Roger Ebert presents At the Movies – coming in January 2011

The show that spanned over three decades is back. The show that got me (and a big chunk of my family) hooked on movies, er, on films – is heading back to television. We’re willing to forgive ABC and Disney the last few years of less-than-stellar reviews (and hosts), along with terrible past-midnight timeslots. We’re going to ignore the fact the Gene Siskel is long gone, and Ebert is only vocal in his massive twitter and blog universe. We’ll even put up with a bunch of new hosts, and new ideas – which may make it better, or may not. We just want to watch.

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Inception (2010) – a new frontier in filmmaking

Here’s a great infographic for Inception that actually manages to explain the movie’s multiple layers. It does so visually, and with a geometrically impossible object – which is the in-joke, of course. The film spends so much time establishing the rules of its universe, as it begins to observe some characters break those rules, the point of following them seems kinda … moot. And yet, with all the underused elements in it, and the obligatory shoot-out in act 3 – I still strongly recommend you watch it. Why?

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Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Tim Burton has done it again – a visual marvel of a film, a pretty close adaptation of a timeless classic book, great performances (although a little too heavy on screen time for Depp and Bonham Carter), and a lovely, rebellious Alice. What more do you need to know in order to run into theaters? It’s in 3D, which actually works.
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Stardust (2007) – a fairytale for grown-ups

This is such a wonderful misfire of a movie, that despite all its flaws and weaknesses, it must be seen. Absolutely must be seen – both on the big and small screen. A fairy-tale for grown-ups, but nothing like Shrek or Ratatouille. Released in the peak of Summer, even though it’s got so much romance, it’s a better fir during the holidays or on Valentine’s. This film is actually aimed at grown-ups, but is comes from such a rickety universe, you have to leave a lot of hang-ups at the door, otherwise the movie will fall apart in ten minutes. And you really, really want to sit through the whole thing.
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300 (2007) – still looks homoerotic, or just over-the-top?

Oh, the silent beauty of a strong, muscular body. Whether it’s male or female, it’s always a beautiful sight, especially if presented well, with confidence and taste. After all, just like the character in that old Mel Brooks film (later to be remade into a musical, and back into film) – “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”. The sports industry and the fashion industry are all built on that single premise – good, appealing looks. So what’s wrong with a movie celebrating good, healthy bodies? Especially if it’s disguised as a historical drama. Apparently, there’s plenty wrong with it. You’ve read all the previews and reviews of Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel (a fancy new-age title for “comic book”), 300. Almost every one of these reviews reeks of homophobia – calling the movie “macho”, “homoerotic”, “exploitative”, and so on. What’s wrong with scantily-clad men, fighting side by side, dripping sweat and blood all over corpses? Visually stunning – yes, but homoerotic – no. This is Sparta. Or, in the words of Leonidas, the main character – THIS IS SPARTA!!!
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Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

This wonderful film is only now getting well-deserved attention, and I’m partly to blame. When I attended its premiere in Toronto Film Fest in 2006, I was blown away. Having seen Guillermo Del Toro’s other recent movies – Hellboy, Blade 2 and Mimic, I was expecting something that was lacking, unfinished. Del Toro’s work has always struck me as impressive, well-produced tales that always fell short on something. With Mimic, it was unusual casting (although thanks for F Murray Abraham – haven’t seen him in anything decent lately), and slow pace. In Hellboy, it was too many special effects – personally I would have loved to get more story and fewer chases. In Blade 2 … actually that still rates as the best Blade film, can’t find any fault in that. In everything I’ve seen there was this insane attention to detail and decorations. Whether it was computer-generated or real, these rooms/costumes/castles/vistas were mindnumbing and beautiful, sometime taking me out of the picture altogether. I never saw The Devil’s Backbone (some say it’s a prelude to Pan’s Labyrinth), and decided to watch the former before reviewing the latter. Well, five months later, the movie is finally getting its audience, and I’m trying to play catch-up.
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The Prestige (2006)

Which one do I like? The Illusionist or the Prestige? This is a difficult question – both films deal with specific subject matter (magic), yet both are very different, and highly entertaining. I recommend you check them out – maybe even back to back. In this review I’ll be mentioning both, but please search our database for an exclusive Illusionist review. I also must mention here that Hugh Jackman can do no wrong – he’s brilliant in everything he does – so I may be a little bit biased. Of course, after seeing The Machinist and American Psycho, I’m a pretty big fan of Christian Bale. How about a double bias for you? Here’s an even bigger confession – when I saw the cast of The Prestige, I almost forgot all about The Illusionist. By chance, I got to see the two films back to back, and if I only saw the former, my “magic” experience wouldn’t be nearly as complete.
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