Like Ficarra and Requa’s 2011 comedy Crazy Stupid Love, Focus begins promisingly and bops along enjoyably for a while, only to run out of steam…
* 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.
Sheila writes: Just in case you haven't had your fill of End of Year lists, Steven Soderbergh put up a list on his site of everything he watched in 2014, in chronological order, as well as everything he read. Television, movies, books, scripts ... it's all here. It made me consider doing something similar, just to track what I've taken in over any given year. I love reading other people's lists. Do any of you keep lists like this?
The best television programs of 2014.
Death of mid-budget cinema; Lena Dunham speaks out; Antonio Sanchez on "Birdman"; 25 best superhero movies since "Blade"; Men need to stop calling women crazy.
An interview with Bennett Miller, director of "Foxcatcher," "Moneyball" and "Capote."
Sheila writes: Steven Soderbergh may be retired from movies, but he continues to be a very busy man, primarily with his Cinemax show "The Knick." But in the last couple of weeks, he also launched a conversation-starter on his own site, about the issue of "staging" scenes in film. Soderbergh writes that staging "(roughly defined) refers to how all the various elements of a given scene or piece are aligned, arranged, and coordinated." To show what he means, Soderbergh took a film with a high level of visual staging, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," stripped its sound, made it black-and-white, and overlaid the whole thing with the Trent Reznor/Atticus Finch synethized scores for David Fincher films. The result is a fascinating experiment in visual style. Soderbergh writes, "I operate under the theory a movie should work with the sound off." You can watch Soderbergh's "Raiders" experiment at his site.
Is feature filmmaking dead?; Gripes with "This Is Where I Leave You"; Remembering Peter von Bagh; "Raiders of the Lost Ark" in black-and-white; B. Ruby Rich on "Life Itself."
An interview with the legendary Liv Ullmann, at this year's TIFF with "Miss Julie."
An interview with the stars and author of "If I Stay."
Clive Owen stars in Cinemax and Steven Soderbergh's riveting "The Knick."
An appreciation of "Twin Peaks" and review of the "The Entire Mystery," the Blu-ray release of all 30 episodes and "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me."
RogerEbert.com contributor Godfrey Cheshire's landmark two-part series "Death of Film/Decay of Cinema" anticipated many of the changes that would later shake the medium to its core.
The first recipients of the Sundance Institute's Roger Ebert Scholarship for Film Criticism make their debut at the Sundance Film Festival.
A box set of early Fassbinder films sees him working through pastiches of film noir and melodrama as he fins his way to his distinctive themes and style.
The first rule in Elmore Leonard's ten rules of writing is "Never open a book with the weather." It could never be a "dark and stormy night" in Leonard's universe. Instead, he opened his novels with nonchalant statements of character-driven fact. "Rum Punch" begins "Sunday morning, Ordell took Louis to watch the white-power demonstration in downtown Palm Beach." "The Hot Kid" informs us that "Carlos Webster was fifteen the day he witnessed the robbery and killing at Deering's drugstore." And "Glitz"'s opening line kicks off two and a half of Leonard's most readable pages with "The night Vincent was shot he saw it coming." Elmore Leonard got straight to the point. His characters were sometimes in love with their verbosity, but Leonard the narrator did not share this predilection. The omnipotent voice running through Dutch Leonard's work told you who said what, who did what, and the darkly comic repercussions of both. No writer wrung more color out of simply telling you what happened than Dutch Leonard. "Melanie was holding it in both hands now, arms extended, aimed at Gerald. "He tossed the shotgun to land on the sofa, looked up at Melanie and said 'Okay, now you put that down, honey, and I won't press charges against you.' Confident about it, as though it would settle the matter."Melanie didn't say anything. She shot him." –"Rum Punch"Leonard's characters were a multi-racial motley crew of cops, criminals, outlaws, lawyers, cowboys and sociopaths. They did not always follow the crime fiction novel's gender conventions. Strong, brutal women and weak, emotional men were not verboten. Leonard's characters were beholden to their own self-defined notions of ethics and morality. They were often much less clever than they thought; their flaws of nemesis underestimation became their undoing. Those who survived sometimes found themselves in other novels. Leonard never passed judgment as his characters flamed out in pitch black comic blazes both pathetic and glorious. To do so would violate his last and most important rule of writing: "Leave out the parts readers tend to skip." Much of the pleasure of reading Elmore Leonard was in the dialogue, which is why so many of his books became movies and TV series. Leonard followed his rule of "avoiding detailed descriptions of characters" by having his people talk to each other. He had an ear for the way conversations flowed, whether they were conducted on the street, in the precinct, or on the range. For a White guy, he certainly knew how to sound convincingly like the Black dudes who populated many of his novels. He captured the cadences of their speech, and did so without stereotype. His Brothers sounded like the guys I heard on the street in my old neighborhood; his cops sounded like cops I knew. Leonard embraced and elevated what they said, letting them ramble on whenever necessary. This love of casual chatter is probably what drew Tarantino to adapt "Rum Punch" as "Jackie Brown." It's certainly what made him pull entire chunks of Leonard's dialogue verbatim into the "Jackie Brown" script.The labyrinthine plots Leonard dragged his characters through were overly complicated yet always compelling. Even in something as spare and nasty as "52 Pick-Up," the first book of his I read, Leonard toyed with the expectations of where his stories took us. Even in the most convoluted plots, there was a feeling that the reader got entangled in this mess by virtue of the characters' machinations, not the author's. Before turning to the Florida-set crime stories that became his trademark, Elmore Leonard wrote Westerns. "3:10 to Yuma" and "The Tall T" were based on his work, as was Paul Newman's 1967 film "Hombre." Starting with "The Big Bounce" (made with Ryan O'Neal in 1969), Leonard changed his genre but kept many of the characteristics of a good Western. For example, "Mr. Majestyk" features a character protecting his "homestead" in much the same way as Jimmy Stewart or Randolph Scott would have. And of course, "Justified"'s Raylan Givens is the perfect synthesis of both genre halves of Leonard's work. Is there another author besides Shakespeare and Stephen King whose prolific output inspired so many movie adaptations? And by directors as varied as Abel Ferrara, Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino, Budd Boetticher, John Frankenheimer, Barry Sonnenfeld and Burt Reynolds (whom I'm sure Leonard wanted to shoot after seeing "Stick"). The stories vary from tales of Hollywood to big money heists to sleazy exploitation. Regardless of quality—and it varied from film to film—the spirit of Dutch Leonard's prose was felt by the viewer. Since I was 17, Elmore Leonard has been my favorite writer. I told him so the one time I met him. It was at the now defunct and long-gone Waldenbooks on Exchange Place and Broadway in Manhattan. He was there to sign copies of "Rum Punch," which was eerily prescient since it was the basis of my favorite film adaptation of Leonard's work. He was a very nice man, patiently listening to the 22-year-old aspiring writer whose excited rambling violated Leonard's fourth rule of writing ("Keep your exclamation points under control!"). When I was done, he verified the spelling of my name, signed my book and wished me luck with my writing.I hadn't thought about that meeting in a while, but when I heard that Leonard died today, it rushed back to me with the immersive force of a good Elmore Leonard set piece. There was casual chatter, a cool as a cucumber experienced character, and a matter of fact, straightforward rendering of events. Nobody got shot, which is a good thing for me, but that didn't make my run-in with Mr. Leonard any less memorable. Rest in peace, Dutch.
Marie writes: Much beloved and a never ending source of amusement, Simon's Cat is a popular animated cartoon series by the British animator Simon Tofield featuring a hungry house cat who uses increasingly heavy-handed tactics to get its owner to feed it. Hand-drawn using an A4-size Wacom Intuos 3 pen and tablet, Simon has revealed that his four cats - called Teddy, Hugh, Jess and Maisie - provide inspiration for the series, with Hugh being the primary inspiration. And there's now a new short titled "Suitcase". To view the complete collection to date, visit Simon's Cat at YouTube.
Director David Gordon Green has had a remarkably eclectic career, from delicate indies like "George Washington" to stoner comedy "Your Highness," with stops along the way for the "Halftime in America" Chrysler ad and episodes of HBO's "Eastbound & Down." What keeps him going?
Nick Schager ponders the new crop of action directors, who bring 'serious film' cred to the genre, but can't seem to show personality where it counts the most.
What it means to craft "personal" writing; Steven Soderbergh pledges $10,000 to Spike Lee's Kickstarter film; inside the Malick lawsuit; revisiting "There Will Be Blood."
What happens when actors play themselves? Something funny, and often magical, as this Leigh Singer supercut proves. Text by Matt Zoller Seitz.
Will Michael Douglas take home a Best Actor prize from Cannes for his turn as Liberace in "Behind the Candelabra"?
When Chaz has gone to Cannes without Roger in the past, she has written about the festival in the form of letters and postcards to Roger. These are the postcards she sends to him this year.
Steven Soderbergh's "Behind the Candelabra" disappoints, Claire Denis's "Bastards" baffles, and Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's "Grisgris" is a mixed bag. So it goes sometimes at Cannes.
Ben Kenigsberg looks forward to the parallel programs at this year's Cannes Film Festival.