A tribute to the late Penny Marshall, TV star and trailblazing director of Big, A League of Their Own and more.
An obituary for the late Tom Petty.
Matt writes: In his list ranking the best films of 1987, Roger Ebert included Taylor Hackford’s “Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!,” calling it “the year's best musical documentary, a rollicking and sometimes revealing record of the attempt by Rolling Stone Keith Richards to stage a 60th birthday concert for Berry, at which the pioneer of rock and roll would at last be accompanied by a well-rehearsed backup band.” After Berry passed away last weekend, our critic Glenn Kenny penned an insightful obituary that paid tribute to Hackford’s film. “Aside from being a superb portrait of Berry—and of Richards, whose intelligence and clear devotion to music here belies his sometime rap as a wizened five-string-zombie,” wrote Kenny, “[it] is one of the great rock and roll documentaries.” And of Berry, Kenny argued, “For all the great things he achieved, he deserves to be the fifth face on Mount Rushmore.”
A tribute to the late Chuck Berry.
The latest and greatest on Blu-ray/DVD and streaming services, including "About Elly," "Furious 7," "Love & Mercy," "Moonrise Kingdom" and more!
Five dumbest arguments against gender diversity. Why Louis C.K. is wrong about Common Core; Alfonso Cuarón's questions for Mexico's president; The relevance of 'Her'; The case for why Johnny Depp is overrated.
Marie writes: Kudos to fellow art buddy Siri Arnet for sharing the following; a truly unique hotel just outside Nairobi, Kenya: welcome to Giraffe Manor.
This is a free edited sample of the Christmas Newsletter.
For Roger's invitation to the Club, go here.
From the Grand Poobah and Mrs. Poobah:
Seasons Greetings Everyone!
From the Poobah: Chaz and Roger Ebert wish you Peace in the New Year!
"Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter" (85 minutes) premieres December 19th at 10:00pm on the PBS series "American Masters, " and will be available thereafter on PBS-on-demand. The film will also be released on DVD on Dec. 13th.
The six-DVD set of "The Films of Charles & Ray Eames" is available from Facets Multimedia ($79.99) and a few other online outlets, and each disc can be rented separately from Netflix.
by Jeff Shannon
If I had been a precocious six-year-old with a passion for architecture, I could've told you that my elementary school was an Eames building. It wasn't designed by Charles Eames himself, but everything about it was influenced by the design aesthetic of Charles and Ray Eames, most notably the design of the Eames' own home in Pacific Palisades, California.
A now-legendary structure known in the architecture world as Case Study No. 8, the Eames House (completed in 1949) is a geometrical marvel of steel and glass, squares and rectangles carefully aligned or offset to pleasing effect, with bold colors (Ray being the painter and co-designer, Charles being the architect) to complement the inviting lines of the structure. Like so many public structures built in the late '50s and early '60s, Seaview Elementary in Edmonds, Washington, was a wanna-be Eames House for grade-schoolers, a modest, functional tribute to Charles and Ray Eames and a symbol of their phenomenal influence on the look of the 20th century.
So ubiquitous is the Eames influence that it remains utterly unique, not merely in terms of design but in the grand design of the human species. Stroll through any major city in the world and chances are you'll see the Eames influence everywhere, from the cheap functionality of IKEA furniture to the form-fitting fiberglass of chairs in cafeterias, lobbies and waiting rooms all over the planet. When you realize that the Eames influence is literally inescapable in the lives of city-dwellers everywhere, you don't feel resentful as you might upon finding Starbucks coffee shops on both sides of the same street. Instead, you might register a kind of awestruck gratitude for how Eames designs have improved your life and the lives of everyone you know.
The Grand Poobah writes: Unless we find an angel, our television program will go off the air at the end of its current season. There. I've said it. Usually in television, people use evasive language. Not me. We'll be gone. I want to be honest about why this is. We can't afford to finance it any longer.
To read the full story, visit "The Chimes at midnight" on the Blog.
Marie writes: It occurred to me that I've never actually told members about the Old Vic Tunnels. Instead, I've shared news of various exhibits held inside them, like the recent Minotaur. So I'm going to fix that and take you on a tour! (click image to enlarge.)
Watching Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones concert movie "Shine a Light" (2008) for the first time the other night, it struck me that Scorsese has always been extremely good at shooting and cutting musical sequences not only as if they were action set-pieces, but as narratives. Whether it's the big-band saxes and brass blowing the camera across the ballroom like a balloon in "New York, New York," or Harry Nilsson's "Jump Into the Fire" feeding the coke-fueled paranoia of Henry Hill in "Goodfellas," or the opening beats of the Ronettes' "Be My Baby" (cut, cut-cut) launching us into Charlie's troubled psyche at the start of "Mean Streets," Scorsese uses the instruments of cinema the way a musician would.
Music videos are typically cut to the rhythm (which quickly becomes tedious) and are designed to tease the viewer/listener with frustratingly brief glimpses of tantalizing images. Space and time are deliberately fractured. This has the effect of keeping the viewer hooked, always looking for that next feel-good visual fillip. In contrast, watch (and listen to) what Scorsese does in "Shine a Light." He'll pick a moment -- the strum of a guitar or a glance from one of the players -- as punctuation, to get from one shot to the next. (Also, the sound is mixed like a movie: Whoever's on the screen is usually brought forward in the mix for the duration of the shot.)
"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
From the Grand Poobah: Time passes twice now, first as real time, then as remembrance of things past, as I search my memory for my memoir. As my eyes lift up from my keyboard, they stare sightlessly straight ahead and old faces and places pass in review. So I take a photo of where I'm looking, in order to record what I see. When the picture was taken, Gene and I were in the Brown Derby at Disney World while taping an Oscar special; I'd like to say I have no idea of who came up with the idea for that composition, but I do, and it was yours faithfully, the Poobah.
(click to enlarge and read book spines; smile.)
The big news is that TLRHB (That Little Round-Headed Boy) is back! And here he is, asking some pertinent questions about the art and craft of acting in response to Hilary Swank's comment in the Los Angeles Times: "You can't play Amelia Earhart and not learn how to fly. That would be a huge flaw. I'd be fired immediately."
I always get a chuckle every time I read about a group of pretty-boy actors going to a three-week "boot camp" to learn how to play a soldier. Imagine asking Spencer Tracy or Gable to go to a boot camp. Did John Wayne go to Western Camp to learn how to ride horseback? Did Bogie go to detective school? Did Cary Grant study paleontology before filming "Bringing Up Baby"? Did Errol Flynn go to pirate camp? (I bet Johnny Depp didn't, either. He created his Jack Sparrow persona out of the pure creativity in his mind, and a little bit of vampishness and Keith Richards.) [...]
Just think: Johnny Depp could have had the career of, say, Richard Grieco. In 1988, they were both break-out stars, young TV cops working undercover as high school students in the fledgling Fox network's first hit show, "21 Jump Street."
Is Michael Jackson one of the not-so-secret ingredients in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"? Critics overwhelmingly see it that way, even if Johnny Depp and many moviegoers don’t.
Q. I applaud your cogent argument against the MPAA on this week's Ebert & Roeper show. My question is this how can you be prevented from endorsing "Whale Rider" because of its PG-13 rating, yet one can go to any toy store and find "Lord of the Rings" toys and even "The Matrix" toys that are tied in to films with PG-13 or even R ratings? Is it because "Whale Rider" is an independent film? (Paul Hardister, Arlington, VA)
The room was so small, it was like everyone was in the front row. You walked into the throbbing, smoky space and edged past the bruisers in the black T-shirts, and suddenly, between two big speaker stands, not more than 10 feet away, you saw a flash of a red shirt and the wave of an arm, and there he was, Mick Jagger.