A celebration of the late John Singleton's filmography, as guided by the writings of Roger Ebert.
Matt writes: The biggest movie event of the month, and arguably the year, recently came to a close, as the 2018 Cannes Film Festival announced the winners of its top prizes. Chaz Ebert was there to report on all of the filmmakers honored this year, which she details in the video embedded below.
A review of the new USA mini-series about the murders of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. from a director of American Crime Story.
Matt writes: Legendary French New Wave icon Agnès Varda was honored at the third annual Ebert Tribute ceremony during this year's Toronto International Film Festival. Brian Tallerico covered the event at RogerEbert.com, while Chaz Ebert assisted in putting together a Roger Favorites entry on Varda, compiling Roger's reviews of the director's work. Roger felt that Varda's 2008 film, "The Beaches of Agnès," contained “the most poetic shot about the cinema” that he had ever seen, in which “two old fishermen, who were young when she first filmed them, watch themselves on a screen” mounted on “an old market cart that they push through the nighttime streets of their village.”
Every semester, I ask my students this one simple question. "Can you honestly say that you are happy?" In a class of 40 students, maybe only six will raise their hands. And that is pretty sad.
Are they plagued by those uncertainties of youth? Are they wondering if they will find a career, love, or meaning? Are they terrified by the threats of terrorist attacks, financial collapse, climate change and, well, the Apocalypse? Or, have they decided that the "American Dream" was not Thomas Jefferson's vision, but is instead a sappy Hollywood fantasy? Or, maybe they just hate my class? Sure.
In answering this question, Gabriele Muccino's "The Pursuit of Happyness," takes many usual directions that Hollywood movies take. At first, he seems to answer the question the way we would expect a Hollywood filmmaker to answer:
If we are to believe some of his many fans, then Tupac Shakur was never murdered. Rather, he is today living a quiet life, perhaps playing chess under quiet New Zealand clouds with Jim Morrison and Elvis Presley. And while Lauren Lazin bookends her documentary, "Tupac: Resurrection," with his murder, the movie takes us through the turbulent world that formed and informed his biography. The movie convinces us that we have entered not only his mind, but his heart.
2009 was a great year for Kathryn Bigelow. After a 7-year hiatus from filming K-19: The Widowmaker, she returned to direct The Hurt Locker, a suspense and war film set in Iraq that has deservedly been recognized by critics and award bodies alike, and is expected to be one of the primary contenders for the Academy Awards. Bigelow is known for her superb work in the action genre, which is rarity among female directors. Her skill in filming tension and violence is as good as any of today's directors.
"The Aviator" leads with 11 nominations. Jamie Foxx was nominated in two categories. A little film named "Sideways" won five nominations, but one of them was not for its star, Paul Giamatti. "Finding Neverland" was the dark horse, in a tie with "Million Dollar Baby" with seven nominations apiece.
PARK CITY, Utah -- I have seen 11 films so far at this year's Sundance Film Festival, and the most affecting involves a couple of kids from a Chicago public housing complex who were given tape recorders by National Public Radio, and asked to record the story of their lives.
There has been no more assured and powerful film debut this year than "Eve's Bayou," the first film by Kasi Lemmons. Reviewers have compared it to work by Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers and other Southern Gothic writers; it reminded me of a family drama by Ingmar Bergman. It's made of memories that still have the power to wound. Its shadows contain secrets that will always hurt.
TORONTO -- Kasi Lemmons was Jodie Foster's roommate in "The Silence of the Lambs," and she was the doomed researcher in "Candyman," and one of Nicolas Cage's victims in "Vampire's Kiss." I mention these credits because they are from another, earlier life; Lemmons emerged at this year's Toronto Film Festival as one of today's most gifted young American writer-directors.
PARK CITY, Utah--Europeans tend to view Americans as perpetual teenagers, and maybe they have a point. If you were to judge the world on the basis of the movies at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the typical American is a troubled teenager and the typical European or Japanese is an adult confronting basic questions of life.
PARK CITY, Utah -- The most important little film festival in America opened here Thursday. The Sundance Film Festival, the annual trade fair for filmmakers working outside the studio system, will screen more than 100 films before industry-savvy audiences. People who got off the plane flat broke may fly out of town, clutching contracts. Maybe if we're lucky, there will even be another shoving match in a restaurant, like the one last year between guys from Fine Line and Miramax who both thought they bought the rights to the same film.
John Singleton is one of those rare directors who would just as soon talk about other people's movies as about his own. He was in Chicago to promote his new film, "Poetic Justice," which is a good film and in some ways, a brave one, and he talked about it, all right - and why there are so few films about black women, and why Janet Jackson surprised him in the leading role.