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Thumbnails 6/8/2013

The evolution of Superman's cape; the de-evolution of women's roles in film and TV; joke plagiarist sort-of apologizes for stealing from Patton Oswalt & other pros; David Cronenberg does race cars; Vince Vaughn, salesman; fans bring their Game of Thrones grief into therapy; astounding animated short made entirely from 3-D paper models.

Far Flungers

The Magic of Magic and Bird

The saying in boxing is that "styles make fights". It means that two elegant matadors like Muhammad Ali, or two rampaging bulls like Joe Frazier, wouldn't have contested the classics fought by one Muhammad Ali and one Joe Frazier. The saying is true, and its truth extends beyond boxing to all sporting rivalries.

And, just as "fights" is not limited to boxing matches, "style" is not limited to physical methods of competition. "Style" includes styles of speaking, styles of thinking, styles of living. And, of course, "style" also includes skin color.

May contain spoilers

Far Flungers

A man who is on everybody's mind

A few years ago, I set up an internet alert to inform me whenever Muhammad Ali was mentioned in the news. At the time, he wasn't doing anything newsworthy. It was years after the Michael Mann movie. A decade since his appearance in the Opening Ceremony of the 1996 Olympic Games. Nearly three decades since his last fight. But, for whatever reason, he was on my mind. The strange thing I discovered is that he was in the news, somewhere in the world, every single day. Every single day. That's his astonishing mystique. For whatever reason, he was and is on everyone's mind. The most popular of all basketball players, Michael Jordan, is in the news for shoe sales. The most popular of soccer players, Pele, is in the news for soccer. The most popular of all cricket players, Imran Khan, is in the news for politics. Muhammad Ali, however, is in the news for being Muhammad Ali. Rather, he is in the news for who Muhammad Ali was and is to us. And, in Pete McCormack's wonderful "Facing Ali," we learn who he is and was for the fighters he faced.

May contain spoilers

Far Flungers

Why video games are indeed Art

A few days ago, I was one of many critics who panned the film SUCKER PUNCH. Though I hadn't written my own, I advocated several reviews that I felt reflected my sentiments.

Though I agreed in their disapproval, two words kept on reappearing with each negative review I read: "video game." To say that the film draws greatly upon video game aspects is accurate. But with each citation, my fellow critics continue to beat the dead horse of an argument that video games are a meaningless form of mindless entertainment.

I grew up on movies and on video games, and love and respect what they bring to the table. Though I enjoy them on different levels, they both have given me moments of wonder and serious reflection. As an avid gamer and film lover, I find it a shame to see how one medium has gained artistic acceptance while the other continues to be derided by the mainstream. There are many reasons why they are looked down upon, but if you give them a shot, you just might conclude that video games should be considered art.

May contain spoilers

Far Flungers

"Don't mess Malcolm up"

From its incendiary opening to its somber but exultant conclusion, Spike Lee's grand and important film "Malcolm X" captures the life of a complex, charismatic and gravely misunderstood man who fought for human rights and justice for Africans and African-Americans. The film, based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, is arguably Mr. Lee's best and most universal film, and one of the great American film biographies.

For context, "Malcolm X" had extraordinary publicity leading up to its 1991 production. Numerous black activists in New York City and elsewhere had forecasted that Mr. Lee's film would not accurately depict the essence of Malcolm. "Don't mess Malcolm up," was a refrain the director heard over and over again.

May contain spoilers

Roger Ebert

Video games can never be art

Having once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to enlarge upon it or defend it. That seemed to be a fool's errand, especially given the volume of messages I receive urging me to play this game or that and recant the error of my ways. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that in principle, video games cannot be art. Perhaps it is foolish of me to say "never," because never, as Rick Wakeman informs us, is a long, long time. Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form.

Roger Ebert

Remembering Gene

Gene Siskel and I were like tuning forks. Strike one, and the other would pick up the same frequency. When we were in a group together, we were always intensely aware of one another. Sometimes this took the form of camaraderie, sometimes shared opinions, sometimes hostility. But we were aware. If something happened that we both thought was funny but weren't supposed to, God help us if one caught the other's eye. We almost always thought the same things were funny. That may be the best sign of intellectual communion.

Gene died ten years ago on February 20, 1999. He is in my mind almost every day. I don't want to rehearse the old stories about how we had a love/hate relationship, and how we dealt with television, and how we were both so scared the first time we went on Johnny Carson that, backstage, we couldn't think of the name of a single movie, although that story is absolutely true. Those stories have been told. I want to write about our friendship. The public image was that we were in a state of permanent feud, but nothing we felt had anything to do with image. We both knew the buttons to push on the other one, and we both made little effort to hide our feelings, warm or cold. In 1977 we were on a talk show with Buddy Rogers, once Mary Pickford's husband, and he said, "You guys have a sibling rivalry, but you both think you're the older brother."

Once Gene and I were involved in a joint appearance with another Chicago media couple, Steve Dahl and Garry Meier. It was a tribute to us or a tribute to them, I can't remember. They were pioneers of free-form radio. Gene and I were known for our rages against each other, and Steve and Garry were remarkable for their accord. They gave us advice about how to work together as a successful team. The reason I remember that is because soon afterward Steve and Garry had an angry public falling-out that has lasted until this day.

Roger Ebert

I feel good! I knew that I would!

I've been saying for years that I never cry during sad moments in the movies, only during moments about goodness. At the end of "Terms of Endearment," I didn't cry because of Debra Winger's death, but because of how she said goodbye to her sons. Now I've have discovered a scientific explanation for why I feel the way that I do, and there is even a name for my specific emotion.

I wasn't seeking an explanation, and I'm not sure I really wanted one. And, for that matter, I don't really cry, at least not in the wiping-my-eyes and blowing-my-nose fashion. What I experience is the welling up of a few tears in my eyes, a certain tightness in my throat, and a feeling of uplift: Yes, there is a good person, doing a good thing. And when the movie is over, I don't want to talk with anyone. After such movies I notice that many audience members remain in a kind of reverie. Those who break the spell by feeling compelled to say something don't have an emotional clue.

Interviews

Spike Lee: Complete transcript

Spike Lee is a spellbinder. I got wrapped up in my conversation with him at the Toronto festival, after the premiere of “Miracle at St. Anna," which opens Sept. 26. This is a very lightly edited transcript, with my questions removed to capture Spike's voice.

Chaz at Cannes

Alone in the ring at Cannes

Mike Tyson in James Toback's documentary.

CANNES, France -- Roger, when we talked about sending you messages from the film festival I never expected that my first would be about a heavyweight boxer. Mike Tyson's grip was surprisingly gentle when he shook my hand, and his voice soft and polite on stage, but there was nothing gentle, soft or polite about the images onscreen here in "Tyson," James Toback's documentary about his life. It is a compelling character study. His life is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.