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Make Your Move

With camerawork and editing that allows us to truly enjoy the footwork of its stars, "Make Your Move" is a vibrant, fun dance movie.

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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 Arikan Agenda: Best films of 2010

May Contain Spoilers

An old friend and I reunited for the first time in 13 years in Washington, DC last month, and the talk eventually turned to Facebook, the primary way we've managed to keep in touch, at least recently. I have a particular trait, usually reserved for after a night out on the town, by which friends can easily identify the level of my joviality, when I post videos of classic rock songs. Despite my assertion that a certain amount of fastidiousness should be necessary when it comes to sharing links on Facebook, I tend to disregard my own advice and post widely popular songs by legendary bands, for which I apologized to my friend.

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Mogul seeks employment. Will work from home.

May Contain Spoilers

Those dudes over there in Ho'wood have no idea what makes a movie that the people will fall in love with, only how to front-load some lackluster ideas with massive budgets, multimillion-dollar print and advertising blitzes, and lame distractions like 3-D in lieu of good stories or capable storytelling.Just as all it would take to get truly progressive social policies on the table are public officials who aren't spineless or sociopathic, all the movies need is a creative executive who makes the sane calls, pushes for real ideas instead of bait-and-switch schemes gleaned from the advertising industry.

Pre-1966 Ho'wood (aka Hollywood) was full of such moguls. For all the racism, sexism, jingoism, and general dizziness that marks Hollywood history, it must be said that the businessmen who ran the show early on were at least in touch with audiences and filmmakers, not just baiting them with barrels of cash and empty promises of "awesomeness." (We live in the Awesome Age, where every scrap of popular entertainment is calculated to knock you down on your ass at every instance. The general effect, though, is similar to watching a hyper kid's melodramatic "death" during a round of cops-and-robbers. "There is nothing so boring in life, let alone in cinema, as the boredom of being excited all the time"--Anthony Lane.)

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"Serve the nuts. I mean, serve the guests the nuts"

May Contain Spoilers

I will do most anything to avoid thinking. At the hint of strenuous thought I flee. I run like the dickens. I do not want my world to be disrupted. Seventy five percent of my energy is spent repairing a glorious cocoon of comfort.

Inside this shelter there is no overhead lighting, only lamps. There are no cold mornings or metaphysical crises. Everything is as it should be. Every question is easily answered. There you will find me licking my wounds, secretly enjoying the tang of blood and pus. Thankfully, for the health of body and soul, this cocoon is under constant siege. The valiant twenty five percent of life force that remains does all in its power to destroy a sheltering that in reality is more prison than sanctuary. This twenty five percent is Saint George. The cocoon is the terrible dragon. It is death.

As Cocteau said, "comfort kills creativity." You will find me angrily hissing this to myself all day every day. On good days I heed the wisdom of the French man. On bad ones I refuse.

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The Things We Never Said Any Differently

May Contain Spoilers

I don't know if people actually deal with grief in five stages, but I've always done it in two: depression and acceptance. I really commit to the sadness, too. I lock myself up for a good week, let the woe take me to the places it wants to show me, and I make sure to get a good look. Eventually I work my way to my near-ornamental piano. I'll revisit Chopin, Beethoven and show tunes. Sometimes the disappointment of my rustiness adds volume to the misery, which isn't uninvited. Giving in somehow makes it go away.

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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

May Contain Spoilers

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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