Cinecast Episode 360 – It’s Like Mustard

Sone famous once said that a person’s character can be defined by what he chooses to complain about. What do you despise? Is it Max Brooks? Is it Steve Guttenberg? The video streaming entity such as Vudu? Or is it someone/something else? By all means sound off! So yes, we explore the depths of our personal hatreds on this week’s Cinecast, but equally so, we also share some fondness, nay love, for Charles Grodin, Jean-Marc Vallée, Brent Spiner, Chris Tucker, Louis C.K. and yes, even Mel Gibson.

Documentaries and Ozploitation occupy the bulk of this week’s conversation. Steve James’ documentary, Life Itself (aka you’re better off just reading the book) and Russell Mulcahy’s creature feature, Razorback. But, and this is important. don’t even bother downloading this show until you’ve purchased your 4-pack of Midnight Run sequels. Yeah, it’s that kind of show.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!



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Review: Life Itself


Director: Steve James (Hoop Dreams, Stevie)
Producers: Garrett Basch, Steve James, Zak Piper
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 115 min.


I knew Roger Ebert.

I never met the man nor did we ever exchange words but I knew him. I knew the movies he liked, what filmmakers he championed and that he was willing to go out on a ledge and sometimes against the grain to support something he believed in. I also knew he grew up in a small town, loved his parents and that he was an alcoholic. I learned those last things, the really personal things, well after he had left television and illness had forced him to communicate only via the written word. Roger Ebert never stopped writing.

Steve James’ Life Itself isn’t just a documentary about a great man, and there is little doubt that Roger Ebert was a great man, but also a document of a life well lived. It’s apropos that Ebert’s life is celebrated in flickering images because they occupied so much of his life for so long. He was a great critic because he could appreciate the art of filmmaking but he was a great writer because he could articulate those ideas in simple, beautiful language.

Inadvertently, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert are responsible for a majority of today’s ardent movie lovers and critics. The internet may have given us a soapbox but Siskel and Ebert gave us the OK. Their TV show brought movies into our living rooms but more than that, they encouraged us to talk about them. They encouraged us to watch with a critical eye and to discuss the medium in a way that had, for the most part, been limited to critics. They taught us that it was OK to argue and disagree and to commiserate in movies and that they were a perfectly acceptable and more than that – a great – form of art.

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Trailer: Life Itself

The movies are machines for generating empathy. That was one of the humanist mantra’s of Roger Ebert over his lenghty and celebrated career as a film critic, and more importantly, as a writer of all things. From food to boobs to Hoop Dreams, Steve James (director of the latter) has had a close relationship Ebert and his wife Chaz since Roger became a champion of that documentary and pretty much singlehandedly made it a household name. Here James gathers stories, accounts, footage and testimony of all things in life that were influenced by his presence. And from the trailer below, it looks like it will generate a lot of empathy.

Life Itself will arrive on VOD/iTunes and in limited theaters on July 4th.

Mamo #350: Ebertfest 2014, Part I

Live from Champaign, Illinois! We arrive at the 16th annual Roger Ebert Film Festival and discuss Steve James’ documentary, Life Itself, along with our thoughts on the future of digital filmmaking in response to the morning’s panel. Guest starring Row Three’s Ariel Fisher!

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