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Transcendence

"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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The James Bond template

May Contain Spoilers

Attending the latest James Bond films has been a tradition in my family ever since I can remember, and why not? If anybody went to the movies as often as we did, they were bound to get plenty of "B" grade turkeys, yet the years made clear that just about any 007 film would have something more to offer than most, at the very least those terrific production values. The first one I can recall going to was "Goldfinger" sometime around age 9, to one of those theatrical re-re-releases which were so common before the days of multiplexes and home video. I have to admit that what really motivated me to go see it back then was solely the possibility of being witness to the cinematic version of my old Corgi Aston Martin DB5 model car but, like most audiences, I found many facets which I had become familiar with, in other movies, being taken to a whole new level.

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The call girls who sank a government

May Contain Spoilers

Michael Caton-Jones' 1989 film "Scandal" begins amidst an atmosphere of gaiety and innocence at the start of the 1960s. Bright, resplendent, sparkling visions burst before our eyes. Soon the tones will become darker. "Scandal" chronicles the multi-faceted sex scandal that erupted in the "you've never had it so good" British Tory prime minister Harold Macmillan's conservative government in 1963.

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Why does Ofelia crawl into the toad's grotto?

May Contain Spoilers

If there's one thing that's consistently omitted from most Disney fairy tale adaptations, it's abject horror. They certainly make up for it by giving us terrific villains (Maleficent still haunts me), but a lot of the foul and gory details are left out.

Fairy tales aren't meant to be enchanting; they're supposed to be cautionary, terrifying even. Stories with female protagonists--like Cinderella and especially Snow White--reflect aging housewives' fears of being usurped by younger, stronger, fertile women.

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Dreams and films and dreams

May Contain Spoilers

No one is certain about dreams. If they tell you they are, they're either fooling you or themselves. There isn't a universally accepted definition of dreams. The whole idea behind them isn't wholly understood. Even scientists aren't sure about the purpose of dreams. And most of us don't understand, or heck, even remember, our own dreams.My moseying around different blogs and websites has brought me a bit of random knowledge about the subject. I read there are two kinds of dreams: Authentic and Illusory. Authentic dreams are those that reflect actual memories and experiences of the dreamer. I guess that would mean they stick to the laws of physics and stuff too. Illusory dreams, on the other hand, contain impossible, incongruent, or bizarre content. Dali-esque stuff, maybe?I guess my brain must be messily wired or something, as I have, or at least remember having, mainly illusory dreams.

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A bad night for the Warriors

May Contain Spoilers

If one is to make a balanced judgment of Walter Hill's 1979 "The Warriors" it is crucial to view this film exactly for what it is, one of the most exhilarating and peculiar action films of the 1970s, famous for the riots it provoked but much closer to Greek mythology than to reality.

Clearly a cult classic, "The Warriors" can also be seen as simply a great "chase movie", sort of a concrete jungle's "Apocalypto." An unusual film even in today's terms, during times when we feel we've seen it all.

"The Warriors" follows the adventures of the group in what turns out to be a very bad night for them.

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A beaten-down soul keeping her family intact

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There was a moment in "Winter's Bone" when I felt sheer horror triggering my heart to thump in loud heavy beats. A moment more haunting and terrifying than anything I've seen all year. Not since the gas station scene in "No Country for Old Men" and the French vanilla ice-cream desert in "Inglourious Basterds" have I held my breath for so long. It is what I like to call a pulse-raiser scene, one of those moments when you really want to look away but you simply can't because you care too much for the victim.

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Drinking his way to hell

May Contain Spoilers

Spending almost two hours with the relentlessly drunk character is not a pleasant thing at all, and it is also not easy to watch the man who chooses to abandon himself to his own hell. He is almost near at the bottom. All he can do is moving further to the final destination he has been reaching for. He still has some fancy about getting out of his torment, but it only reminds him that he has already crossed the line. He screams out of frustration near the end of the movie, "It's not possible -- not in this world!"

John Huston's "Under the Volcano"(1984) poignantly looks at one of the bleakest states of mind. This is a sad portrayal of a man struggling with his addiction and the agonizing contradiction resulting from it. As one character in the movie says, no one can live without love, but he cannot accept it even if he has desperately yearned for.

The movie is mainly about one unfortunate day of the former British consul Geoffrey Firmin (Albert Finney) who has been stuck in Cuernavaca, Mexico. According to him, he resigned his post for himself, but that may be not true considering his present state. He is a drunkard going through the final stages of alcoholism where the drinking is necessary for getting "sober." He says he can deal with his addiction ("Surely you appreciate the fine balance I must strike between, uh, the shake of too little and, uh, the abyss of too much"), but his abstinence is just the brief moment of looking at his glass. His body soon craves for alcohol, he frantically searches for the bottle, and, after satisfying the need, he passes out.

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Dear Mr. Robert Zemeckis Sir

May Contain Spoilers

Dear Mr Robert Zemeckis Sir,

My name is Forrest. Not Forrest Gump, but Forrest Narayan. I am ten years old.

I have two brothers and their names are Marty and Satyajit and Marty is twenty years old and Satyajit is six and three quarters.

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Don't know why there's no sun up in the sky

May Contain Spoilers

The first thing you must realize about "Stormy Weather," before anything else, is that it is not real. Of course it isn't real in the sense that it is a narrative film and as such it is fiction, but it is unreal in another way. It is a romanticization of African American life offering one-dimensional characters without nuance-- in "response" to the one dimensional un-nuanced characters in other films.

The movie opens as famous dancer Bill Williamson (Bill Robinson) receives a magazine in his honor "celebrating the magnificent contribution of the colored race to the entertainment of the world during the past twenty five years." This prompts him to reminisce about his career and courtship of the beautiful singer Selina Rogers (Lena Horne). The plot however, is of little importance. The film is primarily a vehicle for famous black talent in music and dance. These are glamorous blacks in romantic and dramatic leads. Blacks with sex appeal. Blacks with their own storyline.

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How much of Pulp is Fiction?

May Contain Spoilers

When I reviewed Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto" a few months ago, several readers brought up the point that when a filmmaker constantly uses extreme violence in his films, there surely must be something wrong about the director himself.

I don't buy into that theory, but while watching Quentin Tarantino's films, which I mostly enjoy a lot, I have to admit I have a hard time disassociating my diagnosis of the filmmaker with his own work, especially "Pulp Fiction" which is clearly a film with an amazing understanding of violent criminals, the drug culture and the fine art of original cursing.

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