The Magnificent Seven
Rarely have so many charismatic actors been used in a film that feels quite as soulless as Antoine Fuqua’s update of The Magnificent Seven.
Roger Ebert became film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. He is the only film critic with a star on Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame and was named honorary life member of the Directors' Guild of America. He won the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Screenwriters' Guild, and honorary degrees from the American Film Institute and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Since 1989 he has hosted Ebertfest, a film festival at the Virginia Theater in Champaign-Urbana. From 1975 until 2006 he, Gene Siskel and Richard Roeper co-hosted a weekly movie review program on national TV. He was Lecturer on Film for the University of Chicago extension program from 1970 until 2006, and recorded shot-by-shot commentaries for the DVDs of "Citizen Kane," "Casablanca," "Floating Weeds" and "Dark City," and has written over 20 books.
Q. The MPAA rating for "Jackass" gives the film an R for "dangerous, sometimes extremely crude stunts, language & nudity." Ignoring the "extremely crude" remark (which seems to be more of an aesthetic judgment), aren't all stunts "dangerous?" Regardless of the danger or crudity how in the hell can a movie (stop reading if you are eating) show a guy make his own yellow sno-cone (you know what I mean), consume said sno-cone and then regurgitate said sno-cone and only get an "R"--while Paul Schrader has to pixelize grainy video footage before he can get an "R" for "Auto Focus"? (Peter Sobczynski, Chicago)
"My favorite Hollywood suicide of all," Kenneth Anger said, "was Gwill Andre's. She was a starlet who got her pictures in all of the magazines - Film Fun had photos of her galore - but all she got in the movies were walk-on roles. Well, one day she got fed up at having stardom denied her. So she went out in the back yard and built a funeral pyre of all of her press clippings. She lit it and jumped on. That sure does beat 'Day of the Locust.'"
Richard Harris, the boisterous, brawling, sometimes brilliant Irish actor, is dead at 72. A charter member of the acting generation known as the Angry Young Men, he capped his career playing a very old and wise man--Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwart's School in "Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone" (2001).
The director Akira Kurosawa and the actor Toshiro Mifune worked together on some of the most remarkable films ever made, films that have passed into legend, like "The Seven Samurai" and "Rashomon." If you do not know their work, I envy you, because you have some of your most sublime moviegoing experiences ahead of you.
Q. Last week the Tomatometer at RottenTomatoes.com read 98% favorable for Miyazaki's "Spirited Away," because of a single negative review by someone whose name I can't recall now. Today I see that the green splatter is gone, and the meter is pegged out at a solid 100% "fresh." If there's one film that I've seen recently which deserves a 100% tomato rating, it's this one, so I have no objection to the removal of that negative link. But I am wondering how often RT adjusts its ratings in this way. Do they do it according to some standard, or in response to user complaints? (Joe Lippl, Minneapolis)
So there I am at the Toronto Film Festival, eyeing Adam Sandler across the room. He knows and I know that I have never given him a good review. That time we met backstage at Letterman, he was very decent, considering. He said he hoped that someday he would make something I liked. Now he has.
Q. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," cost only $5 million to make and is on it's way to grossing $150 million. Is this THE most successful film ever made or have there been any films topping it in terms of "total gross/production cost?" (Eric Schmidt, New Berlin WI)
Dustin Hoffman's character in "Moonlight Mile" is named Ben. People immediately think of Benjamin, Hoffman's famous role in "The Graduate." In the new film they see Ben trying to persuade a young man, the fiance of his murdered daughter, to join him in the real estate business. They think they have the key: Benjamin has grown up and, like the adults he scorned in "The Graduate," is offering a young man the key to success.
Q. I don't think I've read more consistently outstanding reviews for a movie than I have for Visconti's "The Leopard" (1963). For being an award-winning foreign film, it is strangely absent from video, DVD, movie houses, cable, etc. Any idea why this great film hasn't been converted for public consumption? (Lynn Phillips, Urbana IL)
"I love his films. I study his films. I watch his films when I'm looking for inspiration."