10 items from 2015
Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes is like a cross between The Grapes of Wrath and Glengarry Glen Ross. Set in Florida in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, this is a modern-day morality tale that continually confounds audience expectations. It is about bankruptcy, foreclosures, forced evictions and broken lives. Its characters aren't beleaguered sharecroppers, as in John Steinbeck's novel, but newly homeless middle-class families, preyed on by banks and estate agents. »
First off, let's make one thing clear. We're not scratching our heads at Spike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" making the BBC's 100 greatest American films. That movie, of which an image accompanies this post, not only made the list, but ranked appropriately at no. 25. It's the rest of the selections that have us scratching and, yes, shaking our heads in disbelief. A wonderful page view driver, these sorts of lists make great fodder for passionate movie fans no matter what their age or part of the world they hail from. There is nothing more entertaining than watching two critics from opposite ends of the globe try to debate whether "The Dark Knight" should have been nominated for best picture or make a list like this. Even in this age of short form content where Vines, Shapchats and Instagram videos have captured viewers attention, movies will continue to inspire because »
- Gregory Ellwood
At Reverse Shot, Fernando F. Croce previews "The Essential John Ford," a series at New York's Museum of the Moving Image that's "an invaluable overview of the artist’s often paradoxical moods, ranging from the spacious buoyancy of Young Mr. Lincoln/tag> to the claustrophobic bleakness of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance/tag>. The canon classics are there (including Stagecoach/tag>, The Grapes of Wrath/tag>, and The Searchers/tag>), and so are lesser-known titles (the thorny maternal journey of Pilgrimage/tag>, the travelogue surrealism of Mogambo/tag>, the rowdy theatrics of Upstream/tag>) ready to be rediscovered." Writing for Artforum, Nick Pinkerton argues that "Ford is one of the mightiest figures in international cinema, and one of the greatest American artists in any medium, full stop." » - David Hudson »
'The Letter' 1940, with Bette Davis 'The Letter' 1940 movie: Bette Davis superb in masterful studio era production Directed by William Wyler and adapted by Howard Koch from W. Somerset Maugham's 1927 play, The Letter is one of the very best films made during the Golden Age of the Hollywood studios. Wyler's unsparing, tough-as-nails handling of the potentially melodramatic proceedings; Bette Davis' complex portrayal of a passionate woman who also happens to be a self-absorbed, calculating murderess; and Tony Gaudio's atmospheric black-and-white cinematography are only a few of the flawless elements found in this classic tale of deceit. 'The Letter': 'U' for 'Unfaithful' The Letter begins in the dark of night, as a series of gunshots are heard in a Malayan rubber plantation. Leslie Crosbie (Bette Davis) walks out the door of her house firing shots at (barely seen on camera) local playboy Jeff Hammond, who falls dead on the ground. »
- Andre Soares
This article contains a spoiler for the ending of Interstellar.
In case you missed it, the Oscars were this past weekend and Birdman was the big winner. The Academy’s choice to award Alejandro González Iñárritu's fever dream was a genuine shock, with Boyhood the running favourite for many months. Nonetheless, some things never change, and in that vein it's certainly a non-surprise the Academy also hardly noticed the most ambitious blockbuster of 2014: the Christopher Nolan space epic, Interstellar. Indeed, I use the phrase "non-surprise", because how could it be a winner when it was only nominated for the bare minimum of five Oscars in technical categories that are reserved as consolation prizes?
This is by all means par for the course with a film that has »
Editor's Note: RogerEbert.com is proud to reprint Roger Ebert's 1978 entry from the Encyclopedia Britannica publication "The Great Ideas Today," part of "The Great Books of the Western World." Reprinted with permission from The Great Ideas Today ©1978 Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
It's a measure of how completely the Internet has transformed communication that I need to explain, for the benefit of some younger readers, what encyclopedias were: bound editions summing up all available knowledge, delivered to one's home in handsome bound editions. The "Great Books" series zeroed in on books about history, poetry, natural science, math and other fields of study; the "Great Ideas" series was meant to tie all the ideas together, and that was the mission given to Roger when he undertook this piece about film.
Given the venue he was writing for, it's probably wisest to look at Roger's long, wide-ranging piece as a snapshot of the »
- Roger Ebert
I love movie and television soundtracks. I’ll often use a given soundtrack while I work, letting it fuel my writing. I can’t listen to music with lyrics in them; that interferes with my process. I’ll get themes, characters, even scenes or whole plots from the music. Soundtrack music is in service of the story that the film is trying to tell; it’s a part of the narrative, heightening the emotion that’s being invoked.
I have my own particular favorites. The composers usually have a large body of work but certain key works resonate within me – Jerry Goldsmith’s Chinatown and Patton, James Horner with Field of Dreams, Shaun Davey’s Waking Ned Devine, Elmer Bernstein’s To Kill A Mockingbird (has there ever been a more beautiful and evocative theme?) and, of course, The Magnificent Seven.
I’ve also been very fond of Alan Silvestri »
- John Ostrander
John Steinbeck‘s “In Dubious Battle,” which has never been made into a movie before, is the next classic novel to hit the big screen courtesy of James Franco. The actor-turned-director will star and helm the adaptation, which was scripted by Matt Rager, his collaborator on his two Faulkner features, As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury. Franco has quite an ensemble joining him in front of the camera this time around, too, including Bryan Cranston, Robert Duvall, Ed Harris, Vincent D’Onofrio, Danny McBride and Selena Gomez. McBride is the only one of them he’s directed before (in both Faulkners), and he’s only acted opposite McBride, Gomez and Harris, the last in the upcoming movie The Adderall Diaries. Published in 1936, the book features another signature Depression-era story of migrant workers from the author of “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men,” and it happens to be among President Obama’s »
- Christopher Campbell
"The book was better." These words make up the classic phrase that literary adaptations live and die by, and believe it or not, it's not always the truth. Sometimes the movie takes the story that the book tried to tell, and turns it into a more fully formed tale that the author can't help but respect. It happened when John Steinbeck admitted that The Grapes Of Wrath was a much darker story on the screen than on the page, and it more recently happened when Stephen King's The Mist was given an ending that even the king of horror had to admit worked perfectly. Of course, there are also the ones that don't get what the book was trying to say. For every adaptation of The Mist, there's a disastrous adaptation of Timeline waiting to take its place. For now, though, we'll remain optimistic about these upcoming projects. After all, »
10 items from 2015
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