16 items from 2014
The 2014 march of outstanding documentaries about artists continues on with the best of the impressive group of feature films. But this artist’s means of expression are not the brush as in Tim”S Vermeer or still photography as seen in Finding Vivian Maier or cinema itself (along with many superb illustrators) in Jodoworsky’S Dune. Nope, this artist’s (and after viewing this film, that title is not up for debate) means of expression were words with typewriters, computer keyboards, and his own voice utilized instead of brushes on canvas or cameras. The subject of Steve James’s (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) new feature documentary is celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert. He had been a fixture on TV screens for decades, discussing and debating current movies usually with Gene Siskel, so you may think that you know everything about good ole’ “Uncle Rog”. But though he left »
- Jim Batts
In the last decade of his life, Roger Ebert took to the Internet without looking back. While cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands would eventually mean Ebert could no longer share his thoughts with the world with his voice, the Internet gave him an outlet, opening his life even further to fans of the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic as never before. I didn't personally read every word Ebert wrote on his blog or on Twitter, but I read a lot of it and can even say I had the pleasure of meeting him upon my first visit to the Cannes Film Festival in 2010, corresponded over email a couple times and he even took to batting a few comments back and forth on this very site in December 2008. All things considered, a lot of what is presented within Steve James' loving documentary Life Itself, titled after Ebert's 2011 memoir of the same name, »
- Brad Brevet
This week, Steve James' touching, moving portrait of Roger Ebert, "Life Itself," will start rolling out to theatres. The documentary tells the rather incredible life story of the nation's most famous and beloved film critic, the man who both wrote "Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls" and won a Pulitzer Prize for his criticism. But undoubtedly, one of the most key figures in Ebert's life was Gene Siskel, with the pair first hitting the airwaves in September 1975 with a movie review show, clunkily named, "Opening Soon at a Theater Near You." (Thank goodness they changed that.) And now you can watch how it all began. With the documentary opening soon, there's no better time than to sit back and see where all the bickering started between Siskel and Ebert. "Life Itself" does a terrific job at really exploring the contentious relationship that eventually found the enemies growing into (very competitive) friends, »
- Kevin Jagernauth
Directed by Steve James
“If I were on death row, my last meal would be from Steak ‘n Shake,” he explains. “If I were to take President Obama and his family to dinner and the choice was up to me, it would be Steak ‘n Shake.”
He continues in this way for some time, explaining the rules behind only ordering from the original menu, of the magic of a real milk shake, of late night trips to the one in Urbana, and he even offers a smutty joke about how those in the Midwest who eat Steak ‘n Shake have sex compared to those out West and frequent In ‘n Out Burger. Maybe you can guess how it goes.
Ebert devotes as many pages in his book to »
- Brian Welk
Roger Ebert is inarguably one of the most brilliant film critics in history, so it's only fair that somebody finally made a great movie about him. The documentary Life Itself - directed by Steve James - rolls out to theaters across America this month. It traces his entire life, from his early days writing for the Chicago Sun-Times to the creation of his 1970 cult classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls to his long (and often contentious) relationship with Gene Siskel.
'The Big Lebowski': The Decade of The »
The Austin Film Series is wrapping up its "Rebel Rebel" series this weekend with a 35mm print of Female Trouble, the raunchy 1974 comedy from enfant terrible John Waters. It screens tonight and Sunday afternoon at the Marchesa. That's also the place to be on Thursday night as a new Essential Cinema series launches featuring some of the best collaborations of Liv Ullman and Ingmar Bergman. The first film of the series is 1966's Persona, screening in a 35mm print. Look for an article about the series on Monday by programmer Chale Nafus.
The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz has another eclectic week ahead of specialty screenings. On Saturday afternoon, you can view the late-era Marx Bros. classic, 1946's A Night In Casablanca. Also this week, there's a Bill & Ted double feature on Sunday that will include two new Mondo posters available for purchase, Russ Meyer's Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls »
- Matt Shiverdecker
When the much loved and lauded Roger Ebert died in 2013, he left a void that’s been hard to fill. The first film critic to receive a Pulitzer, Ebert captivated audiences with his trademark wit, and he certainly brought cinema firmly into the mainstream public eye through his prolific internet presence.
Now you can check out the trailer for the eagerly anticipated documentary about the great man, Life Itself, which is directed by Steve James. It looks like it’s going to be pretty moving – the trailer shows footage from early on in Ebert’s career when he co-hosted Sneak Previews and At the Movies with Gene Siskel, before moving onto his later years and initial cancer diagnosis in 2002. There’s a fair few references to the rather bizarre fact he co-scripted Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls too.
Check it out:
Life Itself received the “thumbs »
- Claire Joanne Huxham
The film from director Steve James (Hoop Dreams) explores the life of the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic, who died last year at the age of 70.
The film is released in cinemas, on demand and via iTunes on July 4.
Hoffman himself died earlier this year at the age of 46.
Last October, the rights were acquired for Russ & Roger Go Beyond, a screenplay from Christopher Cluess about the working relationship between Ebert and Russ Meyer and the making of 1970 movie Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. »
Legendary film critic Roger Ebert is appearing on the big screen himself in the new documentary “Life Itself.” The trailer for the Magnolia Pictures documentary, which was released Wednesday, offers a glimpse of Ebert's life, from his Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism days to his inexplicable writing credit for “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” to his later cancer diagnosis that left him unable to speak. Also read: Roger Ebert Documentary ‘Life Itself’ Acquired by Magnolia Pictures Iconic filmmakers Martin Scorsese, Errol Morris and Werner Herzog pay tribute to the critic's impact on moviemaking in the clip, which also explores Ebert's relationship with Gene Siskel. »
- Matthew Bramlett
The late Roger Ebert liked to think of movies as a great empathy machine that helped people identify with the characters they watched onscreen and the people that sat next to them in the theater. For more than 40 years, Ebert was a giant engine that helped drive that machine, and in Life Itself, the Sundance documentary from Hoop Dreams director Steve James, his friends and colleagues look back on his most wonderful life. He won a Pulitzer Prize — a rarity for film criticism — and also penned the screenplay for Russ Meyer’s boob-tastic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. This »
- Jeff Labrecque
“Mother, they’re still not sure if it Is a baby.”
In the summer of ’78 I was just 16 years old. The Varsity Theater on Delmar (in the building that now houses Vintage Vinyl) was the cool theater that showed Rocky Horror at midnight and presented counterculture film programming, mostly for the students at nearby Washington University. Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, Andy Warhol’S Frankenstein, House Of Wax in 3D, and Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat were a few of the many movies I saw there. That summer, they had a midnight series on Wednesday nights they called ‘Weird Wednesdays’ (I guess the weekends were strictly for Rocky Horror – which I only saw there once). Yellow Submarine was the only other film I remember seeing on ‘Weird Wednesdays’ though I’m sure I went a few other times. One July Wednesday night, my friends and I ventured up »
- Tom Stockman
Our Sundance Film Festival coverage continues with Michael Cusumano on "Life Itself".
Is there any point in pretending I can be impartial in reviewing Steven James’ documentary adaptation of Roger Ebert’s autobiography Life Itself? I, like no doubt a lot of critics, feel Ebert is in no small way responsible for the fact that I write about film. I purchased a copy of his Movie Home Companion around age 13 that I read and reread until it literally fell apart at the seams. In college I wrote him with a question about Memento and he mentioned me at the start of his review (no fooling), which remains one of the cooler things to ever happen to me. At a time when I was badly in need of encouragement he posted a link to my blog on his Facebook page and sent a Biblical torrent of traffic my way.
So yeah, »
- Michael C.
“Somewhere between pleasant and innocuous” is not a description one would — or should — expect to apply to a movie whose narrative is triggered by a school massacre. But that pretty well defines “Rudderless,” toplining Billy Crudup as a grieving father who gets a new lease on life playing his late son’s music. At least, it does until a late plot revelation tips William H. Macy’s directorial debut in a more serious direction that his script (co-penned with Casey Twenter and Jeff Robison) is very poorly equipped to handle. Result is somewhat baffling in retrospect, if actually rather bland and formulaic to watch. Official Sundance closer may score some theatrical exposure, though being neither quite mainstream crowdpleaser nor offbeat indie, it will likely play best on cable.
Divorced advertising executive Sam (Crudup) is expecting to meet his only child, Josh (Miles Heizer), when news arrives that someone has run »
- Dennis Harvey
Last spring, the cinephile community and film industry lost the legendary film critic Roger Ebert. But thankfully, he leaves behind a legacy of profound film criticism and inspiration for generations of aspiring filmmakers, writers and more. While a film called Russ & Roger Go Beyond will follow the friendship between filmmaker Russ Meyer and Ebert while working on the film Beyond the Valley of the Dolls for Fox in the late 1960s, the newly premiered documentary Life Itself talks about that time in Ebert's career, but more importantly, focuses on the man himself, his passion for film, and love of life and those closest to him. Life Itself is directed by Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters), who dives into the life of Roger Ebert, his rise to prominence in journalism (including a Pulitzer Prize) and those who knew him best. From the beginnings of his lucrative and well-known collaboration »
- Ethan Anderton
The first time we hear Roger Ebert talk in Life Itself, a deeply enthralling documentary about the late film critic who changed film criticism, he’s giving a speech (which he did quite often — sometimes, I can testify, when he was just standing in a room with you), and he observes that every one of us is more or less trapped inside the person we are. It is therefore our job, says Ebert, to attempt to understand who other people are; that’s basically the premise of civilization. And that, for Ebert, is where movies come in. Movies, he says, »
- Owen Gleiberman
Review Ryan Lambie 20 Jan 2014 - 12:22
Last year, legendary film critic Roger Ebert died from cancer at the age of 70. At the time, director Steven James (Hoop Dreams, Head Games, The Interrupters) was making a documentary about Ebert - a film that Ebert knew all too well he'd never live to see through to completion. “It is likely I will have passed when the film is ready,” he poignantly noted.
Life Itself is an affectionate yet unflinchingly honest portrait of the late writer and the legacy he's left behind, and the calibre of the people both in front and behind the camera - Steven Zaillian and Martin Scorsese are producers, while Scorsese and Werner Herzog are among the interviewees - is evidence of just how respected and »
16 items from 2014
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