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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_large_nqau8oyqozqla1fhyl0htrfn4yf

Stray Dogs

Tsai Ming-Liang's first feature in five years is a mysterious and alienating series of tableaus about the fragility of flesh and the smallness of humanity.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

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…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

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…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Stray Dogs

Tsai Ming-Liang's first feature in five years is a mysterious and alienating series of tableaus about the fragility of flesh and the smallness of humanity.

Other Articles
Blog Archives

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.

Thumbnails 8/30/2013

Primary_screen_shot_2013-08-29_at_10.18.24_am
The IRS recognizes gay marriage; the lost art of the movie poster; the racist underpinnings of Miley's VMA performance; Paramount's Blue-ray problem; cinematographer Gökhan Tiryaki speaks; dissecting a "Hannibal" scene; Errol Morris' new Donald Rumsfeld doc (gulp).

Continue reading →

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Streaming on Netflix Instant.

It is quite a long night for them. They have been going around the wide area for hours, but they have not yet found what they are looking for. The sky gets darker, and they become more bored, tired, and frustrated in the deepening darkness. The wind blows ominously, the reeds on the field are shaken by the wind, and they begin to reflect on themselves as the search is being fruitlessly continued in front of their eyes.

Continue reading →

The Arikan Agenda: The Best Films of 2011

A few weeks ago on Facebook -- that sly keeper of family secrets, whose memory seems to have increased incrementally with its new Timeline mumbo-jumbo -- an actor of some repute posted a list of the best Twitter accounts of 2011, as compiled by a wholly forgettable outlet. He had been placed relatively highly, and someone commented that it was a very subjective list. Apart from the fact that taking issue with "a list of the best Twitter accounts of 2011, lol" is by definition absurd, the statement presented a logical fallacy (I am fully aware of the irony of regarding a throwaway Facebook comment in such depth). All lists are subjective: that's why they're lists. Nonetheless, this fairly simple fact gets lost in the year-end frenzy as interested parties start calling for the list-maker's head, like angry villagers wielding pitchforks, if and when their favoured books, albums, films, etc fail to place on a given critic's compilation of the year's best.

Continue reading →

"The Tree of Life" takes the Palme d'Or

The Closing Ceremony of the 64th Cannes International Film Festival took place today in the Grand Theatre Lumiere in the Festival Palais at 7:15 pm French time.

Since I had already left the festival on Friday, I was watching online as Jane Fonda slithered up to the microphone to present the Palme d'Or, looking like a

Continue reading →

Cannes 2011: All eyes forward

As the opening night of the Cannes International Film Festival approaches, a host of Riviera amenities and services hope to lure my business via solicitous e-mails. Would Madame perhaps like to hire a helicopter for the journey from the Nice airport to the Festival Palais? Rent a limousine with a multilingual driver? Charter a yacht or rent a fully staffed villa with swimming pool (photos handily attached)?

Me, I'm just in the market to rent a no-frills mobile phone with a European SIM card, and I'll be taking an inter-city bus from the airport, but you get the picture. The sparkling goodies of this playground of millionaires are dangled before the thousands of accredited journalists, theater programmers, film buyers, and filmmakers soon to be heading for the legendary festival. Most of us will be pinching the Euros until they scream, but nonetheless enjoying the nonstop spectacle provided by those who get to ride around in helicopters.

The festival opens the night of Wednesday, May 11 with Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris." "Monsieur Woodee," as the French are wont to call him, made his first visit ever to Cannes in 2002, when his "Hollywood Endings" opened the festival. Although the film was disappointingly lackluster, it certainly made no difference to his French fans, who hailed him like an emperor. I watched Allen on that occasion from a seat among the hyper-excited audience, marveling at his frail stature, almost inaudible voice, and the shrinking body language that made him seem an incongruous god of cinema.

Continue reading →

La Palme d'Or et la Palme d' Whiskers

May 22, 2009--One of the trade papers on Thursday was touting the French film "A Prophet" by Jacques Audiard, which received excellent reviews early in the festival, as a hot contender for the Palme d'Or. Rumors of this sort seldom mean anything here, but to me this was one of those scratch-my-head moments. "The Prophet" is a well-crafted, well-acted prison movie, but I feel like of seen variations on this story and its predictable trajectory too many times in too many other movies.

Malik, a young, vulnerable Arab-French man arrives at prison to serve a six-year sentence and is immediately targeted by the ruthless Corsican gang that controls virtually everything in the establishment, including who lives and who dies. Forced under threat of death to do the gang's dirty work, including a murder, he waits and learns to better his oppressors at their own game.

Tahar Rahim, star of "Un prophète"

As good and mainstream as this film is, there were few variations on the expected details: the body searches and humiliations of prisoners; the cruel intimidation of the weak by the strong; and Malikís inevitable rise to power as a force within the prison and as a drug lord on the outside. I guess I always hope that films in competition will be extraordinary in some way, and "A Prophet" just didn't seem to have that quality.

Continue reading →

5/14: Swanky 3-D goggles for the chic cineaste

Primary_13-cannes-thumb-448x252-7092

The programming director of the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago is blogging from Cannes for us.

Thursday, May 14--You can't beat the weather here in Cannes. After the cold rain and dark skies in Frankfurt, where I changed planes yesterday, the perfect, summery temperatures and extravagant displays of flowers makes this town seem even more like a Mediterranean paradise than usual.

The festival kicked off to the world Wednesday night with the first red-carpet walk by the jury, and the Pixar folks with their 3-D animated feature "Up", but for most of us in film-industry jobs, the festival is already well underway with press screenings, market screenings, and press conferences.

Continue reading →

A teacher wins the Cannes film festival

Director Laurent Cantet accepts the Palme d'Or, surrounded by his cast.

For the first time in 21 years, a French film has taken the top prize at the Cannes film festival, and in a rarity for Cannes, the Palme d’Or was awarded unanimously. The prize could have easily been named “The Golden Apple” rather than the The Golden Palm since it went to “The Class” ("Entre Les Murs"), the Laurent Cantet film about a young teacher who tries to reach his class of primarily immigrant children in a school on the outskirts of Paris. Confronted with their apathy and sometimes outright hostility, he questions them in a Socratic fashion until they begin to ask themselves if perhaps an education might be relevant to them. This film moved me to tears and so of course I thought that, in the grand tradition of Cannes, it had no chance of winning the top prize.

Continue reading →

Two reviews: "The Lives of Others" & "Climates"

View image Listen (doo-dah-doo), do you want to know a secret?

I have new reviews of two fine films -- one from Germany and one from Turkey -- in today's Chicago Sun-Times and on RogerEbert.com:

The Lives of Others

It feels like science fiction -- "Fahrenheit 451" or "THX-1138" or "Brazil," with roots in Kafka and Orwell -- but the chilling and chilly dystopian world of writer-director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others" existed. The film, which begins in 1984, is a depiction of historical reality, not a cautionary fiction. It's set in East Germany, the German Democratic Republic, then a Soviet bloc communist-totalitarian state. Think of it as "The Conversation" behind the Iron Curtain.

Climates

The air is alive in Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylon's "Climates" -- more alive than the characters, who are like inert lumps of rock or sand. But that's the point. In this movie, so finely attuned to frequencies of light and sound, it's the invisible space around the characters that swarms with life and possibility. Their interior lives are muddled, opaque even to themselves, and they can't express anything directly, not even their own anguish and dissatisfaction.

Continue reading →

That was the fest that was

An image from "The Host": It all depends on how you look at it.

I kinda wish I'd had girish's Toronto. I saw some great stuff -- "Pan's Labyrinth" and "The Pervert's Guide to Cinema" being my favorites, and was also impressed with "Volver," "Shortbus," "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" and a few others. Not bad, but (as I wrote earlier) not as overwhelming as last year. I steered away from most of the big commercial titles (except for "Borat"!) and concentrated on some of the high-profile foreign and "specialty" films, including some that had attracted attention at Cannes. In other words, titles I thought readers of Scanners would be particularly interested in.

Girish, on the other hand, followed his bliss and... well, here's his assessment of his Own Private Toronto: Of the eight TIFFs I’ve attended, I think this year’s was probably the strongest. Unlike last year, I took my laptop with me and fully expected to blog the fest, but it turned out that many of the films I saw were not so casually bloggable. I’m still trying to figure out how to think about many of them.

Of the twenty-five films I saw in Toronto, there were two flat-out masterpieces: Jia Zhang-ke’s Chinese diptych "Still Life"/"Dong"; and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s "Syndromes And A Century" from Thailand. Other favorites: Pedro Costa’s "Colossal Youth" (Portugal); Alain Resnais’s "Coeurs" (France); Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s "Climates" (Turkey); Abderrehmane Sissako’s "Bamako" (Mali); Sophie Fiennes’ "The Pervert’s Guide To Cinema" (UK); Hong Sang-Soo’s "Woman On The Beach" (S. Korea); Bong Joon-Ho’s "The Host" (S. Korea); Jafar Panahi’s "Offside" (Iran); etc. I had most of those on my "want to see" list, but they got bumped by other screenings or time I spent blogging from the fest. I'm hoping I'll be able to catch up with many of these (and I'll have to look up that Mali film in the catalog).

So, out of the "10 days, 352 films, and 27,747 minutes" of the 2006 TIFF, has anybody else had time to digest/recover? How was your Toronto?

Continue reading →