statue of Roger Ebert (created by artist Rick Harney) will be unveiled in a ceremony during the second day of Ebertfest, Thursday, April 24, at 12 p.m. The statue will live outside the famed Virginia Theatre in Champaign, Illinois. You can read more about the statue here, as well as further details about the ceremony. There is also information there about how you can help fund the sculpture.

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Director John Greyson ("Patient Zero") arrested in Cairo; novelist John Niven writes about his brother's suicide; David Kalat and David Ehrenstein reconsider Disney's SONG OF THE SOUTH; top 10 movies about technology; how soon is too soon for artist's to re-create real-life political violence in entertainment? Will success spoil Rose Byrne? Why is your posture so terrible? Why all the question marks? Click the link.

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#177 July 24, 2013

Marie writes: Ever intrepid, club member Sandy Kahn has submitted an intriguing quartet of finds involving a series of Hollywood auctions set to begin at the end of July 2013. Sandy has shared similar things in the past and as before, club members are invited to freely explore the wide variety of collectibles & memorabilia being auctioned LIVE by "Profiles in History". Note: founded in 1985 by Joseph Maddalena, Profiles in History is the nation’s leading dealer in guaranteed-authentic original historical autographs, letters, documents, vintage signed photographs and manuscripts.

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#171 June 12, 2013

Marie writes: Welcome to "Good Books", an online bookseller based in New Zealand. Every time you buy a book through them, 100% of the retail profit goes directly to fund projects in partnership with Oxfam; projects which provide clean water, sanitation, develop sustainable agriculture and create access to education for communities in need. To increase awareness of Good Books' efforts to raise money for Oxfam, String Theory (New Zeland based agency) teamed up with collaborative design production comany "Buck" to create the first of three videos in a digital campaign called Good Books Great Writers. Behold the award winning animated Good Books Metamorphosis.

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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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#166 May 8, 2013

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.

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A boy, his dog, and a puddle

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I believe it was the writer W. G. Sebald who said: "Men and animals regard one another across a gulf of mutual incomprehension." No animal seems to comprehend us better than the dog. For that matter, I comprehend them more than any other. Like the Nicolas Cage character in Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant," I have no idea what an iguana is thinking. Does an iguana?

Growing up on the books by Albert Payson Terhune, I developed an early love for dogs. It didn't bother me that one bit me on the cheek at Mrs. Meadrow's Play School. It was my fault. I'd tried to ride her like a horse.

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A boy, a dog, and a puddle

I invite you to view this video. I will have some comments later.

The video was sent to me by my old pal Mike Jones, head of the Illinois State Lottery. It's viral, with more than 5 million hits. It is very short and simple. I view it again.

I believe it was the writer W. G. Sebald who said: "Men and animals regard one another across a gulf of mutual incomprehension." No animal seems to comprehend us better than the dog. For that matter, I comprehend them more than any other. Like the Nicolas Cage character in Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant," I have no idea what an iguana is thinking. Does an iguana?

Growing up on the books by Albert Payson Terhune, I developed an early love for dogs. It didn't bother me that one bit me on the cheek at Mrs. Meadrow's Play School. It was my fault. I'd tried to ride her like a horse.

Now look again at that video.

The dog perhaps weighs more than the boy. At this point it has more life wisdom. It's pretending to be led. The boy considers the puddle, stoops, an and carefully puts down the leash. As they first approach the puddle, the dog lists slightly to starboard, suggesting the puddle be avoided. When the boy puts down the leash, the dog takes a small step forward, suggesting they continue down the lane. The boy makes his decision. The dog turns, observes, accepts, and chooses body language that says, "Don't look at me. I didn't want him to do that.

glances down at the leash, back at the puddle, perhaps guesses what will happen next, and remains in place as if the leash were fastened to the earth. It is completely accepting, and waits with content.

If a raccoon approached the boy, the dog would snap into attack mode, hairs bristing, fangs bared, saliva dripping. It would growl and bark and run at the raccoon. I believe that the dog would be fully prepared to die for that boy. But the dog is no fool. It doesn't go wading in the puddle.

The boy gets the good of the puddle. He picks up the leash again, and boy and dog resume their journey.

John McPhee wrote that the early dogs, godless, observed that Man controlled food, shelter and fire, and cast their lot with these hairless animals. Now they had a god. Observing that men liked to pet them, dogs encouraged them to touch. Most dogs are willingly obedient. They even bite someone on command, but if their owner commands a dog to bite himself, they grow anxious and lose their posture, looking away uneasily. Something is wrong in the fundament of the universe. The god has failed.

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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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Losing face to your enemy

The plot in "Face/Off" (1997) may sound ridiculous in real life terms but allowing our imaginations to experience and accept such preposterous events, the kind none of us will ever be able to live through, is a prime example of the great feats that cinema can achieve. And what a fantastic concept "Face/Off" had to begin with. There have been recent features where I've had a hard time grasping how boardrooms full of film executives could possibly green light the spending of millions of dollars when being pitched ideas that no filmmaker, however talented, could ever have succeeded with ("A man cures his depression by talking to a puppet beaver!" "A young archer princess grows closer to her mother when a witch turns her into a bear!").

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