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Jean-Claude Van Damme


We Die Young (2019)
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Far Flungers

The rise and decline of the superhero

Published with Press Play on Indiewire

With the unparalleled box office success of The Avengers, superheroes are back in the spotlight. Most comic book aficionados are delighted with the recognition. But believe it or not, there are those such as myself who are dismayed at how superhero films, though more popular than ever, seem to be losing their luster.

Ebert Club

#63 May 18, 2011

Marie writes: you've all heard of Banksy. But do you know about JR...?(click to enlarge image)

Ebert Club

#46 January 19, 2011

The Grand Poobah writes: Here's a behind the scenes lookinside our control room! This is where the magic happens.


Thought experiment: Are some movies better if you don't see them?

It's a question to ponder -- especially when they're Andy Warhol movies (whether or not Andy Warhol actually had anything to do with them besides putting his name on them). Consider this story from Reid Rosefelt at My Life as a Blog:

... I was a huge fan of Warhol's films, despite the fact that I had never seen a single one. Most, if not all of the films had been withdrawn from circulation, or very rarely shown, certainly not in Madison. That didn't stop me. I read everything I could about them, and I was totally fascinated.

Spotting Warhol standing at an appetizer table, plastic cup in one hand and plate in the other, during a late-1970s party in New York, RR worked up the nerve to approach the artist. It went something like this:

Roger Ebert

CIFF 2009: The winners! And our reviews

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Tina Mabry's "Mississippi Damned," an independent American production, won the Gold Hugo as the best film in the 2009 Chicago International Film Festival, and added Gold Plaques for best supporting actress (Jossie Thacker) and best screenplay (Mabry). It tells the harrowing story of three black children growing up in rural Mississippi in circumstances of violence and addiction. The film's trailer and an interview with Mabry are linked at the bottom.

Kylee Russell in "Mississippi Damned"

The winner of the Audience Award, announced Friday, was "Precious" (see below). The wins came over a crowed field of competitors from all over the world, many of them with much larger budgets. The other big winner at the Pump Room of the Ambassador East awards ceremony Saturday evening was by veteran master Marco Bellocchio of Italy, who won the Silver Hugo as best director for "Vincere," the story of Mussolini's younger brother. Giovanna Mezzogiorno and Filippo Timi won Silver Hugos as best actress and actor, and Daniele Cipri won a Gold Plaque for best cinematography.


TIFF 08: Torontoids: Seen and overheard

Cell phone photo at right: MSN Movies editor Dave McCoy, New York Deli, Bay Street, Toronto, 9/10/2008. Seven years later and what have we done?

Torontoids #2:

"I've seen a lot of good shit and a lot of bad shit but not a lot of meh."

* * *

Old man on a bench, speaking to a wire construction fence, or possibly a pigeon on the other side of it. Or maybe a Bluetooth headset: "But the best picture Judy Garland ever made was..." (Just then, a loud truck roared past, in the opposite direction from the one I was heading, and drowned out the title. I hesitated, almost went back to ask, but I was hustling to get to a screening. I'm kind of hoping it was "Meet Me in St. Louis.")

Festivals & Awards

A sense of urgency -- and edginess

CANNES, France -- There are two species of journalists at Cannes, described by the festival as critics or chroniclers. The critics review the films. The chroniclers write the gossip, review the fashions, attend the press conferences and pray for scandal. One year, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren (remember them?) got in a pushing match on the steps of the Palais, and the chroniclers dined out for a week. The critics, however, savor moments of quieter savagery, as when Dogma founder Lars von Trier didn't win the top prize from a jury headed by Roman Polanski, and accepted his lesser award ''with no thanks to the midget.''

Movie Answer Man

Movie Answer Man (08/10/2003)

Q. In your "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" review, you mentioned that I was opening a pirate store. We actually opened the store 14 months ago. It's doing well, too. Pays the rent on our nonprofit space, oddly enough. Only in San Francisco. We sell about 100 eyepatches a week. We sell hooks, striped socks, treasure chests in all sizes, lard, planks (by the foot), peglegs (sized to fit)--anything you could want, though we don't sell cannonballs anymore. Our supplier was good, but they kill you on the shipping. (Dave Eggers, San Francisco)

Festivals & Awards

Late-night chit-chat

The Mercedes taxi whirs through the night along the old beach road to Antibes, past the sleeping villages and sudden flashes of light from bars and bouillabaisse joints, and deposits us at the Hotel du Cap d'Antibes. We are attending the Vanity Fair party at the Cannes Film Festival. We walk down a cool marble staircase and emerge on a high wide deck overlooking the sea. Luxury yachts are anchored a few hundred yards offshore. Across the bay the lights of Cannes beckon.


Rodman finds niche as action star

Dennis Rodman, star of basketball, movies, books and pro wrestling, is still a little stunned by the spotlight. Before the premiere of "Double Team," the new Jean-Claude Van Damme action thriller where he gets second billing, he mused about his function as a publicity-generating machine: "I never ever expected that my career would turn into such a media hype: In San Antonia, I was doing the same thing, but I guess the media are stronger in Chicago, and being linked with Michael Jordan and a championship team didn't hurt."


Sigourney Weaver: A woman of action and drama and comedy

NEW YORK There was an article not long ago in Variety, the show-biz bible, saying that Sigourney Weaver was third on the list of stars who could "open" a movie, worldwide. That placed her right up there with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the other male action heroes, mostly on the basis of her work in the "Alien" series. But the article didn't make much of it.