The latest on Blu-ray and DVD, including Bad Times at the El Royale, Fahrenheit 11/9, Venom, A Simple Favor, and The Predator.
With "Mission: Impossible - Fallout," Christopher McQuarrie has now made the best and worst "M:I" movies to date.
An interview with Mexican superstar Eugenio Derbez about his English-language breakout, "How to Be a Latin Lover," remaking "Being There" and more.
Sheila writes: The 16th annual Roger Ebert Film Festival was a huge success. To those Ebert Club members who sought me out to say Hello, or who came to the Meet and Greet, it was so nice to get a chance to talk with you! Thank you! I would love to hear your impressions of the Festival, if you care to share. What were your favorite films? Did you attend any of the panels? What were the highlights for you? And for those of you who were not there, here is a Table of Contents page with all of the dispatches from the festival written by various Rogerebert.com contributors. It was a great time, and Chaz, as always, was a wonderful organizer and emcee. Of course, Roger was so missed. You cannot help but miss his presence. It is a beautiful thing, though, to know that the tradition will live on.
Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" is about World War II in roughly the same way that, I suppose, Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" is about a haunted hotel. The war is indeed the setting, but that's not so much what the movie is about. I also don't see it as an act of Holocaust denial or an anti-vengeance fable in which we are supposed to first applaud the Face of Jewish Revenge, and then feel uncomfortable sympathy for the Nazis. The movie comes down firmly on the side of the Jews, and of revenge, of an early end to the war and the saving of thousands of lives, with barely a quibble.
But while "Inglourious Basterds" is indisputably a WW II revenge fantasy (and, of course, a typically Tarantinian "love letter to cinema"), a theme that is central to nearly every moment, every image, every line of dialog, is that of performance -- of existence as a form of acting, and human identity as both projection and perception. As you would expect from a film that is also an espionage picture and a detective movie, it's shot through with identity games, interrogations, role-playing and people or situations that are not what they appear to be...
It is fairly widely known, three months after the film's premiere at Cannes, that Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" has, shall we say, a surprise ending. How did Tarantino feel about rewriting history? He uses admirable logic in arguing that he did not: "At no time during the start, the middle or ever, did I have the intention of rewriting history. It was only when I was smack dab up against it, that I decided to go my own way. It just came to me as I was doing what I do, which is follow my characters as opposed to lead."
Q. Recently there has been a press argument between Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood. I'm wondering what you think of Lee's accusations. Spike Lee is a talented, original voice in American filmmaking, but what he has to say about "Flags of Our Fathers" seems to be a little off the mark. Your thoughts?
Roger and Chaz Ebert on opening night. Roger gets his own La-Z-Boy recliner in the back of the Virginia for the duration of the fest! (Thompson-McLellan photo)
Three cheers for Roger Ebert, for the 9th Overlooked Film Festival (aka Ebertfest, now in progress) and for technology! I wrote and filed the following story for Thursday's Sun-Times, sitting on the stairs to the balcony in the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, IL, Wednesday night -- between 7:30 and 8:30. Had my PowerBook G4, which I typed on. Then transferred the story (via synch) to my Treo 680, and wirelessly e-mailed it to the paper in Chicago. More about Ebertfest soon -- I'm kind of in the middle of things, and I'm waiting to borrow a cable or card reader to retrieve my own photos; for some reason mine can't read the XD card....
"It's my happening and it freaks me out!" said Chaz Ebert on behalf of her husband, Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, on stage at opening night of the ninth Roger Ebert Overlooked Film Festival in Champaign-Urbana. The line (memorably quoted by Mike Myers in the first "Austin Powers" movie) is from the Ebert-penned screenplay for Russ Meyer's 1970 cult classic "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," which is among the titles in this year's festival.
It was Ebert's first public appearance since he suffered complications from surgery last June, and it brought down the full house at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign. As he announced in a message featured in the Sun-Times and on his web site (rogerebert.com) Tuesday, Ebert is not able to speak now, pending further surgery, so Chaz had to do the talking for him. As Ebert wrote on a pad before the screening, "After we go onstage, Chaz will read one line from me that will say it ALL."
View image Jim Emerson, Boy Reporter, at Roger's first public appearance -- a reception at the house of U of Illinois President Joseph White (and his wife Mary and dog Webster) Wednesday night. Roger's head is in the lower left; Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribute is also comfortably seated on the floor at the right. (Thompson-McLellan photo)
Chaz recounted how the festival was nearly cancelled late last year, when Ebert was in the hospital and the pace of his recovery was uncertain. But Festival Director Nate Kohn visited Ebert in his Chicago hospital room with a message from Mary Susan Britt, the festival's Associate Director: "The festival passes sold out in a little over a week in November. You have to get out of that hospital bed and come down to Champaign-Urbana."
"At that moment," Chaz said, "Roger made a commitment. If it was at all possible, he would be here tonight.... This is where he wanted to be, this is where he is, this is where he's staying," she said, and the crowd responded with a standing ovation.
Through his wife, Ebert reminded the audience of the personal importance of Champaign's Virginia Theatre, the restored movie palace in which the Ebertfest films are screened. "I saw 'Gone With the Wind' here, and my father saw the Marx Brothers on this very stage."
Russ Meyer is dead. The legendary independent director, who made exploitation films but was honored as an auteur, died Saturday at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He was 82, and had been suffering from dementia. The immediate cause of death was pneumonia, said Janice Cowart, a friend who supervised his care during his last years. She announced his death Tuesday.
Q. I recently saw the "digital" projection of "Star Wars -- Episode I: The Phantom Menace" (at the Burbank 14 theaters--the Texas Instruments version). While it's hard to gauge the full effects of a new technology on a film one has already seen, nonetheless I found the experience seriously lacking. To tell you the truth, I felt like I was watching a giant TV screen. My friend (who can't wait until DVD is the norm simply based on the fact that videotape loses its sharpness over time) loved it. Afterwards, when I expressed my displeasure about the new format, he basically said I had been "brainwashed" into not liking it by your comments. Honestly though, I think I would have had the same reaction regardless of what you said. There's simply something "different" about film and this digital stuff. (Jeff Taplin, United Talent, Los Angeles)
CANNES, France -- The Cannes Film Festival heads into its second weekend, still without a likely Palme d'Or winner, unless we have already seen it, and it is Pedro Almodovar's "All About My Mother." We have been here a week, and that entry, first screened Saturday, is the film most people mention when you ask them what they liked the most.
CANNES, France -- Bimbos and convergence. Those are the two topics that come to mind for your Cannes correspondent. I will see nine movies this weekend and hope to have some good ones to write about in my next dispatch. But . . . convergence! I have been talking about nothing else.
Q. When you were talking to Charlton Heston on TV as he arrived at the Oscars, you asked about the possibility that "Titanic" could beat "Ben Hur's" record for number of awards. He made a decent point: Any comparison between the two epics would be unfair because there are now more Oscar categories than when "Ben Hur" was released in 1959. If that's the case, then those declaring "a tie" between the films are wrong. (L. D. Paulson, Sacramento, CA)
Q. In your review of "Volcano," you wrote, "I expected to see a mountainous volcano in "Volcano," towering high over Los Angeles. But the movie takes place at ground level." We all know how to tell "Volcano" and "Dante's Peak" apart, right? "Dante's Peak" had an andesitic cone volcano which occurs at a subduction zone (in this case where the Pacific Plate is subducting beneath the North American Plate). "Volcano" consists of a flood basalt system which occurs over a "hot spot" on the continental crust. See? Completely different movies--right? (Robert Haynes-Peterson, Boise, Idaho)