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"Thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for."

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.
posted by alexoscar on Apr 3, 2013 - 212 comments

The Greatest Films of All Time, 2012

Sight & Sound's prestigious Greatest Films of All Time poll is conducted only once per decade. The latest edition polled 846 film critics (up from 144 in the 2002 edition) and 358 directors. The results were revealed earlier today and, for the first time since 1962, Citizen Kane has not topped either the critics' or the directors' poll. It has been unseated as the Greatest Film of All Time by Vertigo and Tokyo Story. The magazine has also revealed the Critics' Top 50. [more inside]
posted by alexoscar on Aug 1, 2012 - 109 comments

RIP Andrew Sarris

RIP Andrew Sarris, the legendary film critic who popularized the auteur theory in the United States, sparred with arch-rival Pauline Kael, and helped define American film criticism. [more inside]
posted by alexoscar on Jun 20, 2012 - 17 comments

"The cinema is Nicholas Ray"

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]
posted by alexoscar on Aug 7, 2011 - 18 comments

The Siskel & Ebert Vault

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]
posted by alexoscar on Aug 5, 2011 - 21 comments

"...the way of nature, and the way of grace."

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]
posted by alexoscar on May 26, 2011 - 64 comments

The Master of the Capsule Review

Long before he wrote DVD reviews for The New York Times, Dave Kehr spent 11 years at the Chicago Reader perfecting the 100-word capsule review into a vehicle for his succinct, astute writing on a wide variety of films. All of them can be read for free at the Chicago Reader's website. Additionally, his long-overlooked long reviews have just been collected and published. [more inside]
posted by alexoscar on Apr 19, 2011 - 26 comments

As Michael Cera said in that movie about Twitter, “We don’t even know what this is yet.”

Have you ever gotten lost in the Myst-inspired architecture of Anthology Film Archives’ website, or struggled awkwardly with the Chinese puzzle box-construction of BAMcinematek’s calendars? Have you ever circled the block at Lincoln Plaza in search of the secret entrance to the fabled Walter Reade Theater? (Hint: look behind the waterfall.) Have you found yourself asking time and again, “What the fuck is Union Docs?”
The brainchild of critic Paul Brunick, Alt Screen is a new site billed as "a comprehensive digital resource covering film exhibitions and related special events in the New York City area." The contributing editors include blogger Jim Emerson, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky [previously] and Nathan Lee (apparently coming out of retirement).
posted by alexoscar on Apr 10, 2011 - 8 comments

"Serge Daney was the end of criticism as I understood it."

Serge Daney (1944 - 1992) is often cited as one of the greatest film critics. After joining the legendary film magazine Cahiers du cinéma (which he would eventually edit) at age 20, Daney wrote extensively on the changing place of movies in culture, on directors new and old and on television, war and even sports. He founded the film magazine Trafic before dying of AIDS in 1992.

Though some of his essays have been officially translated and a small book of his writings has been published in English, the vast majority of his work remains untranslated into English. That hasn't stopped a devoted group of cinephiles from taking matters into their own hands. [more inside]
posted by alexoscar on Dec 13, 2010 - 12 comments

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