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The Siskel & Ebert Vault
August 5, 2011 4:34 PM   Subscribe

Starting tonight, Ebert Presents At the Movies will begin airing full episodes of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s original PBS show, Sneak Previews. Taking a break from reviewing movies, co-hosts Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky will introduce and discuss the episodes. Hungry for more classic Siskel & Ebert? Try the invaluable, Ebert-approved SiskelandEbert.org, a growing archive of home-taped episodes of Sneak Previews and At the Movies.

A few highlights from the SiskelandEbert.org archive: Additionally, as Ebert notes in his blog, the re-aired Sneak Previews episodes (which are mastered from the original tapes) will be uploaded to the show's website for streaming.
posted by alexoscar (21 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
The new co-hosts are dismal. I like Ebert, but why watch reviews about old movies?
posted by Ideefixe at 4:36 PM on August 5, 2011


Wait, I'm confused. These people aren't the same people who were touted as the new hosts a few months ago. What's going on?
posted by roll truck roll at 4:40 PM on August 5, 2011


This is a bizarre development. It's mid-summer and movies are being released like mad. And one of the only non-commerical movie review shows is going to stop reviewing movies and show movie reviews from decades ago?

That's just... ... .... odd.
posted by hippybear at 4:49 PM on August 5, 2011


The new co-hosts are dismal.

They were dismal for about the first five shows. Now they are kind of amazing.

I like Ebert, but why watch reviews about old movies?

None of the episodes they will be airing are standard reviews shows. They're specials and theme episodes. I'm intrigued by them having a "Changing Attitudes Toward Homosexuality" episode in there.

And one of the only non-commerical movie review shows is going to stop reviewing movies and show movie reviews from decades ago?

I guess this is their break. Siskel & Ebert used to take one for a few weeks out of every year.
posted by alexoscar at 4:58 PM on August 5, 2011


When I was a teenager, I used to liken them to Ernie and Bert for smarties.
posted by not_on_display at 5:00 PM on August 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really wish the Michael Phillips/A.O. Scott version of At The Movies hadn't been killed by Disney, or whoever's, ineptness. It wasn't Siskel and Ebert, but it was a decent substitute for the first time since Siskel died.

This show is a, minor, improvement over Roeper and guest of the week, but not by much.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:01 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


,,,commas for ,,, everybody,,, wheee,!,
posted by eyeballkid at 5:02 PM on August 5, 2011


I am looking forward to the re-runs, but yes: is it OK now to discuss HOW AWFUL the new At The Movies is? Because it's terrible.

The two co-hosts have almost no chemistry together. He's an unbearably pretentious point-scorer; she often seems overly cowed by him. There's no debate, no back-and-forth, even when they disagree -- as they often do; the reviews sink like stones.

Poor Roger has sequestered himself in his office like the mad woman in the attic, a shadow whose words are spoken for him by others; he appears shoe-horned into his own show. What happened to the his-own-voice synthesizer and the chin prosthetic? Nobody expects him to be -- to use his own phrase -- a pretty boy any more, but it would be nice to actually see him.

And WHAT THE HELL is it with the precocious kid they've been featuring lately? He speaks like a film-school student about Woody Allen's career immediately after saying that Midnight In Paris is the first Allen movie he's seen; he rates Mr. Popper's Penguins -- Mr. Popper's fucking Penguins, for fucks' sake -- in his top five of the year; WHY IS HE ON THE SHOW?

It's all very disappointing.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:53 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


is it OK now to discuss HOW AWFUL the new At The Movies is? Because it's terrible.

I happen to think it's pretty good, and I think Lemire & Vishnevetsky have developed a very strong chemistry. The vibe of the Scott & Phillips version was that it was essentially two guys with the exact same opinions, one of whom (Phillips) was a lot more charismatic than the other.

In the Lemire & Vishnevetsky version, it's two people who seem to come from different planets having a conversation. At first it didn't really work, but now it does. The vibe of their show is much looser than any of the other hosts'. It helps that neither takes themselves too seriously and both have very strong, good senses of humor. (I'm not sure where all the "pretentious, point-scoring" comment about Vishnevetsky comes from. Pretentious about what? Scoring points with whom?)

As for the Jackson Murphy kid...

I've heard it said quite a few times that Ebert is the worst thing about the new At the Movies. I love Ebert and I'm very happy he is doing this show, but I can see that there's some truth to that. Ebert loves Jackson Murphy. He's probably the only reason the kid is on the show.

To me and a lot of other people I know who like this show, it seems like Ebert isn't the one who is being marginalized on Ebert Presents; it's Ebert who is marginalizing Lemire & Vishnevetsky, who are perfectly fine hosts that could do the show on their own. The Roger's Office segments are rarely interesting, and I highly doubt Vishnevetsky or Lemire were responsible for that boring David Poland segment about Kubrick from a few weeks ago.
posted by alexoscar at 6:12 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Watching the clip they used to introduce Pink Floyd: The Wall makes me think that Stephen Colbert owes something to Bob Geldof, among the more obvious influences.
posted by NortonDC at 7:15 PM on August 5, 2011


I want more of their cross-banter clips from promos that was left on the cutting room floor, where they are both swapping snide, irritated insults or just joining forces and calling for the overthrow of the WASP-run government, with such quotes as as "God damn Protestants. Biggest thing that ever happens to them on Sunday is a bake sale!"

It's all in good fun, though. Shooting those promos has to be a big pain in the ass, but it's great to see those moments where it's them being them. At first it seemed so hateful and truly mean-spirited, it was oddly uncomfortable for me when I first saw it, but it just them acting like a pair of siblings alternating between picking on each other, working, then just laughing about it all.
posted by chambers at 7:27 PM on August 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just wanted to say... while Ebert is a titan of short-form criticism... he and Siskel fairly wooden and bland by modern standards. On the other hand, so was Leonard Maltin.

On the other hand, their frank back-and-forth captivates. A rare triumph of substance over style.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:10 PM on August 5, 2011


Errr, the gripping hand?
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:15 PM on August 5, 2011


If you're a trash junkie like I am you should be even happier that some of the Siskelandebert.org videos contain intact commercials from throughout the 80s and 90s. Cultural gold.
posted by mellow seas at 1:30 AM on August 6, 2011


...he and Siskel fairly wooden and bland by modern standards.

Maybe because they were being polite to each other? Modern standards kind of suck.

Also, please don't mention Maltin as being comparable to S&E in any aspect
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:18 AM on August 6, 2011


Add me to the "liking Lemire & Vishnevetsky" list. I like the contrast of his erudition and her more average-filmgoer perspectives, and I think they handle the disagreements that come from that well. Also every now and then Ignatiy thumbs-up something trashy and silly that you would have expected him to hate - which is a quality I really look for in a film critic. (Not everything can be Malick and Truffaut - you have to be able to just turn your mind off and have fun sometimes too.)

I think they're also doing a nice job of being interactive with fans via Facebook - and I'm not just sayin' that cuz I'm chuffed that they took a question from me on the air!
posted by dnash at 7:42 AM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


That “Women in Danger” episode of Sneak Previews is so bad. There might have been a feminist case to be made against many of those movies, but Siskel & Ebert whiffed it. They assert that viewers are meant to identify with the killers in those movies, rather than the victims, then use as evidence a scene from Friday the 13th that's shot from the killer's POV. It's been roughly 30 years since I saw the movie, but I'm pretty certain that scene wasn't shot from the killer's POV to encourage identification with the killer (Friday the 13th is hardly that sophisticated a film) but rather to obscure the killer's identity.

The argument that they make about the political subtext of the movies — the killers are often sexually frustrated men acting out their feelings of emasculation by abusing the independent and assertive young women who have been empowered by the women's-rights movement — is pretty on-target, I think. But they make the mistake of assuming that the killers are filmmaker surrogates who are acting out the basest impulses of the writers and directors, and I don't get that. Seems to me anyone who would make a movie about a deranged killer who's menacing strong, happy feminist women out of a pathetic kind of rage over his own sexual impotence is making a fairly nuanced critique of gender politics that implicates the reactionary mindset, rather than advocating it. It seems like Siskel/Ebert fell into a trap of building a case against the irredeemably sadistic audience that they imagine is patronizing these movies as a general class rather than the films themselves.

Just had to get that off my chest.
posted by Joey Bagels at 10:19 AM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


They assert that viewers are meant to identify with the killers in those movies, rather than the victims, then use as evidence a scene from Friday the 13th that's shot from the killer's POV. It's been roughly 30 years since I saw the movie, but I'm pretty certain that scene wasn't shot from the killer's POV to encourage identification with the killer (Friday the 13th is hardly that sophisticated a film) but rather to obscure the killer's identity.

The argument that they make about the political subtext of the movies — the killers are often sexually frustrated men acting out their feelings of emasculation by abusing the independent and assertive young women who have been empowered by the women's-rights movement — is pretty on-target, I think.


If that's the subtext they're exploring, and they're using Friday The 13th to illustrate it, it makes me wonder if either of them watched the film to the end. Because the killer in that movie is Pamela Voorhees, hardly a sexually frustrated man.
posted by hippybear at 2:33 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


An episode of the original, pre-syndicated version of Sneak Previews, Opening Soon at a Theater Near You, from 1975. (Check out their suits!)

This leads off with a full, several-second-long still of Al Jolson in blackface. Wow. It gets better though; there's actually a shot in there of Godzilla there with his son.

The beginning of the show proper has Siskel noting that the audience he sat with to watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was extremely enthusiastic, applauding throughout the credits, especially when Jack Nicholson's name came up but also the cinematographer. It's hard for me to imagine an audience reacting in such a way today.
posted by JHarris at 3:16 PM on August 6, 2011


It's hard for me to imagine an audience reacting in such a way today.

He's describing the film's world premiere, which was at the Chicago Film Festival. That kind of behavior is still pretty common at festivals, especially for premieres of big, heavily-hyped movies.
posted by alexoscar at 4:55 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


That kind of behavior is still pretty common at festivals, especially for premieres of big, heavily-hyped movies.
Or at the DGA. Or in LA, esp. during awards season.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:26 PM on August 7, 2011


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