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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.

Go gentle into that good night

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I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.

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Days of Ebertfest: The 2013 schedule

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PRESS RELEASE: CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Terrence Malick's 1978 film "Days of Heaven" won an Oscar for best cinematography, and Roger Ebert likely found that no surprise. It is "above all one of the most beautiful films ever made," Ebert said in a 1997 review. So it's only appropriate that the film will open the 15th annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival on April 17 in the big-screen, newly renovated Virginia Theater in downtown Champaign.

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The Perfect Audience

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In a back row of the Virginia Theater in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, you will see a raised platform just the right size to hold a reclining chair. This is my throne at Ebertfest. Because of havoc wrought by surgery to my back and right shoulder, I cannot sit comfortably in an ordinary chair. Here I recline at the side of my bride, looking upon the packed houses.

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Introducing the films of Ebertfest 2012

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Something nice happened to us while we were preparing the schedule for Ebertfest 2012, which plays April 25-29 at the Virginia Theater (above) in Champaign-Urbana, Ill. We'd invited Patton Oswalt to attend with his "Big Fan. He agreed and went one additional step: "I'd like to personally choose a film to show to the students, and discuss it."

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#107 March 21, 2012

Marie writes: I received the following from intrepid club member Sandy Kahn and my eyes widened at the sight of it. It's not every day you discover a treasure trove of lost Hollywood jewelry!

Grace Kelly is wearing "Joseff of Hollywood"chandelier earrings in the film "High Society" (1965)(click image to enlarge.)

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Start at the top and work your way down

• Introduction to The Great Movies III

You'd be surprised how many people have told me they're working their way through my books of Great Movies one film at a time. That's not to say the books are definitive; I loathe "best of" lists, which are not the best of anything except what someone came up with that day. I look at a list of the "100 greatest horror films," or musicals, or whatever, and I want to ask the maker, "but how do you know?" There are great films in my books, and films that are not so great, but there's no film here I didn't respond strongly to. That's the reassurance I can offer.

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Coming down from those 6-hour dinners...

May 22 -- The past three days have been a whirlwind of films, panel discussions and French-style dining (meaning 6-hour dinners that start at 8 pm at the earliest). All of this has resulted in minimal sleep or in some extreme cases, no sleep at all. On Wednesday, after a solid week into the festival and with less than a week to go, the atmosphere becomes more restless than usual. People can feel the end approaching and a repressed feeling of panic can emerge.

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Cannes #4: A good film, a bad film, and a friend

Mike Leigh has long been a great director, but now he is surely at the top of his form. "Another Year" has premiered here and is the film everyone I talk with loves the most. It is so beautifully sure and perceptive in its record of one year in the life of a couple happily married, and their relatives and friends, not so happy. After "Vera Drake" (2004) and "Happy-Go-Lucky" (2008), Leigh cannot seem to step wrong.

A women at the press conference asked Leigh (left) "did you have to make Mary so sad?" She might as well have asked, "did you have to make Tom and Gerri so happy? "

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Great directors and their stampeding fans

My first movie at Cannes will hopefully end up being my worst movie at Cannes. I chose to see "William Vincent," directed by Jay Anaia. James Franco starred and produced, as it was his production company Rabbit Bandini Productions that made the film.

I love James Franco and think he is a great actor. I was interested in finding out the types of films he would make if given more control. Unfortunately, the result was disappointing.

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"I can respect the stupidity of people who think that speed is beauty," agrees Paul Cox

The Australian film director Paul Cox, spoke to a group of students earlier this afternoon. While I 've met Cox a few times before at the annual Ebertfest in Champaign-Urbana, IL, I'd never heard him speak freely to a crowd and was interested in what would be said. Paul enters in casual clothes and walks to the seat in front of the class, unfolds a few pages of yellow papers full of scribbly handwriting and begins speaking in a soft, slow, accented voice.

The title of the speech is "Invent not Imitate," encouraging our generation to break the rules and push the limits. So at first, of course, I'm into it. Slowly, the speech turns from an encouraging nudge towards originality and prioritizing values, to a pretty full blown revolutionary anarchist speech. There is a pessimistic rant about the lack of genuineness and how many artists are "rubbish," specifically at this film festival. Cox rags on any one who even considers the nearby Monaco Grand Prix and car racing relevant or acceptable, and then stomps on organized religion, ex-president Bush, fashion and films like "Pulp Fiction." A student in the crowd asks Paul if there was anything he thought was worth doing, seeing or knowing about and beyond Cox's personal hero, Vincent Van Gogh and some rural Aboriginal tribes with which he'd spent time. It seemed he was not.

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Aujourd'hui il pleut

Friday, May 15--Today it rains, which changes everything. Yesterday the air was so European with cigarette smoke and hints of ocean musk. Today the air is damp, humid and rainy. A little sad. My first full day at Cannes! This afternoon the American Pavillion named their Conference Center in honor of grandfather. He has done a lot of Q and As and interviews there. There was tons of press, and Martin Scorsese was there to do the dedication. Everyone was excited and full of this nervous anxiety to do their jobs right at all costs. Afterwards in the Green Room, I had the honor of meeting the director of the festival, Thierry Frémaux. I also met some great friends of my grandfather's, the very French Pierre Rissient, who he just wrote about; the Australian director Paul Cox, Uma and Gerson da Cunha from India. These were only a few of the people touched by grandfather's genuine personality and devotion to the art of cinema.

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The best train set a boy could ever want

It's a good thing Ebertfest is no longer called the Overlooked Film Festival. One of my choices this year, "Frozen River," was in danger of being overlooked when I first invited it, but then it realized the dream of every indie film, found an audience and won two Oscar nominations. Yet even after the Oscar nods, it has grossed only about $2.5 million and has been unseen in theaters by most of the nation.

Those numbers underline the crisis in independent, foreign or documentary films--art films. More than ever, the monolithic U.S. distribution system freezes out films lacking big stars, big ad budgets, ready-made teenage audiences, or exploitable hooks. When an unconventional film like "Slumdog Millionaire" breaks out, it's the exception that proves the rule. While it was splendid, it was not as original or really as moving as the American indie "Chop Shop," made a year earlier. The difference is, the hero of "Chop Shop" wasn't trying to win a million rupees--just to survive.

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Postcards from Cannes

Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie in Cannes.

Postcard #1 Her new movie struck close to home for Angelina Jolie, visiting Cannes in an advanced stage of pregnancy. "Changeling" is based on the true story of a Los Angeles mother whose son disappears in 1928. Months later a young boy found in DeKalb, Illinois is returned as her son by the LAPD, which needs good press at a time of corruption. Problem is, she insists it's not her son, but the cops pressure her to raise the boy as her own. When she refuses, they have her held against her will. She and Brad Pitt were toasted by her director, Clint Eastwood, at a late-night dinner Tuesday at the beachfront Hotel Martinez, where Jolie said that being a mother "makes the film more personal, because I cannot imagine a mother not being trusted to know her own child."

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Dusty Cohl: In Memory

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Nobody ever seemed to know what Dusty Cohl did for a living. He was a lawyer, and it was said he was "in real estate," but in over 30 years I never heard him say one word about business. His full-time occupation was being a friend, and he was one of the best I've ever made.

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Mourning (and assessing) Bergman

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Some of the best things I've read about Ingmar Bergman's place in cinema, written since his death (UPDATED 8/01/07):

E-mails to Roger Ebert from filmmakers and writers including David Mamet, Paul Schrader, Sally Potter, Haskell Wexler, Paul Theroux, Richard Linklater, Gregory Nava, Studs Terkel, David Bordwell, David Gordon Green, Paul Cox...

Gregory Nava: This was not the escapist fare of Hollywood, or the pat spirituality of Biblical epic films where God spoke in hallowed tones from a burning bush. With Bergman, God was a spider that lived in the upstairs closet! A shocking and necessary jolt to my Catholic sensibilities. Yes, these films changed me forever -- they cemented my dream to become a filmmaker because if film could do this -- then surely it was the greatest art form of our time. I will never forget the first time I saw the horses standing in the surf against a setting sun, and death with his black cape raised approaching the world-weary knight. "I hope I never get so old I get religious." -- Ingmar Bergman

Peter Rainer, Los Angeles Times: He worked out of his deepest passions and, for many of us, this made the experience of watching his films seem almost surgically invasive. He pulled us into his secret torments. Looking at "The Seventh Seal" or "Persona" or "Cries and Whispers," it's easy to imagine that Bergman, who died Monday, was the most private of film artists, and yet, no matter how far removed the circumstances of his life may have been from ours, he made his anguish our own.

Another way to put this is that Bergman -- despite the high-toned metaphysics that overlays many, though not all, of his greatest films -- was a showman first and a Deep Thinker second. His philosophical odysseys might have been epoxied to matters of Life and Death, of God and Man, but this most sophisticated of filmmakers had an inherently childlike core. He wanted to startle us as he himself had been startled. He wanted us to feel his terrors in our bones. A case could be made that Bergman was, in the most voluminous sense, the greatest of all horror movie directors.

"If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in his name, he'd never stop throwing up!" -- Bergman actor Max von Sydow, in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters"

View image Woody Allen's "Love and Death": A Bergman (and Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy...) parody from someone who loved Bergman.

Roger Ebert, RogerEbert.com: What he saw as God’s refusal to intervene in the suffering on earth was the subject of his 1961-63 Silence of God Trilogy, “Through a Glass Darkly,” “Winter Light” (a pitiless film in which a clergyman torments himself about the possibility of nuclear annihilation) and “The Silence.” In his masterpiece “Persona,” (1967), an actress (Liv Ullmann) sees a television image of a monk burning himself in Vietnam, and she stops speaking. Sent to a country retreat with a nurse (Bibi Andersson), she works a speechless alchemy on her, leading to a striking image when their two faces seem to blend.

So great was the tension in that film that Bergman made it appear to catch in the projector and burn. Then, from a black screen, the film slowly rebuilt itself, beginning with crude images from the first days of the cinema. These images were suggested by a child’s cinematograph which his brother received as a present; so envious was Ingmar that he traded his brother for it, giving up his precious horde of 100 tin soldiers.

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