Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
A remarkable tale of immigrant success, wrapped around a crime 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.
BOULDER, Colo.--We have finally met defeat. A film has resisted our efforts to pound it into submission, Every year I join some 1000 students and townspeople here at the University of Colorado on a 5-day, 12-hour shot-by-shot trek through a film. Using the freeze-frame and slow-motion features of a DVD, we track down symbols, expose hidden messages, analyze visual strategies, expose special effects, and in general satisfy ourselves that we have extracted every fugitive scrap of meaning from the movie under discussion.
I always thought it was a mistake for Mike Royko to go to the Tribune.
Q. In "Panic Room," viewers are treated to another of those Hollywood creative moments: Jodie Foster on the toilet peeing. The camera pans tactfully away, leaving us with just the tinkle. My question: Did they use a bladder double? (Neil Ferguson, Tempe AZ)
From time to time I'll meet someone who was underwhelmed by "2001: A Space Odyssey." Because I consider it one of the great moviegoing experiences of my life, I ask them how they saw it. They invariably saw it on home video. Just as there are movies--"Moulin Rouge" seems to be one--that benefit from return visits via DVD, so there are a few movies that should not be seen that way--not the first time, anyway.
"The Fortune Cookie" (1966)
TORONTO--"You wanna know what the difference is between a comic and a comedian?" Milton Berle was asking.
SANTA MONICA, Calif.--But first for something completely different. The 2002 Independent Spirit Awards, or Oscars Unchained, were handed out here Saturday under a big top on the beach. Oscar nominees like Nicole Kidman, Ian McKellen and Sissy Spacek rubbed shoulders with indie legends like John Waters, Kasi Lemmons and Steve Buscemi, in a hip party atmosphere.
Q. I wonder if the Slow Clap and the Gradually Gathering Guffaw are related? Or if they have ever both appeared in the same movie? (Christopher Philippo, Troy NY)
I approach this annual task with a sense of foreboding. The 2002 Oscar race rests on shifting sands. There are scarcely even any absolute front-runners, unless it is Jennifer Connolly as best supporting actress. I am sure of one category, then another. Then I change my mind.
Judging by the attacks against it, "A Beautiful Mind" is the most reprehensible film of the year. Amazing it was made, let alone nominated for an Academy Award. The mugging of this film is the most disturbing element of this year's Oscar season.