As part of our launch for the newly redesigned RogerEbert.com, we are highlighting articles handpicked by some of our regular writers. You can find links to each of them below along with the photos and bios for each writer, who are listed in alphabetical order. And also see Part II for six additional critics—Chaz Ebert
Excerpt: “Leaving aside my apprehension about seeing the film in theaters, a repeat viewing of ‘Inception’ at home clarifies how many levels Nolan is working at the same time, much like the layered dream state of the narrative. On one level, it’s a whiz-bang action movie complete with set pieces that feel inspired by 007, especially in the final act. It’s an undeniably complex film narratively, even if that has been overblown—one that always feels like it’s a step ahead in terms of unpacking exactly what is happening—and yet it’s also a remarkably easy film to just let unfold, experiencing it beat by beat instead of trying to piece it altogether, much like, well, a dream. We don’t ask ourselves what dreams mean while we’re experiencing them—we simply ride them out. ‘Inception’ works best when you’re not trying to parse exactly what’s happening and when, and you allow the emotion and action to carry the experience.The reason it’s easy to get carried away by ‘Inception’ is simple: it’s one of the most propulsive major blockbusters in history”
About Brian: Brian Tallerico, the Editor of RogerEbert.com, has covered television, film, video games, Blu-ray/DVD, interviews, and entertainment news for two decades online, on radio, and in print.
In addition, he is a TV writer for Vulture.com, a contributor at Rolling Stone, and freelancer for multiple outlets, including The New York Times, The Playlist, and Rotten Tomatoes. He also serves as President of the Chicago Film Critics Association, co-produces the Chicago Critics Film Festival every May, and is a regular guest on radio stations and podcasts.
You can follow him on Twitter @Brian_Tallerico. Read his answers to our Movie Love Questionnaire here.
What’s Next: Avengers, MCU, Game of Thrones and the Content Endgame written by Matt Zoller Seitz, Editor at Large
Excerpt: “Now the rule is that, with some exceptions, anything that’s a stand-alone feature gets reviewed by the movie critics. This will increasingly become the practice as theaters become largely event-driven spaces, pushing anything below a certain budget threshold to Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, Vimeo, etc. In the future, media organizations might have to do away with the ‘film’ and ‘TV’ tags entirely, if indeed there are media organizations as we currently think of them. This is what Steven Spielberg has really been beefing with Netflix about: the preservation of the theatrical experience, and of the idea of ‘cinema,’ and distinctions between art forms, in an age of ‘content’ that streams along in the same digital river. Whether Spielberg’s desire is even realistic is an open question. Based on my own experience chronicling both art forms, I’m increasingly convinced that film and TV started merging a long time ago, before most of us were aware of what was going on.”
About Matt: Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor at Large of RogerEbert.com. He is also the TV critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism. His writing on film and television has appeared in The New York Times, Salon.com, The New Republic and Sight and Sound. Seitz is the founder and original editor of the influential film blog The House Next Door, now a part of Slant Magazine, and the co-founder and original editor of Press Play, an IndieWire blog of film and TV criticism and video essays.
A Brooklyn-based writer and filmmaker, Seitz has written, narrated, edited or produced over a hundred hours’ worth of video essays about cinema history and style for The Museum of the Moving Image, Salon.com and Vulture, among other outlets. His five-part 2009 video essay Wes Anderson: The Substance of Style was spun off into the hardcover book The Wes Anderson Collection. This book and its follow-up, The Wes Anderson Collection: Grand Budapest Hotel were New York Times bestsellers.
Other Seitz books include Mad Men Carousel: The Complete Critical Companion, The Oliver Stone Experience, and TV (The Book). He is currently working on a novel, a children’s film, and a book about the history of horror, co-authored with RogerEbert.com contributor Simon Abrams.
Excerpt: “‘Driveways’ does not comprise itself of many heavy dramatic beats, and yet it can still grab you with moments of empathy that alone warrant this movie’s existence. The best might be the one that gets the “plot” in motion—Kathy asides to Del while driving him to the VFW about the lack of electricity in April’s house, and how expensive it will be to get it turned on for just a few days. The next day, Cody and Kathy return to the house and see a stack of power strips, with an extension cord running from Del’s home. At a time when apathy has become disturbingly claustrophobic, such displays of surprising, quiet kindness are a true balm.”
About Nick: Nick Allen is an Assistant Editor at RogerEbert.com. He has been writing about film online since 2007, contributing to various publications including TheFilmStage.com, MovieMezzanine.com, HollywoodChicago.com, TheScorecardReview.com, and RogerEbert.com.
His film reviews can also be found in your local library’s recent copy of Magill’s Cinema Annual. He has been a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association since 2010. You can follow him on Twitter @nickallen_redux
Enter Laughing: Carl Reiner, 1922-2020 A tribute by Nell Minow, Assistant Editor
Excerpt: “In a flashback, Rob became convinced that they had brought the wrong baby home from the hospital. Another couple with a similar name had a baby at the same time and there had been some mix-ups with their flowers and gifts. So, Rob called the other couple and asked them to bring their baby over. When he opened the door, we saw that the other couple was Black, getting the longest laugh in the history of the show. Reiner later said that he wanted the other couple to be gorgeous (they were: future ‘Mission: Impossible’ star Greg Morris and Mimi Dillard) and he insisted on a present-day ‘button’ of a joke at the end of the episode, with Rob saying he still thought the babies must have been switched because the other boy was so accomplished. In a column on the 50th anniversary of that episode, the New York Times‘ Neil Genzlinger quoted Reiner: ”I was very proud that in the tag I got that little dig in that their kid was in the top of the class and Ritchie was in the bottom.’ For Mr. Reiner, that gag was the real victory.'”
About Nell: Nell Minow reviews movies and DVDs each week as The Movie Mom online and on radio stations across the US. She is the author of The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments. Her articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Kansas City Star, USA Today, Family Fun, Daughters, Parents, and three editions of The Practical Guide to Practically Everything.
She has been profiled in the New York Times, the Economist, Forbes, the Chicago Tribune, Working Woman, CFO Magazine, the Ladies Home Journal, Washingtonian Magazine, and the Chicago Sun Times, and has appeared as The Movie Mom on CBS This Morning, Fox Morning News, NPR, and CNN. She is the founder of Miniver Press, a publishing company specializing in non-fiction ebooks and print books about the arts, music, sports, history, and culture. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Chicago Law School and her wonderful husband allows her to have a “10 best movie” list with 20 movies on it.
Excerpt: “As Marty tells Anthony during their final moments together, all any of us ever want is to be seen and heard, and the crowds of protestors lining up daily to loudly condemn his client’s fate provide undeniable proof that news of the injustice has spread throughout the world. Of course, this is little consolation for a prisoner forced to spend the majority of his days in silence and solitude, yet when Anthony is strapped to a crucifix-like chair and given his lethal injection, it’s as if his pain and anguish is injected directly into Bernadine. In a breathtaking three-minute shot on par with the finale of Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” the camera holds on Bernadine’s face as the primal horror of the procedure she has overseen for years finally sinks in, breaking through her hardened exterior until he flatlines, prompting her own body to go limp.”
About Matt: Matt Fagerholm is an Assistant Editor at RogerEbert.com and is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association. He spent four years writing film reviews and interviews for HollywoodChicago.com and has contributed to a variety of publications including Time Out Chicago, The A.V. Club and Magill’s Cinema Annual.
His writing/editing experience includes serving as Assistant A&E Editor at the Columbia Chronicle and a full-time writer at the Woodstock Independent. He is a monthly guest on Vocalo radio’s The Morning AMp program, and is also the founder of Indie Outlook, a blog and podcast featuring exclusive interviews with some of the most exciting voices in modern independent filmmaking. Follow him on Twitter at @IndieOutlook and @mattfagerholm.
Excerpt: “Columbus’ architecture is the canvas for ‘Columbus,’ the stunning directorial debut of Kogonada (mainly known up until now as a video essayist, whose Vimeo page is a great archive of visual analysis). What Kogonada has done with “Columbus” (along with cinematographer Elisha Christian) is to blend the background into the foreground and vice versa, so that you see things through the eyes of the two architecture-obsessed main characters. Watching the film is almost like feeling the muscles in your eyes shift, as you look up from reading a book to stare out at the ocean. From the very first shot, it’s clear that the buildings will be essential. They are a part of the lives unfolding in their shadows. Sometimes it almost seems like they are listening.”
About Sheila: Sheila O’Malley received a BFA in Theatre from the University of Rhode Island and a Master’s in Acting from the Actors Studio MFA Program. Along with Rogerebert.com, her work has also appeared in Film Comment, The Dissolve, Masters of Cinema, Movie Mezzanine, Flavorwire, Capital New York, Fandor, Press Play, and Bright Wall/Dark Room.
She has contributed video and print essays for various releases from The Criterion Collection. O’Malley wrote the narration (read by Angelina Jolie) for the Governors Awards Lifetime Achievement tribute reel to legendary actress Gena Rowlands. O’Malley also wrote the narration for the Governors Awards tribute to editor Anne Coates’, played at the 2016 Governors Awards. O’Malley writes about actors, movies, and Elvis Presley at her personal site, The Sheila Variations. A short film she wrote, “July and Half of August,” premiered at the 2016 Albuquerque Film and Music Experience.