The Playlist

Sundance Review: Roger Ebert Doc 'Life Itself' A Profoundly Moving Story About One Of Cinema’s Greatest Superheroes

  • By Chase Whale
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  • January 22, 2014 10:04 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Life Itself
Without question, Roger Ebert is the most recognizable figure in American film criticism, possibly even international criticism, and deservingly so. Ebert helped curious minds alive today better understand movies and what they were trying to say, moving past the obvious and always finding something deeper. "Life Itself" is based on Ebert's memoir of the same name, but the film goes far beyond the book's last page. This documentary actually started shooting months before Ebert knew he was going to die, and the bulk of the focus is on his many relentless and rigorous battles to stay alive, as well as highs and lows in his life—there’s no soft-pedaling here. One very admirable trait about Ebert—when he learned he was going to die, and very soon, he wanted the show to go on.

25 Movies That Defined The Sundance Film Festival

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • January 21, 2014 12:05 PM
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  • 14 Comments
25 Movies That Defined The Sundance Film Festival
As you might have noticed from the wall-to-wall level of coverage over the last week or so, the Sundance Film Festival has grown considerably from its humble beginnings back in 1978, when it was inaugurated as the Utah/US Film Festival and had a remit to showcase exclusively American-made independent films, and to promote filmmaking in the region. Robert Redford's involvement as a guiding patron led to its name change in 1981, from which point on it expanded gradually, until a kind of Cambrian explosion occurred with the arrival of "sex lies & videotape " 25 years ago this, a film that, with only a touch of hyperbole, could be said to have remade the festival into the modern titan it is today.

10 Notable Filmmakers Who Work In Both Documentary & Fiction

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • November 7, 2013 1:31 PM
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  • 9 Comments
10 Filmmakers Who Work In Documentary And Fiction
Truth may or may not be stranger than fiction, but both impulses certainly exert a powerful pull on the filmmaking instinct. With so many established narrative directors over the years turning their hand to documentaries, whether it’s “making of,” band documentaries, or passion projects that they use to create greater awareness of the issues that are closest to their hearts, it’s a well-trodden path. And while they’re treading that path, they get to wave at the men and women coming in the opposite direction: documentarians make the crossover into narrative just as frequently. This week’s release of “How I Live Now” (our review is here) from Kevin Macdonald is another example of how, for some directors, the dividing line between fiction and non-fiction is one they can criss-cross time and again throughout their careers—it’s a fiction film, but Macdonald’s been alternating between the formats evenly for the last decade or so.

Watch: 5 Movies Roger Ebert Championed Including 'Do The Right Thing,' 'Hoop Dreams,' 'Monster' & More

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 5, 2013 3:49 PM
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  • 10 Comments
Films That Roger Ebert Championed
As many of The Playlist team wrote earlier today, the late Roger Ebert was instrumental for many of us discovering a nurturing what has become a lifelong passion of cinema. And much of that has to do with "At The Movies," his influential long running show with Gene Siskel (and in later, less satisfying years, Richard Roeper) that brought the movies into our homes with pointed critiques, debates, arguments and most of all, enthusiasm. While many have been digging up the Ebert's zingers and classic takedowns, we wanted to focus on the moments where he got truly excited and got behind a movie.

Director Steven James Says In Production Doc On Roger Ebert Produced By Martin Scorsese Will Be Completed

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 4, 2013 6:20 PM
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  • 0 Comments
As the remembrances, anecdotes, fond memories continue to pour out for the late Roger Ebert, in a way, he's not really gone. His voluminous archives of reviews and blog posts will provide plenty of Ebert to explore for years to come, and in case you forgot, among the many projects the critic was involved with before he passed was a documentary about this life. And while he won't be able to give it the thumbs up or down, it will see it's way to completion.

Sundance: Fox Searchlight Lands 'The Way, Way Back' In Big Deal, 'Austenland' Winds Up At Sony

  • By Ken Guidry
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  • January 22, 2013 9:29 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The economy might be in rough shape, but major spending is taking place at the Sundance Film Festival. Relativity has already promised big bucks to promote Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut "Don Jon's Addiction" with a $25 million P&A commitment on top of a $4 million price tag. But Fox Searchlight may best them as they're reportedly set to pay $10 million for "The Descendants" writers Nat Faxon and Jim Rash's directorial debut, "The Way, Way Back."

Martin Scorsese & 'Hoop Dreams' Helmer Steve James Team For Documentary Based On Roger Ebert's Memoirs

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 7, 2012 12:45 PM
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  • 0 Comments
As probably the most celebrated and beloved film critic around, a man whose work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times for 45 years, who co-hosted "At The Movies" with Gene Siskel for almost 25, and who was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize, it's almost surprising that Roger Ebert has never been the subject of a movie himself. He's had some limited involvement behind the scenes of other films -- he wrote scripts for exploitations maestro Russ Meyer in the 1970s, but no one's ever made a major film about Ebert.

Watch: First Trailer For 'Hoop Dreams' & 'The Interrupters' Helmer Steve James' Sports Doc 'Head Games'

  • By Simon Dang
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  • August 1, 2012 9:37 AM
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  • 0 Comments
After making a name for himself with the Oscar-nominated "Hoop Dreams," considered one of the best sports documentaries of all time, filmmaker Steve James followed it up with sports-oriented films like "Prefontaine," "Passing Glory" and "Joe And Max." Last year saw the release of his remarkable crime documentary "The Interrupters" which was widely praised, earning a DGA nomination and landing on one Playlist writer's favourite films of 2011. However, in 2012, James is returning to the sports world with a more critical eye in "Head Games," a look at the growing issue of concussion and its long term medical effects on atheletes.

'Hoop Dreams' & 'The Interrupters' Director Steve James Tackles 'Generation Food' Next

  • By Benjamin Wright
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  • July 10, 2012 12:41 PM
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  • 0 Comments
We certainly didn’t hide our love for documentarian Steve James’ film, “The Interrupters,” in 2011 – it was mentioned on at least one Playlist member's best of 2011 list coverages and we were a little bummed it didn’t receive any Oscar love – and his 1994 effort, “Hoop Dreams,” is one of the finest entries of the sports doc genre of all time. It remained to be seen what James would be up to next, and now word has arrived, and it's an intriguing one with some early details hitting the web.

DGA Doc Nominees Give Some Love To 'The Interrupters'; Martin Scorsese, James Marsh & More Tipped

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 12, 2012 2:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Every year, it seems the documentary branch of the Academy goes out of their way to embarass themselves, and this year is no exception. When the shortlist for the Oscar nominees landed back in November, it was arguably more notable for what was left off the list than what was included. A number of high profile, well reviewed films -- Errol Morris' "Tabloid," "Being Elmo: A Pupeteer's Journey," Werner Hezog's "Into the Abyss: A Tale of Death, a Tale of Life," "Page One: Inside the New York Times," "Senna" -- didn't make the cut, but luckily the DGA have righted some of those wrongs.

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