Ridley Scott's new film Exodus: Gods and Kings recasts the myth of Moses in typically grimdark swords-and-sandals fashion. It... ain't so good. Want something more artful? Look no further than The Prince of Egypt [alt], an underrated masterpiece of DreamWorks' traditional animation era. Directed by Brenda Chapman (a first for women in animation), scored to spectacular effect by Hans Zimmer and Stephen Schwartz, and voiced by, among others, Voldemort, Batman, and Professor X, the ambitious film features gorgeous, striking visuals and tastefully integrated CGI in nearly every scene. It also manages the improbable feat of maturing beyond cartoon clichés while humanizing the prophet's journey from carefree scion to noble (and remorseful) liberator without offending half the planet -- while still being quite a fun ride. Already seen it? Catch the making-of documentary, or click inside for more. [more inside]
I killed At The Movies. The dueling critics format outlived Siskel, the more natural on-air presence of the two. So why didn’t it outlive Ebert?
Life Itself. The documentary based on Roger Ebert’s memoir, by Hoop Dreams’ director Steve James, premiered at Sundance in January and is now rolling out in theaters and on demand.
That's not a plot hole. Allow me to explain. Scott Nye discusses a movie trend that, once seen, cannot be unseen.
'Kindness' covers all of my political beliefs. A new cartoon from Gavin Aung Than's Zen Pencils inspired by the late, great Roger Ebert. (Zen Pencils previously)
Roger Ebert has announced that he has had a recurrence of cancer and will be taking a partial hiatus from reviewing while he undergoes treatment. Ebert, who lost the ability to speak and eat to cancer in 2006, filed a career-record 306 reviews in 2012. The news comes as Ebert plans to revamp his website and is considering a Kickstarter campaign to bring back his iconic show At the Movies. A documentary about Ebert directed by Steve James and executive produced by Martin Scorsese is currently in production.
Today is the 100th birthday of Raymond Nicholas Kienzle, better known as Nicholas Ray. The seminal Hollywood-outcast-turned-French-New-Wave idol behind Rebel Without a Cause, Bigger Than Life, Bitter Victory and the hallucinatory Western Johnny Guitar made intensely emotional films about isolated people, often infused with profound desperation and a sense of the nightmarish. Francois Truffaut dubbed him "the poet of nightfall," while Jean-Luc Godard simply declared that "the cinema is Nicholas Ray." He studied architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright, mentored Jim Jarmusch and let Wim Wenders film him as he was dying of cancer. Bob Dylan even wrote a hit song about one of his movies. [more inside]
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. [more inside]
Roger Ebert has discovered the Macmillan Reader's Edition of The Great Gatsby and he hates it: "This is an obscenity." Macmillan Reader's Editions are geared to ESL students. Ebert thinks that's a really bad idea: "Why not have ESL learners begin with Young Adult novels? Why not write books with a simplified vocabulary? Why eviscerate Fitzgerald?" [more inside]
For Roger Ebert, it's a prayer that made him "more alert to the awe of existence." For Rober Koehler, it's a kitschy New Age con. For Richard Brody, it perfectly captures the essence of a generation by depicting a character thinking "back to the musings and fantasies of childhood, which are the product of a wondrous and fantastic view of science formed by popular-science books for children and by the commercial artists whose illustrations adorned them." For Stephanie Zacharek, it's "a gargantuan work of pretension." For Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, it's "a creation myth in the guise of a crypto-autobiography" that invents a universe of its own only to destroy it. For J. Hoberman, it's lifeless and dull, "essentially a religious work and, as such, may please the director's devotees, cultists, and apologists." It spent thirty years in development, three in editing and, yes, it contains dinosaurs. The Tree of Life, written and directed by famously reclusive Zoolander fan and "JD Salinger of American movies" Terrence Malick , won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Tomorrow, it comes out in the United States. [more inside]
After 107 submissions, Roger Ebert wins The New Yorker cartoon caption contest. Ebert's earlier blog about captioning. [more inside]
When film critic Roger Ebert lost his lower jaw to cancer, he lost the ability to eat and speak. But he did not lose his voice. In a moving talk from TED2011, Ebert and his wife, Chaz, with friends Dean Ornish and John Hunter, come together to tell his remarkable story. [Ted Talk video - 20minutes]
All your art are belong to us. Previously, Rogert Ebert said that video games can never be art. And previously, some disagreed. In a recent opinion piece, game developer Brian Moriarty discusses the debate, and fires a fresh salvo. The piece is long winded, examining art, medium, games, and industry. He seems to conclude that games are not Art, but lengthily addresses what may be the more important question: Could they be?
Dear M. Night Shyamalan, Sincerely, Omer Mozaffar.
Film editor and sound designer extraordinaire Walter Murch writes to Roger Ebert regarding a fundamental conundrum of current 3D technology: "It is like tapping your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time."
Roger Ebert: "In the last year or two, the world's cinema has become even more available. This instant, sitting right here, I can choose to watch virtually any film you can think of via Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, MUBI, the Asia/Pacific Film Archive, Google Video or Vimeo. At Europa Film Treasures, I can watch films none of us has heard of." Ebert on how the accessibility of film online is making for more and better film criticism from around the world "..by their early 20s, Wael Khairy of Cairo and Seongyong Cho of Seoul had seen every significant film ever made." "The best single film criticism site is arguably davidbordwell.net". [more inside]
"The thing is, he doesn’t eat and he doesn’t talk. Or rather, he can’t eat and he can’t talk. He hasn’t for four years, ever since cancer took his lower jaw, and three attempts to rebuild his face and his voice failed." Roger Ebert is publishing a cookbook: The Pot and How To Use It. Previously.
"In Japan, animation is not seen as the exclusive realm of children's and family films, but is often used for adult, science fiction and action stories, where it allows a kind of freedom impossible in real life. Some Hollywood films strain so desperately against the constraints of the possible that you wish they'd just caved in and gone with animation." -- Roger Ebert on anime, with this excerpt being related to Tokyo Godfathers. Ebert has been a fan of anime for a while, especially the works of Hayao Miyazaki. Ebert has reviewed 6 of the 18 Studio Ghibli films released to date, and even interviewed Miyazaki with a bit of fanboy glee. More reviews and videos inside. [more inside]
Movie critic Roger Ebert has previously said that he doesn't think video games can be art, an opinion at odds with the gaming community. In a recent blog post, Ebert clarifies his position. [more inside]
"'Fucking huge,' said McLaren. He told us what sort of a film he had in mind. His ideas didn't involve a plot or a story line. As I recall, his only concern was that it star the Sex Pistols. Russ proposed 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls' meets 'A Hard Day's Night.'" Roger Ebert reflects on the Sex Pistols film that never came to be, "I wrote one scene which I particularly liked, involving Johnny Rotten encountering a storefront Church of Scientography, and being persuaded to be "clocked" on something called an H-Meter. This was a device hooked to a steering wheel and an accelerator, which somehow..."
When I am writing my problems become invisible and I am the same person I always was. All is well. I am as I should be.
Roger Ebert, his writing, and his battle with cancer are hardly foreign topics here, but this in-depth interview/profile from Esquire about Ebert's illness, loss of speech, and late career burst of creativity is worth a read.
Nil by Mouth is Roger Ebert's article about what life is like now that he doesn't eat or drink anymore, but is nourished by tube. And interesting reflection on what life can be like after thyroid cancer, and not as sad as you might think.
Autumn, by Roger Ebert. The season of new beginnings and the forever-remembered smell of burning leaves. [more inside]
Clips from the Errol Morris documentary Gates of Heaven which Roger Ebert named one of the ten best films of all time. Lady in the Doorway ll Music Man ll Gates of Heaven ll Couples Scene ll Humans cannot be this way ll Say it out loud
My Name is Roger, and I'm an alcoholic. Roger Ebert talks about AA.
The O'Reilly Procedure Roger Ebert waxes nostalgic about a calmer, more rational mediasphere and dissects the rhetorical strategies of Bill O'Reilly. [more inside]
How delicious is the Beyond The Valley of the Dolls Tarot Deck? Even the man who wrote the movie gave the deck two thumbs up. [more inside]
Tennessee Williams said it was the best film version of any of his plays. Roger Ebert called it "awkward and hopeless on its most fundamental level". John Waters calls it a major influence on the development of his taste. [more inside]
The day will come when the words of Shakespeare are no longer known. Roger Ebert looks back on a long career and waxes philosophical.
Death To Film Critics! Hail The CelebCult! "A newspaper film critic is like a canary in a coal mine. When one croaks, get the hell out. The lengthening toll of former film critics acts as a poster child for the self-destruction of American newspapers, which once hoped to be more like the New York Times and now yearn to become more like the National Enquirer. We used to be the town crier. Now we are the neighborhood gossip."
It is acceptable, but rarely, to join in a general audience uproar, as at the first Cannes press screening of "The Brown Bunny." Even then, no cupping your hand under your armpit and producing fart noises. Roger Ebert's little rule book.
An open letter to sports columnist Jay Mariotti, who resigned from the Sun-Times and lashed out during a TV interview announcing that newspapers were dead. (via Sports Filter)
Roger Ebert to return to writing movie reviews. Love him, hate him, disagree with him, worship him, whatever, but Pulitzer Prize winning movie critic Roger Ebert, after several operations that have left him without the power of speech, will return to writing movie reviews shortly after his 10th Annual movie festival, Ebertfest. Me, personally, I'm happy as heck about this.
I never saw Simon Birch but I found this interview Roger Ebert did with Ian Michael Smith really amazing. I don't know if it was how comfortable Ian is with sci-fi-ing up his body, how the two of them used technology to overcome their current physical conditions, the discussions of "disability blogospheres" or just how happy Roger seems to be in this conversation but the whole thing made me smile...and something made me think MeFi would agree.
In Scenes from an Overrated Career, film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum writes a rare New York Times op-ed arguing that the work of recently deceased director Ingmar Bergman is overvalued compared to Carl Theodor Dreyer and Robert Bresson. Both Roger Ebert and David Bordwell respond to Rosenbaum's takedown of Bergman, while Rosenbaum writes a brief eulogy blog post on Bergman. Meanwhile, another blogger discusses how Antonioni and Bergman hated each other despite recent obits that have paired them together.
The American Film Institute decided the need for
more money an update to their 1998 list of the 100 Greatest Movies was so pressing that they made a new list. Ebert (and friends) ask where's Fargo?. The IHT wonders why the past decade has only spawned four new, worthy movies. And, generally, no one seems super excited about it. (some links go to wikipedia to avoid registration on AFI's site).
"I ain’t a pretty boy no more" Roger Ebert is determined to attend his Overlooked Film Festival tomorrow.
We spend too much time hiding illness. There is an assumption that I must always look the same. I hope to look better than I look now. But I'm not going to miss my festival.[via]
Get Well Roger Flickr Group. Roger Ebert, still recovering from an arterial burst following surgery to remove cancer near his jaw, could use a little love. Show some, and be a gigantic nerd, by taking a picture of yourself giving a "thumbs up" and uploading it to this Flickr Group. They'll be sending the whole spiel to the good sir himself after they have enough pictures uploaded. Previously.
In 30 years of going to Cannes, Roger Ebert has witnessed Francis Ford Coppola suffering from post-Apocolypse insanity and learned Jerry Lewis's secret for preventing riots--but the most interesting character he ever met there was a loudmouthed, fast-talking Texan named Silver Dollar Baxter with an uncanny gift for bluffing...
On the meaning of life... and movies: The radiation made it difficult for me to handle solid food, and I existed on a product named Ensure, which kept everything humming along. Very early on the first morning in Cannes I woke early, as I always do, and wandered, as I always do, down to the all-night cafe by the port, and ordered, as I always do, a croissant and cafe au lait. I dunked the croissant into the coffee, as I always do, and ate it, and that was the beginning of real food again.
Roger Ebert describes his battles with cancer--and his love of movies--in the introduction to his 2005 Movie Yearbook.
Roger Ebert describes his battles with cancer--and his love of movies--in the introduction to his 2005 Movie Yearbook.
"The dog gets no Pernod in this house!" An interview with Lee Marvin, by Roger Ebert, back in 1970. Man, what a character.
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