7 items from 2015
Home, the newest feature from animation studio Dreamworks, won the top spot in its opening weekend, beating out competitors with a $54 million opening. The total marks Dreamworks’ first box office top finish since Mr. Peabody and Sherman achieved the feat a year ago, and the studio’s first opening weekend victory since 2013’s The Croods. The PG-rated Home was joined at the top by fellow new opener and R-rated Get Hard, as the Will Ferrell-Kevin Hart comedy took in $34.6 million in its opening weekend, good for a second place finish.
Among the rest of the films, the other big entry was the indie horror film It Follows. Distributors’ plans to forego a VOD opening this weekend in favour of taking the film to a wide theatrical release instead paid off, as the movie made $4 million in its expansion, finishing in fifth place on the chart with a $4 million total. »
- Deepayan Sengupta
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
Everyone knows Woody Allen. At least, everyone thinks they know Woody Allen. His plumage is easily identifiable: horn-rimmed glasses, baggy suit, wispy hair, kvetching demeanor, ironic sense of humor, acute fear of death. As is his habitat: New York City, though recently he has flown as far afield as London, Barcelona, and Paris. His likes are well known: Bergman, Dostoevsky, New Orleans jazz. So too his dislikes: spiders, cars, nature, Wagner records, the entire city of Los Angeles. Whether or not these traits represent the true Allen, who’s to say? It is impossible to tell, with Allen, where cinema ends and life begins, an obfuscation he readily encourages. In the late nineteen-seventies, disillusioned with the comedic success he’d found making such films as Sleeper (1973), Love and Death (1975), and Annie Hall (1977), he turned for darker territory with Stardust Memories (1980), a film in which, none too surprisingly, he plays a »
- Graham Daseler
If you’re in the enviable position of checking out Jean-Luc Godard’s body of work for the first time, his sci-fi opus “Alphaville” will stand out as a bit of a curiosity. The film is a lean, bizarro riff on familiar noir tropes and is infused with a punk-y dystopian edge, as well as Godard’s love of the perverse and the postmodern. It’s miles away from both the amoral romanticism of his early work (“Breathless,” “A Woman is a Woman”) as well as his more socially minded mid-career pictures which occasionally resemble incendiary political slideshows with included voiceover (“Weekend,” with its infamous ten-minute tracking shot, comes to mind, as does “Made in U.S.A.”). Remakes of Godard’s work are a dicey proposition: his signature style is so maddeningly distinct that a reimagining sounds unnecessary (not many people even remember the Richard Gere-starring remake of “Breathless,” except for Quentin Tarantino, »
- Nicholas Laskin
How would you program this year's newest, most interesting films into double features with movies of the past you saw in 2014?
Looking back over the year at what films moved and impressed us, it is clear that watching old films is a crucial part of making new films meaningful. Thus, the annual tradition of our end of year poll, which calls upon our writers to pick both a new and an old film: they were challenged to choose a new film they saw in 2014—in theatres or at a festival—and creatively pair it with an old film they also saw in 2014 to create a unique double feature.
All the contributors were given the option to write some text explaining their 2014 fantasy double feature. What's more, each writer was given the option to list more pairings, with or without explanation, as further imaginative film programming we'd be lucky to catch »
En route to Palm Springs yesterday afternoon, I saw the news that the National Society of Film Critics had gone against the flow, where most would have expected a "Boyhood" win, and named Jean-Luc Godard's "Goodbye to Language" the year's best film. What I wasn't fully aware of until this morning was the wave of displeasure it apparently spurred. First, some thoughts on the organization's history. They often settle on something perfectly reasonable if not inspired, and sometimes that falls outside the sphere of major Best Picture contenders. "Inside Llewyn Davis," "Amour," "Melancholia," "Waltz with Bashir," "Pan's Labyrinth," "American Splendor," "Mulholland Drive," "Yi Yi: A One and a Two" — that's just a brief, selective history. And I'm forever in love with their "Out of Sight" choice in 1998. Only five films have won all three major critics group awards (Nsfc, Lafca and Nyfcc): "The Social Network," "The Hurt Locker, »
- Kristopher Tapley
15. The Immigrant -
If one were to rank the films of 2014 based solely on innovation, The Immigrant would probably end up near the bottom. Writer-director James Gray’s languid melodrama tells the tumultuous story of a resilient Polish woman looking to find a slice of the American Dream, without much in the way of narrative bravado or anything approaching experimentalism. The moralistic script feels like a relic from a bygone studio era.
But to assess the film’s merit based on its stubborn refusal to buck conventions is to deny one’s self the virtues of one of the year’s great films. Marion Cotillard gives an unforgettable performance as Ewa, the titular heroine whose desire to save her sister enables her to overcome the harsh realities of life in New York’s Lower East Side in the early twentieth century. Joaquin Phoenix portrays the snarling antagonist who helps her survive, »
7 items from 2015
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