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Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron is bigger, louder and messier than the first Avengers, but hits more original notes.

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The Casual Vacancy

Every element that doesn’t quite work in The Casual Vacancy is offset by a legitimate reason to check it out, at least until the muddled…

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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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Toronto #7: Festival to remember

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TORONTO – I have another few movies to see, and the awards are still to be announced, but Toronto 2005 is basically history, and now what remains is for its many wonderful films to find their audiences. There’s general agreement that this will be an autumn to remember among those who care about good films.

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Toronto #6: Stars present & future

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Matthew Modine was attending the Toronto Film Festival launch party for the U.S. edition of Norman Jewison’s autobiography, so the subject of his own memoirs came up. “I don’t know if that book will ever be written,” he said. “But I am publishing Full Metal Diary, which is the diary I kept when I was making Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket.’ That was so long ago that when I read it, it’s like the writings of a young actor who doesn’t have a whole lot to do with me. An actor writing journal entries on the set every day, just excited to be working with this great director on this film.”

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Toronto #5: A memorable film season

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TORONTO – At the halfway point of the 2005 Toronto Film Festival, one thing is clear: This is the best autumn movie season in memory. One film after another has been astonishingly good. Critics gathered in the hallways after the Varsity press screenings, talking in hushed tones as if witnesses to a miracle.

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Toronto #4: Festival notes & quotes

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Gwyneth Paltrow starred in the stage version of “Proof” (2005), the story of a brilliant mathematician’s equally brilliant daughter. When her father (Anthony Hopkins) becomes mentally ill, she cares for him; after his death, her sister (Hope Davis) and her boyfriend (Jake Gyllenhaal) disagree about her future. Meanwhile, who wrote the earth-shaking mathematical proof found in her father’s locked drawer?

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Toronto #3: Stars galore

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TORONTO – It was like I had moved to a city where only movie people live. I wandered Toronto on Saturday, from screening to party, and on the busiest day of the 30th annual Toronto Film Festival there were more stars, as MGM liked to say, than in the heavens. Amazing: I ran into Deborah Kara Unger, Ed Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Martin, Anthony Hopkins, Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenhaal without even trying to, just because they were right there on the sidewalk or in the hotel lobby.

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Toronto #2: 'Water' worth the wait

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TORONTO – It was seven years and many troubles in the making, but Deepa Mehta’s “Water” was cheered here Thursday on opening night at the Toronto Film Festival. The heart-rending story of an 8-year-old bride forced onto a lifetime of widowhood caused such controversy during its filming that Mehta, born in India, now a Canadian, had to move the production to Sri Lanka for the safety of her crew.

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Toronto #1: Top o' the world!

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TORONTO – Is the Toronto Film Festival the most important in the world, or does it only seem that way? In recent years I’ve described it as second only to Cannes. Now the Toronto critic Liam Lacey says flatly: “Toronto now has the most important film festival in the world -- the largest, the most influential, the most inclusive.” Yes, you say, but he is a Canadian, so of course he thinks that. Lacey is ready for you: “One reason the Toronto festival has probably not received its full recognition is, frankly, because it takes place in Canada.”

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Telluride #4: A cleansing rain of films

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TELLURIDE, Colo. -- Like the rains after a dusty season, the movies of September wash and refresh. You walk out of a screening here and think you have surely seen an Oscar nominee. You leave a second and third, and think the same thing. The 2006 Academy Awards could be populated from this festival, with Toronto still to begin on Thursday. And that doesn’t even account for the riches of the foreign films, and the revived classics, and the program called “Made on a Mac,” of films by such as Laurie Anderson.

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Telluride #3: Mickey in the limelight

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TELLURIDE, Colo. – It is the longest career in the history of show businesses. Mickey Rooney first appeared on stage when he was 17 months old. He made his first movie in 1925, when he was five, and on Friday night there he was on the stage of the Sheridan Opera House at the Telluride Film Festival, telling stores, doing imitations, singing the song he wrote when Judy Garland died, and then joining his wife in a duet of “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.”

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Telluride #2: Bio-pics lay Oscar bait

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TELLURIDE, Colo. – Oscar season opens every September with the Telluride and Toronto film festivals, and again this year, biopics seem to be leading the field. Last year in September we got our first looks at “Ray,” “Hotel Rwanda” and “Kinsey,” and so far this year the leading contenders are “Walk the Line” and “Capote.” If no two people could be more different than Ray Charles and Alfred Kinsey, no two other people could be less alike than Johnny Cash and Truman Capote.

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