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And during those four decades, his wide knowledge, keen judgment, prodigious energy, and sharp sense of humor have made him America's most celebrated film critic. He was the first such critic to win a Pulitzer Prize--one of just three film critics ever to receive that honor--and the only one to have a star dedicated to him on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His groundbreaking hit TV show, At the Movies , meanwhile, has made "two thumbs up" one of the most coveted hallmarks in the entire industry. He also has a keen understanding of the way they work, which you will find out as you make your way through this irreplaceable collection of reviews, reminiscences, and critiques.
Awake in the Dark captures both those sides of Ebert and shows him to be a serious friend of film, someone who loves the movies as much as he understands them. He is the one who tells us all about the movies.
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- Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert - Forty Years of Reviews, Essays ....
And, as his passion for the cinema is so deep, and his knowledge so profound, he is the one we can always trust. Ebert is the most widely read and most trusted film writer in America because he is still, in some way, an amateur viewer—he goes to the movies as a pilgrim, ready to be amazed, wanting to be enlightened. He believes in the power of the medium, and has not, after all these decades, become the least bit calloused to it.
The task of every movie is to try to change how you feel and think during its running time,'' and the task of the viewer is to participate in the process. Stretching from the dramatic rise of rebel Hollywood and the heyday of the auteur to the triumph of blockbuster films such as Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark , to the indie revolution that is still with us today, Awake in the Dark reveals a writer whose exceptional intelligence and daily bursts of insight and enthusiasm helped shape the way we think about the movies. In he became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize.
Awake in the Dark captures both those sides of Ebert and shows him to be a serious friend of film, someone who loves the movies as much as he understands them. He also has a keen understanding of the way they work, which you will find out as you make your way through this irreplaceable collection of reviews, reminiscences, and critiques.
He is the one who tells us all about the movies. And, as his passion for the cinema is so deep, and his knowledge so profound, he is the one we can always trust. Ebert is the most widely read and most trusted film writer in America because he is still, in some way, an amateur viewer—he goes to the movies as a pilgrim, ready to be amazed, wanting to be enlightened.
He believes in the power of the medium, and has not, after all these decades, become the least bit calloused to it. To love the movies, [Ebert] tells us, 'does not mean to sit mindlessly and blissfully before the screen. The task of every movie is to try to change how you feel and think during its running time,' and the task of the viewer is to participate in the process. The funny thing is that the storm over Bonnie and Clyde has blown up so quickly.
This wasn't exactly a movie that everyone stood around for months with their tongues hanging out waiting to see. It was about Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, two folk heroes of the s, who robbed banks, killed people, and snapped each other's pictures to send in to the newspapers. The Barrow Gang, as the ads have it, "was the strangest damn gang you ever heard of. The story sounded interesting enough, sure, but who expected much?
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Penn was a director with moments of brilliance but an uneven track record, and Beatty — well, everybody knew Beatty was a crazy kid, kind of eccentric, who might throw an ashtray at you. That was the attitude until Bonnie and Clyde was premiered at the Montreal Film Festival, when suddenly people realized they had something to deal with here.
This was probably the best American film of the year. Beatty and Penn who would have guessed it? Most of the people who saw the film believed so, anyway. But not Crowther. And not — for a week, anyway — Joseph Morgenstern, the critic at Newsweek. In an unprecedented about-face, Morgenstern panned Bonnie and Clyde one week, and then reversed his stand in the next issue. The Newsweek episode brought a smile to Beatty's lips. So he goes in to the editors, and they say, Good Lord, you can't change your mind. You're a critic — you're infallible. But Morgenstern stands his ground, so they let him have his way.
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I'll bet some doors slammed at Newsweek. So Newsweek came around. The other reviews were good. All except for Crowther. And it was his review that Beatty simply could not forget. He walked up and down in his hotel room, he shook his head, he picked up the clippings of the London reviews for reassurance, he talked. Out in the bush leagues, the theater owners, they read the Times. For them, Crowther is God. Everybody in the world can like a movie, and if Crowther doesn't, he kills it.
See, there are several scenes in which we carefully develop one emotion in the audience, and then — zing! So you're sitting there laughing and suddenly you look at the screen and what you're laughing at isn't very funny at all. They didn't seem to be able to see their crimes in context.
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They killed all these people, and it was still a game for them, a lark. What we tried to do in the movie was put the humor and the violence in the same framework, to make a point about the social climate that produced the Barrow Gang. They take incredible risks for nothing at all. So remember the scene where Clyde is waving around this enormous pistol, and he's in a grocery store and all he's stealing is a sack of groceries. So the grocer fills the Kraft paper bag, and Clyde says. I'm sure we ain't got any. But just then a big fat butcher lunges at Clyde with a meat cleaver.
A meat cleaver! And the audience says this isn't so funny. But then Clyde and this fat butcher roll around on the floor, and that's funny, because this butcher looks so comical and so they forget the meat cleaver, they start to laugh again. But then Clyde bashes the butcher on the side of the head — splat! Beatty swung his hand back and forth, fast, as if the pistol were still in it. Then he leaned forward enthusiastically. So it was incredibly loud and sickening. And the audience found the laugh dying on their lips.
They hated us for that, hated us for playing with their emotions that way.
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Only this time the music isn't appropriate, see? It's music that says laugh, but you can't laugh.
The whole movie kind of weaves back and forth between making you laugh and making you sick. Beatty was interrupted by a knock on the door. He admitted a bellhop, who carried a gift-wrapped present. It was a bottle of champagne.