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Roger Ebert: End of Message

Last weekend, the BBC published an article titled “How to write the perfect obituary” following the brouhaha around the New York Times’ recent obituary of Yvonne Brill. It was a fluffy weekend piece, and I would have moved on were it not for one particular detail.
  • By Ali Arikan
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  • April 9, 2013 3:01 PM
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  • 5 Comments

Ramble On: THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

From one perspective, it’s ironic that the adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s "Lord of the Rings" books have been so successful; they owe their success to technological progress, and yet an argument against such progress is one of their underlying themes.
  • By Ali Arikan
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  • December 13, 2012 11:55 AM
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  • 10 Comments

'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: Best Director Martin Scorsese, HUGO

This year's Oscar race for Best Director features an especially strong roster. The five nominees are Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris," Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist," Terrence Malick for "The Tree of Life," Alexander Payne for "The Descendants" and Martin Scorsese for "Hugo." Four of them did magnificent work this year, one of them less so, but in the end there will only be one winner.
  • By Ali Arikan & Kevin B. Lee
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  • February 10, 2012 7:46 AM
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  • 3 Comments

'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: Best Actor Brad Pitt, MONEYBALL

Brad Pitt is one of the biggest movie stars in the world. But he is also a fantastic actor. His phenomenal range has allowed him to play delirious and zany, as in "Twelve Monkeys," but also understated and restrained, as in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." Those films brought Pitt a Best supporting actor and a best leading actor Oscar nomination respectively, but both times, he went back home empty-handed. This year, Pitt is once again nominated as best actor in a leading role Academy Award for his performance in Bennett Miller’s "Moneyball." Press Play believes that he deserves the Oscar, and, in this video essay, we will tell you why.
  • By Ali Arikan & Ken Cancelosi
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  • February 9, 2012 7:21 AM
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  • 21 Comments

'SHOULD WIN' VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: PRESS PLAY picks the Oscars

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Press Play presents "Should Win," a series of video essays advocating winners in seven Academy Awards categories: supporting actor and actress, best actor and actress, best director and best picture. These are consensus choices hashed out by a pool of Press Play contributors.]  
  • By Press Play Staff
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  • February 7, 2012 6:21 AM
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  • 1 Comment

OSCARS 2012: PRESS PLAY contributors argue for their favorites

After last week’s announcement of this year’s Oscar nominees, a handful of Press Play contributors gathered together via email to discuss the highs and lows in some of the major award categories. Below are some of the highlights of the conversation, and as always, we encourage you to keep the discussion going.
  • By Press Play Staff
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  • February 1, 2012 7:27 AM
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  • 21 Comments

TRAILER: Terrence Malick's TREE OF LULZ (Hey, it could have happened. . .)

Annals of film history are filled with masterpieces that never were. Cineastes spend many a sleepless night thinking of Stanley Kubrick’s unproduced epic on Napoleon’s life. Film historians still search every nook and cranny to possibly locate Orson Welles’ first cut of The Magnificent Ambersons. Then there is the original script for John Huston’s Freud: The Secret passion that a little known philosopher by the name of Jean-Paul Sartre wrote; and Aldous Huxley’s Alice and the Mysterious Mr. Carroll, which was an amalgam of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass, and the biography of Lewis Carroll, of which Walt Disney said: “[The script] was so literary I could understand only every third word.” There are many, many more, and probably none of these intriguing projects will ever get to see the light of day. But don’t despair, gentle reader. As a late Christmas present, PressPlay is proud to offer you a glimpse of another masterpiece that could have been. Drown your cinephile sorrows in this.
  • By Kevin B. Lee & Ali Arikan
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  • December 28, 2011 3:27 AM
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  • 0 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: MAGIC AND LIGHT: THE FILMS OF STEVEN SPIELBERG, Chapter 5: Father Figures

Steven Spielberg is the product of The Greatest Generation -- a Baby Boomer raised on idealized images of the nuclear family, progress, and American might. He is also a child of divorce -- a dreamer from a broken home. Spielberg’s attempt to reconcile these two biographical facts—the mythic ideal of the family, and the reality of its dismantling—has been at the heart of many of his films. Spielberg’s movies often focus on a real or makeshift family unit, banding together to fight an outside force that threatens to tear it apart. At the head of this makeshift family, there is often a father figure imparting wisdom to his charges, or being forced to confront his shortcomings as a protector. Often both.
  • By Steven Santos, Aaron Aradillas & Matt Zoller Seitz
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  • December 23, 2011 6:49 AM
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  • 3 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: MAGIC AND LIGHT: THE FILMS OF STEVEN SPIELBERG, Chapter 4: Evil and Authority

The antagonist, in Steven Spielberg’s films, has many faces. It can be government scientists involved in seemingly shady plots. It can be unstoppable behemoths such as the shark in Jaws or the tanker truck in Duel. Warped ideologies, as in Schindler’s List. Or the tangled and self-defeating allure of vengeance, as in Munich. What’s essential is that none of these could truly be considered “evil” in the classical -- or theological -- mould. You can’t blame the T-Rex for being a T-Rex in Jurassic Park. You can’t blame a Martian for being a Martian in War of the Worlds. They are what they are. And even in the most menacing moments, even the most outwardly inhuman antagonists display qualities that could even be described as, well, almost human.
  • By Matt Zoller Seitz, Ali Arikan & Kevin B. Lee
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  • December 21, 2011 3:18 PM
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  • 2 Comments

VIDEO ESSAY: MAGIC AND LIGHT THE FILMS OF STEVEN SPIELBERG Chapter 2: Blood & Pulp

When you think of the films of Steven Spielberg, violence may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But Spielberg’s films wouldn’t be Spielberg’s films if he didn’t show and imply violent actions. Violence is just another color on Spielberg’s palette and he’s not shy about using it, either to excess or with moderation. And the presentation of the violence reveals a lot about Spielberg’s sense of what the audience can handle, and how far he can go as a director. In fact, you can tell what kind of Spielberg film you’re watching based solely on the way he shows violence. As a child, Spielberg used to worship the violent Grand Guignol violence of EC Comics – specifically such lurid titles as Shock Suspense Stories and Weird Science. But he also gorged himself on 1950s network television and old Hollywood movies, which for the most part had a much more circumspect attitude toward violence.
  • By Simon Abrams & Richard Seitz
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  • December 17, 2011 1:41 PM
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  • 1 Comment

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