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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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Photos: Faces of Sundance 2006

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Sundance is so much a festival of people, as well as films, that I started bringing a camera several years ago. This is the crossroads of the indie film movement, where big stars and little ones, famous directors and first-timers, meet because they have made films that fall outside the narrow boundaries of the mainstream distribution system. I shoulder in with the paparazzi to shoot Winona Ryder or Ashley Judd, but I also like to shoot folks I meet on the street, on the shuttle bus, or at a screening. To see them is to get the idea that Sundance is not so much an industry event, more of a family reunion, complete with patriarchs and crazy cousins.

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Just middlebrow garbage

I was very surprised and slightly amazed that you pick “Crash” as the best film of the year, especially since I thought it awful. It was just a bad rehash of what Altman has done so brilliantly over the years and also what Paul Thomas Anderson has also been doing so much better than hack Haggis. It was really just a piece of middlebrow garbage. Also I watched your show last Saturday in which you and the other critic picked the 10 worst films and I thought the choices were all easy targets. I mean, come on -- of course these films were rotten. (I would never see any movie with Jessica Simpson in it anyway.) In fact I didn't see any of the films mentioned on either of your lists. As stated above, “Crash” would be on my list of 10 worst films. Also included would be “The Interpreter,” “Batman Begins,” “The Skeleton Key” and “Dark Water.” These are all big-budget Hollywood films and all were terrible. In any case I do enjoy watching you and have respect for your views.

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Opportunity for racial discussion

I just wanted to say “thank you!” I heard about the movie from a friend of mine, who told me, “Go see it then call me back.” His recommendation, which I agree with, is that “Crash” was a great lead into conversations about racism in modern America. Right on! We don't often get such opportunities in everyday life. My friend and I both feel that frank discussions about racism are discouraged, so we really enjoyed not only the movie but the opportunity it provided.

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An 'After School Special'

I was pleased to discover your feature-commentary article entitled "In defense of the year's 'worst movie'" that you had become aware of the negative sentiments surrounding Paul Haggis's “Crash.” However, as you defended the film I gained the impression that you were personally attacking Scott Foundas claiming that he was "too cool" for the average movie-goer. However, it is your right as a columnist to integrate your personality into your articles and you certainly hold the proper distinction to do so.

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Haggis: Love it or hate it

I am an 18-year-old from Lancaster, California, a city about an hour from the supporting character in “Crash” that is Los Angeles. Being so close to this grand city gives me extraordinary opportunities to view many movies…. I was fortunate enough to be in the audience for a presentation of “Crash” followed by an interview with writer/director Paul Haggis and co-writer/producer Bobby Moresco. It was my second viewing of the amazing film. I was touched and torn yet again, but the film lasts, which is what makes it so good.

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Backlash from over-hype?

Perhaps the animosity toward "Crash" demonstrated in the reviews of writers like Foundas is not because the film is more objectionable than "Chaos" et al., but because "Crash" received so much promotion and adoration from critics in general. I found many of my friends who saw the movie had the same reaction I did: while it certainly had its moments, overall the film was drastically overvalued by the critical community. The film is obvious and clumsily manipulative in the manner of a Made-for-TV movie. The rescue from the burning car was a deeply moving scene, but Haggis couldn't resist ending it with a giant, slow motion Michael Bay-style explosion. The Iranian man is angry with the locksmith in the way only characters in movies are angry, and only then to facilitate the Big Misunderstanding that comes about because he was too busy being inappropriately apoplectic to hear even a single word that was said to him. And really, do even the film's admirers believe the scene where Terrance Howard's latte-sipping yuppie tranforms into an angry black Incredible Hulk? While I think anyone who believes "Crash" is one of the worst movies of 2005 didn't see many movies last year, I sympathize with the frustration felt by moviegoers looking for intelligent, grown-up films in the wake of the independent film movement of the 90's. More and more, rather than finding the likes of "sex, lies, and videotape," "Do the Right Thing," and "Fargo," we are steered toward movies like "Crash" by inexplicably generous critics. Jason Bollinger

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Had to pop three Advil

Although I agree with you that Paul Haggis’ film "Crash" has redeeming social value and tackles the still tenuous if not overt racism in this country, I don’t agree it is a great movie. The actors and the interweaving storyline are on point but the constant barrage of clichéd dialogue accompanied by melodramatic music was almost comical. The scene where Matt Dillon’s character is holding Thandie Newton in his arms while a biblical car fire raged against the sweeping soundtrack hit me over the head so hard I had two pop three Advil.

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