The Farewell Party
High drama and lowbrow, morbid humor get stitched together in this successful tragicomedy about terminal patients and assisted suicide. Works better than expected.
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.
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.
Q. Since the Oscar nominations for best animated feature were revealed, I've read that people are shocked that "Waking Life" wasn't recognized. Has everyone forgotten "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within?" The process took four years to complete, and it's the most ground-breaking animation of the lot. (Tim Friel, Aston Pa)
Q. Re the controversy over "A Beautiful Mind" changing some of the facts of John Frobes Nash's life: That I pretty much forgave, knowing that transferring a life to film is a messy affair, and not always truthful. But changing the ethnicity of a main character, a character who was pivotal in this man regaining his life, is more than an oversight. Alicia Nash is an El Salvadoran, and has been changed into a WASP named Alice in the movie. This provides a role for Jennifer Connolly and denies a role to a Latina actress. Hollywood filmmakers have a choice to make, and chose the easy route. In this case, they denied the role of a lifetime to a Latina, and also spit on any sense of allowing the world to know us in a different light, a positive light. Maybe if his wife had been a whore, a maid, or had left him in his darkest moment, they would have allowed a Latina to have the role, and probably would have accented the fact that she was Latina. (Nancy De Los Santos, Los Angeles)
Q. I just saw a TV commercial for the new kids' movie "Big Fat Liar." The voice-over said it had won an "Award of Excellence" from the Film Advisory Board. Since the movie doesn't exactly look like "Citizen Kane"--who's on the board and what's with the award? (Ramin Setoodeh, Stanford CA)
I told Halle Berry this story.
Q. The wife in the Coen Brothers' "The Man Who Wasn't There" works for a department store named Nirdlinger's. That is the surname of the man who is murdered in James M. Cain's novel "Double Indemnity." (John R. Simon, City of Salt. UT)
PARK CITY, Utah -- "Personal Velocity," a film by Rebecca Miller telling the separate stories of three women, won the Grand Jury Prize for best feature film here Saturday night at the Sundance Film Festival.
PARK CITY, Utah--From despair to victory, the South African documentary "Amandla!" has the widest range of emotion of any film at this year's Sundance. It follows the history of the struggle for freedom in terms of the movement's music--which was, as one singer observes, a weapon the apartheid government could not disarm.
PARK CITY, Utah--The man in the audience was angry. "How could you," he asked the director, his voice trembling with sincerity, "despite your talented cast and great production values, make such a bleak, negative, amoral film? What kind of a portrait is this of Asian Americans? Don't you have a responsibility to paint a more positive and helpful portrait of your community?"
PARK CITY, Utah--Good films but no great films. As the Sundance Film Festival heads into its final weekend, last year's exhilaration fades into a kind of contentment: We've enjoyed ourselves, we've seen films of originality and quality, but where is this year's equivalent of "Memento"? "The Deep End"? "In the Bedroom"? "Waking Life"?