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Nightcrawler

A perfect engine of corrosive satire, this drama follows the adventures of an amoral cameraman to its logical and unsettling end.

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Horns

There are some clever ideas in the script from Keith Bunin, based on the novel by Joe Hill, but they get mixed up in some…

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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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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.

A little black dress makes the world go round

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With the passing of Andy Williams, I keep imagining his golden tenor singing Henry Mancini's "Moon River." The song talks about crossing life in style. "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is all about fashionable cafe society and love; in an adult fairy tale, you can have both even if you are two drifters.

The director Gregory Nava once commented, "Whenever any question of style or taste in dress comes up, I simply ask myself, 'What would Fred Astaire have done?'" Audrey Hepburn is Astaire's female equivalent: sophistication mixed with fizzy fun.

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Black designers show the French a thing or deux

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For those of us who missed our calling as jet setters, socialites or fashion models along comes the edifying, spritely documentary "Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution" to show us how much work it is to be spontaneously fabulous.

Nearly 40 years ago, in late November of 1973, something rather momentous happened at the Opéra Royal on the grounds of the King's old digs outside Paris. In the course of a fashion show that Women's Wear Daily dubbed "The Battle of Versailles," boldly assertive American runway models -- many of whom were what we now call African-American -- wore sporty, comfortable American designer clothes with such, well, panache that the absolute supremacy of French haute couture was dented for good.

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The Girl: Putty in Hitch's hands

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"The Girl" premieres on HBO at 9:00pm (8:00pm Central) on Saturday, Oct. 20. It will also be available on HBO GO.

by Jeff Shannon

October, 1961: A New York fashion model on the verge of Hollywood stardom, 31-year-old Tippi Hedren (Sienna Miller) is invited to a celebratory lunch with legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock (Toby Jones) and his wife Alma (Imelda Staunton), who's also his long-time collaborator. A divorced single mother (of future actress Melanie Griffith, then four years old), Hedren is plucked from obscurity to star in "The Birds," Hitchcock's highly anticipated follow-up to his phenomenally successful 1960 thriller, "Psycho." After Alma sees her in a TV commercial ("I like her smile," she says to "Hitch"), she arranges a meeting. Secretly smitten, Hitchcock directs Hedren's screen test in his own Bel Air home and, shortly thereafter, offers a toast.

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#130 August 22, 2012

"Dear Mr. Spider;I am profoundly sorry to have taken you from your home in the woods, when I was picking Himalayan Blackberries on Monday afternoon. I didn't see you fall into my bucket and which was entirely my fault; I must have bumped into your web while reaching for a berry. Needless to say, I was surprised upon returning home with my bucket full, to suddenly see you there standing on a blackberry and looking up at me." - Marie

(photo recreation of incident)

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"Hey, Boo": The private life of To Kill a Mockingbird

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"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.

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John Huston's "Beat The Devil"

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The Ebert Club is pleased to share the following Film Noir cult classic, streaming free. I invite you to join the Club and dive into an eclectic assortment of wonderful and curious finds. Your subscription helps support the Newsletter, the Far-Flung Correspondents and the On-Demanders on my site. - RE"The movie has above all effortless charm. Once we catch on that nothing much is going to happen, we can relax and share the amusement of the actors, who are essentially being asked to share their playfulness. There is a scene on a veranda overlooking the sea, where Bogart and Jones play out their first flirtation, and by the end of their dialogue you can see they're all but cracking up; Bogart grins during the dissolve. The whole movie feels that way. Now that movies have become fearsome engines designed to hammer us with entertainment, it is nice to recall those that simply wanted to be witty company." - Roger, from his Great Movies review of "Beat the Devil".Beat The Devil (1953) Directed by John Huston. Co-written by John Huston and Truman Capote. Loosely based upon a novel of the same name by British journalist and critic Claud Cockburn; pseudonym James Helvick. Starring Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Peter Lorre, Robert Morley, Edward Underdown, Ivor Barnard, Marco Tulli, Bernard Lee and Saro Urzì.Synopsis: A quartet of international crooks - Peterson, O'Hara, Ross and Ravello - is stranded in Italy while their steamer is being repaired. With them are the Dannreuthers. The six are headed for Africa, presumably to sell vacuum cleaners but actually to buy land supposedly loaded with uranium. They're joined by others who apparently have similar designs. It was intended by Huston as a tongue-in-cheek spoof of his earlier masterpiece, "The Maltese Falcon" and the noir genre in general.

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#95 December 28, 2011

Marie writes: some of you may recall reading about the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver, British Columbia Canada. (Click to enlarge.)

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#71 July 13, 2011

Marie writes: Once upon a time when I was little, I spent an afternoon playing "Winne the Pooh" outside. I took my toys into the backyard and aided by a extraordinary one-of-a-kind custom-built device requiring no batteries (aka: artistic imagination) pretended that I was playing with my pals - Winnie the Pooh and Tigger too - and that there was honey nearby; the bumble bees buzzing in the flowerbeds, only too happy to participate in the illusion. And although it didn't have a door, we too had a tree - very much like the one you see and from which hung a tire. A happy memory that, and which came flooding back upon catching sight of these - the animation backgrounds from the new Winnie the Pooh; thank God I was born when I was. :-)

(click to enlarge images)

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#51 February 23, 2011

Marie writes: In a move which didn't fail to put a subversive smile on my face, works by the mysterious graffiti artist Banksy began to appear recently in Hollywood as Academy Awards voters prepared to judge Exit Through the Gift Shop, which is up for best Documentary. (Click to enlarge.)

The most controversial thus far was painted on a billboard directly opposite the Directors Guild of America HQ on Sunset Boulevard. A poster advertising The Light Group (a property, nightclub and restaurant developer) was stenciled over with images of a cocktail-guzzling Mickey Mouse grasping a woman's breast. As it was being removed, a scuffle broke out between workmen and a man claiming the poster was his "property" - presumably triggered by the fact that an authentic piece by Banksy is worth thousands. To read more visit Banksy targets LA ahead of Oscars at the Guardian.  And to see more pictures go HERE.

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Keanu thought his two years were running out

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• Roger Ebert / April 7, 1996

In an age when young movie stars are famous for their clothes, their homes, their cars and the clubs where they hang out, Keanu Reeves is famous for his suitcase. He's been living out of one for nearly three years, occupying hotel rooms in the cities where his movie career takes him.

In the cold winter of 1996, it brought him to Chicago, to make a movie named "Chain Reaction." One day in February he was inside a vast old warehouse over near Lake and Paulina, shooting a scene with Morgan Freeman, about a conspiracy to suppress a new source of low-cost energy. Reeves and Freeman are both on Hollywood's A-list these days, and the movie is a big-budget production with heavy names attached: The producer is Richard D. Zanuck, and the director, Andy Davis, is still hot after his hit with "The Fugitive."

Davis has shot almost all of his films in Chicago--he uses locations here better than any other filmmaker ever has--and that's why the movie, which could be set anywhere and partly takes place in an underground bunker, was being filmed here. We were in the bunker right now, in fact, for a confrontation between Reeves, as a young man who knows of a sensational breakthrough in energy, and Freeman, as a man who heads a foundation that allegedly supports such breakthroughs but may, in fact, be a front for efforts to contain them.

The bunker set was large and sleek and glossy: Lots of glass, steel, marble, wood, suggesting a wealthy and powerful organization. We were allegedly hundreds of feet underground, somewhere near the Argonne National Laboratory. Reeves and Davis had just finished a low-key script conference at the organization's board table, and now there was a break while the cinematographer lit the scene. Reeves was costumed in jeans and a scruffy flannel shirt, open over a T-shirt.

He has been acting for nearly 10 years, often in roles that required him to be sensitive, poetic, doomed or romantic, but it was his hard-charging action role in "Speed" that made him a box office factor, a "bankable" lead for a major production like this one.

So are you still living this peripatetic life? I asked him. Living out the legend we've read in the magazines, that you exist out of two suitcases in hotel rooms and don't own a house and....

"Yes," he said. "Sounds quite bohemian and gypsy-like, doesn't it?"

And very simple.

"It's getting simpler. I'm down to one bag now, and smaller rooms in hotels. Yes, I am."

He twinkled. I think. Maybe he was serious. He was right in between somewhere.

Yeah, I said. In your business, why have a house, when you're not home for months on end...

"Hopefully, if you're working," Reeves said. "Hopefully you're working to buy a house and put furniture in it if you want to."

Can you sort of walk around a strange city and not have people asking for your autograph?

"Sure."

Do you have little tricks that you do?

"I don't need them. I kinda look like a normal guy, so...."

Truman Capote, I said, walked down Fifth Avenue once with Marilyn Monroe, and she said, "Watch this." And for one block she wasn't Marilyn Monroe and for the next block she was and he couldn't see what she was doing but for the first block she was totally ignored and the second block she caused a riot.

"Truman Capote was great."

So what do you travel with? Books, a computer....

"I don't have a computer. Books and a couple of things of clothes."

When you finish reading a book, where does it go?

"Piles up. I have a nice little pile in my hotel room."

But at some point you move hotel rooms and then what happens?

"They go to my sister's house. She's got all my books from the past year, all in different boxes. Just recently, I'm missing a lot of my belongings. I miss some of my clothes, some of my books. It was nice to have them around when I did have a house, you know. It's nice to come home. But..."

That may be a pre-house buying feeling that you're experiencing.

"I've gone looking for houses but I could not find one that I liked and could afford. The ones I like I can't afford."

You mentioned the word bohemian, which is a nice old word.

"Yes, it is a nice old word. Like existential."

He smiled. Is this lifestyle, I asked, almost a way of maintaining your balance, because you've had transition into this weird existence of being known as a movie star?"

"I don't really feel that movie star thing. I don't think I......from the response that I've gotten workwise..."

You could choose to feel that way if you wanted to.

"I think of Morgan Freeman as a movie star, you know. My perception from the feedback that I get from the street, the feedback that I get from the people I work with, roles offered and all that sort of thing and the attention, it's just.....you know, I've been lucky enough to work in some films that have, you know, been good, and people have gone to see but I don't think movie star is quite...I'm not on that level."

Maybe this peripatetic lifestyle is part of protecting against that. Because the moment you live in a house you have a staff of people helping you and they're all treating you in a certain way...

"Maybe or maybe not; you never know. I think that term, movie star, is a label that's concocted that really kind of is trying to encapsualize so many things that aren't real, really, except they exist in print. They exist in journalism and to a certain extent they work as in cinema in the sense of being able to draw a certain amount of people, I guess..."

As we're talking, grips are moving furniture around and lighting guys are dangling wires overhead, and the cinematographer and director are peering through their lenses and trying to visualize the shot, and Morgan Freeman is walking back the forth in the big board room of the secret organization, perhaps thinking about the scene, perhaps not. And of course there are a lot of people on cellular phones.

Keanu Reeves. To look at a list of his roles is to wonder how the directors of half his movies could have visualized him in the other half, and vice versa. This is the actor who made two of the most harrowing films of all time about teenage angst, "The River's Edge" and "Permanent Record." And the same actor who played one of the key predecessors of the dumb-and-dumber movement, in "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey." The same actor who was an average, if troubled, teenager in "Parenthood" and an 18th-century rake in "Dangerous Liaisons," and a male hustler in "My Own Private Idaho."

He was even in an action movie before "Speed." It was titled "Point Break," it was made in 1991, and it combined surfing, sky-diving, bank robbery and Zen. I liked it.

When you made "Speed" in 1994, I said, the industry said it showed that you could make an action picture. (Hollywood has a minute attention span, and had already forgotten "Point Break.") Is this an action picture, too, or is there another dimension?

"I think Fox wants it to be an action picture, and Andrew Davis and I and Morgan and everyone are trying to make it a little more than an action picture. It's not a classical action picture; I would say it's more drama with some action bits thrown in for fun."

Did the success of "Speed" give you more leeway in terms of career choices?

"Yeah, it did for two years. It's kind of over now. I mean, I got to do 'A Walk in the Clouds.' I got to do a film called 'Feeling Minnesota.' It hasn't come out; we just finished it, with Vincent D'Onofrio, Dan Ackroyd, Cameron Diaz. That got made because I was in "Speed," you know. The producers said, 'Okay, we'll give you $7 million, go make your film,' you know. Not (ital) just (unital) because I was participating, but that was the last thing that pushed it over."

So your two years...

"Have run out. Now I have to do something. I don't know if this will be a hit or not but--this is going to be a tricky film."

Richard Zanuck was just saying as he was looking at you, "He's a man now. He's not a boy anymore."

Reeves looked slightly impatient. "Well, who knows about that. I don't know if just how you look makes you a man or not. You could say he looks like a man, maybe."

I suppose that you're beginning to get into an age where you can go either way. You have a little more freedom; you're not just stuck in one age group.

"I hope so. I wanted to have long hair in this because they wanted me to be younger, you know, like 20, say. I'm 31 years old so I thought if I had long hair it'd make me look younger and stuff. But yeah, I mean, hopefully in "Feeling Minnesota," I'll look my age, whatever that may be."

You've been working here with Morgan Freeman, and in "A Walk in the Clouds" you were working with Anthony Quinn. Not many people would put them on the same list, but to me they are both very dynamic and vital people.

"Amazing actors. And people."

But coming from totally different traditions. I mean, Anthony Quinn is a traditional Hollywood movie star who has been around for 50 years in the studio system, and Morgan Freeman is stage trained and really only started acting for movies at a later stage in his life. Do they have different ways of working?

"Well, they've had certainly different lives. I mean, Anthony Quinn's is almost Byzantine. I called him Zeus. But they do actually, more than differences, have similarities. Their technique. The way they love the camera. The way they can embody a moment. Their freedom, their specificity. They can take a scene and make anything in it seem important and they can take any moment and make it light or heavy or the control and who they are. They're similar in that sense."

How did you learn to be a movie actor?

"A movie actor? By doing it, and watching other people do it."

You said they love the camera. How does one love the camera?

"It's a direction of energy. I've seen Morgan and Anthony, even if you're in the scene with them, if the camera's over here, they'll play to the camera. And as an actor in the same environment, you'll ask, well, what are they doing? But to play it just to me, would not be playing the scene, really. Because it would cut off the camera's connection to it. The way they do it, they (ital) make (unital) it a scene."

What could somebody learn from you? You say, 'I watch other actors.' Somebody might be watching you. What are they learning?

"I don't know. There's a few things, I guess. I mean, it's kind of a weird thing to say, 'Well, if you watch me in this film, you could learn this'."

I don't mean for you to sound egotistical but just as a pragmatic sort of thing.

"Technique and stuff?"

Or whatever.

"I think I did some good naturalistic acting in 'River's Edge,' some broad comedy and timing in 'I Love You to Death,' and 'Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.' I think that there's some good inner work in 'Little Buddha.' I think that there's some good combination of naturalism and style in 'My Own Private Idaho.' There's some classicism in 'Speed'..."

When you think of those pictures, you can't really find the line connecting them. It's like they're all points of a star. It's hard to get from "My Own Private Idaho" to "Bill & Ted."

"A lot of people don't take the time, actually, to think about that," Reeves said, "but what can you do?"

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The Art of Screenwriting Collaboration

Yasujiro Ozu and Kogo Noda understood how to do it. They wrote many screenplays together, including those for some of the greatest films ever made, from "Late Spring" (1949) to "Tokyo Story" (1953) to "An Autumn Afternoon" (1962). Baths are important. And breakfast. And walks and naps. The important thing to remember is that, for the most part, writing isn't what happens when you're at your keyboard. That, to paraphrase embellish Truman Capote, is merely the typing part.

The clip above is from Kazuo Inoue's 1983 documentary about Ozu, "I Lived, But..." -- included in the Criterion DVD edition of "Tokyo Story."

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Smash his camera, but not immediately

He is a viper, a parasite, a stalker, a vermin. He is also, I have decided, a national treasure. Ron Galella, the best known of all paparazzi, lost a lawsuit to Jackie Kennedy Onassis and five teeth to Marlon Brando, but he also captured many of the iconic photographs of his era. At 77, he is still active, making the drive from his New Jersey home and his pet bunny rabbits through the Lincoln Tunnel to Manhattan, the prime grazing land of his prey.

I had an idea, as many of us do, about Gallela and the species of paparazzi. It was a hypocritical idea. I disapproved of him and enjoyed his work. Yes, he comes close to violating the rights of public people, and sometimes crosses the line. He certainly crossed the line with Jackie's children.

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Do the Contrarian (Part I)

The Pale Man knows how to do The Contrarian. He sits motionless until an external stimulus prompts him into motion.

There's a brand new dance That's easy to do It's called the Contrarian And it's all about you!

Strike a hipster pose And admire your reflection Just be sure you're facing In an opposite direction!

(apologies to Rufus Thomas)

Is Armond White too easy a target? Does any other movie critic have a blog devoted to "parsing the confounding film criticism" he produces? (See the hilariously titled Armond Dangerous.)

At the risk of sounding contrarian, I want to suggest that White (published on the web via the weekly New York Press) is by no means the worst movie reviewer in the United States. He just pretends to be the baddest.

The all-too-common White review is a reactionary tirade that owes a lot to the angry shtick of aging hipster comedians like Dennis Leary and Dennis Miller back in the 1990s ("hipster" being White's favorite term of disapprobation). White can also be funny, but I wish he thought so, too -- and that his humor arose from his observations about movies rather than his hysterical indignation.

In this sense, White doesn't necessarily practice film criticism, although what he writes is almost always based on his real or imagined characterization of what other critics have already written. The movie itself sometimes gets lost in White's internal monologue as he rages against some chimerical critical consensus.

In the Bizarro World, Armond White is Jeffrey Lyons. He's the negative campaigner's blurbmeister. Just substitute disses for superlatives and you'll find a similar (anti-)promotional blurb mentality at work. This is the most elementary form of so-called "criticism" -- purely heirarchical rather than analytical or exploratory. It's not even "This is why I prefer this to that"; it's just "This is better than that because I choose to say so."

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Three new Ebert articles

We have three new pieces by Roger Ebert on RogerEbert.com this week:

Ebert's review of "The Queen"

An interview with director Michael Apted regarding "49 Up"

PLUS: Roger's latest recovery update

(And I have a review of "Infamous," the new Truman Capote movie.

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'Crash'-ing a joyous Oscar party

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LOS ANGELES - "Crash," a film about the complexities of racism in the American melting pot, was named the year's best picture here Sunday at the 78th Academy Awards. It tells interlocking stories about many of America's ethnic groups, and cops and criminals, the rich and the poor, the powerful and powerless, all involved in racism. The film's circular structure shows how a victim on one day could be a victimizer on another, and doesn't let anyone off the hook.

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Hoffman shines in Truman show

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"I don't think Capote knew exactly what he was setting himself up for," Philip Seymour Hoffman said. "He said later if he'd known what was going to happen, he would have driven right through the town like a bat out of hell."

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