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Ebert Club

#116 May 23, 2012

Marie writes: I've never seen this done before - and what an original idea! Gwen Murphy is an artist who breathes new life into old shoes, transforming them from fashion accessories into intriguing works of art. Thanks go to club member Cheryl Knott for telling me about this. (Click to enlarge.)

Ebert Club

#61 May 4, 2011

Marie writes: Doug Foster is a filmmaker and artist who produces large scale digital film installations that often play with ideas of symmetry and optical illusion. His piece The Heretics' Gate is currently on view at "Daydreaming with... St. Michael's" - an exhibition taking place at St. Michael's church in Camden, London. Note: Foster's piece first appeared at the Hell's Half Acre exhibition at the Old Vic Tunnels in London in 2010."The Heretics' Gate" draws inspiration from Dante's Inferno, the first part of his epic poem The Divine Comedy. A twenty foot high, arched screen and a thirty foot long reflecting pool, are cleverly combined to deliver a mesmerizing and strangely ethereal vision of hell at the central focus point of the church's imposing gothic architecture. To learn more, visit: Liquid Hell: A Q&A With Doug Foster.NOTE: The exhibition is the latest installment in renowned British music producer James Lavelle's curatorial and collaborative art venture, "DAYDREAMING WITH..." - a unique and visceral new exhibition experience, inspired by the desire to marry music and visual art. The goal is to bring together some of the most acclaimed creative names working in music, art, film, fashion and design.


Just when you thought it was unsafe to go into the water...

"Pride": Black Philadelphians can so swim.

Take this -- Rush Limbaugh, Snoop "I Can't Swim" Dogg,Tramm Hudson, Al Campanis and others who have reinforced the stereotype that African-Americans cannot swim well because they lack buoyancy. (I bet Martin Lawrence's Big Momma could float with hardly any effort at all, though maybe that's mostly because so much of her body mass is foam-rubber.)

Check out this coming release (March 23, 2007) called, simply, "Pride" (formerly "PDR" for Philadelphia Department of Recreation) -- in the tradition of against-the-odds rag-tag underdog movies like "Lean on Me," "Cool Runnings," "The Bad News Bears," "Dangerous Minds," "The Mighty Ducks," "Invincible" and, I don't know, maybe "White Men Can't Jump"? It stars Terrence Howard ("Hustle and Flow," "Crash"), Bernie Mac ("Mr. 3000") and Tom Arnold ("Happy Endings") in what Lionsgate describes as a "life-affirming drama": Based on true events, Lionsgate's "Pride" tells the inspiring story of Jim Ellis, a charismatic schoolteacher in the 1970s who changed lives forever when he founded an African-American swim team in one of Philadelphia's roughest neighborhoods. [...]

Recruiting troubled teens from the streets, Jim struggles to transform a motley team of novices into capable swimmers – all in time for the upcoming state championships.…

By turns comic, rousing and poignant, "Pride" is a triumphant story about team spirit and courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

Big Momma, beached.

The real-life Ellis says it's not so much that African-Americans can't swim [right -- like people with Caribbean backgrounds have to avoid the water?], but that, in America, they don't bother to learn how: It was my contribution to the black consciousness movement," Ellis says. "It was doing something they said we couldn’t do. It was a way of getting kids out of the neighborhood, exposing them to other things and greater possibilities." [...]

In 1987 former Los Angeles Dodgers General Manager Al Campanis, explaining on ABC’s "Nightline" why blacks could never become baseball field managers or team executives, argued that swimming proved that blacks didn’t have what it takes to reach the top.

"The just don’t have the buoyancy," Campanis told an astonished Ted Koppel.

"I put that one on my bulletin board," Ellis recalls. "For motivation."

But Ellis believes white racist attitudes aren’t solely to blame. He says many blacks are equally guilty for buying into the stereotype, dismissing swimming as a white country club activity or avoiding the water because it’s better to look good than to swim well.

"You still hear people talking about swimming, black females talking about not wanting to get their hair wet, or folks talking about not wanting to catch colds," Ellis says with a sigh. The reluctance from within the black community and resistance among some whites within organized swimming to embrace a black swim team didn’t deter Ellis from building his program. Ellis cites statistics that black kids between ages 5 and 19 are more than twice as likely as white kids to die from drowning. He hopes the movie will encourage more blacks to learn how to swim.

Even Snoop Doggy Dogg-Paddle performed at a pool party in "Old School."

Festivals & Awards

Sundance #1: Cell phones, snow & swag

PARK CITY, Utah -- For 10 days, Robert Redford was observing, the population here swells from 7,500 to 45,000. That's a gain -- I'm guesstimating here -- of 37,499 cell phones, 15,000 SUVs, 400,000 cups of designer coffee, 100,000 postcards advertising a movie that 47 people will see, and 170 restaurant hosts and hostesses fed up with people asking them, "Don't you know who I am?"

Movie Answer Man

Movie Answer Man (06/01/1997)

Q. Apparently there is a new movie coming out named "An Alan Smithee Film," written by Joe Eszterhas and directed by Arthur Hiller, and it has led to a lot of publicity about "Alan Smithee" and his checkered career. What is your favorite Alan Smithee film? (Casey Anderson, Schaumberg)

Roger Ebert

When 'Taxi Driver' meets 'Pulp Fiction'

PASADENA, Calif.--The existentialist hero wonders if life is worth living. The ironic hero is greatly amused by people who wonder about things like that. And there you have the difference between the work of Paul Schrader and Quentin Tarantino, who have had more of an influence over the writing of movies than anyone else in the last 25 years.