Synecdoche, New York
If we don't "go to the movies" in any form, our minds wither and sicken.
PRESS RELEASE: CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Terrence Malick's 1978 film "Days of Heaven" won an Oscar for best cinematography, and Roger Ebert likely found that no surprise. It is "above all one of the most beautiful films ever made," Ebert said in a 1997 review. So it's only appropriate that the film will open the 15th annual Roger Ebert's Film Festival on April 17 in the big-screen, newly renovated Virginia Theater in downtown Champaign.
I have watched with a kind of petrified fascination in recent years as the world creeps closer to what looks to me like disastrous climate change. The poles are melting. Ocean levels are rising. The face of the planet is torn by unprecedented natural disasters. States of emergency have become so routine that governors always seem to be proclaiming one. Do they have drafts of proclamations on file?
Alex Kazhinsky of Lincolnwood is this year's Grand Prize winner in the annual Outguess Ebert contest — and tells me, "It's a big thrill to win your contest after playing it for so many years!"
When I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago, I must have driven past the little park a few times. Hyde Park, where the University is located, is a neighborhood including fraternity houses, foundation headquarters, school department offices, even President Obama's family home. Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House can be found there, and Henry Moore's chilling death's-sculpture marking the place where scientists first split the atom.
On Thursday morning, February 28, I found CNN featuring a continuous shot of a helicopter. The network cut between a close-up and a distant dot. It was Benedict, flying from the Vatican City. This was extraordinary attention for an ordinary cardinal, because as Benedict told the throng awaiting him, "I am no longer Pope." I am not a scholar of Catholic history, but I believe we were witnessing the first time the Papal throne was vacant while an elected Pope was alive.
by Omer M. Mozaffar
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Searching for mention of "Amour" on our 2012 PBS program "Ebert Presents at the Movies," I was pointed by Google to one of Chaz's video reports. I remembered liking her video at the time, started noodling through all of her reports, and found myself thinking of my wife's emerging role as a movie critic. For more than 20 years, she's attended virtually every film festival and press screening with me, debated the films, made friends with the people.
After she had the heart attack out in Michigan on Thanksgiving 1988, I stood by her bedside in the recovery room and she tried so hard to tell me something, but it just didn't work. I loved her so much. Did she know how much? I never told her. There are always questions you wish you'd asked after it's too late to get an answer. Sometimes years can pass before you realize they're questions.
Everyone said I "took after her," and I did. My features are more rounded than anyone else on either side of my family. Martha R. Stumm was the youngest of six surviving children of a Dutch-Irish-German couple who raised their family on a farm outside Tayorville, Illinois. Years after after her father died and her mother opened a boarding house in Urbana, enough oil was found beneath the land to make it worth drilling.
The first Chicago bar I drank in was the Old Town Ale House. That bar was destroyed by fire in the 1960s, the customers hosed off, and the Ale House moved directly across the street to its present location, where it has been named Chicago's Best Dive Bar by the Chicago Tribune.
I was taken to the Ale House by Tom Devries, my fellow college editor from the Roosevelt Torch. It was early on a snowy Sunday afternoon. I remember us walking down to Barbara's Bookstore to get our copies of the legendary New York Herald-Tribune Sunday edition. Pogo. Judith Crist. Tom Wolfe. Jimmy Breslin. I remember peanut shells on the floor and a projector grinding through 16mm prints of Charlie Chaplin shorts. I remember my first taste of dark Löwenbräu beer. The Ale House was cool even then.
This year's Outguess Ebert contest seems a little like shooting fish in a barrel. For the first time in many a year, maybe ever, I think I've guessed every one correctly.A few years ago, I came across an article about the newly identified psychological concept of Elevation. Scientists claim it is as real as love or fear. It describes a state in which we feel unreasonable joy; you know, like when you sit quiet and still and tingles run up and down your back, and you think things can never get any better.
I tried applying it to that year's Oscar nominees. Did it work any better than any other approach? You need Elevating nominees. An example of Elevation would be when the bone morphs into a space station in "2001." Did I feel Elevation in making any of my Guesses this year. That doesn't mean it was a bad year at the movies. Harvey Weinstein, accepting his achievement award from the Producers' Guild, said he thought 2012 was the best in 90 years. Maybe he felt Elevation when he gazed upon the Weinstein Company's box office figures.