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Thompson on Hollywood

ShoWest: Roger Ebert Honored

After a video montage in which directors Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, and Oliver Stone paid tribute to Roger Ebert, Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker presented ShoWest's Career Achievement in Film Journalism Award to the Pulitzer-Prize winning critic of the Chicago Sun-Times. "Roger Ebert is the most popular, most respected, most honored, and most eclectic film critic in American history," Barker said, citing Ebert as "one of the few saviors of independent film--films of all shapes and sizes--American independent features, foreign films, documentaries, and animated films. Ask any independent filmmakers who Roger has championed. Errol Morris will tell you Roger gave him his career. Louis Malle used to tell everyone Roger Ebert saved My Dinner With Andre and Atlantic City from disaster, Robert Altman the same with several of his films. Pan's Labyrinth, Memento, Monster, Hoop Dreams, Roger and Me--we would not know these movies in the way we know them if it were not for Roger Ebert. This is fact."
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 3, 2009 5:42 AM
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Duplicity: What Happened?

While a recession-fueled box office boom is lifting most boats, one notable exception is Tony Gilroy's Duplicity, which boasted the earmarks of a commercial Hollywood vehicle--big budget, exotic locations, thriller genre, two sexy movie stars--but may have been too costly for what was really a smart-house play. (It earned strong reviews, but only $27 million so far.) Part of the problem: Universal paid Julia Roberts $20 million.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • April 2, 2009 5:56 AM
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Knowing: Proyas/Cage Thriller Will Wow Audiences

Knowing is an intense, smart sci-fi thriller that stops just short of being great. Australian director Alex Proyas, the mind behind The Crow, Dark City and I, Robot , makes several questionable choices--among them ominous Jim Jarmusch lookalike lurkers and and a derivative ending-- but they don't derail the movie. If anything they might enhance its mainstream playability.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 19, 2009 7:27 AM
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Duplicity: Gilroy Directs Roberts and Owen

While Duplicity isn't as good as Michael Clayton, you can tell that it comes from the mind of Tony Gilroy. According to his recent profile in The New Yorker, he's a man who likes to surprise. Gilroy reminds me of Steven Soderbergh: he's trying to outsmart audience expectations so much that he sometimes outsmarts himself. (It makes sense that he wrote the Bourne series.) Clayton was warmed up by the charisma of George Clooney, as well as the whip-cracking brilliance of British actor Tom Wilkinson, who goes up against the great Paul Giamatti in Duplicity. The plot of this gorgeous and sexy character-based heist thriller twists and turns--revealing new information via two time-frames-- at a globe-trotting clip. This film is colder, brainier, and more schematic than Clayton, and less than romantic, which may disappoint women starved for mature relationship movies. Here's Variety's review.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • March 16, 2009 8:54 AM
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Critics Vent on Film Criticism

It hasn't been a good year for film criticism. Here's a round-table interview with established film critics. And here's David Poland's plaint about the LAT hiring former L.A Times entertainment editor Betsy Sharkey as film critic. With so many unemployed professional critics out there, it seems a shame to deny one a prime slot. But that's not what's going on. The LAT doesn't want to let one of their good people go, and gave her an available gig.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 23, 2008 7:32 AM
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Why Australia is a Dud

Well, Australia's second-weekend drop indicates that it isn't doing well enough with adult audiences to ever make it into a success here.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • December 7, 2008 9:03 AM
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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: Review

I saw The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on Saturday (following the aborted Thursday screening), and have been trying to sort it out ever since.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 23, 2008 8:08 AM
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Oscar Watch: Revolutionary Road Review

I saw Revolutionary Road over the weekend, and moderated a panel Saturday with director Sam Mendes, Leonardo DiCaprio (nominated three times), Kate Winslet (nominated five times), Oscar-winner Kathy Bates, theater actor Michael Shannon (W.), cinematographer Roger Deakins (nominated seven times) and composer Thomas Newman (nominated eight times).
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 18, 2008 5:51 AM
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Oscar Watch: Doubt Reviews

Let the fur fly. In the first review of Doubt, Todd McCarthy is casting seeds of doubt on Meryl Streep's performance.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • November 6, 2008 5:27 AM
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Eastwood's Changeling: Manna for Adults

I saw Changeling for the second time Thursday night. It's as good as I remember it from last May at Cannes. And it's just the kind of movie that Academy members will appreciate--it played well at the Academy premiere.
  • By Anne Thompson
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  • October 24, 2008 4:45 AM
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