The Farewell Party
High drama and lowbrow, morbid humor get stitched together in this successful tragicomedy about terminal patients and assisted suicide. Works better than expected.
No favorable review I've ever written has inspired more disbelief than my three stars for "Speed 2." Even its star, Sandra Bullock, started mentioning in interviews her disgust with herself for agreeing to star in it. It's frequently cited as an example of what a lousy critic I am. (Note well: Siskel also gave it thumbs up.) All the same, I'm grateful to movies that show me what I haven't seen before, and "Speed 2" had a cruise ship plowing right up the main street of a Caribbean village.
Here is a collection of a dozen of the best documentaries I saw in 2012. It's not a "best of the year" list. Just some good memories of these films.I will not burden you again with another complaint about lists. More than ever, I despise them because they shift focus away from a film and toward a list. When I recently caught up with "Django Unchained," for example, I gave it four stars. The comments section was overrun with readers asking if that meant it was now on my Top Ten list. One reader insisted on knowing which title it replaced. Although the piece was some 2,000 words long, another reader insisted he still wanted to see "my official review."
The Oscars are the most important way the American film industry can honor what it considers the year's best work. But for millions of movie lovers all over the globes, they are something else: A show.
That's why I suspected last June that Quvenzhané Wallis might win a nomination. The pride of Hounduras Elementary School in Houma, LA, has now become, at nine, the youngest nominee in history for Best Actress. Her story is even better: She was five when she auditioned for the role, and six when she performed it.
Rating: Four stars
Consider now the curious character of Dr. King Schultz. He is an itinerant dentist who works from his little wagon, traveling the backroads of the pre-Civil War South. As Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" opens, we see a line of shackled slaves being led through what I must describe as a deep, dark forest, because those are the kinds of forests we meet in fairy tales. Out of this deepness and darkness, Schultz (Christoph Waltz) appears, his lantern swinging from his wagon, which has a bobbling tooth on its roof.
Michael Haneke's "Amour," which won the Palme d'Or last May at Cannes, was voted Saturday the best film of 2012 by the prestigious National Society of Film Critics. The award, coming on the eve of voting for the 2013 Academy Awards, confirms "Amour" as a Best Foreign Film frontrunner. Other NSFC winners will also draw welcome attention.
Night on a highway somewhere. A hat and a shoe. In its very simplicity the photograph signals it has some hidden significance.
The caption explains that the two objects on Sepulveda Blvd. in Los Angeles are at the spot where a young man named Chris Guerra was struck by a SUV and killed at about 6 p.m. New Year's Day while trying to cross the four-lane highway.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Oscars. Not to the Oscars. To me. I sustained a hairline fracture of my left hip. I didn't fall. I didn't break it. It just sort of... happened to itself. Most of the time, it causes me no pain at all. But my left leg won't bear any weight, nor can I walk on it. This pain is off the charts. It has nothing to do with cancer. It's plain bad luck.
The good news is that I've seen the films of one of the best recent years in cinema. I wrote more than 300 reviews in 2012 -- a record -- and it was unusually difficult to leave out many of the quote-unquote "best" films in 11th place.
by Roger Ebert
Osama bin Laden is dead, which everybody knows, and the principal facts leading up to that are also well-known. The decision to market "Zero Dark Thirty" as a thriller therefore takes a certain amount of courage, even given the fascination with this most zero and dark of deaths. (The title is spy-speak for "half past midnight," the time of bin Laden's death.)
(AP Photo/ Newtown Bee, Shannon Hicks)What's different about the Newtown Massacre? Not very much. On top of the Columbine tragedy, "The Dark Knight Rises" shooting and so on and so on, it still doesn't even have its own Twitter hashtag. I haven't had the heart to look for any theme music that has been drummed up for cable news.
This will be boring. I'll make it short. I have a slight and nearly invisible hairline fracture involving my left femur. I didn't fall. I didn't break it. It just sort of...happened to itself.