Inside Llewyn Davis
"Inside Llewyn Davis" is the most satisfyingly diabolical cinematic structure that the Coens have ever contrived, and that's just one reason that I suspect it…
* 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.
Documentarian Alex Gibney discusses how he turned a problem (he made a doc about Lance Armstrong's 2009 attempt to come out of retirement, but before the film was released, Armstrong's story turned sour) into a penetrating documentary.
"12 Years a Slave" and "The Butler" are part of a valuable subgenre of American film that dramatizes the fallacy of "Black respectability"—the notion that if African-Americans will only speak, dress and behave in a certain way, discrimination won't affect them, and they'll reap the American dream.
Four standout performances by black actors make the Oscar Best Actor race more interesting this year.
Lee Daniels, the director of "Lee Daniels' The Butler," discusses his personal stakes in the story and working with Forest Whitaker on the way the character grows and changes.
Marie writes: There was a time when Animation was done by slaves with a brush in one hand and a beer in the other. Gary Larson's "Tales From the Far Side" (1994) was such a project. I should know; I worked on it. Produced by Marv Newland at his Vancouver studio "International Rocketship", it first aired as a CBS Halloween special (Larson threw a party for the crew at the Pan Pacific Hotel where we watched the film on a big screen) and was later entered into the 1995 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, where it won the Grand Prix. It spawned a sequel "Tales From the Far Side II" (1997) - I worked on that too. Here it is, below.
By Tom Shales
Jimmy Kimmel still comes across like a guy who crashed a party and got caught at it, yet adamantly refuses to leave. He has no real business being there -- hosting a late-night network talk show, that is -- and may even know in his dark little heart that he's out of his depth, but he's gotten away with it for ten years, so why pull out now? Since he's probably making $25 million a year or so, and ABC has agreed to underwrite the subterfuge, it's hard to imagine Kimmel voluntarily getting the hell out of Dodge.
"Hey, Boo: Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird" (82 minutes) premieres on the PBS series "American Masters" on Monday, April 2nd, at 10 p.m. (check local listings). The film is also available on-demand via Netflix and iTunes.
by Jeff Shannon
To Kill a Mockingbird was published on July 11th, 1960, and Harper Lee's first and only novel has been a publishing phenomenon ever since. Although its first printing by the venerable publishing house of J.B. Lippincott was a mere 5,000 copies, it was an immediate bestseller, and has consistently sold a million copies a year for over 50 years. It was a shoo-in for the Pulitzer Prize, and is frequently cited as the second-most beloved book of all time, after the Holy Bible. Some British librarians went a step further: In a 2006 poll, they ranked Mockingbird at the top, above the Bible, in a list of books "every adult should read before they die." Despite some early objections to its use of racial epithets (specifically the "N-word"), the novel has been required, if sometimes controversial, classroom reading for decades.
With its potent themes of racial injustice, inequality, courage, compassion and lost innocence in the noxiously segregated American South, Lee's novel preceded and fueled the civil rights movement that erupted in its wake. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that To Kill a Mockingbird is the most influential novel of the 20th century, considered by many to be America's national novel. The equally beloved, Oscar-winning 1962 film version -- famously adapted by Horton Foote and directed by Robert Mulligan -- was immediately embraced as an enduring classic worthy of its source material.
"Becoming Chaz" airs Sunday, November 27 6PM ET/PT on OWN before the 8 p.m. premiere of its follow-up, "Being Chaz."
Not too long ago, I was planning to marry a woman who was born a man, so Chaz Bono's story is a bit familiar. It's pretty simple, really, and you've heard it a thousand times by now: A transgender person feels trapped in the "wrong" body. Just for acting upon this lifelong impulse by changing their physical characteristics to better represent their true selves, transpeople are being assaulted and murdered in shameful numbers. The movie "Boys Don't Cry" might have softened a few bigoted hearts around this issue, but the killing continues worldwide.
Chaz, born Chastity Bono to celebrity couple Sonny and Cher, could have lived through his transition from female to male in private, but it's clear in the documentary "Becoming Chaz" that he knew the true cost of invisibility in such a transphobic world. He let the cameras roll during some unflattering, raw moments--the idea being that this story shouldn't idealize his experience any more than it should exploit it for freak show appeal. The aim is to show that Chaz, the man, is as real as you and I, not an illusion to be brought off. It's hard to imagine that the killers out there might be moved by all this candor, but those whose indifference or unawareness helps perpetuate discrimination should at least get a healthy jolt of recognition. "Becoming Chaz" is as much about the kind-faced "Dancing with the Stars" contestant's relationship as it is about his metamorphosis. That was my way into the film: I know a little bit about being "the partner."
He had these smiling eyes. And a self-deprecating manner which seemed to belie his very good looks ("He's so cute," my 19-year-old assistant exclaimed), about which he was fairly oblivious. Most of all, he was simply a very good guy.
Gary Winick, a many-hats-wearing filmmaker and digital pioneer, died of complications following a 2 year battle with brain cancer on February 27th, the day of the Academy Awards --- an especially sad irony for a vital man, weeks shy of 50, whose passion for film and storytelling had filled the decades of his adult life.
The private memorial service was held at the Time-Warner Center in Winick's beloved New York. Overlooking Central Park as the sun set, an invited group of 400 (some going back to childhood, some famous, many with whom he'd worked, even some he'd made sure got a decent meal when they were struggling) assembled to watch film clips, to hear and tell stories - to cry, yes, but also to laugh at so many experiences they certainly cherish now.
To borrow a line from "Citizen Kane," I knew Oprah before the beginning, and now I know her after the end. The remaining episodes of her show bring to a close the most phenomenal run of any talk show host in history and ring down the curtain on the second act of a life that seems poised to have many more. What lies ahead? Her new cable network, we know. But I suspect she also has a future in high public office.
CHICAGO -- Four years after cancer surgery left the famed film critic unable to speak or eat, Roger Ebert is publishing a cookbook dedicated to rice cookers, a kitchen appliance he lovingly calls "The Pot" and champions as an answer for those strapped for cash, time and counter space.
I have a friend who walked out of THERE WILL BE BLOOD during that baptism scene, when Daniel Day-Lewis exclaimed, "I've abandoned my child!" My friend was just divorced, lost custody of his children, and was tormented with the remorse that follows these things. As Daniel Day-Lewis shouted, my friend almost needed to cover his ears. He returned to his seat shortly afterwards, but needed that moment to collect himself.
I have another friend who was molested by a family friend. She refuses therapy, but she attributes multiple aspects of her personality, that she herself identifies as disorders - social ineptitude, sexual dysfunction and confusion, chronic despair - to that period of molestation. When she watched MYSTIC RIVER, a movie speaking of the physical and psychological abuse of children and the long term consequences on their hearts and minds, she found herself painfully revisiting those experiences, but not where we might expect.
From its incendiary opening to its somber but exultant conclusion, Spike Lee's grand and important film "Malcolm X" captures the life of a complex, charismatic and gravely misunderstood man who fought for human rights and justice for Africans and African-Americans. The film, based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, is arguably Mr. Lee's best and most universal film, and one of the great American film biographies.
For context, "Malcolm X" had extraordinary publicity leading up to its 1991 production. Numerous black activists in New York City and elsewhere had forecasted that Mr. Lee's film would not accurately depict the essence of Malcolm. "Don't mess Malcolm up," was a refrain the director heard over and over again.
After I lost my speaking voice, everybody thought they had this brilliant idea. "Hey! Why don't you just take your voice from your old shows and put it on a computer?" Sounded good to me.
If we had the British Constitution, Oprah Winfrey would be our queen.
In her next film, Gabby Sidibe will play Miss Popularity. This is a fair distance from the abused, fearful victim she plays in the title role of "Precious." People half-convinced the actress must be like the character will need a readjustment.
"If u get a swine flu shot ur an idiot." -- Bill Maher, Twitter, September 26, 2009
"This is not a liberal versus conservative issue. This is a science versus nonsense issue." -- Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times health blogger
Bill Maher may as well believe in Creationism, for all he knows about science or religion. (See above.) The problem I've always had with him is that, no matter what position he may take up, his reasoning is likely to be manifestly unsound. Listen to him talk and most of the time you soon realize he doesn't know what he's talking about. It doesn't matter if you eventually "agree" with his stance because he's reached it for invalid reasons.
Take his latest anti-vaccine pronouncement, made to Bill Frist on Maher's HBO show: "I would never get a swine flu vaccine, or any vaccine. I don't trust the government, especially with my health." OK, fine. If Maher doesn't "believe" in vaccines, or the ability of the U.S. to provide a working one, he's free to pass and to keep himself quarantined if he gets sick so he doesn't infect anybody else. When he reaches Medicare qualification age (he's 53) he can choose not to take advantage of it or any other health insurance he doesn't believe in and pay cash for his hospitalizations and medical treatments. But telling people (like young people and pregnant women) who are at high risk from serious flu complications not to get vaccinated because he doesn't "believe" in vaccines or doesn't "trust the government"? That's sick.
The Chicago International Film Festival is celebrating its 45th anniversary in better form than ever, I think. The festival, which opened Thursday, will be presenting 145 films from 45 countries. That's fewer than Toronto or Cannes but more, I believe, than any other American festival -- and besides, can you see 10 films a day?
"Precious," the story of a teenage girl who seems to have everything going against her, won the coveted Audience Award here Saturday at the Toronto International Film Festival. Toronto has no jury awards, but last January at Sundance, "Precious" swept both the jury award and the Audience Award. Both festivals invite audiences to vote as they leave after a screening, and use systems to correct for audience and theater sizes.
Gabby Sidibe as "Precious"
This could not be a better omen for the Oscar chances of "Precious;" it is all but certain to win a place on the expanded list of the Academy's 10 "best picture" nominees. Its star, Gabourey (Gabby) Sidibe, is also a real possibility for an acting nomination.
TORONTO -- It was a hit last January at Sundance, and now the intensely emotional indie drama "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire" is gathering more applause at the Toronto film festival. Here to support it are two of the biggest names in media, Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry. Both actually signed on as executive producers after seeing the completed film.
I have no way of knowing Robert McNamara's thoughts in his final days. He might have reflected on his agreement to speak openly to Errol Morris in the extraordinary documentary "The Fog of War." His reflections are almost without precedent among modern statesmen and those involved in waging war. Remembered as the architect of the war in Vietnam, he doesn't quite apologize for not having done more to end that war--although he clearly wishes he had. His purpose in the film is to speak of his philosophy of life, to add depth to history's one-dimensional portrait. Don't we all want to do that?
"I have no regrets," Edith Piaf sang. It is clear that she does regret. She is singing of love, not war. I think she is saying that she and her lover did the best they could. If she can say that, she need have no regrets. McNamara is saying the same thing about his years in power. He is honest in reporting a discussion at the time about leaving as Johnson's secretary of defense. He told Katharine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, "I don't know if I resigned or was fired." "Oh, Bob," she told him, "of course you were fired." One of the things he tells Morris is: "In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil." That argument is denied by theologians, but much heard in realms of realpolitik.
He agreed to submit himself to Morris's questions for an hour. He ended by speaking for ten. He went to subjects Morris might not have thought to take him, discussed things that were, at 85, much on his mind. He was a key aide to Gen. Curtis LeMay, who directed the fire-bombing of Tokyo when more than 100,000, mostly civilians, were burned alive. After the war, he says, in one of the film's most astonishing moments, LeMay observed to him that if America had lost, they would have been tried as war criminals. What does he, McNamara, think about the bombing? By quoting LeMay's statement that might have forever gone unrecorded, I think he lets us know.
I've been saying for years that I never cry during sad moments in the movies, only during moments about goodness. At the end of "Terms of Endearment," I didn't cry because of Debra Winger's death, but because of how she said goodbye to her sons. Now I've have discovered a scientific explanation for why I feel the way that I do, and there is even a name for my specific emotion.
I wasn't seeking an explanation, and I'm not sure I really wanted one. And, for that matter, I don't really cry, at least not in the wiping-my-eyes and blowing-my-nose fashion. What I experience is the welling up of a few tears in my eyes, a certain tightness in my throat, and a feeling of uplift: Yes, there is a good person, doing a good thing. And when the movie is over, I don't want to talk with anyone. After such movies I notice that many audience members remain in a kind of reverie. Those who break the spell by feeling compelled to say something don't have an emotional clue.
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Ever since Oprah Winfrey revealed on her 20th anniversary program Monday that I was the person who first suggested she go into syndication, I have been flooded with requests for interviews.
HOLLYWOOD - "Million Dollar Baby" scored a late-round rally Sunday night at the 77th annual Academy Awards as Clint Eastwood's movie about a determined female boxer won for best picture and took Oscars for actress (Hilary Swank), supporting actor (Morgan Freeman) and director (Eastwood).