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Jackie

There are two movies in "Jackie." One of these movies is just OK. The other is exceptional. The first one keeps undermining the second.

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Things to Come

Things to Come is the detailed tapestry of one woman’s life, as she moves through an important transition.

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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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* 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.

Varieties of Leaves of Grass

May Contain Spoilers

As far as I know, "a mixed bag" is a negative expression, but I think that is an appropriately positive one in case of "Leaves of Grass" (2009) for its seemingly disjointed combination of crime story and philosophy. The movie throws such discrepant stuff into its plot that it could actually make a good shopping list: Latin, marijuana, Socrates, crossbows, poetry, bongs, Heidegger, family, catfish, Whitman, parallel lines, menorahs, swastikas, murder, and so on.

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The best train set a boy could want: 2011 edition

The 2011 edition of a movie critic's dream unreels again this week. In my own home town, I'll be able to show the films of my choice in a classic movie palace, flawlessly projected on a giant screen before a movie-loving audience. To paraphrase Orson Welles when he was given the run of RKO Radio Pictures to make his own movie, it's the biggest train set a boy could ever want.

Ebertfest 2011 runs April 27-May 1. The passes have been sold but we've always been able to find room for everyone in line inside the 1,600-seat Virginia Theater. Its long-term renovation continued this year with work on the lobby, the concession stand and the upstairs lobby. The marquee is a work in progress.

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#54 March 16, 2011

From the Grand Poobah: After much planning with festival director Nate Kohn, here is the schedule for Ebertfest 2011, which Ebert Club members are of course the first to learn about. This schedule is tentative; several guests may be added.Wednesday April 275:00 pm Reception at University President's House (VIP passholders only)7:00 pm METROPOLIS Restored, with the Alloy Orchestra.-----------------Thursday April 289:00 am For Ebert Club members: Meet & Greet coffee and pastries, hosted by Chaz and Roger Ebert at the Illini Union.10:30 am Panel Discussion 1 (Nate Kohn moderates festival guests), Illini Union1:00 pm UMBERTO D, by Vittorio De Sica.3:30 pm MY DOG TULIP, with directors Paul and Sandra Fierlinger in person.8:00 pm TINY FURNITURE (98 min). In person: Kyle Martin, producer; David Call, actor; Alex Karposky, actor.------------------Friday April 299:00 am Panel Discussion 2, (Eric Pierson, moderator), Illini Union10:30 am Panel Discussion 3 (Far Flung Correspondents, Omer Mozaffer, moderator), Illini Union1:00 pm "45365," with directors Turner Ross and Bill Ross in person4:00 pm ME AND ORSON WELLES, with director Richard Linklater in person8:30 pm ONLY YOU, with director Norman Jewison in person-----------------Saturday April 3011:00 am A SMALL ACT. In person: Patti Lee, producer; Jennifer Arnold, director; Hilde Back.2:00 pm World Premiere: LIFE, ABOVE ALL. In person: Oliver Stoltz, producer; Khomotso Manyaka, actor; Michael Barker, distributor.6:30pm LEAVES OF GRASS. In person: Tim Blake Nelson.9:30pm I AM LOVE. In person: Tilda Swinton.---------------Sunday May 1Noon: LOUDER THAN A BOMB. In person: Jon Siskel and Greg Jacobs, directors; Kevin Coval, artistic director and founder; five poets will perform.For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit EBERFEST 2011Metropolis Restored (1927) Directed by Fritz Lang

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#16 June 23, 2010

From the Grand Poobah: Club members Gerardo and Monica Valero from Mexico City went to see the David Letterman Show a few years ago and informed him of something that is discussed on the air...

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Indie security alert level: Severe

Every year good films show at the Toronto Film festival that never open anywhere near you. This year some good films played that may never open anywhere, even if you live in Toronto--or New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Austin or upstairs over a Landmark Theater multiplex. Toronto is traditionally a lively marketplace for the purchase of film rights for new non-studio product: Indies, docs, foreign films. This year Harvey Weinstein paid $1 million for "A Single Man," and that was that. One sale, one movie, one million -- probably as little as Harvey has paid for a movie in some time.

Stands at yellow, rising toward orange

The makers of independent films don't have to send to learn for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for them. The bottom fell out of the market. That doesn't mean there were no other offers, but it means there were none that the sellers felt able to accept. It shows a collapse of confidence in the prospects of independent film distribution.

Don't take my word for it. Listen to Anne Thompson, who always knows what she's talking about. In her blog Thompson on Hollywood, she leads: "The old independent market is over." She quotes the producer Jonathan Dana: "It's a massacre. It's the end of funny money."

Thompson names a few of the films going home without deals, and it's depressing:

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TIFF #10: Philosophy, pot, murder, poetry

May Contain Spoilers

It was my last film of the festival, on the morning of the day I was flying home, and it turns out to have been my favorite one. Tim Blake Nelson's "Leaves of Grass" is some kind of sweet, wacky masterpiece. It takes all sorts of risks, including a dual role with Edward Norton playing twin brothers, and it pulls them off. It is certainly the most intelligent, philosophical and poetic film I can imagine that involves five murders in the marijuana-dealing community of Oklahoma and includes John Prine singing "Illegal Smile."

Tim Blake Nelson

Sometimes you cannot believe your luck as a movie unfolds. There is a mind behind it, joyful invention, obvious ambition. As is often the case, I had studiously avoiding reading anything at all about "Leaves of Grass" before going to see the movie, although I rather doubted it would be about Walt Whitman. What I did know is that the actor Tom Blake Nelson has written and directed three films enormously admired: "Eye of God" (1997), "O" (2001) and "The Grey Zone" (2001), all three dealing in a concrete dramatic way with important questions: Religion, redemption, race, the Holocaust. And that the actor Edward Norton has never agreed to appear in a film he didn't believe he had reason to respect.

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Corruption and greed in America

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Q. I have read more than one review mentioning Tim Blake Nelson's "brilliant" speech about corruption in "Syriana." The speech has been compared to Michael Douglas' speech in "Wall Street" (1987) that defends greed. I haven't seen the movie yet but I'd love to just be able to read the speech.

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Bleakness infuses films at Sundance

PARK CITY, Utah --The theme song of the opening days of this year's Sundance Film Festival should have been "Get a Job." I've seen six American films so far, all of them about characters mired in aimless unemployment or unsatisfying work. Oh, and I saw a Czech film too: That was about a man in Prague who is kicked out of the philharmonic and reduced to playing his cello at funerals.

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