The Great Movies II

The Great Movies II

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
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3 thoughts on “The Great Movies II”

  1. This review is from: The Great Movies II (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.

  2. This review is from: The Great Movies II (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.

    What Ebert is doing with these reviews is that film criticism doesn’t have to be “All Truffaut, All The Time”; you bring to a review what you like about the film, and what makes it work for you. And that’s true whether you’re talking about Nigel Tufnel’s guitar amps or Ingmar Bergman’s camera angles and lighting choices. Ebert proves you don’t have to be a snob to be a film critic. It’s your perspective, anyway, that’s all that should matter as long as you bring intelligence to it and can back up your position.

    To be sure, Ebert’s affection for foreign films gets to be a bit much, but the point is that he wants to expose readers not only to the obvious choices for any aspiring film-lover but to those films that he loves, and why. If he leads you to seek out some obscure flick that he praises for three pages-worth of the book, then he’s done his job. And if you come away from it understanding why he chose to include the film in a book titled “The Great Films”, then it’s time well spent.

    Roger Ebert does first-rate criticism not only on the films that everyone would expect, but also on the films that few would think merit “serious” criticism. That’s what makes “The Great Movies II” such a delight. And that’s what makes Roger Ebert the greatest at his craft.

    So pick up “The Great Movies II”, and hope that “The Great Books III” is just as good.

  3. This review is from: The Great Movies II (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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