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The Killing of a Sacred Deer

With uniformly great performances throughout the cast and Lanthimos’ stunning eye for detail and composition, this is one of the most unforgettable films of the…

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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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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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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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It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the superhero genre!

May Contain Spoilers

Back then, I could watch Max Fleischer's Superman cartoons forever and never get bored. Today, the case is almost the same. Oh, those films have some of the finest animation I've ever seen--even by today's standards, the animation is phenomenal, right from the fluidity of the movements of the characters to the uncanny weight of the objects. The characters and objects had shadows too.

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Inceptions Made of Sand

May Contain Spoilers

With the exception of "The Matrix" and the odd documentary, movies tend to pay only lip service an architect's job. "Sleepless in Seattle's" Sam Baldwin is an architect, but he might as well be a meat-packer. The movie is a romantic comedy with little room for anything but serendipity. It takes us to a couple of architectural landmarks, but not because Sam's profession compels him to.

So naturally, I was curious to know what the architectural community thought of "Inception," where the discipline is actually effectual. I was a bit disappointed to discover that while architectural journalists were entertained by the film, they didn't care much for its buildings. James Benedict Brown calls Ariadne "a dependable square," Aaron Betsky says her work is "banal," and David Neustein finds that Cobb and Mal's dream city is "hardly a honeymoon destination."

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The President's analyst goes crazy

May Contain Spoilers

While it is one or two steps behind "Dr. Strangelove," "The President's Analyst" (1967) is a very good black comedy sniggering at Cold War paranoid. Maybe it's not as ruthless as that great comedy, but the movie romps cheerfully on its subjects with a take-no-prisoner attitude. And during this loony joy ride we eventually discover that the movie foretold something very accurate more than 40 years ago.

We have seen many psychiatrist whose lives become more burdensome than usual thanks to their unusual patients in the movies ("Analyze This") and TV series("The Sopranos" and "In Treatment"), but I think no one can top our hero Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn). His new patient is none other than the president of the United States, the most powerful figure in the world who incidentally does not appear on the screen.

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Greed is maybe good up to a point

May Contain Spoilers

Sequels to Hollywood hit films usually take a couple of years to arrive, maybe up to three or five or even ten, but twenty-three? Why would Oliver Stone wait this long to bring us a follow-up to his 1987 "Wall Street"? On this opening weekend of "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," there doesn't seem to be that much of a mystery regarding the "why now?" The forces behind the collapse of Wall Street and most of the world's economies in 2008, and their nature, couldn't have passed unnoticed to somebody like Stone, whose name is synonymous with plots, conspiracies and the like.

The original "Wall Street" might be a product of the 1980s and it looks a dated in some ways, but if it proves anything to current audiences it's that there isn't much new under the sun. Like other aspects of life, the real Wall Street is ruled by cycles in which similar events seem to re-occur with time and may continue to do so again and again. Greed is not a novelty.

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When the Great Gray Cloud comes to call

May Contain Spoilers

Yesterday it was cold and rainy and glum. I searched for background movies to put on while I wrote, but my usual George Cukor go-tos weren't doing the trick. I branched out. Shane, Forbidden Games, Love & Anarchy, Mogambo, and various classic TV shows were turned on and shut off. Nothing worked. I decided to take a twenty minute nap to shake the damp.

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