Matt writes: The 2018 Sundance Film Festival may be complete, but our cinematic year is just getting started. Check out our table of contents for the full coverage of festival selections to look for in theaters this year, with reviews from Brian Tallerico, Nick Allen and Tomris Laffly. Also be sure to read the coverage penned by our Ebert Fellows, such as Jomo Fray's interview with Boots Riley, director of this year's smash, "Sorry to Bother You"; Gary Wilkerson Jr.'s touching review of Bo Burnham's "Eighth Grade"; and Brandon Towns' report on why 2018 was the "blackest Sundance ever."
Matt writes: Kick off 2018 with RogerEbert.com's compilation of interview highlights from 2017, featuring several of this year's awards season frontrunners, including "Darkest Hour" star Gary Oldman and "Lady Bird" writer/director Greta Gerwig. It also features conversations with artists sorely deserving of more Oscar buzz, such as "Mudbound" director Dee Rees and "The Big Sick" co-writer/star Kumail Nanjiani.
"About Cherry" (102 minutes) is available now on demand at IFC, iTunes, Amazon Instant and SundanceNow. Opens theatrically September 21, 2012 in New York.
After reading the synopsis for "About Cherry," I figured I had it pegged. Here's a movie about a fresh-faced, clean-cut American girl named Angelina who goes the photographic Full Monty before graduating to porn. "Oh brother," I thought. "Another cautionary tale." In American cinema, you just can't enjoy sex. There has to be some consequence for all the ejaculations of "oh god!" and "yes I said yes I will Yes." If you're a man, you tend to get off scot free. But a woman who enjoys the same activity might as well be struck by lightning onscreen. So I expected poor Angelina to run afoul of drugs, sexual abuse and possibly fatal violence. The press materials seemed to support my supposition: "But Angelina's newfound ideal lifestyle soon comes apart at the seams," it ominously states. I braced myself for the worst.
Eighteen-year old Angelina (Ashley Hinshaw) lives in Southern California with her younger sister (Maya Raines), her alcoholic mother (Lili Taylor) and Mama's latest man. Angelina yearns to escape her dismal home life, so with a little coaxing from her rock band boyfriend (Johnny Weston), she visits his photographer buddy Vaughn (Ernest Waddell). Vaughn shoots erotic photos, and Angelina is both erotic and photogenic. The photo shoot is such a rousing success that Weston demands Angelina avoid Vaughn for future shoots. Angelina dumps the rocker.
"It's the greatest curse that's ever been inflicted on the human race, memory." -- Jed Leland (Joseph Cotten), "Citizen Kane" (1941)
Nearly every scene in "The Phantom," the Season 5 finale of "Mad Men," conjures a ghost from the show's past. "Mad Men," like many great series from "Hill Street Blues" to "SCTV" to "The Sopranos," has always been exceptionally good at this (see "The Long Walk"), setting images, gestures and emotions reverberating off one another across episodes and seasons. The series has a memory, and the curse of memory is a primary theme of "The Phantom," which is why the episode is composed as it is. As Nancy Sinatra sings in that final song:
You only live twice, or so it seems, One life for yourself and one for your dreams.
(Spoilers from here on out.)
That's a James Bond theme song, from "You Only Live Twice" (1967) -- and it's the second Bond theme we hear in the episode, after Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass bite into Burt Bacharach's theme from the James Bond parody "Casino Royale" (1967) at the weekday matinée where Don (the suave, masculine Bond of New York advertising) runs into Peggy. (The Beatles, who have figured prominently in Seasons 4 and 5, released "Help!" in 1965 and it was in part a 007 parody, too -- especially the John Barry-like orchestral music written by George Martin.) Echoes and repetitions are everywhere.
Marie writes: my friend Cheryl sent me the photo below, taken by an ex-coworker (Cheryl used to work for a Veterinarian.) The wolf's name is Alpha; one guess why. He's from the Grouse Mountain Wildlife Refuge in North Vancouver; not a zoo. The veterinary clinic is also located in North Vancouver and Alpha is having his regular dental check up and cleaning. (Click to enlarge.)
"I realize that most of the turning points in my career were brought about by others. My life has largely happened to me without any conscious plan. I was an indifferent student except at subjects that interested me, and those I followed beyond the classroom, stealing time from others I should have been studying. I was no good at math beyond algebra. I flunked French four times in college. I had no patience for memorization, but I could easily remember words I responded to. In college a chart of my grades resembled a mountain range. My first real newspaper job came when my best friend's father hired me to cover high school sports for the local daily. In college a friend told me I must join him in publishing an alternative weekly and then left it in my hands. That led to the Daily Illini, and that in turn led to the Chicago Sun-Times, where I have worked ever since 1966. I became the movie critic six months later through no premeditation, when the job was offered to me out of a clear blue sky."Visit "I was born inside the movie of my life" to read the opening pages from Roger's forthcoming memoir to be published September 13, 2011.
"Of few deaths can it be said that they end an era, but hers does. No other actress commanded more attention for longer, for her work, her beauty, her private life, and a series of health problems that brought her near death more than once." - Roger, from Elizabeth Taylor, a star in her own category
View image The Man From Another Place (Michael J. Anderson, that is) with The Man From Spokane (David Lynch) in the Red Room. Photo by Richard Beymer.
The owls are not what they seem. And Richard Beymer has the photos to prove it, in this beautiful online gallery from the set of "Twin Peaks." The shot of Hank Worden ("Grateful to the hospitality of your rocking chair, ma'am!") with Lynch makes me very happy.
Look for marvelous/creepy shots of Ray Wise, Grace Zabriskie, Harry Goaz, Heather Graham, Carel Struycken, Frank Silva, Charlotte Stewart and Don S. Davis and more of your favorite "Twin Peaks" stars, hanging out in the Great Northern, the Double R, the Red Room, and the woods!
(tip: Movie City Indie)
Wayne Newton and Suzanne Pleshette -- er, Emilio Estevez and Demi Moore stud the all-star cast of "Bobby."
We're told that Emilio Estevez's "Bobby" takes place at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968, but it feels like it was originally released back around then. It's "Earthquake" with the RFK assassination as the disaster. It's "Airport." It's "The Towering Inferno." A whole bunch of familiar actors play "colorful" characters swarming around the hotel, and their day will culminate in the death of a Kennedy. They talk about the movies -- new stuff like "The Graduate," "Bonnie and Clyde," "Planet of the Apes" -- but a retired doorman played by Anthony Hopkins explicitly invokes the model for "Bobby" and and its ilk: "Grand Hotel," the 1932 picture with Greta Garbo and an all-star cast. And "Bobby" treats the assassination as an event as strangely distant from its own present-tense as "Grand Hotel" was from 1968.
Sure, the requisite modern political parallels are present, as they are in virtually every film at the Toronto Film Festival this year. On the screen, on TVs in hotel suites, over the soundtrack, are actual speeches and sound bites from Democratic senatorial candidate Robert F. Kennedy, talking about how the country has lost its way in the quagmire of Vietnam, and championing rights for minorities and low-wage workers, etc., etc., etc. (It comes as a bit of a shock to remember that politicians were once articulate and sounded like they knew the meanings of the words they were saying.)
But why make "Bobby," which screened at the Toronto Film Festival as a "work-in-progress"? Why turn this traumatic national event into a Hollywood soap opera? The performances are fine for this kind of glitzy manufactured melodrama ("Where Were YOU When They Shot RFK?"), and on that level it's swell, trashy fun. It's just that the whole concept is inappropriate.
PARK CITY, Utah -- "Girlfight," Karyn Kusama's story of a tough Brooklyn girl who wants to be a boxer, and "You Can Count on Me," Kenneth Lonergan's story of an orphaned brother and sister who uneasily get to know each other as adults, shared the grand jury prize for best dramatic film here Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival. In addition, Lonergan won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award, and Kusama was picked as best director.
TORONTO -- Joe Eszterhas hasn't become history's highest-paid screenwriter by penning quirky little stories about coming of age in Cleveland - but one of the big hits of the Toronto Film Festival's closing weekend is just such a film.