Taking a Look Back at the Best of Barbet Schroeder on His Birthday

 

Born in Tehran in 1941, the son of a Swiss geologist and a German physician, Barbet Schroeder worked as a film critic with the influential French film magazine Cahiers du Cinéma and assisted New Wave pioneer Jean-Luc Godard on the 1962 film Les Carabiniers before releasing his opera prima in 1969: More. You may have been one of the 1.78 million American television viewers who saw his most recent directorial outing: a season three episode of Mad Men, "The Grown-Ups", which aired in 2009. To mark his 72nd birthday, take a look back at Schroeder’s long and successful career in celluloid.

 

More (1969)

Schroeder’s psychedelic directorial debut told the story of a couple addicted to heroin on the island of Ibiza, starring the adorable Mimsy Farmer and featuring a soundtrack written and performed by Pink Floyd.

 

La Vallée (1972)

In 1972, Bulle Ogier made a splash in Luis Buñuel’s masterpiece The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Less known is her other appearance that same year in Schroeder’s La Vallée, in which she plays the wife of the French consul in Melbourne. She goes into the New Guinea bush searching for the feathers of a rare exotic bird and ends up…(wait for it)…discovering herself. Pink Floyd was enlisted again to provide a soundtrack, which they recorded as the album Obscured by Clouds. Footage from the film was later incorporated in the 1980 horror film Hell of the Living Dead.

 

 

Barfly (1987)

Talk about a labor of love. Schroeder commissioned the original screenplay of Barfly—in which Mickey Rourke plays of Henry Chinaski, the perpetually drunk and down-and-out alter ego of poet Charles Bukowski—and then, as Roger Ebert reported, "spent eight years trying to get it made." Ebert noted that the director even "threatened to cut off his fingers if Cannon Group president Menahem Golan did not finance it." Thankfully for Mickey Rourke fans—and Schroeder’s own digits—Golan did.

 

Reversal of Fortune (1990)

Jeremy Irons won the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Actor for his chilling portrayal of Claus von Bülow, the German-Danish socialite who was acquitted of murdering his wife, Sunny (played by Glenn Close). Schroeder was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.

 

 

Single White Female (1992)

Ever since Jennifer Jason Leigh’s psychotic turn as Bridget Fonda’s new roommate suffering from Dependent Personality Disorder in Single White Female, looking for potential living partners through the want ads has been tinged with a wee bit of fear.

 

 

Kiss of Death (1995)

While David Caruso nabbed a Razzie Award nom for "Worst New Star" for his head-scratching turn as an ex-con trying to lead the straight life with his family in Queens, a muscle-bound Nicolas Cage (sporting a super-coiffed yet oddly sinister goattee) delivered the bizarro goods as a local crime boss/homicidal maniac. The Washington Post‘s Hal Hinson wrote that Cage "dominates the camera, stealing scenes by the sheer intensity of his inimitable strangeness."

Awesome Ebert Tribute Happening In Los Angeles Tomorrow

People of Los Angeles, we’re not sure what you have planned tomorrow, other than continuing to celebrate the court overturning of Proposition 8. But, should you have no plans, celebratory or otherwise, Cinefamily has an event that you will find very enjoyable. Although the late, great Roger Ebert will be most remembered for his brilliant film criticism and beautiful pieces about his wife, his illness and life itself, lest we forget, he also wrote the screenplay to the mighty shlock-exploitation (shlocksploitation?) cult classic that was Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. And this part of his legacy will be celebrated tomorrow night at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills. 

The team at Cinefamily has found a rare 35mm print of the film, and will show it along with some extra-special Siskel & Ebert outtakes, courtesy of the amazing Chaz Ebert, Roger’s widow. Representing the film itself will be star Erika Gavin and the music team of Igo Kantor and Stu Phillips, along with, as an added bonus,  ’60s psychedelic pop group Strawberry Alarm Clock (of "Incense and Peppermints" fame).

But the star is still Ebert, and all the diverse pieces of his life and work coming together in this freaky setting. This is his happening, baby, and it freaks us out. Watch the event trailer below, and of course, we’ll take any excuse to post Z-Man’s classic scene, so revisit it when you’re done. 

Roger Ebert Tribute w/ Beyond The Valley of the Dolls (trailer) from Cinefamily on Vimeo.

 

Even Without Its Namesake, Ebertfest Goes On

Although Chicago readily and enthusiastically claims Roger Ebert as one of its favorite sons, the late, great film critic spent most of his formative years in the bustling university metropolis of Champaign, Illinois. For years, Champaign has played home to Ebertfest, an annual hometown celebration where he selects several of his favorite under-the-radar films from recent years to be screened for the locals at the historic Virginia Theatre. And although this is the first Ebertfest without the man, the show will go on as planned. 

If you live in Champaign by some chance, or Chicago, or some other Midwestern city within easy driving distance and by the grace of God the weather isn’t abysmal where you are, you may want to get yourself in your car or on a bus or something and spend an afternoon at the movies. The remaining festival schedule includes Tilda Swinton in Julia tonight, the brilliant guru-skewering doc Kumare tomorrow, Randy Moore’s guerrilla-Disney film Escape From Tomorrow, and James Ponsoldt’s teens-in-love story The Spectacular Now. It’s a nice mix of fare, and after the week we’ve all had, it might be nice to escape to the movies for a while, don’t you think? 

Werner Herzog Remembers Roger Ebert on ‘Charlie Rose’

The passing of Roger Ebert means not only the loss of one of our most beloved cultural icons and brilliant minds, but as Werner Herzog puts it, "a whole epoch ends." And on a recent episode of Charlie Rose, the acclaimed German filmmaker joined the show with critics A.O. Scott and Dana Stevens to remember the great man who opened up a world of cinematic love and appreciation to the masses, transcending just criticism.

In the segment, Herzog goes on to talk a lot about his relationship with Roger but also speaks to how discourse about cinema has begun to dwindle—criticism no longer on our televisions, celebrity news taking priority over analysis, etc. And with the death of our one unwavering voice of truth, Herzog say that this loss is "something much, much bigger than Roger Ebert not being with us anymore"—however, "his guiding principles that he defended live on with us." Herzog then goes on to say that Ebert was someone who was "after illumination, about truth in cinema, and that’s how I connected with him, there was always something that was much deeper about movies that we should talk about." 

Check out the 20-minute segment in it’s entirety to see what other gems Herzog had to share with us, as well as Scott and Stevens’ own personal experience with Roger Ebert.

 

Rachel McAdams Joins the Cast of Cameron Crowe’s Untitled Project

Growing up, Cameron Crowe’s middle films were some of the first movies I remember falling in love with. Almost Famous, Jerry McGuire, and even Vanilla Sky have always held a remarkably fond place in my heart as wonderfully told narratives that showed me how cinema could really reach down deep and make me feel. But in recent years, I’ve found myself less than thrilled with his work—Elizabethtown and We Bought a Zoo begging the question: has this director whom I once adored so much lost the magic that fueled him from the start? But no, I’m hopeful.

And now, Deadline reports that the untitled project he is currently prepping with Sony Pictutes—slated to star Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone—has now attached Rachel McAdams to the leading cast. It’s a timely announcement as Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder twirls its way into theatres tomorrow, with McAdams in a brief but memorable role alongside Ben Affleck and Olga Kurylenko. Personally, the scenes with her character in Malick’s meditation on divine love and foregiveness, were my favorite, holding the most wright of any of the moments shared between characters. 

But anyhow, in Crowe’s upcoming film, McAdams looks to play a former love of Cooper’s character and although plot details have yet to be revealed, Deadline goes on to report that the film is "funny and romantic, with a tone similar to past Crowe films Jerry McGuire and Almost Famous." Well good, that’s all I can hope for and will certainly be keeping a close eye on this one. 

In the meantime, let’s just read Roger Ebert’s review of Almost Famous, which begins with the wonderful line: Oh, what a lovely film. I was almost hugging myself while I watched it. 

Watch Siskel & Ebert Fight Over Nickelodeon Film ‘Good Burger’

In case you haven’t had enough of Roger Ebert nostalgia, here’s a great clip from Siskel & Ebert and the Movies from 1997 in which the two critics go head-to-head during their review of Good Burger, the feature-film adaptation of the sketch from All That featuring Kel Mitchell and current SNL cast member Kenan Thompson. Both critics found the movie pretty stupid, as they should because they are adults, but it’s fascinating to watch the Siskel and Ebert actually come up with a reason to argue about the film’s merits—Siskel trashes it completely, whereas Ebert defends it on the grounds that it’s indended for an adolescent audience. 

[h/t Rob Scheer]

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Read Roger Ebert’s Final Glowing Film Review for Terrence Malick’s ‘To the Wonder’

For almost fifty years, Roger Ebert shared his love of cinema with the world, writing reviews that praised and inspired. He used his work to not only give us an appreciation for the art of film but to always teach us something about life and love. And this weekend, the Chicago Sun-Times published Ebert’s final film review, which happened to be for a film by a director whose work lives inside the whispers of all-encompassing love and divinity. "There were once several directors who yearned to make no less than a masterpiece but now there are only a few. Malick has stayed true to that hope ever since his first feature in 1973," said Ebert, whose review of Terrence Malick’s latest To the Wonder speaks to its nature of reaching the human soul.

Jim Emerson’s "Remembering the Roger I Knew," written last week, noted that:

In one of Roger’s last emails, responding to my concerns that he was firing off messages that were garbled or didn’t make sense, he said he sometimes felt that way himself, but wanted to assure me that he was still in possesion of all his marbles.

"JIm, old friend, I’m in bad shape. I type on my lap in a hospital bed. I’m on pain meds.  Did the review of ‘To the Wonder’ make sense to you? Such a strange movie.

But it does make sense, and it truly speaks to the essence of Malick’s work with a more clear and direct voice than most are able to articulate. One portion of the review reads:

A more conventional film would have assigned a plot to these characters and made their motivations more clear. Malick, who is surely one of the most romantic and spiritual of filmmakers, appears almost naked here before his audience, a man not able to conceal the depth of his vision.

“Well,” I asked myself, “why not?” Why must a film explain everything? Why must every motivation be spelled out? Aren’t many films fundamentally the same film, with only the specifics changed? Aren’t many of them telling the same story? Seeking perfection, we see what our dreams and hopes might look like. We realize they come as a gift through no power of our own, and if we lose them, isn’t that almost worse than never having had them in the first place?

Check out the review in its entirety HERE and see the film for yourself this Friday.

A Lot of People Think That Cher Is Dead

RIP, Margaret Thatcher, I guess. With the recent deaths of film critic Roger Ebert, designer Lily Pulitzer, and now Thather, this is about the damnedest Rule of Threes I’ve ever seen. Of course, it could be much worse, as a lot of people on Twitter are confusing the hashtag "#nowthatchersdead" to mean "now that Cher is dead." Easy mistake, I suppose, as there are a whopping thirteen people on Twitter who didn’t even know who Margaret Thatcher was in the first place. Can you believe it? I suppose I should compile my "Best Tweets About the Falklands War" post soon. In other news, this is going to be a profoundly obnoxious week on the internet.
 

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Rachel Weisz to Betray Daniel Craig on Broadway

Noble Prize-winning English playwright, poet, genius, and wonderful human being Harold Pinter created plays that were as biting as they were reflective. His work exposed the menacing darkness lurking inside of men and woman, deliciously written with a bent towards absurdity but always based in the familiarity of everyday life. And this coming fall, beautiful English couple Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig will head to Broadway in Pinter’s  tale of infidelity, Betrayal.

Told in chronological reverse, Betrayal will star Weisz as Emma, a woman involved in a serious affair with a man named Jerry (played by Rafe Spall). Her unknowing husband Robert will be played by Craig, who appeared on Broadway in 2009’s A Steady Rain. In his 1983 review of the Pinter’s screen adaptation of his work, Roger Ebert said: 

The ‘Betrayal’ structure strips away all artifice. It shows, heartlessly, that the very capacity for love itself is sometimes based on betraying not only other loved ones, but even ourselves.

And if you weren’t thrilled enough, Broadway veteran and legendary director Mike Nichols will be directing the production—which is set to go into previews on October 1 and open November 3 at the Barrymore Theatre in New York.

Let’s all take this time to brush up on our Pinter. I suggest sitting alone in a darkened corner reading The Homecoming, watching The Servant, and maybe listening to Colin Firth read his poetry.