Above Image: Roger Ebert
Yesterday was a sad day for film lovers. Roger Ebert, one of the film reviewers for Siskel & Ebert, has died at age 70. He had been struggling with cancer for a long time.
In honor of the man, this special edition of "Geek Bits" has
1. Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
Dr. Strangelove's humor is generated by a basic comic principle: People trying to be funny are never as funny as people trying to be serious and failing. The laughs have to seem forced on unwilling characters by the logic of events. A man wearing a funny hat is not funny. But a man who doesn't know he's wearing a funny hat ... ah, now you've got something."
2. The Terminator (1984)
"The first Terminator movie I regret (I suppose) I did not see. I know with a certainty approaching dread that all of my questions will be explained to me in long detailed messages from 'Terminator' experts. They also will charge me with not seeing the movie before I reviewed it. Believe me, I would have enjoyed traveling forward through time for two hours, starting just before I saw the movie. But in regard to the answers to my questions: You know what? I don't care." (Reviewing Terminator Salvation)
3. The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
"Seen today, Whale's masterpiece is more surprising than when it was made because today's audiences are more alert to its buried hints of homosexuality, necrophilia and sacrilege. But you don't have to deconstruct it to enjoy it."
4. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
Mad Max 2 [released in the United States as The Road Warrior] is a film of pure action, of kinetic energy organized around the barest possible bones of a plot. It has a vision of a violent future world, but it doesn't develop that vision with characters and dialogue. It would rather plunge headlong into one of the most relentlessly aggressive movies ever made. I walked out of Mad Max 2 a little dizzy and with my ears still ringing from the roar of the sound track; I can't say I "enjoyed" the film, but I'll hardly forget it.
5. Escape From New York
Escape From New York is far from what it could have been, but it does have sufficient energy and the idea is different. Carpenter is a bit more than a competent director and he comes up with some nice camera work, instilling a sense of eeriness. But, unlike his previous efforts, this one falls a little short in shaking up the adrenalin. The ending is clever and not really unexpected."
6. Sleeper (1973)
"Sleeper is the closest Allen has come to classic slapstick-and-chase comedy, and he's good at it."
7. Metropolis (1927)
"Few films have ever been more visually exhilarating."
8. Nosferatu (1922)
"To watch F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu' (1922) is to see the vampire movie before it had really seen itself. Here is the story of Dracula before it was buried alive in clichés, jokes, TV skits, cartoons and more than 30 other films. The film is in awe of its material. It seems to really believe in vampires."
9. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
"Spielberg left it open for all of us. That's the sign of a great filmmaker: He only explains what he has to explain."
10. Aliens (1986)
"The ads for Aliens claim that this movie will frighten you as few movies have, and, for once, the ads don't lie."
11. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
""Schwarzenegger's genius as a movie star is to find roles that build on, rather than undermine, his physical and vocal characteristics."
12. Silent Running (1972)
Silent Running isn't, in the last analysis, a very profound movie, nor does it try to be. (If it had, it could have been a pretentious disaster.) It is about a basically uncomplicated man faced with an awesome, but uncomplicated, situation. Given a choice between the lives of his companions and the lives of Earth's last surviving firs and pines, oaks and elms, and creepers and cantaloupes, he decides for the growing things. After all, there are plenty of men. His problem is that, after a while, he begins to miss them.
13. Serenity (2005)
"I'm not sure the movie would have much appeal for non-sci-fi fans, but it has the rough edges and brawny energy of a good yarn, and it was made by and for people who can't get enough of this stuff. You know who you are."
14. Brazil (1985)
"Very hard to follow. It reminded of a Chaplin film, Modern Times, and reminded, too, that in Chaplin economy and simplicity were virtues, not the enemy."
15. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
"This is a dark and heavy film; it tests the weight a superhero movie can bear. That Nolan is able to combine civil anarchy, mass destruction and a Batcycle with exercise-ball tires is remarkable. That he does it without using 3D is admirable. That much of it was shot in the 70mm IMAX format allows it to make that giant screen its own. That it concludes the trilogy is inevitable; how much deeper can Nolan dig? It lacks the near-perfection of The Dark Knight (2008), it needs more clarity and a better villain, but it's an honorable finale."
16. Repo Man (1984)
"Repo Man is one of those movies that slips through the cracks and gives us all a little weirdo fun. It is the first movie I know about that combines (1) punk teenagers, (2) automobile repossessors, and (3) aliens from outer space. This is the kind of movie that baffles Hollywood, because it isn't made from any known formula and doesn't follow the rules."
17. The Iron Giant (1999)
"It must be tough to get a movie like this made. Disney has the traditional animation market locked up, but other studios seem willing to throw money at Disney musical look-alikes (like The King and I) even though they might have a better chance moving in the opposite direction--toward real stories told straight. The Iron Giant, based on a book by the recently deceased British poet laureate Ted Hughes, is not just a cute romp but an involving story that has something to say."
18. Alien (1979)
"At its most fundamental level, Alien is a movie about things that can jump out of the dark and kill you. It shares a kinship with the shark in Jaws, Michael Myers in Halloween, and assorted spiders, snakes, tarantulas and stalkers. Its most obvious influence is Howard Hawks' The Thing (1951), which was also about a team in an isolated outpost who discover a long-dormant alien, bring it inside, and are picked off one by one as it haunts the corridors. Look at that movie, and you see Alien in embryo."
19. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
"The Empire Strikes Back is the best of three Star Wars films, and the most thought-provoking. After the space opera cheerfulness of the original film, this one plunges into darkness and even despair, and surrenders more completely to the underlying mystery of the story. It is because of the emotions stirred in Empire that the entire series takes on a mythic quality that resonates back to the first and ahead to the third. This is the heart."
20. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
"There is, I suspect, a sense in which you can be too sophisticated for your own good when you see a movie like this. Some of the early reviews seemed pretty blase, as if the critics didn't allow themselves to relish the film before racing out to pigeonhole it. My inclination, as I slid down in my seat and the stereo sound surrounded me, was to relax and let the movie give me a good time. I did and it did. "
21. Back to the Future (1985)
"One of the things all teenagers believe is that their parents were never teenagers. Their parents were, perhaps, children once. They are undeniably adults now. but how could they have ever been teenagers, and yet not understand their own children? This vi [missing text] teenagers by being one. But Back to the Future is even more hopeful: It argues that you can travel back in time to the years when your parents were teenagers, and straighten them out right at the moment when they needed help the most."
22. Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
"Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth is one of the cinema's great fantasies, rich with darkness and wonder. It's a fairy tale of such potency and awesome beauty that it reconnects the adult imagination to the primal thrill and horror of the stories that held us spellbound as children. If you recall the chills that ran down your spine and the surreal humor that tickled your brain in the presence of 'Alice in Wonderland, Little Red Riding Hood or The Wizard of Oz when you were a child (or, later, in the nightmarish dream-films of Luis Bunuel, Jean Cocteau, F.W. Murnau or David Cronenberg), you'll discover those sensations once again, buried deep in the heart of Pan's Labyrinth."
23. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
"It was E. E. Cummings, the poet, who said he'd rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach 10,000 stars how not to dance. I imagine Cummings would not have enjoyed Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, in which stars dance but birds do not sing. The fascinating thing about this film is that it fails on the human level but succeeds magnificently on a cosmic scale."
24. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
"Here was the year's wacky special effects extravaganza, a virtuoso combination of live action and animation. The most extraordinary thing about the film was the way the animated characters were integrated into the human world--shadows and all. We've seen cartoon characters sitting on people's shoulders before, but in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? they were also pulling in their lapels, socking them in the jaw, and (in the case of the pneumatic Jessica Rabbit) suggesting a little hanky-panky."
25. Groundhog Day (1993)
"Formula comedies are a dime a dozen. Those based on an original idea are more rare, and Groundhog Day, apart from everything else, is a demonstration of the way time can sometimes give us a break. Just because we're born as SOBs doesn't mean we have to live that way. The film is lovable and sweet."
26. The Princess Bride (1987)
"The Princess Bride begins as a story that a grandfather is reading out of a book. But already the movie has a spin on it, because the grandfather is played by Peter Falk, and in the distinctive quality of his voice we detect a certain edge. His voice seems to contain a measure of cynicism about fairy stories, a certain awareness that there are a lot more things on heaven and Earth than have been dreamed of by the Brothers Grimm."
27. Solyaris (Solaris) (1976)
"There was so much to think about afterward, and so much that remained in my memory."
28. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)
"These are all, however, more observations than criticisms. George Lucas has achieved what few artists do; he has created and populated a world of his own. His 'Star Wars' movies are among the most influential, both technically and commercially, ever made. And they are fun. If he got bogged down in solemnity and theory in 'Episode II: Attack of the Clones,' the Force is in a jollier mood this time, and 'Revenge of the Sith' is a great entertainment."
29. Star Trek (2009)
"Star Trek as a concept has voyaged far beyond science fiction and into the safe waters of space opera, but that doesn’t amaze me. The Gene Roddenberry years, when stories might play with questions of science, ideals or philosophy, have been replaced by stories reduced to loud and colorful action. Like so many franchises, it’s more concerned with repeating a successful formula than going boldly where no “Star Trek” has gone before."
30. Inception (2010)
"The movies often seem to come from the recycling bin these days: Sequels, remakes, franchises. Inception does a difficult thing. It is wholly original, cut from new cloth, and yet structured with action movie basics so it feels like it makes more sense than (quite possibly) it does. I thought there was a hole in Memento: How does a man with short-term memory loss remember he has short-term memory loss? Maybe there's a hole in 'Inception' too, but I can't find it. Christopher Nolan reinvented Batman. This time he isn't reinventing anything. Yet few directors will attempt to recycle 'Inception.' I think when Nolan left the labyrinth, he threw away the map."
31. Re-Animator (1985)
"We have been assaulted by a lurid imagination, amazed by unspeakable sights, blind-sided by the movie's curiously dry sense of humor. I guess that's our money's worth."
32. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
"The new editing moves the film along at a faster, more absorbing pace to the mind-stretching conclusion. Close Encounters, which was already a wonderful film, now transcends itself; it's one of the great moviegoing experiences. If you've seen it before, I'm afraid that now you'll have to see it again."
33. Time Bandits (1981)
"First reactions while viewing TIME BANDITS: It's amazingly well-produced. The historic locations are jammed with character and detail. This is the only live-action movie I've seen that literally looks like pages out of Heavy Metal magazine, with kings and swordsmen and wide-eyed little boys and fearsome beasts. But the movie's repetitive, monotonous in the midst of all this activity. Basically, it's just a kid and six dwarfs racing breathlessly through one set piece after another, shouting at one another. I walked out of the screening in an unsettled state of mind. When the lights go up, I'm usually fairly certain whether or not I've seen a good movie. But my reaction to TIME BANDITS was ambiguous. I had great admiration for what was physically placed on the screen; this movie is worth seeing just to watch. But I was disappointed by the breathless way the dramatic scenes were handled and by a breakneck pace that undermined the most important element of comedy, which is timing."
34. The Dark Knight (2008)
"The Dark Knight is not a simplistic tale of good and evil. Batman is good, yes, The Joker is evil, yes. But Batman poses a more complex puzzle than usual: The citizens of Gotham City are in an uproar, calling him a vigilante and blaming him for the deaths of policemen and others. And the Joker is more than a villain. He’s a Mephistopheles whose actions are fiendishly designed to pose moral dilemmas for his enemies."
35. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
"That movie is at No. 202 in IMDb's top 250. Its message, timely for the nuclear age, is that mankind would be exterminated if we didn't stop killing one another. The message of the 2008 version is that we should have voted for Al Gore." (reviewing The Day the Earth Stood Still 2008)
37. Ghostbusters (1984)
"Ghostbusters is a head-on collision between two comic approaches that have rarely worked together very successfully. This time, they do. It's (1) a special-effects blockbuster, and (2) a sly dialogue movie, in which everybody talks to each other like smart graduate students who are in on the joke. In the movie's climactic scenes, an apocalyptic psychic mindquake is rocking Manhattan, and the experts talk like Bob and Ray."
38. Young Frankenstein (1974)
"From its opening title (which manages to satirize 'Frankenstein and Citizen Kane at the same time) to its closing, uh, refrain, Young Frankenstein is not only as not only a Mel Brooks movie but also a loving commentary on our love-hate affairs with monsters. This time, the monster even gets to have a little love-hate affair of his own."
39. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
"Dawn of the Dead is one of the best horror films ever made -- and, as an inescapable result, one of the most horrifying. It is gruesome, sickening, disgusting, violent, brutal and appalling. It is also (excuse me for a second while I find my other list) brilliantly crafted, funny, droll, and savagely merciless in its satiric view of the American consumer society. Nobody ever said art had to be in good taste."
40. 12 Monkeys
"I've seen 12 Monkeys described as a comedy. Any laughs that it inspires will be very hollow. It's more of a celebration of madness and doom, with a hero who tries to prevail against the chaos of his condition, and is inadequate. This vision is a cold, dark, damp one, and even the romance between Willis and Stowe feels desperate rather than joyous. All of this is done very well, and the more you know about movies (especially the technical side), the more you're likely to admire it. But a comedy it's not. And as an entertainment, it appeals more to the mind than to the senses."
41. Looper (2012)
"Looper a smart and tricky sci-fi story, sidesteps the paradoxes of time travel by embracing them. Most time travel movies run into trouble in the final scenes, when impossibilities pile up one upon another. This film leads to a startling conclusion that wipes out the story's paradoxes so neatly it's as if it never happened. You have to grin at the ingenuity of Johnson's screenplay."
42. Spider-Man 2 (2004)
"The best superhero movie since the modern genre was launched with Superman (1978), and effortlessly [combining] special effects and a human story, keeping its parallel plots alive and moving"
43. Iron Man (2008)
"The world needs another comic book movie like it needs another Bush administration, but if we must have one more (and the Evil Marketing Geniuses at Marvel MegaIndustries will do their utmost to ensure that we always will), Iron Man is a swell one to have. Not only is it a good comic book movie (smart and stupid, stirring and silly, intimate and spectacular), it's winning enough to engage even those who've never cared much for comic books or the movies they spawn. Like me."
44. Children of Men (2006)
"It is above all the look of Children of Men that stirs apprehension in the heart. Is this what we are all headed for? "
45. Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977)
"Every once in a while I have what I think of as an out-of-the-body experience at a movie. When the ESP people use a phrase like that, they're referring to the sensation of the mind actually leaving the body and spiriting itself off to China or Peoria or a galaxy far, far away. When I use the phrase, I simply mean that my imagination has forgotten it is actually present in a movie theater and thinks it's up there on the screen. In a curious sense, the events in the movie seem real, and I seem to be a part of them"
46. Gojira (Godzilla) (1954)
"Regaled for 50 years by the stupendous idiocy of the American version of "Godzilla," audiences can now see the original Japanese version, which is equally idiotic, but, properly decoded, was the "Fahrenheit 9/11" of its time"
47. Superman (1978)
"Superman is a pure delight, a wondrous combination of all the old-fashioned things we never really get tired of: adventure and romance, heroes and villains, earthshaking special effects, and -- you know what else? Wit."
48. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
"The insight of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is that, at the end of the day, our memories are all we really have, and when they're gone, we're gone."
49. Galaxy Quest (1999)
"The movie's humor works best when the illogic of the TV show gets in the way. There is on board, for example, a passageway blocked by alternating vertical and horizontal clappers that smash back and forth across the passageway. Negotiating it could be fatal. Why are they there? No reason. Just because they look good on TV."
50. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
"When they finished writing the script for 'Star Trek IV,' they must have had a lot of silly grins on their faces. This is easily the most absurd of the 'Star Trek' stories - and yet, oddly enough, it is also the best, the funniest and the most enjoyable in simple human terms. I'm relieved that nothing like restraint or common sense stood in their way."
Happy trails Roger Ebert. We always gave you a thumbs up.
In yet another disturbing sign of Disney's acquisition of LucasFilm, they've announced the video game company LucasArts is shutting down (via Wired)
One more reason to go to Orlando theme park: A guy dressed as Megatron walks the park. (via /Film)
Odds & Ends
- Disney has an insane movie release schedule in 2015: The Avengers 2 (May 1), Pirates of the Caribbean 5 (July, TBD), Pixar's Inside Out (June 19), Star Wars: Episode VII (TBD, could be moved to 2016), Marvel's Ant-Man (November 6) and the just-announced sequel to Finding Nemo, Finding Dory (November 25). (via Movies)
- ‘Ninja Turtles’ Filming Begins Today in New York; ‘Female Models’ Wanted (via Screen Rant)
- Alex J Cavanaugh http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.com
- Pat Dilloway http://ptdilloway.com
- Tony Laplume http://TonyLaplume.blogspot.com, http://fancompanion.blogspot.com, http://mouldwarp.blogspot.com
- Jeremy http://izombielover.blogspot.com, http://jmhdigital.com, http://horrorbloggeralliance.blogspot.com
- Melissa Bradley http://melissasimaginarium.blogspot.com, http://411movienews.blogspot.com
- MPax http://mpaxauthor.com/blog
- SpacerGuy http://startrekspace.blogspot.com
- Tom Badguy http://www.TomBadguy.com
- Colin "Fitz" Biggs http://nevermindpopfilm.blogspot.com
- Liesel K Hill http://musingsonfantasia.blogspot.com, http://lkhill.blogspot.com
Yes, I know we're cheating, but there are a lot of blogs we love that start or end with the same letter! Cassadra at When Geeks Wed provides wedding inspiration for geeks, gamers and everyone in-between. She's also a CG Artist for animated tv series and video games. You can also follow them on Twitter at @WhenGeeksWed
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What do you think of this week's links. Do you have any fond memories of Roger Ebert?
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