Efficient, nasty action scenes can't overcome mostly bland characterizations and a half-baked story.
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.
This is a man with a message, with a gleam in his eye. He has seen the future. He has changed his life. He has found the answers. He is telling me this at 211 words a minute. That's faster than Chris Matthews. I taped our conversation and divided the number of words by 45 minutes, which is how I know. He's actually talking faster than that, because some of those words are mine.
Clint Eastwood looks more like Clint Eastwood than ever. The furnace of time has burned away everything that is not essential. He comes to Chicago for a lifetime achievement award and jokes about being 72, but he does not look young or old, only perfected.
First, the facts: "Patton" (1970) is not only one of the best American movies, but one of the best uses ever made of 70mm widescreen photography. A newly-restored 70mm print of "Patton" has been created by 20th Century-Fox. Here comes the crucial part: The only non-festival booking it will have in the country begins July 3 at the Music Box Theater, 3733 N. Southport. This is a rare opportunity to see a great film in a spectacular presentation.
Q. I haven't seen "Never Again" and I probably won't, but I have one comment about your review, where you said that a woman wouldn't tell her stylist about her sexual exploits in a voice loud enough to be heard by all. You are definitely wrong about that. I have been a monthly visitor to hair salons for many years, and you wouldn't believe the things some women (and men, I might add) say in front of everyone. I have never understood it, but some women seem to use the salon like a confessional. (Kay Robart, Austin TX)
There is a new Jack Ryan movie out this summer, but Harrison Ford is not starring in it. The character he played in "Clear and Present Danger" (1994) and "Patriot Games" (1992) is played by Ben Affleck this time, and Ford is starring as Alexei Vostrikov, the captain of the Soviet submarine in "K-19." You suspect the submarine may be doomed when you consider the movie's subtitle: "K-19: The Widowmaker."
Q. You cluelessly missed your own point by devoting a whole paragraph in your "Mr. Deeds" review to the Special K cereal cameo. Didn't you give Special K an extra product placement just by mentioning it in your review? (Patrick Keys, Houston TX)
Rod Steiger, who lived with a laugh that filled a room and a depression that consumed a decade, died Tuesday. The actor, who played more than 100 roles over 55 years and won an Oscar and two nominations, was 77. The cause of death, pneumonia and kidney failure, would have disappointed him: "I want to die in front of the camera," he liked to say.
To understand the special gift of John Frankenheimer, it is better to start with his stories instead of his movies. Yes, he made some of the most distinctive films of his time (and began and ended as one of the most gifted directors of drama on television) but the films were mostly serious, and Frankenheimer was a very funny man.
John Sayles has directed 13 movies in the last 22 years, 11 of them produced by his wife, Maggie Renzi. They span a remarkable range of subject matter, from the sci-fi humor of "The Brother From Another Planet" to the baseball drama "Eight Men Out" to the coal-miners of "Matewan" to the Irish folk tale "The Secret of Roan Inish" to the buried secrets of "Lone Star." And find the link between "Passion Fish," "Limbo," "Return of the Secaucus Seven" and "Men with Guns," which he shot in Spanish in Latin America. And how do they connect with "Sunshine State," his new film about a resort community in turmoil in Florida?