The latest on Blu-ray and DVD includes Personal Shopper, War for the Planet of the Apes, Spider-man: Homecoming, and Annabelle: Creation.
Matt writes: At RogerEbert.com, we recently published a thoughtful essay by Pete Croatto in which he makes his case for "why film critics should see bad movies." Of course, how can one judge what is good if they ignore what is bad? Many of Roger Ebert's most entertaining reviews were the ones where he eviscerated a bad movie with his scathing wit and unbridled love for the oft-squandered potential of the art form. Three books have been devoted to compiling the best of Roger's negative reviews, and they were recently paid tribute by critic Brent Northup in his review of "Shut In" for Helenair.com. My personal favorite of Roger's bad movie takedowns was his half-star review of 1997's disastrous live-action comedy, "Mr. Magoo."
Matt writes: While interviewing the great German director Werner Herzog at this year's Toronto International Film Festival about his stunning new documentary, "Into the Inferno," he explained to his collaborator on the project, volcanologist Clive Oppenheimer, about who Roger Ebert was. “Roger Ebert was the last mammoth alive who was holding the flag for real movies and moviemakers,” he explained. “He was a very valiant soldier of cinema who passed away, and we miss him. It’s over with serious discourse about cinema in the print media and on television. It has been replaced by celebrity news. So we are speaking in his spirit always.”
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" prominently features digital effects in a manner that blurs the line between traditional production categories and may force distinctions to be made in the near future.
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.
Things in movies that made me feel as if my head would explode, in joy or disgust or both, during 2010.
Shot of the year: That's part of it, up there. "Sweetgrass" (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ilisa Barbash)
Best opening shot: "Mother" (Bong Joon-ho)
Best final shot: The terrifyingly comedic/nihilistic ending of "The Ghost Writer" (Roman Polanski). It all comes down to this: meaningless chaos, scattered and swirling in the wind...
Most astounding shot: A slow zoom-in on a mountainside that outdoes the opening of Werner Herzog's "Aguirre, the Wrath of God": "Sweetgrass"
Best movie-star shot: The one on the Staten Island Ferry that glides up behind Angelina Jolie and turns into a magnificent profile close-up. "Salt" (Phillip Noyce)
"There is sin and evil in the world, and we're enjoined by Scripture and the Lord Jesus to oppose it with all our might. Our nation, too, has a legacy of evil with which it must deal." -- Ronald Reagan, in the 1983 "Evil Empire" speech, quoted in Matt Reeves' "Let Me In"
It was the pre-nuclear winter of our discontent. The Cold War was at its coldest since the Cuban Missile Crisis. Jonathan Schell's 1981 New Yorker series about the catastrophic climatic effects of a full-scale nuclear war became a best-selling book, "The Fate of the Earth," in 1982. By 1983, with the escalation in rhetoric between Ronald Reagan and Soviet leaders, movies like Lynne Littman's "Testament" and Nicholas Meyer's "The Day After" -- one a bleak art-house drama; the other a network television nightmare -- were dealing seriously with the prospect of American life in the wake of atomic armageddon, as if to prepare us for the inevitable.
It was one of the darkest periods in modern American history (being too young to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, I recall only the aftermath of 9/11and the invasion of Iraq with comparable feelings of doom). And the snowy, barren landscapes of (where else?) Los Alamos, New Mexico, provide the Americanized setting for Matt Reeves' "Let Me In," a remake of Tomas Alfredson's magnificent Swedish horror film, Let the Right One In" (2008).
The grand Poobah writes: I have been assured by many posters on my video games blog entry that it took decades for the cinema to gain recognition as an art form. Untrue. Among the first to admire it was Leo Tolstoy, and I reprinted his late 19th-century reaction in my Book of Film. In 1908, Tolstoy and his family appeared in an early motion picture, and if you saw The Last Station (2009) you may want to compare your memories with the real thing. Here is some information about those in the film.
The Last Station (2009) Director Michael Hoffman. Cast: James McAvoy, Helen Mirren, Christopher Plummer, Paul Giamatti and Kerry Condon."The Last Station" focuses on the last year of Count Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer), a full-bearded Shakespearian figure presiding over a household of intrigues. The chief schemer is Chertkov (Giamatti), his intense follower, who idealistically believes Tolstoy should leave his literary fortune to the Russian people. It's just the sort of idea that Tolstoy might seize upon in his utopian zeal. Sofya (Helen Mirren), on behalf of herself and her children, is livid." - Ebert. You can read Roger's full review HERE.