Matt writes: Carl Reiner, the towering comedic genius responsible for creating "The Dick Van Dyke Show," died last week at the age of 98. He remained uproarious and brilliant to the very end, and there's no question that his work will keep us entertained for the next 2000 years. Two days before his passing, he tweeted, “Nothing pleases me more than knowing that I have lived the best life possible by having met & marrying the gifted Estelle (Stella) Lebost—who partnered with me in bringing Rob, Annie & Lucas Reiner into this needy & evolving world.” Be sure to read Nell Minow's tribute to Reiner as well as Donald Liebenson's recent interview with the television icon.
Matt writes: On April 28th, the movie world lost a true giant: filmmaker John Singleton, whose 1991 masterpiece, "Boyz N the Hood," remains one of the most astonishing feature debuts in cinema history. Roger Ebert awarded the picture four stars, writing that it was one of "the best American films of recent years." Roger's thoughts regarding the entirety of Singleton's career were detailed in a special compilation by Nick Allen, while Odie Henderson penned a deeply moving obituary for the trailblazing auteur. I was among the writers at RogerEbert.com who paid tribute to Singleton in a separate article, "Breaking Barriers."
Matt writes: On August 2nd, Chaz Ebert announced that RogerEbert.com is gender balancing its regular rotation of film critics. Nell Minow, Monica Castillo and Tomris Laffly join Sheila O’Malley and Christy Lemire to round out the website’s roster of female critics to achieve a fifty-fifty split of five women and five men. The site also will publish more frequent contributions by diverse critics, including Castillo and Odie Henderson, who bring valued perspectives from their Cuban- and African-American roots. Minow has also been appointed the website's first female assistant editor.
An interview with comedian Gilbert Gottfried, the subject of Neil Berkeley's "Gilbert," playing at Hot Docs 2017.
An excerpt from the May 2016 issue of Bright Wall/Dark Room about "The Man with Two Brains" and "All of Me."
Rarely does a TV show arrive with lower expectations than the annual Emmy Awards telecast. It's a given that the thing will suck. Even so, this year's -- the 64th -- managed to come up short and disappoint. And it wasn't one of those "so bad it's good" campy things you can enjoy making fun of, either. It was more like one of those "so bad it's lousy" things that leave you incredulous and drained of the will to live.
A joke should have the perfection of a haiku. Not one extra word. No wrong words. It should seem to have been discovered in its absolute form rather than created. The weight of the meaning should be at the end. The earlier words should prepare for the shift of the meaning. The ending must have absolute finality. It should present a world view only revealed at the last moment. Like knife-throwing, joke-telling should never be practiced except by experts.
For many laymen, a joke is a heavenly gift allowing them to monopolize your attention although they lack all ability as an entertainer. You can tell this because they start off grinning and grin the whole way through. They're so pleased with themselves. Their grins are telling you they're funny and their joke is funny. The expert knows not to betray the slightest emotion. The expert is reciting a fact. There is nothing to be done about it. The fact insists on a world that is different than you thought. The fact is surprising and ironic. It is also surprising--you mustn't see it coming. That's why the teller should not grin. His face shouldn't tell you it's coming. If the joke is also vulgar, so much the better, but it must never exist for the sake of vulgarity. That's why "The Aristocrats" is not only the most offensive joke in the world, but also, in the wrong hands, the most boring.