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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_nnkx3ahyot7p3au92dnglf4pkwa

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…

Thumb_as_above_so_below_xlg

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…

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
Other Articles
Channel 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.

#212 March 26, 2014

Sheila writes: In 1968, Stanley Kubrick, whose game-changing "2001" was released that year, was interviewed for Playboy magazine. You can check out a facsimile of the interview here, but Open Culture has transcribed some of it, in particular the section where Kubrick gives some predictions on what the world will look like in the year 2001. It's fascinating speculative stuff.

Continue reading →

#211 March 19, 2014

Sheila writes: I came across a fascinating 1964 interview with Bruce Lee. He is such an engaging presence. I liked in particular his analogy of kung fu to a glass of water, but there's lots of great stuff here.

Continue reading →

#195 November 27, 2013

Sheila writes: Exciting news for Roger Ebert fans: Director Steve James ["Hoop Dreams"] is planning a full-length documentary about Roger Ebert called "Life Itself", which will follow the trajectory of Ebert's career as well as examine his vast influence on the movie industry and American culture as a whole. Martin Scorsese is executive producer. The documentary is being financed partially through a fundraising campaign hosted by Indiegogo, and we wanted to let Ebert Club Members know that the "Life Itself" filmmakers are offering a special deal EXCLUSIVE TO EBERT CLUB MEMBERS who pledge to this campaign!

Continue reading →

#152 January 23, 2013

Marie writes: Behold the entryway to the Institut Océanographique in Paris; and what might just be the most awesome sculpture to adorn an archway in the history of sculptures and archways. Photo @ pinterest

(click to enlarge.)

Continue reading →

Toronto #2: Victory at any price?

Primary_at_20any_201-thumb-500x251-52226

Ramin Bahrani, the best new American director of recent years, has until now focused on outsiders in this country: A pushcart operator from Pakistan, a Hispanic street orphan in New York, a cab driver from Senegal working in Winston-Salem. NC. His much-awaited new film, "At Any Price," is set in the Iowa heartland and is about two American icons: A family farmer and a race car driver. It plays Sunday and Monday in the Toronto Film Festival.

Continue reading →

The greatest films of all time

Primary_tree-thumb-500x252-15697

I am faced once again with the task of voting in Sight & Sound magazine's famous poll to determine the greatest films of all time. Apart from my annual year's best lists, this is the only list I vote in. It is a challenge. After voting in 1972, 1982 and 1992, I came up with these ten titles in 2002:

Continue reading →

Goodbye to all that

I sent an e-mail the other day that was one of the hardest things I've ever had to write. It was to Jim Palmer and Maura Clare at the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder. I told them I wouldn't be coming back this spring. I sent it, and stared into space, and was flooded with sadness.

I don't intend to write here about the Conference, which has allowed me to live more than nine months of my life in Boulder, one week at a time. I wrote about CWA in a 2009 blog entry titled the Leisure of the Theory Class. I need not tell you again about Howard Higman or Daddy Bruce Jr.

Continue reading →

What price masterpiece? Werner Herzog (Part 2)

Primary_kinskiag-thumb-510x383-19673

"For me, the border between feature films and documentaries has always been blurred. 'Fitzcarraldo' is my best documentary and 'Little Dieter Needs to Fly' is my best fiction film. I don't make such a clear distinction between them -- they're all movies."

-- Werner Herzog, interview with Index Magazine, 2004 - - - - - - - - - -

"Aguirre, the Wrath of God" was the first Werner Herzog film I ever saw, back when it was released in the United States in 1977. It was one of the first films I ever reviewed, too (for my college newspaper, the University of Washington Daily). All I knew about Herzog at the time was what I'd read in an extraordinary profile by Jonathan Cott in the November 18, 1976, issue of Rolling Stone, which portrayed Herzog as a mad visionary in search of new images, not unlike the obsessed outsiders at the heart of his movies.

I couldn't stop staring at the haunting photograph that surrounded the article, from (as I recall) such films as "Signs of Life," "Even Dwarfs Started Small," "Aguirre," "Kaspar Hauser" and "Heart of Glass." They certainly didn't look quite like any movies I'd seen before. And essential to the spectacle was the knowledge that Herzog had gone to remote and exotic places in order to capture these images and bring them back into the cinema. They were unquestionably photographical realities (imagine Herzog speaking that phrase), not optical tricks created in post-production. The boat in the tree in "Aguirre" -- the one the feverish characters could no longer recognize as real -- was an actual boat in an actual tree, not a miniature or a matte painting. Even the photographic effects -- the time-lapse clouds flowing through the mountains like a river around boulders in "Kaspar Hauser" "Heart of Glass"; or the high-speed "ski-flying" (high-altitude, long-distance ski-jumping) footage that allowed Walter Steiner to float through the air in "The Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner" -- were actual recordings of real-world phenomena.

Continue reading →

Shooting the rapids with Werner Herzog (Part 1)

Primary_agmonkey-thumb-510x383-19586

"People should look straight at a film... That's the only way to see one. Film is not the art of scholars, but of illiterates. And film culture is not analysis, it is agitation of the mind. Movies come from the country fair and circus, not from art and academicism."

-- Werner Herzog, 1978 interview quoted in John Sandford's book, "The New German Cinema" (1980)

We knew it was going to be interesting. Seeing "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" (1972) for the first time in 25 years (even though I'd seen it many times before) with Werner Herzog, Ramin Bahrani, Roger Ebert and a Conference on World Affairs Cinema Interruptus audience in Boulder, CO, last week reconfirmed that not only is Herzog a magnificent, instinctive director, but a first-class showman in the carnival tradition, a compelling speaker and storyteller, and a wonderful actor. Some of the wild tales he related to the audience in Macky Hall are, I'm told, also on the director's commentary track of the American DVD of "Aguirre" -- and some I've heard him tell many times over the years, but there's nothing quite like hearing Herzog spin his spiels in the flesh -- even (or maybe especially) when he's a booming voice in the dark.

Continue reading →

I failed...

Primary_raminwerner-thumb-500x377-19548

... to write anything last week at CWA where there's hardly a moment to breathe (gasping at the mile-high altitude aside) between panels, conversations, lunches, parties, receptions (and -- for me, anyway -- precious sleep). You have to understand: I often go days without actually seeing or speaking to anybody; all this socializing is exhausting for me. I'll be looking back at the experience this week, but in the meantime, in case you missed it, Roger Ebert writes about the first day's Cinema Interruptus with Werner Herzog, Ramin Bahrani and "Aguirre, the Wrath of God."

(Above: Photo by Roger Ebert. And aren't Ramin's new frames terrific?)

Continue reading →

The ecstasy of the filmmaker Herzog

I saw "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" for the first time in a defrocked Lutheran Church in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, which Milos Stehlik had taken over for his newly-born Facets Multimedia. "It is a film you must see," he told me. "Bring a pillow. The pews can get hard."

I saw a great film, one of the greatest ever made. An essential film. In 1999, I made it one of the first titles in my Great Movies Collection. Now I wonder if I really saw it at all.

Continue reading →

Off to CWA

I'll be in Boulder this week for another round of the Conference on World Affairs.

I will be part of these panels, on such diverse topics as dogs and international politics (that's one subject), ad hominem mouthpieces in the media (Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly), the politics of "Avatar," blatant and condescending forms of racism, and why we go to the movies. My pal Julia Sweeney will be joining the ranks of participants. And I get to be on two panels with the fantastic Ike Wilson, who's also delivering the keynote!

Oh yes: Ramin Bahrani will be returning for the Cinema Interruptus (last year he guided us through his own "Chop Shop") -- this time exploring, shot-by-shot, Werner Herzog's "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" with Herr Herzog himself, Roger Ebert (who, I hope, will be using his Mac voice), the audience, and me. I plan to handle remote control responsibilities to the best of my ability (pausing for questions and comments, rewinding and re-playing) -- but, for the most part, I intend to shut up and learn something. And, as usual, I know I will. And, whenever I get a chance, I will be posting (and tweeting) about it...

Continue reading →

Favorite movies of 2009 movie: The commentary track

The first time I made a year-end list for Scanners, I did it by suggesting double-bills of 2006 films with older films (much like what contributors to The Auteurs did this year). In 2007, I made my first year-end movie, inspired by "L'Eclisse," as a tribute to the late Michelangelo Antonioni and a commentary on the WGA strike that was happening at the time. Last year, the concept was based on a shot of Hannah Schygulla, Goddess of Cinema, waking up, looking into the camera (in Fatih Akin's "The Edge of Heaven") and dreaming fragments of the films on my list.

This year, I'm not quite sure how it came together (see opening title), but I took my cue from my favorite movie of the year, the Coens' "A Serious Man." I knew I didn't want to adhere to any rigid countdown hierarchy this time, but to let the movies converse with themselves through images. I chose the word "conversation" knowing there would be no dialog except at the very beginning and the very end, with the Jefferson Airplane song "Somebody to Love" (recurring element in "A Serious Man") in between. That gave me approximately 2 minutes and 58 seconds for the montage....

Continue reading →

Jim's favorite movies of 2009: The movie

Once again, my favorite movies of the year engage in overlapping cinematic conversation with one another, blurring stylistic, thematic, national, linguistic, philosophical, theological and proprietary boundaries. No one is playing the blame game here. Happy new year!

(list and links after the jump...)

Continue reading →