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The Great Movies II Hardcover – February 1, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At times, Ebert's second collection of 100 essays on great (but not, he's careful to point out, the greatest) movies reads like an anthology of recycled reviews from his Chicago Sun-Times column, especially when he gets talking about the bonus features on DVDs. But anyone looking for a crash course in cinema viewing—regardless of whether they've been through Ebert's first Great Movies collection (published in 2002)—will find plenty of rewards here. Some of the selections may be obvious (12 Angry Men; West Side Story), but Ebert constantly surprises, not just in the foreign film selections but in the elevation of cult favorites such as the "bizarre masterpiece" Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. In praising older films, Ebert often takes the opportunity to criticize modern Hollywood, and his attacks can get snarky (for example, is it really unthinkable that Annie Hall would beat out Star Wars for an Oscar if they came out today?). Given Ebert's preferences, it's not surprising that fewer than a dozen American movies from the last two decades make the cut. Some of his choices are sure to spark debate; two Japanese cartoons, for example, may strike some as excessive, especially since the treatment of live-action Japanese directors barely extends past Kurosawa. Then again, it's hard to imagine a better purpose for such an anthology than getting people talking about—and watching—movies. 100 b&w photos. (Feb. 1)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

When Ebert, inarguably the nation's most prominent and influential film critic, published the first Great Movies (2002), he stressed that it wasn't intended to canonize the "100 best." The second collection of his loving celebrations of films that rise above the pack bears out that claim. The lineup here is equally strong, encompassing Hollywood classics vintage (The Grapes of Wrath, King Kong) and modern (Annie Hall, Mean Streets), silent movies (Birth of a Nation, Sunrise), and foreign masterworks (Rules of the Game, Children of Paradise). Ebert demonstrates the breadth of his taste by including several animated features, including the Japanese animes My Neighbor Totoro and Grave of the Fireflies. In contrast to his daily newspaper reviews, written on deadline and usually after a single viewing, these pieces reflect Ebert's long, thoughtful, informed familiarity with these films. His impeccable credentials as an accessible populist encourage thinking that his recommendations of such elevated fare as stroszek and Au Hasard, balthasar may be taken to heart by mainstream moviegoers who avidly follow his newspaper and TV reviews. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; First edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767919505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767919500
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,107,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roger Ebert is the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic from the Chicago Sun-Times. His reviews are syndicated to more than 200 newspapers in the United States and Canada. The American Film Institute and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago have awarded him honorary degrees and the Online Film Critics Society named his Web site (rogerebert.com) the best online movie review site

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As always, Roger Ebert does not let his readers down with his new book, "Great Movies II." Like its predecessor, "Great Movies I", "II" looks back at films that were released before Ebert started writing film reviews for the "Chicago Sun-Times."

Ebert reviews many of my all time favorites in this book -- "The Searchers", "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Paris, Texas" and so many more.

Most of you probably only know Ebert through the television program, "Ebert & Roeper." If so, you're loosing a luxury of great film critique writing that Ebert provides through the Chicago newspaper and online at [...]

Ebert does not just review films - just about anybody can do that, instead, he analyzes them and shares with the reader something deeper found in the film than one may ever realize. The reader is left with a deeper appreciation not only of the movie reviewed but also of the art of filmmaking in general.

I hope that Ebert will continue to grace us with his film thinking in future volumes as well.
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Format: Hardcover
While Ebert's annual collection of reviews make for an enjoyable read, this second collection of "great" movies, like the first, is an essential for the movie fan.

One of the reasons I enjoy Ebert's film criticism is that he's open to finding something good in movies from all genres, never showing the bias that I see from too many critics. That range shows in his choices here, which run from classics like "The Grapes of Wrath" to brilliant works of anime like "Grave of the Fireflies." I've always thought of Ebert as the "common man" among movie critics, and this book furthers that reputation.

Each entry is given 3-4 pages of discussion, and a picture is also included from each film. More than just a review, these entries explain what makes each film "great" in Ebert's view. While I might not agree with every selection, it's difficult to argue with his reasoning for their inclusion. For all films, he looks beyond the obvious reasons for greatness, focusing on cinematography in individual scenes, music selection, and other items that are often overlooked by those of us who have only seen the film once.

I get the feeling Ebert has hundreds more of such films on his list, so I'll forward to the next collection. With excellent writing and strong arguments, I'd highly recommend this volume for any movie fan.
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Format: Hardcover
Roger Ebert isn't your typical movie reviewer; he takes the time to evaluate a film, highlight its good points and bad, and let you know what he really thinks of it (as opposed to some studio-paid shill who automatically praises whatever's sent down the pipeline). And Ebert collects some of his favorites in "The Great Books II", a continuation of the previous collection from 2002. To be sure, there are plenty of obvious "artistic classics", but it's the suprises that make this a worthy read.

Ebert's reviews are presented alphabetically, with no frills. It's his writing that he's known for (apart from his show with the late Gene Siskel and now Richard Roeper), and that's what carries even the more boring choices. Heavy on French New Wave and Japanese cinema, sometimes the book could get to be too much for people looking for a casual recommendation. But even if you get tired of hearing about Godard, Cocteau, and every single French or Italian director who ever lived, there's plenty else to keep you interested.

It's the surprises that make this book work for me; who would've thought that a critic with the esteem of Ebert would give time to movies like "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles"...and not only talk about it, but praise it? As Ebert admits in the introduction, these aren't necessarily the *greatest* movies, but they're great for what they represent, what they speak about, and what they mean to continuing generations of people who discover them for the first time. "Spinal Tap" gets equal play to "Rashomon", "Scarface" is praised *for* Al Pacino's performance (most other peer reviewers cited him as the reason it didn't work), and "Say Anything", "Moonstruck", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", and "Saturday Night Fever" get some well-deserved praise.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been watching Roger Ebert on TV for years and occasionally read his column. I always thought he had his critical head screwed on straight (when it came to American movies in particular -- he's not seduced by the Literary or someone's notion of High Culture) even when I disagreed about this or that movie. However, I never thought of him as anything other than capable, before I read his two books on The Great Movies. Ebert writes beautifully and, for me, re-awakens my experience of the movies he talks about. He clearly knows a lot about film vocabulary (far more than I do) and has read widely beyond his chosen field. These essays, one after another, have knocked me over. In the cases of movies I haven't seen, I now have GOT to see them.

I'm putting these next to my Bazins, Agee, and Kaels.
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Format: Paperback
Roger Ebert follows his book that compiles his bi-weekly column "The Great Movies" with a second volume.

Classics such as "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Five Easy Pieces" are examined here. Foreign films get their due, with films by Godard, Ozu, and Kurasawa that are discussed at legnth. So are obscure movies in need of rediscovery.

What may surprise some readers is the inclusion of some audience favorites as "A Christmas Story", "Planes, Trains and Automobles", "Say Anything" and "This is Spinal Tap". We watch different movies for different reasons, and Ebert is no exception. If someone like Ebert loves to watch "A Christmas Story" (one of my favorites) over and over, then why shouldn't he include it in his book? How many other critics would have thought to include these movies together with "Rashomon" and "The Searchers"? Not very many. Bravo to Ebert for doing so.

Ebert also looks at Gene Siskel's favorite movie "Saturday Night Fever". It as much a tribute to Gene's memory as it is a film review.

Movie fans will love both volumes of this series. They are essential reading for anyone who loves film.
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