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Beuys

In terms of provocation, Beuys could certainly provoke viewers into reading a book on its subject instead.

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The Commuter

Frustratingly not-quite-there from start to finish, the paranoia-soaked railroad thriller The Commuter is the latest installment in the unofficial "Liam Neeson Late Winter Butt Kickers"…

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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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'Payback' time for Mel Gibson

Thirteen things I learned while talking with Mel Gibson, star of "Payback," the No. 1 movie at the box office: When he prepared to play Porter, the anti-hero of "Payback," he thought of a fence post with splinters: No problem, unless you rub him the wrong way.

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Travolta's triumph

LOS ANGELES--I was thinking back to a day at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival, when I had lunch with John Travolta after the screening of "Pulp Fiction." It was clear that the movie represented the rebirth of his career, and he wryly observed that, after all, his career seemed to consist of one comeback after another.

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Alfre Woodard's `Delta' not black and white

It started like this. We were talking about her new film "Down in the Delta," where Alfre Woodard plays a hard-drinking woman from the Chicago projects who gets a fresh start on her uncle's farm in the Mississippi Delta. It is a good film, strong and touching, the directorial debut of the writer Maya Angelou. It opens Christmas Day. I said to Woodard, "You've never really made yourself available for exploitation, have you?"

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Bill Paxton doesn't monkey around

LOS ANGELES Bill Paxton has an Oscar contender and a giant gorilla movie coming out within a couple of weeks of each other, and that's the story of his career. He makes little movies ("One False Move," "Traveller," "Trespass") and big ones ("True Lies," "Apollo 13," "Twister"). In the big ones, he is a stalwart leading man - like his hero, the fellow Texan Ben Johnson, whose every word sounded like the simple truth. In the little ones, Paxton plays regular guys who get twisted into strange traps of crime and guilt.

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Remembering Lew Grade

Lew Grade, a titan of the British entertainment industry, died Sunday in London at age 91. For many years, he was a colorful fixture at the Cannes Film Festival, where after the box office failure of his film "Raise the Titanic!" he held a press conference to announce, "It would have been less costly to lower the ocean."

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Drew finds her way `Home'

It's like, you know, I'm talking with Drew Barrymore and she is like so drowning me in words, and I'm like so getting it, and I'm thinking like, here is a girl who is like still only 23 years old and has been in like 30 movies and already grown beyond the problems that most people her age still soooo don't know how to handle.

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Catherine Hicks cuts to the merry chase with 'Child's Play'

Actors are always sort of ambivalent about special-effects movies. They know the movie's likely to do well at the box office, but they feel strange about co-starring with the special effects. Alec Guinness observed, for example, that he spent most of the "Star Wars" saga standing in front of a blank blue wall, so that the special-effects guys could put in the visual effects months later. James Caan had a word for the visitors from outer space who were his co-stars in "Alien Nation." He called them "potato heads."

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Cinematic balancing act brings Solondz `Happiness'

TORONTO It is a disturbing movie. People don't know how to think about it. They laugh, and then they squirm. Afterward, they get into heated discussions, some calling it trash, others insisting it's a masterpiece. "Happiness" is like a challenge hurled at audiences who think movies should come with built-in viewing instructions - with cues to the appropriate response.

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