Posts tagged with “Ebertfest”
So this is not exactly the post we had planned a couple of weeks ago. Serious Movie Lover is heading to Ebertfest for our fourth (!) time, and while we’re thrilled to get to experience more of Roger Ebert’s carefully selected gems, we can’t help but think it will be very sad to turn around not see him sitting in his comfy recliner in the back of the Virginia Theatre. We feel honored to be able to celebrate Ebert’s life in a town that genuinely revered him.
You can keep up with the fest by following @ebertfest (they have linked to some lovely tributes over the last couple of weeks), and we’re sure there will be a hashtag of some kind? We will totally figure this Twitter thing out as soon as it isn’t cool anymore.
We’ll have a review of the entire experience for you on April 26–and some photos of the newly restored Virginia Theatre! Please forgive us if we’re a little oversentimental. The official schedule:
7 p.m.: “Days Of Heaven”
Followed by: “I Remember”
1 p.m.: “Vincent: The Life and Death of Vincent Van Gogh”
4 p.m.: “In The Family”
9 p.m.: “Bernie”
1 p.m.: “Oslo, August 31st”
4 p.m.: “The Ballad of Narayama”
8:30 p.m.: “Julia”
11 a.m.: “Blancanieves”
2 p.m.: “Kumar”
5 p.m.: “Escape From Tomorrow”
9 p.m.: “The Spectacular Now”
Noon: “Not Yet Begun To Fight”
Having kept a low profile thus far due to a recent fall, Roger Ebert started day 3 with a brief and very welcome onstage appearance to read (via his laptop’s soothing, otherworldly voice) the introduction he had written for his good friend Paul Cox, who was in attendance (heck, the whole festival was dedicated to him) to accompany the 2011 feature documentary by David Bradbury about Cox’s recent health struggles, On Borrowed Time. After only a minute or two standing at the podium, Ebert had to step down and content himself with sitting next to his wife and fest host, Chaz Ebert, who finished reading his introduction. Read more »
While Ebertfest 2012 started out with a disappointing announcement—one of this year’s big name guests, comedian/actor Patton Oswalt, cancelled his fest appearances only minutes before opening night remarks by producer/co-host Chaz Ebert—the capacity crowd’s unbridled enthusiasm in Champaign, Illinois’ gloriously shabby chic Virginia Theatre was in no way diminished.
While SML wasn’t initially super excited about revisiting opening night feature Joe Versus the Volcano, the quirky fantasy was enthusiastically received, and won our hearts with its surreal staging, quirky, absurd dialogue, and top notch comic performances–Tom Hanks, his mullet wig, and Meg Ryan, a comedy knockout playing three very different and well defined characters. In the following Q&A with Joe Director of Photography Stephen Goldblatt, when panelist Christy Lemire mentioned that Goldblatt’s most recent works were Julie & Julia and The Help, the people sitting behind SML cried out, “Wow!” and “Oh my God!” for altogether different reasons than had SML upon discovering this info weeks before.
A comedic short film preceded the next feature, entertaining internet personality spoof The Truth About Beauty & Blogs, amounts to a fun homemade actor’s reel, which is pretty much what it was, according to very smartly dressed writer/co-producer/actor Kelechie Ezie in the Q&A.
Closing out opening night was Phunny Business: A Black Comedy, a laugh a minute, but often too slick by half documentary about entrepreneur Raymond Lambert’s famous Chicago comedy club All Jokes Aside, a spectacular crossroads of black comedy partly responsible for helping launch heavyweights like Steve Harvey, Dave Chappelle, Bernie Mac, and Cedric the Entertainer. While there are plenty of laughs throughout, the onscreen narration by subject/writer/producer Lambert felt forced and oversold, and exactly like the talking heads in today’s crop of “unscripted” reality shows. The result felt self-aggrandizing and a little phony. But luckily, with so many interesting, funny interviews and consistently hilarious clips from the club’s early ’90s heyday, this can only be a very minor complaint.
In the following Q&A, director John Davies told a funny story about when he worked as a Production Assistant for “Sneak Previews” back in its early public television days and once rewrote part of an Ebert review while transcribing it for the teleprompter. When Ebert reached the new lines he called over Davies and gave him a few stern words, followed by the christening of a new nickname: Functional Illiterate.
Stay tuned for recaps of Days 2 through 5, featuring the Alloy Orchestra, momentary eye contact with Doug Benson of “Doug Loves Movies,” and an all-strings version of “Smooth Criminal”!
Sarah: Kimberly! Finally our cries are answered! Roger Ebert announced his new movie review show this week, to begin airing on PBS in January. I am super sad to see that our pals A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips won’t be involved in this new version of the show. And I’ll admit that I don’t know much about either of the new hosts, Christy Lemire of the Associated Press and Elvis Mitchell of NPR, except to say that I hardly ever agree with movie reviews I hear on NPR. Regular contributors Kim Morgan (wait, was she the be-pig-tailed object of your derision at Ebertfest this year?) and Omar Moore are also a mystery to me, and the bits I saw of them in the preview Ebert posted (linked above, take a look) don’t make me want to get to know them, exactly. Morgan’s special lesson about the historic value of The Third Man is especially off-putting, because I tend to resent this sort of “re-examination” of cultural objects that have already been widely accepted as really great. Like when Oprah told us all we should read Steinbeck. Should we, Oprah? What a totally edgy and unusual opinion to share! If only that author could somehow be incorporated into the curriculum of most high school literature courses! HOWEVER (all caps, getting back on track), I am still excited to watch this show based entirely on my trust in Mr. Ebert, National Treasure™. I wasn’t sure I’d like Richard Roeper or Phillips when they started hosting their versions of the show, and damn, if I didn’t enjoy both of them after a short adjustment period. Plus, disagreeing with the reviewers isn’t always a bad thing, as long as they have some insight to share. Most of all, the short clip in the preview of Ebert typing his review of a documentary I’ve never heard of, with his computer voice reading as he types, and giving it a thumbs up made me a little teary with joy. That segment alone will make this show worth tuning in for each week. This TV format of film reviewing has been sorely missed in my house since the sad last episode of Scotlips’ “At the Movies.” Can’t wait! You? Read more »