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A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Some of the images sit there unmoving for too long, but that very same stasis also helps create and enforce the underlying tension, the tormented…

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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 Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser

Werner Herzog's films do not depend on "acting" in the conventional sense. He is most content when he finds an actor who embodies the essence of a character, and he studies that essence with a fascinated intensity. Consider the case…

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Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

In an earlier review of "Blade Runner," I wrote; "It looks fabulous, it uses special effects to create a new world of its own, but it is thin in its human story." This seems a strange complaint, given that so…

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Sansho the Bailiff

Sansho the Bailiff

Kenji Mizoguchi's "Sansho the Bailiff," one of the best of all Japanese films, is curiously named after its villain, and not after any of the characters we identify with. The bristle-bearded slavemaster Sansho is at the center of two journeys,…

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El Topo

El Topo

A man in black rides the desert vastness of Mexico with a naked child in front of him on the saddle. Three hee-hawing gunmen appear from out of hiding, laughing that they have been sent to kill him. The man…

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Babel

Babel

“England and America are two countries separated by a common language.” — George Bernard Shaw

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Werckmeister Harmonies

Werckmeister Harmonies

Bela Tarr's "Werckmeister Harmonies" (2000) is maddening if you are not in sympathy with it, mesmerizing if you are. If you have not walked out after 20 or 30 minutes, you will thereafter not be able to move from your…

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Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth

"Pan's Labyrinth" is one of the greatest of all fantasy films, even though it is anchored so firmly in the reality of war. On first viewing, it is challenging to comprehend a movie that on the one hand provides fauns…

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Killer of Sheep

Killer of Sheep

Surely I should have seen that what Burnett chooses to show is, in fact, a larger statement. In this poetic film about a family in Watts, he observes the quiet nobility of lives lived with values but without opportunities. The…

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WR: Mysteries of the Organism

WR: Mysteries of the Organism

"Maybe it is like a mirror," Makavejev told me late one night in Chicago. "People hold it up to themselves and see reflected only what they are most offended by." That has a way of happening with his work. "Sweet…

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Moolaade

Moolaade

"Moolaade" is the kind of film that can only be made by a director whose heart is in harmony with his mind. It is a film of politics and anger, and also a film of beauty, humor, and a deep…

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Cabiria

Cabiria

On my last night at Cannes 2006, I climbed to the fifth floor of the Palais du Cinema to see a 180-minute silent epic made in 1914. Giovanni Pastrone's "Cabiria" was famous in its day, a global box-office success, but…

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Army of Shadows

Army of Shadows

Jean-Pierre Melville's "Army of Shadows" is about members of the French Resistance who persist in the face of despair. Rarely has a film shown so truly that place in the heart where hope lives with fatalism. It is not a…

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Au revoir les enfants

Au revoir les enfants

There is such exhilaration in the heedless energy of the schoolboys. They tumble up and down stairs, stand on stilts for playground wars, eagerly study naughty postcards, read novels at night by flashlight, and are even merry as they pour…

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The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye

Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye” (1973) attacks film noir with three of his most cherished tools: Whimsy, spontaneity and narrative perversity. He is always the most youthful of directors, and here he gives us the youngest of Philip Marlowes, the…

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Night Moves

Night Moves

Arthur Penn's "Night Moves" is about an old-fashioned private eye who says and does all the expected things while surrounded by a plot he completely fails to understand.

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Samurai Rebellion

Samurai Rebellion

The tension in "Samurai Rebellion" is generated by deep passions imprisoned within a rigid social order. The words and movements of the characters are dictated to the smallest detail by the codes of the time, but their emotions defy the…

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