Roger Ebert

Todd Haynes on the Making (and Burying) of ‘Superstar’ and the Genius of ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls’

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Todd Haynes is a helluva storyteller. I don’t mean via the medium of film, though of course the statement holds true there (as anyone who’s seen Safe or Far From Heaven or his latest masterpiece Carol can tell you); I mean he spins a good yarn in person, as those of us who were lucky enough to attend his program at Film Society of Lincoln Center Saturday can attest.
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The 6 Best Movies to Buy or Stream This Week: ‘Interstellar,’ ‘Life Itself’

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This week’s 800-pound gorilla on the home viewing scene is Christopher Nolan’s monster hit Interstellar, which gets a gorgeous transfer and a ton of extras. But if that blockbuster space epic isn’t quite your speed, there’s an abundance of other options (even more than we usually spotlight): two rediscovered gems from the ‘40s and ‘50s, one of the classics of international cinema, possibly the best documentary, oh, ever, and the latest from one of the makers of that documentary.
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The 10 Most ’60s Movies of the ’60s

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There’s something specifically, quaintly wonderful about the counterculture movies of the late ‘60s: the costumes, the slang-y dialogue, the hallucinogen-inspired cinematography, the way the color temperatures have faded just so. Fans of the period are in for a treat this week, as Olive Films has debuted sparkling new Blu-ray editions of two key ‘60s indies: Roger Corman’s The Wild Angels and Richard Rush’s Psych-Out; in celebration of that release, a look at those films and a handful of others that best encapsulate the period (or, at least, cinema’s best attempts to capture it).
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Must-Hear Audio Books Narrated by Pop Culture Favorites

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“As a narrator, [Edward] Herrmann has presence, and his rich, patrician voice is unmistakable, but he never upstages the text, instead drawing in the listener with authority and calm assurance. He has a voice we love to listen to,” wrote AudioFile Magazine of the famed character actor who passed away earlier this week. Herrmann’s distinctive tones have elevated the art of the narrator. We’re looking at other famous faces who went behind the scenes to give life to the literature we love.
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A Brief History of Film Artists Who Aren’t Doing This for Critics

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Another late-summer weekend, more terrible news at the box office: according to Box Office Mojo, last weekend was the worst for movie-going in two years, and barely better than the worst of the last decade. The main reason: nothing to see, since the sole new wide release was a bizarre bit of faith-based Elvis fan fiction called The Identical. It couldn’t even crack the top ten, grossing a miserable $977 per screen, and who’s to blame? Film critics, who drubbed the movie (it’s currently sitting at four percent on Rotten Tomatoes) — at least according to co-star Ashley Judd, who used her Twitter feed to call The Identical “a beautiful, heartfelt movie cynics wait to excoriate & non critics/real people adore it!!”
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‘The Simpsons,’ ‘The Wire,’ and Why You Should Care About Cropped TV Shows

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“I hold this truth to be self-evident, that all movies deserve to be seen in their original aspect ratios,” Roger Ebert wrote in 2001, describing a Chicago outdoor film series where classic movies were being “cropped” to create a widescreen presentation — leading, he fumed, to a screening of An American in Paris where “the projector was cutting off, among other things, Gene Kelly’s feet” and a Top Hat presentation “cutting off of the even more sublime feet of Astaire and Rogers.” That series was presented by HBO, who elected to screen the films in widescreen “so that people will not think we’re showing television.” That was 13 years ago, before HDTV put a wide screen in everyone’s living room, and now even television itself isn’t safe. Hard on the heels of FXX’s Simpsons marathon, which cropped all of the show’s pre-2009 episodes, HBO has announced a “remastering” of The Wire, and rumor has it that show will be cropped to widescreen as well. We’re seeing a trend here. And it’s a genuinely worrisome one.
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