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

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Transcendence

"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.

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Heaven Is for Real

Faith-based film tries reaching past its audience, but falls back on preaching to its own choir way too much.

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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.

#213 April 9, 2014

Sheila writes: Anyone with even a glancing familiarity with Roger Ebert's work will know how he felt about director Werner Herzog, the man and his films. Last week, Kevin Lee (critic, video essayist and Ebert friend and colleague), put together a fantastic video essay over at Fandor's Keyframe about Herzog's "Aguirre, the Wrath of God," using Roger Ebert's words about the film as a structure, almost as though it is a commentary track. You can read Kevin's words and watch the video at Keyframe.

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Triceratops never existed; Coppola and DePalma betwixt passions; 8 books every educated person should read; the Syrian rebel problem; The Last Temptation of Christ revisited; Herzog + Morris.

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#180 August 14, 2013

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.

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A list of the movies that mogul Harvey Weinstein has brutally edited, over their directors' objections; interview with Syd Mead, who helped design "Alien," "Blade Runner," "TRON" and other classic SF films;

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"Edward Snowden and the Politics of Privacy." By Adam Liepzig, for Cultural Weekly. The author decries the National Security Agency's "data dragnet" and argues that "right to personal secrecy—you can also call it privacy—is fundamental to our ability to innovate.""Many Americans seem complacent about the NSA's over-reach. They say: 'So what? The NSA has been gathering all of our data for the past decade, and nothing bad has happened.' This argument relies on the conviction that our government is benevolent and will always be that way. I'm not prepared to make that assumption. In America's living memory, we have the blacklists of the 1950s. In the 1960s and 1970s, the FBI's COINTELPRO program launched operations against so-called "radicals" and falsified evidence against them. At times, this evidence wasn't designed to bring a criminal conviction. It was designed simply to be made public, to smear the reputation of the target.""What is Decadism? An explanation and a Top 10 List." At Press Play, Lucy Ives writes about "an American invention"..."a dependence on the decade—as a time-keeping unit and also as a way of thinking about changing cultural mores and aesthetics." Then she lists ten films that practice their own version of Decadism."Decadism is now not merely a sign of nostalgia for the decade in question. It's a sign of nostalgia for decade-based fashion and thinking in general, for a system for organizing tastes based on the notion of the decade. In this sense, though the word 'decade' (from the Greek for 'ten') is etymologically unrelated to the term 'decadence' (associated with 'decay'), decadism is rapidly replacing decadence as a kind of gently reactionary aesthetic and experiential mode. We live in a time of archive fever, of historical tourism (from Wikipedia to Drunk History Month), of 'favoriting' and all the other preferential tools the Internet holds. Decadism allows us a return to a less particulate, niche, complex, and incessantly updated way of establishing taste. Decadism is a respite—not just from the present but from the future.""A Redesign of the Subway Map, by One of Its Designers." James Barron of The New York Times talks to John Tauranac, one of the designers of the current subway map, first released in 1979, about how it could be improved. Fascinating stuff if you've ever visited New York. Unfortunately the graphic accompanying this story is a bit too small to really see details, but hopefully by the time you read this the paper will have made a larger graphic available."Mr. Tauranac said he was still trying to redress 'problems' that are now 40 years old, dating to the official map that preceded the 1979 map. That earlier map, the one that many found to be aesthetically pleasing, was somewhat lacking in precision. 'There was no attempt to show geographic perspective on that map," Mr. Tauranac said. "Broadway at 50th Street was shown west of Eighth Avenue.…Bowling Green was north of Rector Street," he added. "If you get out of the subway thinking Bowling Green is north of Rector Street, how are you going to find Rector Street?""Some newly surfaced films confirm late documentarian Les Blank as a restless, one-of-a-kind talent." Over at The Dissolve, Sam Adams looks at some lesser-known later works by the man who so memorably chronicled Werner Herzog shooting "Fitzcarraldo" in the documentary "Burden of Dreams." What Adams discovers is a filmmaker of eccentric charms who was fascinated with people's odd obsessions, whether that was Herzog making a film about dragging a ship over a mountain, or people who love garlic."In Les Blank’s movies, everyone is a philosopher, and everyone’s an expert, at least on the subject of themselves. He loved the mass jubilation of public celebration and the rich, earthy tones of 16mm stock. And to judge by the way the image recurs in several of his films, he especially loved to zoom in close on a hot, bubbling skillet, so close that it seems as if his camera might get deep-fried along with the chicken.""Red Skull is Red, Smurfette is Blue." Over at Slate.com, the amazing team of Natalie Matthews-Ramo, Brahna Siegelberg, Jeremy Singer-Vine, Isabel Slepoy, and Forrest Wickman has put together an entire color wheel using animated characters for the colors of the rainbow. We want to party with these people."We at Slateare lovers of all colors of cartoon peoples, from the yellow figures of The Simpsons to the frequently blue and green heroes of the Marvel Comics Universe, and so we wanted to champion the full diversity of the animated world. In the interactive graphic below you'll find the complete rainbow of cartoon characters, from Pink Panthers to Grape Apes to red, well, whatever Zoidberg is. You'll notice a few fleshy humanoids, too."Image of the Day"A Handy Guide to How to Create a Hipster Logo" Anthea Quay provides some droll, dead-on advice about logos at Designtaxi.com.

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Roger Ebert Scholarship For Film Criticism established at Sundance Institute

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At a beautiful and moving event Wednesday evening, the Sundance Institute honored Roger Ebert's memory and also honored young filmmaker Ryan Coogler. It was an evening for remembering, but also for making sure that Roger's legacy goes on; the Sundance Institute announced the Roger Ebert Scholarship for Film Criticism to nurture young critics at the Sundance Film Festival.

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#170 June 5, 2013

Marie writes: Behold a truly rare sight. London in 1924 in color. "The Open Road" was shot by an early British pioneer of film named Claude Friese-Greene and who made a series of travelogues using the colour process his father William (a noted cinematographer) had been experimenting with. The travelogues were taken between 1924 and 1926 on a motor journey between Land's End and John O'Groats. You can find more footage from The Open Road at The British Film Institute's YouTube channel for the film. You can also explore their Archives collection over here.

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#169 May 29, 2013

Marie writes: Every once in while, I'll see something on the internet that makes me happy I wasn't there in person. Behold the foolish and the brave: standing on one of the islands that appear during the dry season, kayacker's Steve Fisher, Dale Jardine and Sam Drevo, were able to peer over the edge after paddling up to the lip of Victoria Falls; the largest waterfall in the world and which flows between Zambia and Zimbabwe, in Africa. It's 350 feet down and behind them, crocodiles and hippos can reportedly be found in the calmer waters near where they were stood - but then, no guts, no glory, eh? To read more and see additional photos, visit "Daredevil Kayakers paddle up to the precipice of the Victoria Falls" at the DailyMail.

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Roger Ebert will receive the Sundance Institute Vanguard Leadership Award

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Los Angeles, CA: Sundance Institute will remember and celebrate journalist and film critic Roger Ebert by honoring him with the Vanguard Leadership Award in Memoriam, in recognition of his advocacy of independent cinema. He was a frequent attendee of the Sundance Film Festival, where he discovered and supported films like Hoop Dreams, Man Push Cart, Come Early Morning, Longtime Companion, Metropolitan, The Brothers McMullen, Crumb, Picture Bride, American Movie, and The War Zone. Sundance alumni who count him as an advocate include Steve James, Spike Lee, Kathryn Bigelow, Steven Soderbergh, Quentin Tarantino, Errol Morris and Werner Herzog.

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Remembrances of Roger

UPDATED (4/17/13): A selection of tributes and memories from those who knew, and read, Roger Ebert. More will be added as we collect them:

"For a generation of Americans -- and especially Chicagoans -- Roger was the movies. When he didn't like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive -- capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical.

"Even amidst his own battles with cancer, Roger was as productive as he was resilient -- continuing to share his passion and perspective with the world. The movies won't be the same without Roger, and our thoughts and prayers are with Chaz and the rest of the Ebert family."

-- President Barack Obama, April 4, 2013

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The 2013 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (by way of Oklahoma)

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Seasonal anticipation: as 2013 debuted, many were feeling it. The 28th iteration of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, aka "SBIFF," was on the wind, with jazzed moviegoers soon to converge elbow-to-elbow in a familiar, even familial, and happy bustle on downtown's State Street.

I was among the excited, as this would be my third year covering the festival. And for me, extra sweetening would be provided by the tribute to Daniel Day-Lewis, the oft-reticent acting genius whose reanimation of Abraham Lincoln seemed certain to bring another Best Actor Academy Award -- his 3rd, making him the only actor to surpass Marlon Brando, who received 2.

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"It's a Black President Huey Freeman!" (nsfw)

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I can hardly believe I didn't know that Werner Herzog starred in an episode of "Boondocks." This link was sent to me by a reader. Is that Herzog's own voice.It sounds real to me. In any event, Herzog's precise and implacable narration is essential here, and The Voice is the medium as well as The Message in his documentaries.

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The great ecstasy of the sculptor Herzog

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A man said to the universe: "Sir, I exist!" "However," replied the universe, "The fact has not created in me "A sense of obligation." --Stephen Crane

That man can be found at the center of Werner Herzog's films. He is Aguirre. He is Fitzcarraldo. He is the Nosferatu. He is Timothy Treadwell, who lived among the grizzlies. He is Little Dieter Dengler, who needed to fly. She is Fini Straubinger, who lived in a land of silence and darkness since she was 12. He is Kaspar Hauser. He is Klaus Kinski. He is the man who will not leave the slopes of the Guadeloupe volcano when it is about to explode. He is those who live in the Antarctic. She is Juliana Koepcke, whose plane crashed in the rain forest and she walked out alive. He is Graham Dorrington, who flew one of the smallest airships ever built to study the life existing only in the treetops of that rain forest.

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Some of the year's best documentaries

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Here is a collection of a dozen of the best documentaries I saw in 2012. It's not a "best of the year" list. Just some good memories of these films.I will not burden you again with another complaint about lists. More than ever, I despise them because they shift focus away from a film and toward a list. When I recently caught up with "Django Unchained," for example, I gave it four stars. The comments section was overrun with readers asking if that meant it was now on my Top Ten list. One reader insisted on knowing which title it replaced. Although the piece was some 2,000 words long, another reader insisted he still wanted to see "my official review."

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