Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert in "Life Itself," Matthew McConaughey in "Interstellar"

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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Jack Nicholson in "Psych-Out"

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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essays

50 Essays Guaranteed to Make You a Better Person

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It’s hard to be a person in the world today — or, really, any day, but today’s what we’ve got. Humans are striving creatures, and also empathetic ones, so most of us are always looking for an opportunity to improve ourselves, even in tiny, literary ways. We’ve already established that novels can make you a better person, but of course, novels also take you down a long winding road to get there. If you’re looking for a more direct shot to the heart, try an essay. After the jump, you’ll find 50 essays more or less guaranteed to make you a better person — or at least a better-read one — some recommended by notables of the literary and literary nonfiction world, some recommended by yours truly, incessant consumer of the written word. Don’t see the essay that changed your life? Please do add it to the list.
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25 Delightful Roger Ebert Quotes About Movies

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The documentary Life Itself, a poignant tribute that celebrates Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert, was released in theaters this weekend. Generations grew up reading the Chicago Sun-Times journalist and watching him on television with sparring partner Gene Siskel, where the duo coined their “two thumbs up” phrase for positive reviews in the series At the Movies. Ebert’s barbed wit, grace, and passion touched the most discerning cineastes, but he was also known as a critic for the common man. He battled cancer for more than a decade, which necessitated the removal of his lower jaw, but it never stole his ability to write — which he did until his death last year. Two days before his passing, Ebert announced he was taking a “leave of presence” on RogerEbert.com. “What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away,” he wrote. And he hasn’t, leaving us with his beautiful words and wisdom about cinema and beyond. In celebration of the release of Life Itself, we’re revisiting some of Ebert’s most delightful quotes about one of his greatest loves — film.
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roger and chaz

“I Give It Two Thumbs Up”: Chaz Ebert on ‘Life Itself’ and Her Husband, Roger Ebert

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If you are a fan of the movies, if Siskel and Ebert’s At the Movies meant anything to you, if some sly wording by the late Roger Ebert in a column from his 46 years as The Chicago Sun-Times‘ film critic convinced you to see the film that changed your life, you should probably go see Life Itself, the new documentary about America’s film critic, in the theater. As his widow, Chaz Ebert, tells me over the phone, “I think it’s so poetic that a man like Roger, who spent his whole life reviewing movies, ends up ending his life on the big screen.”
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