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The Great Movies II Hardcover – February 1, 2005
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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)
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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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Beautiful newswriting prose.