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Geostorm

God knows how many millions of dollars and hours of manpower went into making and remaking Geostorm but it turns out to have been all…

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Same Kind of Different as Me

It can be hard to disagree with the heart and events of this true tale, except for when the movie reveals itself to be mighty…

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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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The chimes at midnight

Unless we find an angel, our television program will go off the air at the end of its current season. There. I've said it. Usually in television, people use evasive language. Not me. We'll be gone. I want to be honest about why this is. We can't afford to finance it any longer.

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The sudden death of film

Who would have dreamed film would die so quickly? The victory of video was quick and merciless. Was it only a few years ago that I was patiently explaining how video would never win over the ancient and familiar method of light projected through celluloid? And now Eastman Kodak, which seemed invulnerable, is in financial difficulties.

Many of the nation's remaining mail-order company that processing film from still cameras has closed, even though stills are having a resurgence in serious market. New 35mm movie projectors are no longer manufactured, for the simple reason that used projectors, some not very old, are flooding the market.

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Knocked up at the movies

Above all it was her personality. Pauline Kael had an overwhelming presence in a conversation. There will no doubt be many discussions of Kael's work and influence and with the publication of Brian Kellow's new biography Pauline Kael: A Life in the Dark, and the Library of America's forthcoming collection of her work.

She was the most powerful, loved and hated film critic of her time, but her work cannot be discussed objectively by simply reading it. She challenges you on every page, she's always in your face, and she functioned as the arbiter of any social group she joined. She was quite a dame.

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Why are we cruel?

I was watching a movie this week, a very good one, that will open Friday here in Chicago. As sometimes happens, it led me into a realm of thinking that was not directly connected to it--or perhaps it was.

The movie is "The Mill and the Cross," by the Polish director Lech Majewski. It literally enters into a famous painting, Bruegel's "The Road to Calvary," and walks around inside of it.

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Tea and empathy

The Tea Party and the Wall Street demonstrators share the same conviction: They are the victims of theft by powerful institutions. The Tea Party blames government taxation. The demonstrators blame corruption in the financial industry.

The concern about taxation is perplexing, since U.S. tax rates are at a historic low. Indeed, there seems little chance that we can ever begin to pay off the American deficit without raising taxes. Many millionaires, led by Warren Buffet, have volunteered to pay higher taxes. A belief persists, however, that the middle class bears an unfair tax burden. In repeating this charge the other day, Mitt Romney included himself in the middle class.

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Stranger in a wondrous land

• "Patang," by Prashant Bhargava

I visited India only once, for less than two weeks, but I left a part of my heart there. I can't say I know it well, but I know how it made me feel, and it seemed impossibly exotic and absolutely comfortable at the same time: I was curiously at home in a strange land.

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What goes around, comes around

Every writer hopes to see his book reviewed in The New York Times. The grand slam is to be reviewed twice, both daily and Sunday. On last Thursday, Janet Maslin reviewed "Life Itself" and it was the best review I could possibly hope for. On Sunday, Maureen Dowd reviewed it in the NYTimes Book Review. Another positive review--indeed, for Dowd, positively generous. ("A captivating, movable feast.") But near the top it contained a zinger. "Ebert is a first-rate second-rate memoirist," she wrote. I cringed, and then I smiled. If there was ever an example of snark that I fully deserved, it was this one. First of all, it is fair enough. If Nabokov's Speak, Memory is an example of the first-rate memoir, then the bar has been set pretty high.

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How to win friends and influence people

I've been on Twitter for about two years. It's a part of my life. A small part, but a nice diversion for someone who publicly claimed, "I will never be a twit!"

My purpose today is not to issue generalizations about Twitter, or to persuade you to take part. You may well have better ways to spend your time. What I want to do is make some observations about successful tweeting.

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Winners of the 2011 Toronto Film Festival

Nadine Labaki's "Where Do We Go Now?" won the coveted Cadillac People's Choice Award on Sunday at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. At the noncompetitive festival with no jury, this award is voted on by moviegoers on their way out of the theaters, and tallied by a formulas that equalizes for audience sizes.

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Films that are not for the dying so much

There are two good films at Toronto about the same thing: Romance that begins during the last months of life for a person with cancer. I wrote earlier about Gus Van Sant's "Restless," and now here is "50/50" by Jonathan Levine, with a screenplay by Will Reiser that is said to be semi-autobiographical. As a person who has been in love while dealing with cancer, these films inspire introspection, and while I admire them I realize they are to some degree escapism--poised at the "Bargaining" position at the center of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief.

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