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I love entertainment...

Sex: Female
Language: English
Relationship Status: In a Relationship
Interested In: Men and Women

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Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India


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      • 5/5 (2 votes)
      • Pacific Rim Movie Review : Pathetically Grim
        5/5 (2 votes)
        Pacific Rim Movie Review : Pathetically Grim

        Pacific Rim is a Guillermo del Toro film. Let me say that again because it’s little a hard to believe. Pacific Rim is a Guillermo del Toro film. The first time I saw the promo of this film, I said to myself it’s going to be...

      • 5/5 (1 votes)
      • Interstellar
        5/5 (1 votes)

        Nolan’s "Interstellar," about astronauts traveling to the other end of the galaxy to find a new home to
        replace humanity’s despoiled home-world, is frantically busy and earsplittingly
        loud. It uses booming music to jack...

      • San Andreas
        5/5 (1 votes)
        San Andreas

        In a match between a supremely catastrophic California
        earthquake and the former wrestling star turned movie action hero Dwayne
        Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock, aptly enough here I guess, although he’s not thusly
        credited), who are you going to bet...

        • Entertainer

          Day4Empathy 2020: Roger’s Reviews on What We’re Watching During the Pandemic

          By Entertainer
          Every year on the anniversary of his passing, we give back to Roger Ebert, posting 13 of his reviews on the front page. This year feels a little different for reasons we don’t have to tell you. In light of everything...
          • Entertainer


            By Entertainer
            This review originally ran on September 7, 2011 and is being re-published now for Day4Empathy 2020. A black screen. The sound of a harsh cough. We are already alert when, soon after, we see a bartender pick up a customer's coin and then punch...
            • Entertainer


              By Entertainer
              This review originally ran on March 10, 1995 and is being re-published now for Day4Empathy 2020.It is one of the great scare stories of our time, the notion that deep in the uncharted rain forests, deadly diseases are lurking, and if they ever...
              • Entertainer

                The Blues Brothers

                By Entertainer
                This review originally ran in 1980 and is being re-published now for Day4Empathy 2020.This is some weird movie. There's never been anything that looked quite like it; was it dreamed up in a junkyard? It stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as the...
                • Entertainer

                  War and Peace

                  By Entertainer
                  This review originally ran on June 22, 1969 and is being re-published now for Day4Empathy 2020.The movies have done a lot of borrowing during their long climb to the status of an art form, but they've also invented an approach or two. It is...
                  • Entertainer
                    Entertainer published a blog post Awakenings


                    This review originally ran no December 20, 1990, and is being re-run for Day4Empathy 2020.

                    We do not know what we see when we look at Leonard. We think we see a human vegetable, a peculiar man who has been frozen in the same position for 30 years, who neither moves nor speaks. What goes on inside his mind? Is he thinking in there? Of course not, a neurologist says in Penny Marshall's new film "Awakenings." Why not? "Because the implications of that would be unthinkable." Ah, but the expert is wrong, and inside the immobile shell of his body, Leonard is still there. Still waiting.

                    Leonard is one of the patients in the "garden," a ward of a Bronx mental hospital that is so named by the staff because the patients are there simply to be fed and watered. It appears that nothing can be done for them. They were victims of the great "sleeping sickness" epidemic of the 1920s, and after a period of apparent recovery they regressed to their current states. It is 1969. They have many different symptoms, but essentially they all share the same problem: They cannot make their bodies do what their minds desire. Sometimes that blockage is manifested through bizarre physical behavior, sometimes through apparent paralysis.

                    One day a new doctor comes to work in the hospital. He has no experience in working with patients; indeed, his last project involved earthworms. Like those who have gone before him, he has no particular hope for these ghostly patients, who are there and yet not there. He talks without hope to one of the women, who looks blankly back at him, her head and body frozen. But then he turns away, and when he turns back she has changed her position -- apparently trying to catch her eyeglasses as they fell. He tries an experiment. He holds her glasses in front of her, and then drops them. Her hand flashes out quickly and catches them.

                    Yet this woman cannot move through her own will. He tries another experiment, throwing a ball at one of the patients. She catches it. "She is borrowing the will of the ball," the doctor speculates. His colleagues will not listen to this theory, which sounds suspiciously metaphysical, but he thinks he's onto something. What if these patients are not actually "frozen" at all, but victims of a stage of Parkinson's Disease so advanced that their motor impulses are cancelling each other out--what if they cannot move because all of their muscles are trying to move at the same time, and they are powerless to choose one impulse over the other? Then the falling glasses or the tossed ball might be breaking the deadlock!

                    This is the great discovery in the opening scenes of "Awakenings," preparing the way for sequences of enormous joy and heartbreak, as the patients are "awakened" to a personal freedom they had lost all hope of ever again experiencing -- only to find that their liberation comes with its own cruel set of conditions. The film, directed with intelligence and heart by Penny Marshall, is based on a famous 1972 book by Oliver Sacks, the British-born New York neurologist whose (ital) The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat (unital) is a classic of medical literature. These were his patients, and the doctor in the film, named Malcolm Sayer and played by Robin Williams, is based on him.

                    What he discovered in the summer of 1969 was that L-DOPA, a new drug for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease, might in massive doses break the deadlock that had frozen his patients into a space-time lock for endless years. The film follows some 15 of those patients, particularly Leonard, who is played by Robert De Niro in a virtuoso performance. Because this movie is not a tearjerker but an intelligent examination of a bizarre human condition, it's up to De Niro to make Leonard not an object of sympathy, but a person who helps us wonder about our own tenuous grasp on the world around us.

                    The patients depicted in this film have suffered a fate more horrible than the one in Poe's famous story about premature burial. If we were locked in a coffin while still alive, at least we would soon suffocate. But to be locked inside a body that cannot move or speak -- to look out mutely as even our loved ones talk about us as if we were an uncomprehending piece of furniture! It is this fate that is lifted, that summer of 1969, when the doctor gives the experimental new drug to his patients, and in a miraculous rebirth their bodies thaw and they begin to move and talk once again, some of them after 30 years of self-captivity.

                    The movie follows Leonard through the stages of his rebirth. He was (as we saw in a prologue) a bright, likeable kid, until the disease took its toll. He has been on hold for three decades. Now, in his late 1940s, he is filled with wonder and gratitude to be able to move around freely and express himself. He cooperates with the doctors studying his case. And he finds himself attracted to a the daughter (Penelope Ann Miller) of another patient. Love and lust stir within him for the first time.

                    Dr. Sayer, played by Williams, is at the center of almost every scene, and his personality becomes one of the touchstones of the movie. He is shut off, too: by shyness and inexperience, and even the way he holds his arms, close to his sides, shows a man wary of contact. He really was happier working with those earthworms. This is one of Robin Williams' best performances, pure and uncluttered, without the ebullient distractions he sometimes adds -- the schtick where none is called for. He is a lovable man here, who experiences the extraordinary professional joy of seeing chronic, hopeless patients once again sing and dance and greet their loved ones.

                    But it is not as simple as that, not after the first weeks. The disease is not an open-and-shut case. And as the movie unfolds, we are invited to meditate on the strangeness and wonder of the human personality. Who are we, anyway? How much of the self we treasure so much is simply a matter of good luck, of being spared in a minefield of neurological chance? If one has no hope, which is better: To remain hopeless, or to be given hope and then lose it again? Oliver Sacks' original book, which has been reissued, is as much a work of philosophy as of medicine. After seeing "Awakenings," I read it, to know more about what happened in that Bronx hospital. What both the movie and the book convey is the immense courage of the patients and the profound experience of their doctors, as in a small way they reexperienced what it means to be born, to open your eyes and discover to your astonishment that "you" are alive.

                    By: Roger Ebert
                    Posted: April 4, 2020, 2:52 pm

                    • Entertainer
                      Entertainer published a blog post Dawn of the Dead


                      This review originally ran no May 4, 1979, and is being re-run for Day4Empathy 2020.

                      "Dawn of the Dead" is one of the best horror films ever made -- and, as an inescapable result, one of the most horrifying. It is gruesome, sickening, disgusting, violent, brutal and appalling. It is also (excuse me for a second while I find my other list) brilliantly crafted, funny, droll, and savagely merciless in its satiric view of the American consumer society. Nobody ever said art had to be in good taste.

                      It's about a mysterious plague that sweeps the nation, causing the recently dead to rise from their graves and roam the land, driven by an insatiable hunger for living flesh. No explanation is offered for this behavior -- indeed, what explanation would suffice? -- but there is a moment at which a survivor solemnly intones: "When there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth."

                      Who's that a quotation from? From George A. Romero, who wrote and directed "Dawn of the Dead" as a sequel to his "Night of the Living Dead," which came out in 1968 and still plays the midnight circuit as a cult classic.

                      If you have seen "Night," you will recall it as a terrifying horror film punctuated by such shocking images as zombies tearing human flesh from limbs. "Dawn" includes many more scenes like that, more graphic, more shocking, and in color. I am being rather blunt about this because there are many people who will not want to see this film. You know who you are. Why are you still reading?

                      Well ... maybe because there's a little of the ghoulish voyeur in all of us. We like to be frightened. We like a good creepy thrill. It's just, we say, that we don't want a movie to go too far. What's too far? "The Exorcist"? "The Omen"? George Romero deliberately intends to go too far in "Dawn of the Dead." He's dealing very consciously with the ways in which images can affect us, and if we sit through the film (many people cannot) we make some curious discoveries.

                      One is that the fates of the zombies, who are destroyed wholesale in all sorts of terrible ways, don't affect us so much after awhile. They aren't being killed, after all: They're already dead. They're even a little comic, lurching about a shopping center and trying to plod up the down escalator. Romero teases us with these passages of humor. We relax, we laugh, we see the satire in it all, and then -- pow! Another disembowelment, just when we were off guard.

                      His story opens in a chaotic television studio, where idiotic broadcasters are desperately transmitting inaccurate information (one hopes the Emergency Broadcast System will do a whole lot better). National Guard troops storm public housing, where zombies have been reported. There are 10 minutes of unrelieved violence, and then the story settles down into the saga of four survivors who hijack a helicopter, land on the roof of a suburban shopping center, and barricade themselves inside against the zombies.

                      Their eventual fates are not as interesting as their behavior in the meantime; there is nothing quite like a plague of zombies to wonderfully focus your attention on what really matters to you. Romero has his own ideas, too, and the shopping center becomes a brilliant setting for a series of comic and satiric situations: Some low humor, some exquisitely sly.

                      But, even so, you may be asking, how can I defend this depraved trash? I do not defend it. I praise it. And it is not depraved, although some reviews have seen it that way. It is about depravity.

                      If you can see beyond the immediate impact of Romero's imagery, if you can experience the film as being more than just its violent extremes, a most unsettling thought may occur to you: The zombies in "Dawn of the Dead" are not the ones who are depraved. They are only acting according to their natures, and, gore dripping from their jaws, are blameless.

                      The depravity is in the healthy survivors, and the true immorality comes as two bands of human survivors fight each other for the shopping center: Now look who's fighting over the bones! But "Dawn" is even more complicated than that, because the survivors have courage, too, and a certain nobility at times, and a sense of humor, and loneliness and dread, and are not altogether unlike ourselves. A-ha.

                      By: Roger Ebert
                      Posted: April 4, 2020, 2:54 pm

                      • Entertainer
                        Entertainer published a blog post Blazing Saddles


                        This review originally ran no February 7, 1974, and is being re-run for Day4Empathy 2020.

                        There are some people who can literally get away with anything -- say anything, do anything -- and people will let them. Other people attempt a mildly dirty joke and bring total silence down on a party. Mel Brooks is not only a member of the first group, he is its lifetime president. At its best, his comedy operates in areas so far removed from taste that (to coin his own expression) it rises below vulgarity.

                        "Blazing Saddles" is like that. It's a crazed grabbag of a movie that does everything to keep us laughing except hit us over the head with a rubber chicken. Mostly, it succeeds. It's an audience picture; it doesn't have a lot of classy polish and its structure is a total mess. But of course! What does that matter while Alex Karris is knocking a horse cold with a right cross to the jaw?

                        The movie is, among other things, a comedy Western. The story line, which is pretty shaky, involves some shady land speculators who need to run a railroad through Ridge Rock, and decide to drive the residents out. The last thing they want there is law and order, and so the crooks send in a black sheriff (Cleavon Little), figuring the townspeople will revolt.

                        Well, they almost do, but the sheriff (Black Bart is his name, of course) wins them over, and signs up a drunken sharpshooter (Gene Wilder) as his deputy. Meanwhile ... but what am I saying, meanwhile? Meanwhile, six dozen other things happen. The townspeople decide to stay and make a stand, even though, as the preacher intones, "Our women have been stampeded and our cattle raped." Bart rejects the advances of a man-killing woman who has been sicced on him (Madeline Kahn as Marlene Dietrich -- Lili von Shtupp), and the people build a dummy town and lure the bad guys into it.

                        One of the hallmarks of Brooks' movie humor has been his willingness to embrace excess. In his "The Producers," one of the funniest movies ever made, we got the immortal "Springtime for Hitler" production number, and Zero Mostel seducing little old ladies in the bushes, and Gene Wilder (again) choreographed with the Lincoln Center water fountain. Brooks' "The Twelve Chairs," not as funny, still had such great scenes as Brooks himself as an obsequious serf clinging to his master's leg.

                        And "Blazing Saddles" is like that from beginning to end, except for a couple of slow stretches. The baked bean scene alone qualifies the movie for some sort of Wretched Excess award. Then there's the whole business of Mongol (Alex Karris) who is a kind of dimwitted Paul Bunyan. He rides into town on an ox, sent to eliminate Bart, but is seduced by a black powder bomb in a Candygram. It would take too long to explain.

                        One of the criticisms of "The Producers" was that it took too long to end after "Springtime for Hitler." Determined that "Blazing Saddles" wouldn't end slowly, Brooks has provided for it a totally uninhibited Hollywood fantasy that includes a takeoff on "Top Hat," a scene at Graumann's Chinese Theater, a pie fight and, of course, a final fadeout into the sunset.

                        By: Roger Ebert
                        Posted: April 4, 2020, 2:53 pm

                        • Entertainer
                          Entertainer published a blog post Joe Versus the Volcano


                          This review originally ran no March 9, 1990, and is being re-run for Day4Empathy 2020.

                          Gradually during the opening scenes of "Joe Versus the Volcano," my heart began to quicken, until finally I realized a wondrous thing: I had not seen this movie before. Most movies, I have seen before. Most movies, you have seen before. Most movies are constructed out of bits and pieces of other movies, like little engines built from cinematic Erector sets. But not "Joe Versus the Volcano." It is not an entirely successful movie, but it is new and fresh and not shy of taking chances. And the dialogue in it is actually worth listening to, because it is written with wit and romance.

                          The movie announces its individuality in its opening shot, which is of a loathsome factory -- a vast block of ugliness set down in the middle of a field of mud. Into this factory every morning trudge the broken spirits and unhealthy bodies of its employees, among them the ashen-faced Joe (Tom Hanks), who has felt sick for years and believes that the buzzing fluorescent tubes above his desk may be driving him mad.

                          The factory is a triumph of production design (by Bo Welch, who also designed "Beetlejuice"). It is a reminder that most movies these days are rigidly realistic in their settings, as if a law had been passed against flights of fancy like this factory that squats obscenely in the center of the screen. The entire movie breaks that law and allows fantasy back into the movies again. Like “Metropolis” (1927), "The Wizard of Oz," "Ghostbusters" or "Batman," this movie isn't content to photograph the existing world -- it goes to the trouble of creating its own.

                          In the factory, Joe hunches in his little corner, quailing at the attacks of his boorish boss (Dan Hedaya) and hardly daring a peek at the office secretary (Meg Ryan), whose huge typewriter seems ready to crush her. He hates his job. Hates, hates, hates it. He barely has the strength to crawl out to a doctor's appointment, where he learns that a Brain Cloud is spreading between the hemispheres of his brain.

                          He will feel terrific for four or five months, and then he will die.

                          The death sentence is a liberation. Joe quits his job, and is almost immediately offered another one. A man named Graynamore (Lloyd Bridges) owns an island that is rich in a rare mineral. The island is inhabited by natives who must be placated. They need a human sacrifice for their volcano. Since Joe is going to die anyway, Graynamore reasons, why shouldn't he go out in style by leaping into the volcano?

                          Sounds good to Joe. And meanwhile the movie has been developing into a duet between whimsy and romance. The writer-director, John Patrick Shanley, is the same man who wrote Norman Jewison's wonderful "Moonstruck" and the astonishingly bad "The January Man." Now he is back on the track again. The best thing about his direction is his own dialogue. The characters in this movie speak as if they would like to say things that had not been said before, in words that had never been used in quite the same way.

                          En route to the island, Joe meets one of Graynamore's daughters and then the other. Both are played by Ryan, who has three different kinds of fun with her three characters: grungy, waspish and delectable. They set sail for the South Seas. Everything leads to the moment when they stand on the lip of the fiery volcano, wondering whether they should risk fate by jumping in. Only in this movie could jumping into a volcano be considered risking fate, rather than certain death.

                          "Joe Versus the Volcano" achieves a kind of magnificent goofiness. Hanks and Ryan are the right actors to inhabit it, because you can never catch them going for a gag that isn't there: They inhabit the logic of this bizarre world and play by its rules. Hanks is endearing in the title role because, in the midst of these astonishing sets and unbridled flights of fancy, he underplays. Like a Jacques Tati, he is an island of curiosity in a sea of mystery.

                          Some of the movie's sequences are so picaresque they do themselves in: The native tribe, for example, is a joke that Shanley is unable to pull off. What's strongest about the movie is that it does possess a philosophy, an idea about life. The idea is the same idea contained in "Moonstruck": that at night, in those corners of our minds we deny by day, magical things can happen in the moon shadows. And if they can't, a) they should, and b) we should always in any event act as if they can.

                          By: Roger Ebert
                          Posted: April 4, 2020, 2:55 pm

                          • Entertainer
                            Entertainer published a blog post Local Hero


                            This review originally ran on April 15, 1983 and is being re-published now for Day4Empathy 2020.

                            Here is a small film to treasure, a loving, funny, understated portrait of a small Scottish town and its encounter with a giant oil company. The town is tucked away in a sparkling little bay, and is so small that everybody is well aware of everybody else's foibles. The oil company is run by an eccentric billionaire (Burt Lancaster) who would really rather have a comet named after him than own all the oil in the world. And what could have been a standard plot about conglomerates and ecology, etc., turns instead into a wicked study of human nature.

                            The movie opens in Houston, but quickly moves to the fishing village of Ferness. The oil company assigns an earnest young American (Peter Riegert) and a whimsical Scot (Peter Capaldi) to go to Ferness and buy it up, lock, stock and beachline, for a North Sea oil-refining complex. This is a simpler job than it appears, since a lot of the locals are all too willing to soak the off company for its millions of dollars, sell the beach, and go in search of the bright lights of Edinburgh.

                            But there are complications. One of them is old Ben, the cheerful philosopher who lives in a shack on the beach. It turns out that the beach has been the legal property of Ben's family for four centuries, ever since an ancestor did a favor for a king. And Ben doesn't want to sell: "Who'd look after the beach then? It would go to pieces in a short matter of time."

                            The local negotiations are handled by the innkeeper, Urquhart (Denis Lawson). He also is the accountant, and sort of the mayor, I guess, and is so much in love with his pretty wife that they're forever dashing upstairs for a quickie. Meanwhile, Riegert and Capaldi fall under the spell of the town, settle into its rhythms, become wrapped up in its intrigues, and, in general, are co-opted by a place whose charms are seductive.

                            What makes this material really work is the low-key approach of the writer-director, Bill Forsyth, who also made the charming "Gregory's Girl" and has the patience to let his characters gradually reveal themselves to the camera. He never hurries, and as a result, "Local Hero" never drags: Nothing is more absorbing than human personalities, developed with love and humor. Some of the payoffs in this film are sly and subtle, and others generate big laughs.

                            Forsyth's big scenes are his little ones, including a heartfelt, whiskey-soaked talk between the American and the innkeeper, and a scene where the visitors walk on the beach and talk about the meaning of life. By the time Burt Lancaster reappears at the end of the film, to personally handle the negotiations with old Ben, "Local Hero" could hardly have anything but a happy ending. But it's a fairly close call.

                            By: Roger Ebert
                            Posted: April 4, 2020, 2:55 pm

                            • Entertainer
                              Entertainer published a blog post Outbreak


                              This review originally ran on March 10, 1995 and is being re-published now for Day4Empathy 2020.

                              It is one of the great scare stories of our time, the notion that deep in the uncharted rain forests, deadly diseases are lurking, and if they ever escape their jungle homes and enter the human bloodstream, there will be a new plague the likes of which we have never seen.

                              Wolfgang Petersen's "Outbreak" is a clever, daunting thriller about such a possibility. It follows the career of a microscopic bug that kills humans within 24 hours of exposure by liquefying the internal organs. Not a pretty picture. The bug is based on fact; an account of something similar can be found in Richard Preston's new book, The Hot Zone. The thriller occupies the same territory as countless science fiction movies about deadly invasions and high-tech conspiracies, but has been made with intelligence and an appealing human dimension.

                              "Outbreak" opens 30 years ago, in Africa, as American doctors descend on a small village that has been wiped out by a deadly new plague. They promise relief but send instead a single airplane that incinerates the village with a firebomb. The implication is that the microbe is too deadly to deal with any other way; there is no information about where the bug came from, or why it surfaced in this remote area, although the village witch doctor is quoted ominously: "It is not good to kill the trees." Flash forward to the present. Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo are a newly divorced couple, both experts in disease-causing microorganisms. He works for the Army, and she has just taken a new job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. As we follow the disintegration of their relationship, Petersen intercuts scenes showing an African monkey being illegally imported into the United States. This monkey, of course, carries the deadly bug, and the smuggler, unable to sell it, releases it in a California woodland, although not before being infected.

                              Petersen now shows the disease being spread from one carrier to another, in a montage that would be funny if it were not so chilling: When the first carrier gets off a flight to Boston, he is flushed, sweating, trembling and almost too weak to stand, but his girlfriend, of course, doesn't let his illness stand in the way of a long, deep kiss. Back in a small California town, an infected carrier sneezes in a movie theater, and the camera stalks the germs as they wend their way through the crowd. In a laboratory, a test tube breaks in a centrifuge, and a scientist is infected. And so on. I especially liked the moment when the smuggler takes one bite out of a cookie on an airplane, and a little kid asks him if he's planning to eat the rest of it.

                              Soon reports of a plague outbreak filter in from Boston and California. Hoffman is assigned to the case by his superior officer (Morgan Freeman). But as he and a colleague (Kevin Spacey) follow the trail of infection and spread, we get glimpses of a deep conspiracy involving Freeman's own commanding officer, a sinister general played by Donald Sutherland. For some reason, the Army has secrets involving this bug. It also possesses an antidote, although after the microbe mutates into a different form, only the original carrier - the monkey - can serve as the source of an antibody.

                              Petersen and his writers, Laurence Dworet and Robert Roy Pool, now combine the conventions of several different kinds of thrillers into one gripping story. There is medical detective work, military conspiracy, marital and professional jealousy, and finally an action climax in which Hoffman and his daring helicopter pilot (Cuba Gooding Jr.) fly all over California and even out to a ship at sea in a race against time and against another deadly bomb drop.

                              "Outbreak" is the kind of movie you enjoy even while you observe yourself being manipulated. The Hoffman character has been recycled out of dozens of other movies; he's the military version of that old crime standby, the Cop With a Theory No One Believes In. Sutherland plays a role so familiar that he, himself, can be seen playing the flipside of the same character in a Soviet uniform, in the current HBO movie "Citizen X." But the roles are well written and acted, and Morgan Freeman, as a general caught in the middle, brings something quite real: a general trapped between obeying instructions and his own better instincts.

                              It is a Hollywood law these days that all thrillers end with a chase. Mere dialogue-driven endings are too slow for today's attention-deprived audiences. I am not sure I believed the helicopter chase sequence in "Outbreak," and I am sure I didn't believe the standoff between a helicopter and a bomber (in a scene with echoes of "Dr. Strangelove"). But by then the movie had cleverly aligned its personal, military, medical and scientific plots into four simultaneous countdowns, and I was hooked.

                              By: Roger Ebert
                              Posted: April 4, 2020, 2:58 pm

                              • Entertainer
                                Entertainer published a blog post The Blues Brothers


                                This review originally ran in 1980 and is being re-published now for Day4Empathy 2020.

                                This is some weird movie. There's never been anything that looked quite like it; was it dreamed up in a junkyard? It stars John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as the Blues Brothers, Jake and Elwood, characters who were created on "Saturday Night Live" and took on a fearsome life of their own. The movie tells us something of their backgrounds: They were reared in a sadistic West Side orphanage, learned the blues by osmosis, and, as the movie opens, have teamed up again after Jake's release from the Joliet pen.

                                The movie's plot is a simple one, to put it mildly. The brothers visit their old orphanage, learn that its future is in jeopardy because of five thousand dollars due in back taxes, and determine to raise the money by getting their old band together and putting on a show. Their odyssey takes them to several sleazy Chicago locations, including a Van Buren flophouse, Maxwell Street, and lower Wacker Drive. They find their old friends in unlikely places, like a restaurant run by Aretha Franklin, a music shop run by Ray Charles, and a gospel church run by James Brown.

                                Their adventures include run-ins with suburban cops, good ol' boys, and Nazis who are trying to stage a demonstration. One of the intriguing things about this movie is the way it borrows so freely and literally from news events. The plot develops into a sort of musical Mad Mad Mad Mad World, with the Blues Brothers being pursued at the same time by avenging cops, Nazis, and an enraged country and western band led by Charles Napier, that character actor with the smile like Jaws. The chase is interrupted from time to time for musical numbers, which are mostly very good and filled with high-powered energy.

                                Aretha Franklin occupies one of the movie's best scenes, in her South Side soul food restaurant. Cab Calloway, as a sort of road manager for the Blues Brothers, struts through a wonderful old-style production of Minnie the Moocher. The Brothers themselves star in several improbable numbers; the funniest has the band playing in a country and western bar where wire mesh has been installed to protect the band from beer bottles thrown by the customers.

                                I was saying the musical numbers interrupt the chases. The fact is, the whole movie is a chase, with Jake and Elwood piloting a used police car that seems, as it hurdles across suspension bridges from one side to the other, to have a life of its own. There can rarely have been a movie that made so free with its locations as this one. There are incredible, sensational chase sequences under the elevated train tracks, on overpasses, in subway tunnels under the Loop, and literally through Daley Center. One crash in particular, a pileup involving maybe a dozen police cars, has to be seen to be believed: I've never seen stunt coordination like this before.

                                What's a little startling about this movie is that all of this works. The Blues Brothers cost untold millions of dollars and kept threatening to grow completely out of control. But director John Landis (of “Animal House”) has somehow pulled it together, with a good deal of help from the strongly defined personalities of the title characters. Belushi and Aykroyd come over as hard-boiled city guys, total cynics with a world-view of sublime simplicity, and that all fits perfectly with the movie's other parts. There's even room, in the midst of the carnage and mayhem, for a surprising amount of grace, humor, and whimsy.

                                By: Roger Ebert
                                Posted: April 4, 2020, 2:57 pm

                                • Entertainer
                                  Entertainer published a blog post War and Peace


                                  This review originally ran on June 22, 1969 and is being re-published now for Day4Empathy 2020.

                                  The movies have done a lot of borrowing during their long climb to the status of an art form, but they've also invented an approach or two. It is impossible to think of gangsters or cowboys without thinking of the movies; and perhaps epics also belong on the list of genres that are uniquely cinematic. No other medium, except literature, is so well suited to the epic form.

                                  It would take a film historian to evaluate the dozens -- hundreds? -- of times when Hollywood has marshaled casts of thousands and budgets of millions to create yet another epoch-shattering spectacular. There were the pioneering epics, like "Birth of a Nation" and "Gone With the Wind." There were the epics that made it, like "Spartacus" and the ones that didn't, like "Cleopatra." There was blood and thunder in "Ben-Hur," beauty and romance in "Doctor Zhivago," Charlton Heston in half of them, Peter Ustinov in the rest, Rome falling daily, slaves rising weekly, wars won at least once a month, and several miracles a year from Cecil B. De Mille.

                                  Like Westerns and gangster movies, epics were almost always made by Hollywood. What other nation had the means to spend $44,000,000 on "Cleopatra" -- even if it was a flop? What happened, though, was that "Cleopatra" brought an end to the epic budget race. If you couldn't make it for $11,000,000 ("Spartacus") or $14,000,000 ("2001: A Space Odyssey") or even $19,000,000 ("Dr. Dolittle"), then perhaps you shouldn't make it at all.

                                  For this reason, among many others, the Russian version of "War and Peace" is a magnificently unique film. Money isn't everything, but you can't make an epic without it. And "War and Peace" is the definitive epic of all time. It is hard to imagine that circumstances will ever again combine to make a more spectacular, expensive, and -- yes -- splendid movie. Perhaps that's just as well; epics seem to be going out of favor, replaced instead by smaller, more personal films. Perhaps this greatest of the epics will be one of the last, bringing the epic form to its ultimate statement and at the same time supplying the epitaph.

                                  By now the statistics regarding "War and Peace" are well known, but forgive me if I recite them with a certain relish anyway: the film was five years in the making at a cost of $100,000,000, with a cast of 120,000, all clothed in authentic uniforms, and the Red Army was mobilized to recreate Napoleon's battles exactly (it is claimed) as they happened.

                                  The prestige of the Soviet film industry rested on "War and Peace" for half a decade, and the result looks like it. You are never, ever, going to see anything to equal it. Indeed, because of the need to schedule the film in two segments of three hours each, you may never even see it unless you go during the current four-week run at the Esquire. It is difficult to imagine this massive, six-hour film playing neighborhood theaters or turning up on the late show.

                                  It is easy enough to praise director Sergei Bondarchuk for his thundering battle scenes, or his delicate ballroom scenes, or the quality of his actors. But these were almost to be expected. What is extraordinary about "War and Peace" is that Bondarchuk was able to take the enormous bulk of Leo Tolstoy's novel and somehow transform it into this great chunk of film without losing control along the way. The trouble with a lot of long epic films is that the makers can't keep everything in hand. Many a film is smothered by its own production. An example: Samuel Bronston's "The Fall of the Roman Empire," a dreadfully expensive, chaotic production that eventually resulted in the fall of Bronston's own empire.

                                  Bondarchuk, however, is able to balance the spectacular, the human, and the intellectual. Even in the longest, bloodiest, battle scenes there are vignettes that stand out: A soldier demanding a battlefield commendation, a crazed horse whirling away from an explosion, an enigmatic exchange between Napoleon and his lieutenants. Bondarchuk is able to bring his epic events down to comprehensible scale without losing his sense of the spectacular. And always he returns to ToIstoy's theme of men in the grip of history.

                                  It is impossible not to compare "War and Peace" with "Gone With the Wind." They are. I suppose, the two greatest epic films. Both deal with the most crucial wars of their countries' experience. Both center on larger-than-life heroes and heroines. Both are romantic and glorious. But in all fairness, I think, "War and Peace" must be listed as the greater film. Although it is vulgar in the way all epic films must be vulgar (because they place value on sheer numbers and a massive production scheme); "War and Peace" is a great deal more intelligent, tasteful and complete than "GWTW."

                                  The performances are interesting throughout. All of the actors look a little larger, nobler and more heroic than life -- which is the idea in these undertakings. Yet none of them looks conventionally handsome. Perhaps Vyacheslav Tihonov, as Prince Andrei, comes closest with his chiseled face.

                                  Bondarchuk made a happy choice when he cast the beautiful Ludmila Savelyeva as Natasha. She is a ballerina, not an actress, although her acting ability is equal to the role. Audiences applaud her two dances; one is in the graceful ballroom scene, the other is a folk dance in a rude hunting lodge.

                                  Bondarchuk cast himself as Pierre, the self-tormented intellectual, and it is his strong performance that provides the central thread of the complicated story. He looks something like Rod Steiger and acts something like him, with bemused comments to himself and a quiet face concealing a furnace of emotion.

                                  Despite its length, the movie is not too long. When I saw it at the New York premiere last year, I quite frankly expected to be bored. But I was completely absorbed in the story: both halves together seem shorter than many a 90-minute potboiler.

                                  Perhaps the dubbing has something to do with this: The voices are so well dubbed into English that after 15 minutes you don't even look at the lips anymore. I usually object to dubbing on the grounds that it cheats us of the actor's own voice and intonation. But I am willing to concede that six subtitles would be rather too much for most audiences, more like reading the book.

                                  And it is to a mass audience, not an intellectual minority, that "War and Peace" is directed. The cinema lends itself magnificently to spectacle, and "War and Peace" is great cinema. It is as spectacular as a movie can possibly be and yet it has a human fullness. Considering its cost and the vast effort that went into its making, such a film can be made only once in our time. The wonder, indeed, is that it was made at all.

                                  By: Roger Ebert
                                  Posted: April 4, 2020, 2:57 pm


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