A critic considers the death of his father in light of cinema's handling of the end of life.
Sheila writes: It's less than two weeks until the domestic release of Steve James' documentary about Roger Ebert, "Life Itself." "Life Itself" will hit theaters, as well as be released On Demand, on July 4, 2014. Please check out the exclusive clip on Rogerebert.com, which focuses on the impact Chaz had on Roger's life. "Life Itself" just opened the Hamptons Film Festival, and a QA with Chaz Ebert, Rogerebert.com editor-in-chief Matt Zoller Seitz followed the screening. The QA was hosted Alec Baldwin and Hamptons Film Festival artistic director David Nugent. You can read a transcript here.
The calculation of odds is finished. The campaigning is done. Erik Childress predicts the winners of the Oscars.
I apologize for the lack of postings the last few weeks. A recent flare-up of heart problems left me with little energy to write. But as the emaciated old man in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" says: "I'm feeling much better!"
At one point well into Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" I thought that the movie was going to reveal itself as a story about the meaninglessness of human existence. But that notion was based on a single piece of aphoristic, potential-thesis-statement dialog that, like much else, wasn't developed in the rest of the movie. Which is not to say that "The Master" isn't about the meaninglessness of human life. The line, spoken by Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), the cult guru known to his acolytes as Master, is addressed to the younger man he considers his "protégé," a dissolute mentally ill drifter named Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), and the gist of it is that the itinerant Freddie has as much to show for his life as somebody who has worked a regular 9-to-5 job for many years. The point being, I suppose, that for all Freddie's adventures, peculiarities and failures, he isn't all that much different from anybody else. Except, maybe, he's more effed-up.
I'm not naive enough to believe that, at some point in history, the media political coverage (national or international) was in fact absolutely impartial. After all, controlling the typewriter and, later, computer keyboards were human beings with their own passions and ideologies - and it is clear that, even if they tried to be objective (those who tried, at least), they couldn't avoid filtering one fact or another by following their particular beliefs. Unfortunately, even though that occurs, I doubt that the level of indoctrination exhibited by professional journalism in History reached the alarming level of proselytism we have witnessed in recent years: while in United States 9/11 turned the media into a spokesperson of Bush's government, allowing him to lead the country to a war based on lies (something that many realized only a while ago), in Brazil large "journalistic" vehicles clearly embraced right-wing candidates during recent elections with no attempt whatsoever of masking their partisanship.
Telluride, Colorado -- The most disturbing event at this year's Telluride Film Festival was a screening of scenes from a documentary-in-progress about Werner Herzog, the legendary West German director who has disappeared into the South American rain forest on what looks like a suicidal mission.
Bora Bora, Society Islands -- To get here you take off from Honolulu and fly into tomorrow, crossing the international date line for a refueling stop on Samoa. Then you fly back into yesterday and land on Tahiti, switch to an Air Polynesia flight to a coral landing strip, take a motorboat for another hour's journey, and arrive after dark at the island James Michener called the most beautiful in the world. It's a long way to go to visit a movie location, but then Dino De Laurentiis went a long way to shoot his movie.
Eugene O'Neill's wife thought "Hughie" was one of her husband's lesser plays, Jason Robards was saying. "She said he loved writing it and it came out easy. She was full of baloney. Oh, it may have came out easy, because he wrote it at the height of his powers. But it's one hell of a play."
Dalton Trumbo's "Johnny Got His Gun" seemed for years to be one of those novels that could never be made into a movie. It took place entirely within the mind of a soldier who was so grievously wounded in World War I that he had only the most tenuous contact with the world. He had no arms, no legs, no sight or hearing, no way to speak.