Heaven Is for Real
Faith-based film tries reaching past its audience, but falls back on preaching to its own choir way too much.
* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.
The AV Club picks 33 TV shows to binge on over the long weekend; a black writer explains why it's hard to watch 12 Years a Slave with a white person; how Supergirl, of all movies, changed the way Hollywood treated Thanksgiving.
The 2011 edition of a movie critic's dream unreels again this week. In my own home town, I'll be able to show the films of my choice in a classic movie palace, flawlessly projected on a giant screen before a movie-loving audience. To paraphrase Orson Welles when he was given the run of RKO Radio Pictures to make his own movie, it's the biggest train set a boy could ever want.
Ebertfest 2011 runs April 27-May 1. The passes have been sold but we've always been able to find room for everyone in line inside the 1,600-seat Virginia Theater. Its long-term renovation continued this year with work on the lobby, the concession stand and the upstairs lobby. The marquee is a work in progress.
From the Grand Poobah: After much planning with festival director Nate Kohn, here is the schedule for Ebertfest 2011, which Ebert Club members are of course the first to learn about. This schedule is tentative; several guests may be added.Wednesday April 275:00 pm Reception at University President's House (VIP passholders only)7:00 pm METROPOLIS Restored, with the Alloy Orchestra.-----------------Thursday April 289:00 am For Ebert Club members: Meet & Greet coffee and pastries, hosted by Chaz and Roger Ebert at the Illini Union.10:30 am Panel Discussion 1 (Nate Kohn moderates festival guests), Illini Union1:00 pm UMBERTO D, by Vittorio De Sica.3:30 pm MY DOG TULIP, with directors Paul and Sandra Fierlinger in person.8:00 pm TINY FURNITURE (98 min). In person: Kyle Martin, producer; David Call, actor; Alex Karposky, actor.------------------Friday April 299:00 am Panel Discussion 2, (Eric Pierson, moderator), Illini Union10:30 am Panel Discussion 3 (Far Flung Correspondents, Omer Mozaffer, moderator), Illini Union1:00 pm "45365," with directors Turner Ross and Bill Ross in person4:00 pm ME AND ORSON WELLES, with director Richard Linklater in person8:30 pm ONLY YOU, with director Norman Jewison in person-----------------Saturday April 3011:00 am A SMALL ACT. In person: Patti Lee, producer; Jennifer Arnold, director; Hilde Back.2:00 pm World Premiere: LIFE, ABOVE ALL. In person: Oliver Stoltz, producer; Khomotso Manyaka, actor; Michael Barker, distributor.6:30pm LEAVES OF GRASS. In person: Tim Blake Nelson.9:30pm I AM LOVE. In person: Tilda Swinton.---------------Sunday May 1Noon: LOUDER THAN A BOMB. In person: Jon Siskel and Greg Jacobs, directors; Kevin Coval, artistic director and founder; five poets will perform.For additional information and to purchase tickets, visit EBERFEST 2011Metropolis Restored (1927) Directed by Fritz Lang
From its incendiary opening to its somber but exultant conclusion, Spike Lee's grand and important film "Malcolm X" captures the life of a complex, charismatic and gravely misunderstood man who fought for human rights and justice for Africans and African-Americans. The film, based on The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley, is arguably Mr. Lee's best and most universal film, and one of the great American film biographies.
For context, "Malcolm X" had extraordinary publicity leading up to its 1991 production. Numerous black activists in New York City and elsewhere had forecasted that Mr. Lee's film would not accurately depict the essence of Malcolm. "Don't mess Malcolm up," was a refrain the director heard over and over again.
AP -- The science-fiction blockbuster "Avatar" has earned James Cameron his latest nomination for the top honor from the Directors Guild of America. Cameron won the guild prize 12 years ago for "Titanic." Also nominated are Kathryn Bigelow for the Iraq War drama "The Hurt Locker," Lee Daniels for the Harlem teen tale "Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire," Jason Reitman for the recession-era story "Up in the Air" and Quentin Tarantino for the World War II hit "Inglourious Basterds."
From an interview with "Transformers: ROTFL" director Michael Bay at Wall Street Journal Online:
Megan Fox, one of the leads in "Transformers" has criticized your films for being special-effects-driven and not offering so many acting opportunities. Do you agree?
Well, that's Megan Fox for you. She says some very ridiculous things because she's 23 years old and she still has a lot of growing to do. You roll your eyes when you see statements like that and think, "Okay Megan, you can do whatever you want. I got it." But I 100% disagree with her. Nick Cage wasn't a big actor when I cast him, nor was Ben Affleck before I put him in "Armageddon." Shia LaBeouf wasn't a big movie star before he did "Transformers" -- and then he exploded. Not to mention Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, from "Bad Boys." Nobody in the world knew about Megan Fox until I found her and put her in "Transformers." I like to think that I've had some luck in building actors' careers with my films.
So there! But what did Fox actually say about being in "Transformers"? Here are some excerpts from her cover interview in Entertainment Weekly:
LOS ANGELES--Roger Ebert, film critic of the Sun-Times, was granted an Honorary Lifetime Membership in the Directors' Guild of America here Saturday night, receiving two standing ovations.
Nobody ever seemed to know what Dusty Cohl did for a living. He was a lawyer, and it was said he was "in real estate," but in over 30 years I never heard him say one word about business. His full-time occupation was being a friend, and he was one of the best I've ever made.
Q. A blogger named Brian at takes issue with your remarks about Paul Greengrass' long takes in "The Bourne Ultimatum," writing: "I don't recall a single take in this movie that was more than about three seconds long. Either Greengrass really does a spectacular job of not 'calling attention' to those long takes, or Ebert saw a different movie. But it's very strange, no matter what." (From goneelsewhere.wordpress.com:) Who's right?
"Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert," just published by the University of Chicago Press, achieves a first. Though the Sun-Times film critic remains the dean of American cineastes, his essential writings have never been collected in a single volume until now. "Awake in the Dark" surveys his 40-year catalog, including reviews, essays and interviews. The following is an excerpt from the book's introduction, and for the next five weeks we'll publish excerpts here from the collection's highlights in each decade, from the '60s to the '00s.
FFFgoer Andra Takacs files her account of the 2006 Floating Film Festival:
PARK CITY, Utah – Julia Kwan, the director of one of the most beloved films at Sundance this year, didn’t touch a film camera until she was 23. She was studying to be a legal assistant. Her dad worked in a restaurant. Her mom worked in the garment industry. “I’ve yet to meet a relative who makes a living as an artist,” she says. When she told her mom she was studying writing at Ryerson University in Toronto, her sister told her, “Mom thinks you’re studying calligraphy.”
Matthew Modine was attending the Toronto Film Festival launch party for the U.S. edition of Norman Jewison’s autobiography, so the subject of his own memoirs came up. “I don’t know if that book will ever be written,” he said. “But I am publishing Full Metal Diary, which is the diary I kept when I was making Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Full Metal Jacket.’ That was so long ago that when I read it, it’s like the writings of a young actor who doesn’t have a whole lot to do with me. An actor writing journal entries on the set every day, just excited to be working with this great director on this film.”
TORONTO – It was like I had moved to a city where only movie people live. I wandered Toronto on Saturday, from screening to party, and on the busiest day of the 30th annual Toronto Film Festival there were more stars, as MGM liked to say, than in the heavens. Amazing: I ran into Deborah Kara Unger, Ed Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Steve Martin, Anthony Hopkins, Peter Sarsgaard and Maggie Gyllenhaal without even trying to, just because they were right there on the sidewalk or in the hotel lobby.
SAVANNAH, Ga. – The chair moves. It truly does. It may not seem like a big deal to you, because you are a reasonable person who is not obsessed with “Citizen Kane,” but I have seen the movie perhaps 100 times, and analyzed it shot-by-shot in at least 30 sessions at festivals and in class, and I thought it contained no more surprises for me. The beauty of the shot-by-shot approach is that the theater is filled with other eyes watching the screen.
Occasionally the movie industry comes up with a truly boneheaded idea. Jack Valenti unveiled a doozy last week: He announced that signatories of the Motion Picture Association of America would be forbidden to send out the thousands of advance DVD "screeners" that jam the year-end mailboxes of Academy members and critics compiling Best 10 lists.
Oscar turns 75 this year, old enough to write a second volume of its memoirs. The Academy Awards are always called Hollywood's Prom Night, and like all prom nights they inspires a lot of memories and photographs and scrapbooks, and sometimes you go rummaging through them.
The Toronto Film Festival's leadership uses "postmortem" as a verb, and after this year's festival they're going to be postmorteming a lot. Movies were good, acquisitions were high, screenings were crowded, and sometimes tempers were elevated.
TORONTO--A midterm report on the 27th Toronto Film Festival:
TORONTO--Seventy-five of his old friends turned up for lunch Saturday with George Christy. Many of them had logged 10 years or more at his annual soiree at the Four Seasons, where the top stars and directors at the Toronto Film Festival mix with Canadian tycoons and political leaders.
TORONTO -- The ghosts of good films and old friends haunt the streets of Toronto this year. I am in a nostalgic mood, inspired by the 25th anniversary of the festival.
TORONTO -- Canada Every year at the Toronto Film Festival we gather, the friends of George Christy, to have lunch in the Four Seasons Hotel. This is a tradition going back so far that no one except George remembers how it started, or what it represents. Christy, who writes the "Good Life" column for the Hollywood Reporter, invites some 70 of the chosen to a private dining room, where we eat chicken pot pie and gossip among ourselves.
Q. In your review of "Independence Day," referring to the gigantic alien space craft, you write: "an object that size in near-Earth orbit might be expected to cause tidal waves." Tidal waves, or tsunamis, are caused by sudden earth movement, not extraterrestrial objects. However, a craft one-fourth the mass of the moon, if at the same distance as the moon, would result in tides (not tidal waves) approximately 25% above normal--not fun but tolerable. If the mother ship were located one-half the distance of the moon, tidal influence of the ship would be equal to that of the moon. BUT, its orbital speed would be substantially faster, resulting in wild tides. The closer the object, the worse the effect. If the object were in close earth orbit, it wouldn't need "death rays" to destroy cities; since most major cities are seaports, they would be ravaged by wild tides. I suspect this is what you meant and it is a excellent point. (Richard George, San Jacinto, Ca.)
It is 2 a.m. in the disco on board the Holland-America cruise ship Ryndam, and Richard Corliss, the film critic of Time magazine, is onstage during the traditional karoke night of the 4th Almost Annual Floating Film Festival. To the tune of "Don't Be Cruel," he's singing his own lyrics, which involve recent developments in the Chinese cinema.
LOS ANGELES In the old Frank Capra movies, Jimmy Stewart or Gary Cooper would stand up and make a passionate speech in defense of old-fashioned American values, and everybody would cheer and the movie would be over.