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Widows

McQueen’s masterful film is the kind that works on multiple levels simultaneously—as pure pulp entertainment but also as a commentary on how often it feels…

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The Girl in the Spider's Web

The cinematic equivalent of a clip-on version of the nose ring that its central character famously sports throughout—a simulacrum that tries to evoke the edge…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Little screen captures big stars' imaginations

My digital camera slips into my pocket and goes with me to every screening at the Toronto Film Festival. You never know who you'll meet: Helen Shaver bounding out of an elevator, LeVar Burton on his way to a movie, Denzel Washington in the lobby of the Four Seasons at midnight. At the end of the day I download my catch, slipping the photo card out of the camera and into my Mac G3 Powerbook. Software allows me to crop the photos and fiddle with the exposure, and then I load them into e-mail and zap them off to the paper.

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Video, 16mm liberate filmmakers

TORONTO -- Spike Lee's new film was shot on digital video. Joel Schumacher's new film was shot on 16mm. The formats probably made the films possible. Video is not film and 16mm is not 35mm, but the artistic imagination is the same, and the lower-priced formats allow spontaneity and speed that you can't get when you're dragging a 35mm camera and all of its lights and acolytes everywhere you go.

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Fitting the film festival bill

TORONTO -- I walk out of the Uptown and there's a TV crew on the sidewalk, and although they are no doubt hoping for Parker Posey, they ask me a question, anyway: "What do you look for in a festival film?" I say I'm not really looking for anything in particular, blah, blah, but for some reason the question reverberates all day.

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3 festival films reveal life's secrets

TORONTO -- It was the opening weekend of the 25th anniversary Toronto Film Festival, the summer was over, and it was safe for the good movies to open again. Summer is the season devoted to the mindless feeding of our base desires for low entertainment. Autumn is when we get new three-ring binders and iron our chinos and go back to school. Something ineffable in the first cool day of September makes us think deeper thoughts and nurture our better natures. This passes, but for a time we feel virtuous and want to go to movies that will reveal the secrets of life.

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Film lovers' treat

TORONTO -- I missed the first Toronto Film Festival. So did a lot of other people. I've attended every one since. The second was like a gathering of conspirators who raced from theater to theater on the rumors of screenings. But the festival has grown so steadily that its 25th anniversary event, which begins today, can safely be called the most important film festival in North America, and one of the top handful in the world.

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Walter Matthau: A laugh-filled life

Walter Matthau, who claimed that "Foghorn" was his middle name, is dead at 79. The beloved actor, whose face was mapped with laugh lines, died of a heart attack early Saturday morning. He was brought into a Santa Monica hospital in cardiac arrest, and pronounced dead at 1:41 a.m. PDT.

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Fest ends with the best

CANNES, France -- Why did they save the best for last? "Songs From The Second Floor" and "In The Mood For Love," two brilliant final entries in this year's Cannes Film Festival, played over the weekend, as the hotels were emptying and the traffic jams clearing.

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