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Hercules

Dwayne Johnson tries, but he’s surrounded by poor CGI and a terrible adaptation of yet another comic book. Ian McShane steals what little movie there…

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Magic in the Moonlight

While Allen’s new picture, "Magic In The Moonlight," isn’t even close to being a disaster (for that, see, well, "Scoop"), I don’t think it’s unreasonable…

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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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A place in the Sun

PARK CITY, Utah How long has it been since I saw a film that was really scary, instead of just going through the motions of scary? Most horror films are merely exercises in ritualized surprise, but a low-budget film titled "The Blair Witch Project" shook up Sundance Film Festival audiences with its gathering sense of menace.

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Feeding the buzz about 'best' films

PARK CITY, Utah Of course I've seen all the wrong films so far at the Sundance Film Festival, according to the touts who whisper in my ear before screenings. It is always this way. You think you're seeing wonderful films, and everybody assures you that you've missed the masterpieces and are hopelessly out of the loop.

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Sundance a pinnacle for novice filmmakers

PARK CITY, Utah -- You have to go to something like Robert Redford's annual "filmmakers' brunch" to sense the level of ambition, hope and need at the Sundance Film Festival. You understand that the festival is a showcase for independent filmmakers. You know that a lot of them are here with their first or second movies and a game plan to make a sale, find distribution, win awards and generate buzz.

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Scrapping at Sundance

PARK CITY, Utah -- At most film festivals, 90 percent of the audience members are civilians and 10 percent are employed in the industry. At Sundance, the ratio is reversed. Screenings here consist of pitches, bids, dealmaking, business card exchanging and schmoozing, interrupted by movies.

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Sundance Festival of independent films opens today

PARK CITY, Utah The future of the American film industry begins its annual convention here today, at the Sundance Film Festival. For the next 10 days, new independent films and documentaries will unspool all over town, in every possible performance space: Wherever two or three gather together, they're probably looking at a movie.

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Travolta's triumph

LOS ANGELES--I was thinking back to a day at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, when I had lunch with John Travolta after the screening of "Pulp Fiction." It was clear that the movie represented the rebirth of his career, and he wryly observed that, after all, his career seemed to consist of one comeback after another.

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Alfre Woodard's `Delta' not black and white

It started like this. We were talking about her new film "Down in the Delta," where Alfre Woodard plays a hard-drinking woman from the Chicago projects who gets a fresh start on her uncle's farm in the Mississippi Delta. It is a good film, strong and touching, the directorial debut of the writer Maya Angelou. It opens Christmas Day. I said to Woodard, "You've never really made yourself available for exploitation, have you?"

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Bill Paxton doesn't monkey around

LOS ANGELES Bill Paxton has an Oscar contender and a giant gorilla movie coming out within a couple of weeks of each other, and that's the story of his career. He makes little movies ("One False Move," "Traveller," "Trespass") and big ones ("True Lies," "Apollo 13," "Twister"). In the big ones, he is a stalwart leading man - like his hero, the fellow Texan Ben Johnson, whose every word sounded like the simple truth. In the little ones, Paxton plays regular guys who get twisted into strange traps of crime and guilt.

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