American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
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. John Candy's last film, "Canadian Bacon," was directed by Michael Moore, who made "Roger & Me." But it has never been released. What's the story? (Tank Drummond, Boulder, Colo.)
Q. Help me settle something. If Writer A and Writer B both wrote their opinions on a film--both with diligence and pride in their work--what difference in the two pieces would identify Writer A as a Film Critic and Writer B as someone just offering an opinion? Take the weekly feature you see in some papers, where kids review films. At what point do they cross the line, and can be called Critics as opposed to Reviewers? Is there some sort of certification program, like taking the Sally Struthers correspondence course in gun repair? (Andy Ihnatko, Westwood, Mass.)
The biggest upset at the Academy Awards tonight will come if Martin Landau does not win the Oscar for best supporting actor. It's this year's sure thing. Although the movie he's been nominated for, Tim Burton's "Ed Wood," didn't set records at the box office, Landau's performance as the broken-down horror star Bela Lugosi was widely admired: He got the look right, and then added whole dimensions of pathos and dignity.
Q. I'm a photographer, and have been wondering--who started the Orange and Blue Movement? All those movies where each scene has to have something blue and something orange in it? A good example would be "Trading Moms," with Sissy Spacek. There are lots of others in the last two years. I think it began with night city scenes mimicking neon reflections on faces. The actor usually has an warm (orange) main light on his/her face from a 45 degree angle, and has a cold (blue) kicker light skimming the shadow side of his face. Warm colors appear to move forward and cold colors recede, so it adds depth to an object. Someone grabbed this theme of color and a movement began. (Jim Langley, Phoenix, Ariz.)
There is a large electric billboard in the Las Vegas airport, right above luggage area 3, which flashes the following messages, one after another:
Q. In a theater lobby I saw the poster for the new movie "Bye, Bye Love," and there seemed to be something uncannily wrong about it. After staring at it for a long time, I realized what. The stars of the movie are all lined up smiling, including a small boy in the second row who is giving a "thumbs up" sign. If you compare the size of his hand with the size of the hand of the small girl also in the same row, you will see that his hand is about three times larger than her hand--almost as big as his face, in fact. Do you think this is really his own hand? Or has it been painted in by the ad agency, as a subliminal way of giving the movie "thumbs up?" (Sheila Chesham, Chicago)
Q. I hear there's a remake of "Casablanca" in the works with Kevin Costner and Demi Moore in the Bogart and Bergman roles. True? (James Portanova, Fresh Meadows, N.Y.)
Pieces of time. That's what the movies have been called. Usually they begin with the first piece and continue with the second piece, onward to the inevitable conclusion. But currently there's a small group of filmmakers who don't think that way. They shuffle the deck. You can't put all the pieces together until the movie is over. It's challenging, and it can be fun.
A kid in Macedonia wants to be a movie director, but there are no openings in the official film school in Belgrade. One day a professor from Southern Illinois University comes to lecture in his home town, and the kid gives the professor a pitch about how he wants to go to film school, and the professor says, "Fine, send me some of your work," and the kid mails his writings and some of his short films off to Carbondale, and they give him a scholarship.
Q. In the history of the Oscars, which movie nominated for best picture has received your lowest rating? (Paul Mayes, Austin, Texas)