Darkest Hour stands apart from more routine historical dramas.
Roger Ebert became film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. He is the only film critic with a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame and was named honorary life member of the Directors' Guild of America. He won the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Screenwriters' Guild, and honorary degrees from the American Film Institute and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Chaz is the Publisher of RogerEbert.com and a regular contributor to the site, writing about film, festivals, politics, and life itself.
Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor-in-Chief of RogerEbert.com, TV critic for New York Magazine, the creator of many video essays about film history and style, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism, and the author of The Wes Anderson Collection. His writing on film and TV has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, New York Press, The Star-Ledger and Dallas Observer. (Banner illustration by Max Dalton)
Ebert's Best Film Lists 1967 - present
Does Hollywood Sell Drugs to Kids?
The basic movie reference books are filled with definitions of terms like closeup and auteur theory. Nobody needs to know those words. What you need is Ebert’s Glossary of Terms for the Cinema of the 1980s. What follows is an attempt to compile such a list -- a practical, everyday guide to enhance your moviegoing pleasure, and help you categorize what you find on the screen.
"Jeez, isn't it shocking, how bad 'Goonies' did?"
Can it possibly be that time again? Can 12 months have passed since the last ceremony? Are the crowds gathering, ready to boo and hiss and sit on their hands? Then let’s bring out the 15th annual Movie Disaster Awards! May I have the envelope, please? (The one marked “Postage Due.”)
All of a sudden, there are movies about teenagers who are ordinary kids. They come as such a relief after all the movies about teenagers who are killers, victims, lust-crazed sex fiends, hookers, punks, sluts and goons. There for a while it looked like half the new teenage movies were going to be ripoffs of two of the sleaziest recent trendsetters at the box office, "Porky's" and "Friday the 13th." Teenagers in those movies had fairly limited options: They could look through peepholes into the girls’ shower room, or they could get disemboweled by a faceless monster.
DALLAS -- "Oklahoma!" opens with one of the most familiar moments in all of musical comedy, as a cowboy comes singing out of the dawn, declaring "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!" I've seen that moment many times, and it never fails to thrill me, but I've never seen it quite as I saw it here last Monday night, when the movie played during the USA Film Festival.
This is the sort of Irony that Hollywood understands: Joan Crawford spent her entire life in the painstaking construction of an image, only to have a movie reveal the things she tried to hide behind the image. The film is named “Mommie Dearest”. It is currently in production at Paramount, and it will be released sometime this autumn. In it, the glamorous perfectionist Crawford is portrayed as an egomaniacal alcoholic who terrorized her adopted daughter, Christina.
When the lights are placed just so on the conductor's podium in the orchestra pit of Radio City Music Hall, they cast a giant shadow of the conductor onto the ceiling of the enormous room. Sitting in the darkness, you can look up and see his arms beating time and his coattails flying, and then you can look down at the screen again, its silent images surrounded by the music.
Wim Wenders' "Kings of the Road" is a film of great depth and beauty, and its black and white photography is worthy of comparison with John Ford's. But it is rarely played commercially, maybe because of its three-hour length.