Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Everything that a fan could want from a Star Wars movie and then some.
Roger Ebert became film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. He is the only film critic with a star on Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame and was named honorary life member of the Directors' Guild of America. He won the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Screenwriters' Guild, and honorary degrees from the American Film Institute and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Since 1989 he has hosted Ebertfest, a film festival at the Virginia Theater in Champaign-Urbana. From 1975 until 2006 he, Gene Siskel and Richard Roeper co-hosted a weekly movie review program on national TV. He was Lecturer on Film for the University of Chicago extension program from 1970 until 2006, and recorded shot-by-shot commentaries for the DVDs of "Citizen Kane," "Casablanca," "Floating Weeds" and "Dark City," and has written over 20 books.
PARK CITY, Utah--I have just spent an hour with the 2003 program for the Sundance Film Festival, and I am churning with eagerness to get at these films. On the basis of track records, this could be the strongest Sundance in some time--and remember, last year's festival kicked off an extraordinary year for indie films.
Q. On the DVD of "Minority Report" there is a line of dialogue that sounds blatantly changed through ADR post-recording. It goes something like this: "...taking a shower while this large fellow with an attitude you can't even knock down with a hammer whispers in your ear 'Oh Nancy, oh Nancy'." Now, the word "attitude" in that sentence doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Several people have reported that they remember different wording in the theatrical release, which would make the line a lot more coherent (if obscene). (Joshua Zyber, Jamaica Plain MA)
It was a year when more movies opened than during any other year in memory. A year when the big Hollywood studios cast their lot with franchises, formulas, sequels, and movies marketed for narrow demographic groups--focusing so much on "product" instead of original work that they seemed likely to be shut out of the Oscars, as they were essentially shut out of the Golden Globes. A year when independent and foreign films showed extraordinary vitality. A wonderful year, that is, for moviegoers who chose carefully, and a mediocre year for those took their chances at the multiplex.
Q. I have a question about your discussion of Blockbuster and the content-sanitizing of the DVD of "Y tu Mama Tambien." Have all DVD versions of "Y tu Mama" been edited in content or only the ones sold and rented at Blockbuster? (Ken Gelwasser, Hollywood FL)
NEW YORK--While many directors spend years in gestation before making a film, Steven Spielberg seems cheerfully productive. In June he released "Minority Report," an awesomely virtuoso futurist thriller starring Tom Cruise, and now here it is December, and he's back with "Catch Me If You Can," a more lighthearted film starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a teenage impostor and Tom Hanks as the FBI man on his trail. The movie is based on the true story of Frank Abagnale Jr., who now advises corporations against the same kinds of cons he once perfected.
I am engaged in a fierce inner struggle as I begin this article about the brilliant new movie "Adaptation." Part of me wants to write showbiz gossip. The other part wants to get serious and deal with the cinema of Spike Jonze, the inside-out screenplays of Charlie Kaufman, and the way Nicolas Cage plays twins you can tell apart even though they look the same.
NEW YORK--In 1977, right after he made "Taxi Driver," Martin Scorsese took out a two-page ad in Variety to announce his next production: "The Gangs Of New York."
Q. Recently I came across an Italian poster for the 1952 John Wayne movie "Big Jim McLain." In Italy, it seems, the movie was called "Marijuana." Fascinated, I rented the movie, and found out it was an anti-communist film that starred the Duke and James Arness as HUAC investigators out to break up a ring of communists in Hawaii. There was no mention whatsoever of marijuana in the movie. My guess is that, as communism was not considered inherently evil in Europe in the 1950s, they changed the plot of the film to have Wayne and Arness chasing a drug gang. But to do so, they would have had to reshoot a considerable amount of the movie. Is this what happened, or is there some other explanation for the Italian title? (Jeff Schwager, Seattle, WA)
Q. Sight & Sound has recently released the results of a poll asking what the best films of the last 25 years are. What do you think of the results of this poll? (M. Lingo, Bodega Bay CA)
He was sometimes accused of taking it easy during the early years of his career, but James Coburn, who died Monday at 74, had a strong finish.