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Just Getting Started

Just Getting Started never really gets going. It only kept me thinking, “Is this ever just going to finish?”

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The Rape of Recy Taylor

A documentary with a great subject and powerful testimony, undone by its unnecessarily obtrusive style.

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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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The President's analyst goes crazy

May Contain Spoilers

While it is one or two steps behind "Dr. Strangelove," "The President's Analyst" (1967) is a very good black comedy sniggering at Cold War paranoid. Maybe it's not as ruthless as that great comedy, but the movie romps cheerfully on its subjects with a take-no-prisoner attitude. And during this loony joy ride we eventually discover that the movie foretold something very accurate more than 40 years ago.

We have seen many psychiatrist whose lives become more burdensome than usual thanks to their unusual patients in the movies ("Analyze This") and TV series("The Sopranos" and "In Treatment"), but I think no one can top our hero Dr. Sidney Schaefer (James Coburn). His new patient is none other than the president of the United States, the most powerful figure in the world who incidentally does not appear on the screen.

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Greed is maybe good up to a point

May Contain Spoilers

Sequels to Hollywood hit films usually take a couple of years to arrive, maybe up to three or five or even ten, but twenty-three? Why would Oliver Stone wait this long to bring us a follow-up to his 1987 "Wall Street"? On this opening weekend of "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps," there doesn't seem to be that much of a mystery regarding the "why now?" The forces behind the collapse of Wall Street and most of the world's economies in 2008, and their nature, couldn't have passed unnoticed to somebody like Stone, whose name is synonymous with plots, conspiracies and the like.

The original "Wall Street" might be a product of the 1980s and it looks a dated in some ways, but if it proves anything to current audiences it's that there isn't much new under the sun. Like other aspects of life, the real Wall Street is ruled by cycles in which similar events seem to re-occur with time and may continue to do so again and again. Greed is not a novelty.

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When the Great Gray Cloud comes to call

May Contain Spoilers

Yesterday it was cold and rainy and glum. I searched for background movies to put on while I wrote, but my usual George Cukor go-tos weren't doing the trick. I branched out. Shane, Forbidden Games, Love & Anarchy, Mogambo, and various classic TV shows were turned on and shut off. Nothing worked. I decided to take a twenty minute nap to shake the damp.

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"Those lucky bastards!"

May Contain Spoilers

I told Roger it would take me 48 hours to review "Sin Nombre" and yet hours turned to days and days to months, and I still had not reviewed it. Scratch that. I did write four reviews, but not a satisfactory one. The first review was too much about my views on immigration and didn't elaborate much on the film. The second was the other way around. The third was about how the film was great based on the way it was shot. That one was too technical. The fourth review was too personal; a review should be about the

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Understanding the Dung Fly

May Contain Spoilers

Sang-hoon is a terrifying piece of work. He is someone you never want to mess up with. He is callous, narrow-minded, vulgar and, above all very volatile. Whenever his hair-trigger fury erupts, there's more than hell to pay -- and that happens often.

Even when his temper relatively abates, he is still difficult and hostile to communicate with, probably even with himself. In the opening sequence, we see a young woman being beaten by some guy in the night streets. Sang-hoon appears and he savagely beats that guy. And then, he spits at her, smacks her, and insults her.

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The many kinds of blindness

May Contain Spoilers

After exploring the mother-daughter relationship and social issues in "Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire," I decided to visit the father-son relationship and comparable issues in "The Color of Paradise."

Majid Majidi's work is one my favorite movies. It is a movie I enjoy from start to finish. Every time I watch it I discover new dimensions. Still, I don't know if it is depressingly sad or filled with hope and happiness.

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Doo Wop, cool and raw masculinity

May Contain Spoilers

There exist in this sometimes sad world, moments that remind you that you are alive.

You know these moments well. Blood rushes from your toes to your cheeks. Or from your cheeks to your toes. Either way you are made aware of its movement.

A great energy is felt in your jaw and in the ends of each strand of hair. Your fingers curl. Your hands turn into fists or claws. Everything is hot. You shudder violently (the energy must be flung off or you will be eaten alive).

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We don't want to remember the sadness

• Grace Wang in Toronto, whose four-part video interview with Chung is below her essay.

Lucky life isn't one long string of horrorsand there are moments of peace, and pleasure, as I lie in between the blows.

- Lucky Life by Gerald Stern

Ringing true to the poem the film is inspired by, Lee Isaac Chung's "Lucky Life" avoids the typical horrors of cookie-cutter narratives, and belies itself to moments of peace and pleasure that lull within its memory-shaped form.

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From the Valley of the Wind

There is a point in Homer's "The Odyssey" where Odysseus is washed ashore from a shipwreck.A young woman comes to his aid, rescuing him from his end. She was Nausicaa, lover of nature, and eventually serving as a mother of his rebirth. In Hayao Miyazaki's first masterpiece "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind" he heralds a protagonist of similar inspiration, whose own odyssey and heroism would take on Homeric proportions.

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A man with inklings of a soul

The 60s were a rough transition for America. Major shifts seemed to be occurring in every fabric of society from civil rights to sexual mores. The worsening course of the Vietnam war fueled distrust in political institutions. Women's rights highlighted a breaking from oppressive traditions. The old seemed to be fading away more radically than ever before.

Like the era it was made in, "Hud" was a key shift. As film critic Emmanuel Levy correctly puts it, it is "a transitional film between the naive films of the early 60s and the more cynical ones later in the decade." Though it plays as a compelling drama of small town life and family tribulation, through its lens of father-son conflict, it also captures the angst in the loss of authority, the gap between of two different generations, and an elegy for the good ole' days.

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