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Sports docs are fickle things. Often they're little more than highlight reels, adding a bit of social drama in to make the story seem more relevant than just the drama tallied on the scoreboard. Yet when done right, the synergy between on-field competition and off-field struggle makes for truly compelling storylines. The long shadow of the likes of Hoop Dreams falls over We Could Be King, and it's a testament to Director Judd Ehrlich and his team that the film at least strives for this type of penetrating and insightful filmmaking. Tackling the challenges when two rival Philadelphia schools are merged after severe budget cuts, the film traces the Cougars as they learn their oft-drilled mottos - humility, hunger - and bring these precepts...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
Between January and August of 2014, local cinemas worldwide entertained moviegoers with themes of sci-fi, documentaries, animation, fairy tales, horror and thrillers.
Glowing up on the big screen were images of clicking colorful bricks, racing trains, mysterious creatures, superheroes – both shielded and guarded, coming-of-age tales and a fond farewell to the best Movie Geek ever.
Small and original storylines or epic stories with big stars, it’s been a good time at the movies this year and a lot for ticket buyers to choose from.
With so many to great films in the first half of 2014, including Snowpiercer, Under The Skin, Enemy, Lone Survivor, Edge Of Tomorrow, and Noah, whittling it down to a list of our “10 Favorite Movies of 2014… So Far” was a challenge.
Check out our lineup and let us know in our comments section below what your favorite movies have been this year. Some of these films are »
- Movie Geeks
If you're like us, you can't wait for the first day of every month, because you know that Netflix is going to add a ton of new movies and TV shows. You refresh your account over and over again at midnight, hoping that those titles listed in the "Recently Added" section update with something new and exciting rather than the same ol' titles you've been staring at for the last four weeks.
Well, lo and behold, we've gathered the most exciting movies and TV shows being added to America's most popular streaming service, straight from Netflix themselves.
"Rocky" fans will be pumped to know that the first five boxing flicks (sorry, "Rocky Balboa" fans) will be added August 1, joining other '70s, '80s, and '90s movie favorites "Face/Off" (slow-motion doves!), "Mad Max" (apocalyptic leather!), "Spice World" (spice up your life!), "The Birdcage" (Calista Flockhart was in this, »
- Tim Hayne
Prior to this year, Steve James was best known as the director of "Hoop Dreams."
The three-hour film about inner-city Chicago basketball players drew the attention of noted movie critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and its lack of nomination for an Oscar that year caused it to gain considerable notoriety and loud support from the famed critic pair.
Decades on, James was tasked with bringing Roger Ebert's memoir, "Life Itself," to the screen. When the subject died suddenly midway through filming, the work became a kind of elegy to the writer and critic known throughout the world for his wit and love of film.
The resulting work is one sure to be well-considered at awards time, a touching and moving film that still spares no punches, telling a wonderfully rounded picture of the man and his role in the history of cinema. Moviefone Canada spoke with James a »
- Jason Gorber
The documentary Life Itself, currently in theaters and on VOD outlets, is a valentine to its subject -- the late Roger Ebert -- but avoids oversentimentality or blind hero-worship. Steve James deftly balances a biography of the film critic and author with a moving look at his last days.
James is a little more present as a narrator in this documentary than in his other films (Hoop Dreams, Reel Paradise), explaining the situation surrounding the most contemporary footage. He and Ebert planned an ambitious series of interviews and other location shooting, but Ebert was hospitalized and both his time and energy became more limited. James works capably with what he can get -- a few meetings in the hospital, questions emailed one at a time. Watching Ebert as he struggles to get through each day is heartbreaking.
The shots of what we know are Ebert's last days are interspersed »
- Jette Kernion
Few things are more exciting for hardcore cinephiles than the semi-annual Barnes and Noble Criterion sale. For a few precious weeks a year, super high-quality Blu-Rays of obscure and influential classic films are on the relative cheap. Most noteworthy: they look really, Really pretty.
Most Criterion-heads are lining up to pick up A Hard Day’s Night, Red River, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, and other newer (fiction) releases—as they should because they’re all awesome releases. But how about a little love for the documentary?
Maybe you don’t think docs have a ton of rewatch value, and maybe you’re right in some cases. Criterion’s A+ supplements and video quality—not to mention the timelessness of the films they choose—ought to be enough to sway you in the right direction. But if they aren’t, we’re diving a little deeper into ten of the best Criterion documentaries ever. »
- John Gilpatrick
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
One of America's greatest film critics received a welcome honor this past weekend. "Life Itself," the documentary chronicling the career of Roger Ebert, opened in limited release grossing $131,411 in 23 theaters. That might not seem substantial, except when you realize the doc debuted simultaneously on VOD, a modern day necessity for small films that the technologically forward thinking Ebert may have been more than Ok with (or not). Directed by Steve James ("Hoop Dreams"), "Life Itself" is inspired by Ebert's memoir of the same name and features substantial footage of the Pulitzer Prize-winner months before his death. Many Americans know Ebert from his days as one half of "Siskel and Ebert at the Movies," but this movie does an enlightening job revealing relatively unknown aspects of the longtime movie reviewer's life. I didn't know Ebert personally, although a number of my friends were lucky enough to regularly correspond with him. »
- Gregory Ellwood
For moviegoers and critics alike, Steve James’ documentary Life Itself is a very special film, as it looks at the life of world famous movie critic Roger Ebert. Based on the memoir of the same name, James takes us back to the beginning as we see how Ebert became the head film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, how his relationship with Gene Siskel evolved, and how the loss of his voice made him all the more prolific as a writer.
While I unfortunately never had the honor of meeting Roger Ebert before he passed away, I did get to meet his wife Chaz when she arrived in Los Angeles, California to do some press for the new documentary. While there she was joined by James, whose films Hoop Dreams, Stevie and The Interrupters Roger championed endlessly.
During our exclusive interview, we spoke about how much the documentary changed through production, »
- Ben Kenber
Chicago – We’d all be so lucky to live a full life of love, success and dignity. But earning it and then dying with it is the ultimate accomplishment.
The film festival hit “Life Itself” honestly portrays the life and death of a great man that any man or woman can strive to emulate. In the face of terminal cancer and leaving an empire and the love of your life behind, not many people can close the curtains as Roger Ebert did with so much humility, humor and grace.
But I admit it: I’m typically not a documentary kind of guy. You have to care about the person or the subject or the cause. While the filmmakers always deeply do, many fail to make you feel the same way. “Life Itself” isn’t selling you. Even if this man somehow never touched your life at all, you’ll »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
“Life Itself,” a documentary about iconic movie critic Roger Ebert, got off to a promising start at the specialty box office, and holdovers “Begin Again” and “Snowpiercer” also impressed this weekend. Directed by Oscar nominee Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”), the film is based on Ebert's 2011 memoir by the same name. Distributor Magnolia Pictures debuted “Life Itself” in 23 theaters in 14 markets and it took in $138,000 for a solid $6,000 per-screen average. It was also available for viewing on digital platforms and via video on demand. Also read: Roger Ebert Remembered in ‘Life Itself': 15 Excerpts From His Most Legendary Reviews Magnolia's plan. »
- Todd Cunningham
Note: Life Itself is now in theaters and on demand. To mark the occasion, we’re republishing our interview with director Steve James that took place following the film’s premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Steve James credits Roger Ebert with launching his career. It was Ebert’s championing of James’ first film Hoop Dreams, at the […]
- Germain Lussier
[This is a re-post of my review from the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Life Itself opens in limited release today.] Roger Ebert was quite possibly the most revered film critic in history, and it’s not likely he’ll be eclipsed anytime soon. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer had a knack for penning his thoughts on a film in a way that was both illuminating and accessible, and his life had a massive impact on the world of film criticism as a whole. Ebert championed many filmmakers throughout his career, including Hoop Dreams director Steve James, and Ebert is the focus of James’ latest documentary, Life Itself. The film acts as a fascinating, loving, and ultimately heartbreaking tribute to the life and legacy of Roger Ebert. Read my full review after the jump. Adapted from Ebert’s autobiography of the same name, Life Itself is framed by video interviews conducted with Ebert during the final years of his life. James was granted access to Ebert as the film critic was hospitalized »
- Adam Chitwood
Chicago – We will never see the likes of his kind again – the influential arbiter of cinematic taste, whose magic thumb could make or break the dreams of both filmmaker and film fan. The journey of Roger Ebert, the most influential film critic of our times, is told in the new documentary, “Life Itself.”
Based on his excellent 2011 memoir of the same name, “Life Itself” is created with deep perspective and truth by director Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”). James develops the story through the the last few years of Ebert’s life, in which the struggle to maintain his film critique truth clashed with the realities of his battle against cancer. With the rare opportunity to go inside that situation, the film takes us through Roger’s life story in contrast to his last days, which shines a spotlight on how triumphant that amazing life was. Roger was at the »
- email@example.com (Adam Fendelman)
Directed by: Steve James
Running Time: 1 hr 55 mins
Release Date: July 4, 2014 (Chicago)
Plot: The life story of Roger Ebert, Film Critic.
Who’S It For? Anyone who has ever loved a movie.
In terms of what’s out there that is worth checking out, Life Itself is the movie of the summer. Its experience is a direct recognition of a quality that Ebert has said is most important regarding a film, before considering it for either “Great Movies” or “Your Movie Sucks” levels — to engage with it emotionally. Warmed by the embrace of this moving documentary from director Steve James, I filled Ebert’s last screening room with my big dumb laugh more than a few times, and tried to cry quietly while watching passages about the true loves in his life. To watch footage of Ebert in his twilight time, and to listen »
- Nick Allen
Directed by: Steve James Written by: N/A (though based on the memoir Life Itself by Roger Ebert) Main Cast: Talking Head type appearances by the likes of Roger Ebert, Chaz Ebert, Steve James, Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, and many more… Past Oscar relations: Steve James was nominated for Best Film Editing for Hoop Dreams Here now we have a brand spanking new article in this series of mine on 2014 releases hoping to compete for some sort of Oscar attention as contenders at the upcoming 2015 ceremony. Next up for us is the documentary Life Itself, which looks to become the latest doc to bring a tear to an Academy voter’s eye. This documentary about the life of Roger Ebert comes to us from Steve James, a documentarian who is greatly admired in the industry, not unlike the late great Ebert himself. He’s yet to actually score a Best Documentary Feature nomination, »
- Joey Magidson
Without question, Roger Ebert is the most recognizable figure in American film criticism, possibly even international criticism, and deservingly so. Ebert helped curious minds alive today better understand movies and what they were trying to say, moving past the obvious and always finding something deeper. "Life Itself" is based on Ebert's memoir of the same name, but the film goes far beyond the book's last page. This documentary actually started shooting months before Ebert knew he was going to die, and the bulk of the focus is on his many relentless and rigorous battles to stay alive, as well as highs and lows in his life—there’s no soft-pedaling here. One very admirable trait about Ebert—when he learned he was going to die, and very soon, he wanted the show to go on. Like the showboat he deservingly was, Ebert had acclaimed director Steve James ("Hoop Dreams, »
- Chase Whale
Steve James’s Roger Ebert documentary, Life Itself, is a tender portrait of the late film critic, who managed to put an apparently Brobdingnagian ego to benevolent, ultimately life-affirming ends. James—whose Hoop Dreams was the beneficiary of a fervent campaign by Ebert—cuts back and forth between Ebert’s last days and the story of his rise, first as a daily newspaper critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, then as co-host with Gene Siskel of Sneak Previews (later Siskel & Ebert & the Movies). Friends and colleagues allude to the hugeness, the Chicago-ness of the man—the appetite for food, booze (until he sobered up in 1979), raucous storytelling, and sex. (“He had the worst taste in women … gold-diggers, opportunists, or psychos,” says one old pal.) But that portrait is poignantly at odds with the man who appears on-camera missing much of his lower face, a flap of skin hanging in the approximate »
- David Edelstein
Chicago – The iconic film critic and renaissance man, Roger Ebert, deservedly gets a full documentary film treatment of his 2011 memoir, “Life Itself,” and who better to create it than the Chicago-based director of “Hoop Dreams,” Steve James. And who better to produce and guide it than Roger’s soulmate, his wife Chaz Ebert.
Steve James has been a conscientious filmmaker ever since his career began, and after the amazing reception for “Hoop Dreams” (1994), he has made many other notable documentaries including “Stevie” (2002), “At the Death House Door” (2008), The Interrupters” (2011) and “Head Games” (2012). James got the assignment for “Life Itself” personally from Roger and Chaz Ebert, working with Roger on the project right up to the film critic’s death.
Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures
Chaz Hammelsmith Ebert met Roger in 1989, and they were married three years later. She was by his »
- firstname.lastname@example.org (Adam Fendelman)
This Independence Day weekend, Roger Ebert returns to the movies in the documentary Life Itself, based on the legendary film critic's memoir of the same name. Hoop Dreams director Steve James has painted a wonderful and honest portrait of the man known for putting his thumb up and down towards thousands of movies throughout his decorated career. So we figure there's no better time to look into the past when Ebert first took to TV with his would-be adversary and friend Gene Siskel, all the way back in 1975. Their first show was a mouthful, "Opening Soon at a Theater Near You," and it's full of 70s glory (and jumpy video like it's a bad Vcr) with just a hint of the chemistry that makes these two a dynamic duo. Here's the first episode of "Opening Soon at a Theater Near You" with Siskel & Ebert (via The Playlist): Life Itself »
- Ethan Anderton
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