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.
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]
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]
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 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.