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Roger Ebert Reviews – A Few of My Favorites

I may not agree with Roger Ebert’s ratings of all of the following movies, but I thoroughly enjoy reading his analyses none-the-less. Be sure to click the titles of each film to read the full reviews!

Citizen Kane

“Rosebud is the emblem of the security, hope and innocence of childhood, which a man can spend his life seeking to regain. It is the green light at the end of Gatsby’s pier; the leopard atop Kilimanjaro, seeking nobody knows what; the bone tossed into the air in “2001.” It is that yearning after transience that adults learn to suppress. “Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn’t get, or something he lost,” says Thompson, the reporter assigned to the puzzle of Kane’s dying word. “Anyway, it wouldn’t have explained anything.” True, it explains nothing, but it is remarkably satisfactory as a demonstration that nothing can be explained. “Citizen Kane” likes playful paradoxes like that. Its surface is as much fun as any movie ever made. Its depths surpass understanding. I have analyzed it a shot at a time with more than 30 groups, and together we have seen, I believe, pretty much everything that is there on the screen. The more clearly I can see its physical manifestation, the more I am stirred by its mystery.”

Into The Wild

“This is a reflective, regretful, serious film about a young man swept away by his uncompromising choices. Two of the more truthful statements in recent culture are that we need a little help from our friends, and that sometimes we must depend on the kindness of strangers. If you don’t know those two things and accept them, you will end up eventually in a bus of one kind or another. Sean Penn himself fiercely idealistic, uncompromising, a little less angry now, must have read the book and reflected that there, but for the grace of God, went he. The movie is so good partly because it means so much, I think, to its writer-director. It is a testament like the words that Christopher carved into planks in the wilderness.”

Blue Velvet

“Blue Velvet” contains scenes of such raw emotional energy that it’s easy to understand why some critics have hailed it as a masterpiece. A film this painful and wounding has to be given special consideration. And yet those very scenes of stark sexual despair are the tipoff to what’s wrong with the movie. They’re so strong that they deserve to be in a movie that is sincere, honest and true.

But “Blue Velvet” surrounds them with a story that’s marred by sophomoric satire and cheap shots. The director is either denying the strength of his material or trying to defuse it by pretending it’s all part of a campy in-joke.”

Forrest Gump

“I’ve never met anyone like Forrest Gump in a movie before, and for that matter I’ve never seen a movie quite like “Forrest Gump.” Any attempt to describe him will risk making the movie seem more conventional than it is, but let me try. It’s a comedy, I guess. Or maybe a drama. Or a dream.”

The Tree of Life

“The film’s portrait of everyday life, inspired by Malick’s memories of his hometown of Waco, Texas, is bounded by two immensities, one of space and time, and the other of spirituality. “The Tree of Life” has awe-inspiring visuals suggesting the birth and expansion of the universe, the appearance of life on a microscopic level and the evolution of species. This process leads to the present moment, and to all of us. We were created in the Big Bang and over untold millions of years, molecules formed themselves into, well, you and me.”

The Fisher King

“The Fisher King” is a disorganized, rambling and eccentric movie that contains some moments of truth, some moments of humor, and many moments of digression. The filmmakers are nothing if not generous; we get urban grit, show-biz angst, two love affairs, the holy grail, the homeless, an action sequence, a dance sequence, and an apocalyptic figure on a horse who rides through Central Park with flames shooting from his head.”

La Vie en Rose

“How do you tell a life story to chaotic, jumbled and open to chance as Piaf’s? Her life did not have an arc but a trajectory. Joy and tragedy seemed simultaneous. Her loves were heartfelt but doomed; after she begged the boxer Cerdan to fly to her in New York, he was killed in the crash of his flight from Paris. Her stage triumphs alternated with her stage collapses. If her life resembled in some ways Judy Garland’s, there is this difference: Garland lived for the adulation of the audience, and Piaf lived to do her duty as a singer. From her earliest days, from the prostitutes, her father and her managers, she learned that when you’re paid, you perform.”

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