NOTE: Life Itself is now in theaters and on demand. To mark the occasion, we’re republishing our interview with director Steve James that took place following the film’s premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Steve James credits Roger Ebert with launching his career. It was Ebert’s championing of James’ first film Hoop Dreams, at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival, which put that film on people’s radars. James scored an Oscar nomination and the film enjoyed a successful box office run. Afterwards, the two remained friends and James was eventually tasked with directing Life Itself, a documentary based on Ebert’s memoir.
Soon after filming began, Ebert tragically passed away. James endured and finished the film in time for the 20th anniversary of the beginning of his relationship with Ebert, the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking look at the career of the man many consider to be the most influential film critic in history.
During Sundance I was lucky enough to talk to James about the film. We discussed his approach to the story, balancing the tragedy with humor, the relationship between critic and filmmaker, and the choice to include Gene Siskel’s story. Check it out below. Read More »
Editor’s Note: The following review was originally published on January 20th 2014 after a screening at the Sundance Film Festival. The review is being republished as the movie is hitting theaters.
A movie about the life of a film critic might sound a tad indulgent, but there’s never been another film critic with the influence and character of Roger Ebert. Almost anyone who’s ever seen a movie in the US (and many other countries) has heard his name or taken one of he and partner Gene Siskel’s patented “Two Thumbs Up” recommendations to the box office. As a young film fan, I remember scouring the TV Guide searching for the Sunday morning broadcasts of Siskel & Ebert, and devouring every episode. In particular, I’ll never forget an episode where Ebert dissected Quentin Tarantino’s camerawork in Pulp Fiction. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of film language. Ebert had that effect on a lot of people.
If Ebert opened up that world to people then Steve James‘ latest documentary Life Itself opens Ebert to the world. Based on Ebert’s autobiography of the same name, the film tells Ebert’s life story, yes, but it does so via the framework of our own love of the movies. Great care is taken to specifically illustrate not only how Ebert changed the face of film criticism, but how he helped us all discover our own passion for the movies.
Make no mistake though, this isn’t some simple love letter. Life Itself is a warts and all dissection as well as a beautiful tribute. Issues such as alcoholism, struggles with weight, ego and sex are all part of his story. This is a vast, entertaining and thought-provoking look at Ebert the man and Ebert the icon.
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(Note: We’ve bumped this for the occasion of the anniversary of the film’s original release on June 20, 1975.)
For moviegoers, there might not be a more quintessential summer movie than Jaws. (Pun intended.) But even if you’ve absorbed every documentary about the making of Steven Spielberg‘s template-setting blockbuster, you’ll probably find something new in Inside Jaws.
Jamie Benning creates what may be the ultimate fan documentaries, or “filmumentaries,” as he calls them. He’s done the job on the original Star Wars trilogy and Raiders of the Lost Ark; now he turns to Jaws. Benning’s films are like hyper-extended commentary tracks that collate interviews, production info and photos, deleted scenes, alternate takes, and other materials into a hyper-detailed “making-of” portrait. And so Inside Jaws is a 2 1/2-hour commentary track/documentary that will give you an impressive understanding of how the film was made.
Watch it below. Read More »
After a couple weeks of conversations with various directors, Marvel Studios has made a decision, and a deal that will see Bring it On and Yes Man helmer Peyton Reed directing Ant-Man. He’ll be working from a script that features input from Adam McKay, who was briefly in talks to direct the movie in the wake of Edgar Wright’s departure. Below, read the official studio info on the movie that is now Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man. Read More »
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Here’s a full trailer for The Strain, the FX show which adapts the novel series by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The pilot was directed by del Toro, and debuts in July. Corey Stoll (House of Cards and Midnight in Paris) stars as a doctor who begins to investigate a virus which effectively creates vampires. But there seems to be more going on than that, as the combo of the “he is here” tagline and a big hooded monster promises. Check out The Strain trailer below. Read More »
The full trailer for James Gunn‘s Guardians of the Galaxy comes online Monday morning. Can’t wait that long? Disney and Marvel have released a tease of that trailer. It’s short, but it’s awesome and has a bunch of new footage. Check it out below.
UPDATE: Marvel has revealed another brief teaser in advance of the trailer’s premiere. Watch it after the jump!
UPDATE #2: Another bit of footage has been released, and we have that below, too.
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We’re back in a familiar position: scanning a set of potential projects for Steven Spielberg, trying to figure out which he’ll do next. There are a couple of possible options that have been kicking around for a while, such as the sci-fi action film Robopocalypse and the Spanish conquistador drama Montezuma. Just last week there was news that Spielberg is developing a religious drama called The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, from Lincoln and Munich writer Tony Kushner.
Now there’s a new project: an untitled true-life Cold War drama with Tom Hanks attached to star. Read More »
The Rover is set at a point just after society has crumbled, and those who remain are all keeping a tight hold on whatever shreds of their former lives still remain. One man abandons his brother (Robert Pattinson) while stealing a car from a dangerous man played by Guy Pearce. David Michod wrote and directed this follow-up to Animal Kingdom, and follows Pearce as he, with Pattinson in tow, attempts to regain his property. Watch the first full-length The Rover trailer below. Read More »
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There are some wizards cutting trailers for Drafthouse Films, and this new Borgman trailer is quite good, and very chilling. The film is something of an enigma: a man fleeing a strange persecution turns up on the doorstep of a bourgeois family, and soon ingratiates himself into the family’s life, if not without a few difficulties along the way.
The story that follows is like the bastard child of Luis Buñuel and Michael Haneke, with the influence of Dogtooth by Yorgos Lanthimos — an unusual, unsettling, and violent demolition of accepted social politics. This trailer captures the film’s spirit; watch below. Read More »
Even if you’ve hit a saturation point with Star Wars, there’s a lot to be said for anything that documents the creation of the original trilogy. Those first three films developed and refined filmmaking techniques that continue to be influential. The lightsaber, for example, seems obvious at ubiquitous now, but it was a concept that hadn’t been seen on screen in the way Star Wars realized it back in 1977. Below, watch The Birth of the Lightsaber, the official featurette tracking the development of the fictional weapon. Read More »