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54. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)



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From that most irreverent of years, 1969, came the great Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The movie starts with the intro : MOST OF WHAT FOLLOWS IS TRUE.
Roger in his stunning review (I was stunned when I read it) said “The problems are two. First, the investment in superstar Paul Newman apparently inspired a bloated production that destroys the pacing. Second, William Goldman’s script is constantly too cute and never gets up the nerve, by God, to admit it’s a Western.”
He went on to say “But unfortunately, this good movie is buried beneath millions of dollars that were spent on ‘production values’ that wreck the show. This is often the fate of movies with actors in the million-dollar class, like Newman. Having invested all that cash in the superstar, the studio gets nervous and decides to spend lots of money to protect its investment.”
Roger’s 2 1/2 star review means that he thinks you should take a pass on it. Wow!
Rotten Tomatoes has it at 91%. AFI has it listed in their Top 100 movies of All Time, 100 Best Thrillers, 100 Heroes and Villains and 100 Songs. They also had it listed as #7 Best Western of all time. It had The Searchers, High Noon, Shane, Unforgiven, Red River and The Wild Bunch listed above it. that is a pretty fast crowd to be running with.
IMDB has an 8.2 rating for this movie. In 2003, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
I loved this movie when I was young, and I still love it today. This is definitely a review that Roger needs to revisit.
 
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Posted by on January 22, 2011 in Ebert's worst reviews

 

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52. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)

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I guess Roger thought that this movie was just too long. He said in his review ” Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West is a painstaking distillation of the style he made famous in the original three Clint Eastwood Westerns. There’s the same eerie music; the same sweaty, ugly faces; the same rhythm of waiting and violence; the same attention to small details of Western life.
There is also, unfortunately, Leone’s inability to call it quits. The movie stretches on for nearly three hours, with intermission, and provides two false alarms before it finally ends. In between, we’re given a plot complex enough for Antonioni, involving killers, land rights, railroads, long-delayed revenge, mistaken identity, love triangles, double-crosses and shoot-outs. We’re well into the second hour of the movie before the plot becomes quite clear.”
Roger also didn’t like Claudia Cardianale’s performance too much. He said she “was a good choice for the woman, but Leone directs her too passively; in Cartouche, she demonstrated a blood-and-thunder abandon that’s lacking here. “
This is a movie that is rated 8.8 on IMDB and a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Probably a little bit better than a 2 1/2 star movie.
 
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Posted by on December 27, 2010 in Ebert's Bad Reviews

 

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51. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Roger’s Original Rating :

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In Roger’s original review he only gave this great movie three stars. Roger liked the movie, but he said in his review “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is probably 30 minutes too long, but it’s filled with good stuff like that for those who treasure Westerns.”

In retrospect I don’t think Roger thinks it was thirty minutes too long. In 2003 he named it as one of his Great Movies. He said in that review “I saw it sitting in the front row of the balcony of the Oriental Theatre, whose vast wide screen was ideal for Leone’s operatic compositions. I responded strongly, but had been a movie critic less than a year, and did not always have the wisdom to value instinct over prudence. Looking up my old review, I see I described a four-star movie but only gave it three stars, perhaps because it was a ‘spaghetti Western’ and so could not be art.”

Whether you are a movie critic, a historian, a carpenter, an actor – if you are good at what you do you will get better the longer you work at it. Roger, like all of us, became better at his job as he gained more experience. I’m just glad that he is willing to admit to some of his mistakes. Now, if we can just get him to review A Clockwork Orange again.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2010 in Ebert bad review

 

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50. Speed 2 : Cruise Control (1997)

 
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The director of Speed, who was really a cinematographer, decided to try his hand at writing and this was the result. Needless to say, it was his first and last screen writing credit.
I like Sandra Bullock and Willem Dafoe, but you can’t just throw them on a boat with a horrible plot and hope things work out. In this movie instead of hijacking a bus the bad guy has hijacked a cruise ship. The passengers on the boat weren’t the only one trapped; for 121 minutes we were trapped in this disaster too.
Roger was in a good mood when he saw this movie. He said in his review : “Movies like this embrace goofiness with an almost sensual pleasure. And so, on a warm summer evening, do I.” Is it possible that Roger fell asleep during this movie?
Roger gave it 3 stars but others didn’t like it as much. It has a 3.4 rating on IMDB and a 2% (that’s right – 2%) rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Out of the 50 reviews on RT there was only one that was positive – Roger’s.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2010 in Roger's Worst

 

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49. The Elephant Man (1980)


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Roger was not really fond of this great movie. He says in his two star review “I kept asking myself what the film was really trying to say about the human condition as reflected by John Merrick, and I kept drawing blanks. The film’s philosophy is this shallow: (1)Wow, the Elephant Man sure looked hideous, and (2) gosh, isn’t it wonderful how he kept on in spite of everything?”
I think Roger missed the point of the movie. The movie explores what it means to be human. At first even Dr. Treves thought John Merrick was probably an idiot. He is stunned when he finds out he had judged the book by its cover. 
I think the movie strongly makes the point that people shouldn’t be treated differently just because they look or sound different. Is this really a shallow point? Maybe it is simplistic and obvious, but it must be remembered that we have a history of judging people by how they looked and it lasted for over two hundred years in this country.
John Hurt’s makeup was made from casts of Merrick’s body, which had been preserved in the private museum of the Royal London Hospital. It was so convincing that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was prompted to create a new category for Best Make-up for the Oscars because of this movie.
This very moving movie was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture. It has an 8.4 rating on IMDB and a 91% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
 
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Posted by on February 19, 2010 in Roger's Worst

 

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48. Domino (2005)


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I love Tony Scott’s True Romance, and I’m a big fan of both Mickey Rourke and Christopher Walken- throw in a story about bounty hunters and Keira Knightley – it looks like this movie can’t miss – but it did. Just the dialogue in the first five minutes told me this was going to be a long two hours.
The movie is based on the life of Domino Harvey, the daughter of actor Lawrence Harvey, fashion model turned bounty hunter : it should have been good.
But voiceovers, the quick jump cuts, flashy special effects, the ridiculous rap lyrics -none of it worked for me.  Short on plot, and even shorter on writing and acting. Roger compared Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang unfavorably to this movie, which is really hard to believe. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang was sharp, witty and funny; this movie was just sad.
When Domino gives a guy a lap dance to get out of a tight spot I thought the movie must have hit bottom, but unfortunately we were only thirty minutes in.
If you read Roger’s review you can see he thinks it’s a mess but he still gives it 3 stars. He says “But the damned thing has its qualities, and one of them is a headlong, twisting energy, a vitality that finds comedy in carnage.” I somehow missed the comedy.
In his At The Movies review Roger said “This movie will either drive you mad or you will like it.” It didn’t drive me mad, but I didn’t like it either. It has a 5.9 rating on IMDB and 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. I thought both ratings were too high.


 
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Posted by on February 17, 2010 in Roger Ebert Review

 

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47. Straw Dogs (1971)


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Roger gave this great suspense thriller 2 stars in his review. Roger says that he understood the violence in Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch because Sam was just making a point about violence in the traditional Western.
On the other hand he abhors the violence in Straw Dogs. He ends his review by saying “The most offensive thing about the movie is its hypocrisy; it is totally committed to the pornography of violence, but lays on the moral outrage with a shovel. The perfect criticism of Straw Dogs already has been made. It is The Wild Bunch.”
I’m not that sure if I get Roger’s point. He thinks the violence in the Wild Bunch is OK because it is commenting on the hypocrisy of using violence in the traditional Western but it isn’t OK in Straw Dogs because, it may be pretending to be a comment on violence, but it is really using the violence to attract an audience? I’m not so sure that the general audience  watching these movies are thinking about what the director is commenting on. All I know is that I really, really like Straw Dogs. It is exciting, thrilling and well acted. There is a lot of violence but one of the points of the story was how violence begets violence.
This excellent movie has a 7.6 rating on IMDB and a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
 
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Posted by on February 15, 2010 in Ebert's worst

 

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