Top of the Morning, May 3, 2014
The lineup for 2015 Ebertfest won't be announced until at least February. But if the film festival organizers want to stick with the 25th anniversary approach that worked so well last week — it drew Spike Lee and Oliver Stone to town — there are plenty of options. Among the 1990 hits: "GoodFellas," "The Hunt For Red October," "Pretty Woman," "Home Alone" and "Days of Thunder."
We asked Austin McCann, general manager of the Art Theater Co-op in downtown Champaign, to pick three flicks from '90 he'd show at the next Ebertfest. "I'd stay away from obvious stuff that everybody's seen," he said. "I'd use this opportunity to highlight some lesser-seen movies."
"PARIS IS BURNING"
One of the finest documentaries I can think of, it focuses on the dance style known as vogue and the people who created it. It offers stunning footage of vogue performances, but I'd argue that it really shines when focusing on the family-styled collectives (called "houses") that made up the vogue scene, beautiful and unusual arrangements of people living on their own terms. The very real fact of AIDS in the lives of the people depicted on screen lends an incredible weight to the performances. What we see is the will to live, gracefully and without compromise.
Isn't it great when movies are one thing while pretending to be another thing entirely? Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's "Close-Up" is a compelling mixture of fiction and documentary that tells the "true story" of a young man accused of fraudulently impersonating Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf. The movie combines reenactments, interviews and footage from the real trial. But it's hard to tell which is which, as Kiaraostami has the real people play themselves in his film, including himself, Kiarostami, who plays himself asking these fake-real characters (in his movie) played by real-real people (from real life) to play themselves in his fake-real movie (the real-real movie is the one that you're watching). Does that make sense? No?
It's been ranked the worst movie of all time in countless polls. There are so, so many bad movies, but "Troll 2" is special. In the years that followed its 1990 release, a cult has grown around the film, which was the subject of the 2009 documentary "Best Worst Movie," directed by none other than the disgraced "Troll 2" child star himself, Michael Stephenson! Roger Ebert was a great film critic, but some of my favorite reviews by him were negative ones. Nobody was better at cutting to the heart of exactly what was wrong with a movie. So why not celebrate life's great failures and have a little fun?
Honorable mention: "To Sleep With Anger" (Charles Burnett), "Miller's Crossing" (Joel & Ethan Coen) and "Santa Sangre" (Alejandro Jodorowsky).