Roger_Ebert__ has written 8 reviews for films rated ★★★★ during 2021.

  • Bless Me, Ultima

    Bless Me, Ultima

    ★★★★

    The boy and the way of his people

    Although it was published only in 1972, Rudolfo Anaya's "Bless Me, Ultima" has achieved the iconic stature as such novels as "The Grapes of Wrath" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." Now comes a movie to do it justice. Carl Franklin's film is true to the tone and spirit of the book. It is patient and in no hurry. It allows a balanced eye for the people in its hero's family who tug…

  • At Any Price

    At Any Price

    ★★★★

    Ramin Bahrani, the best new American director of recent years, has until now focused on outsiders in this country: A pushcart operator from Pakistan, a Hispanic street orphan in New York, a cab driver from Senegal working in Winston-Salem. NC. His much-awaited new film, "At Any Price," is set in the Iowa heartland and is about two American icons: A family farmer and a race car driver.

    This is a brave, layered film that challenges the wisdom of victory at…

  • Harakiri

    Harakiri

    ★★★★

    Honor, morality, and ritual suicide

    Samurai films, like westerns, need not be familiar genre stories. They can expand to contain stories of ethical challenges and human tragedy. "Harakiri," one of the best of them, is about an older wandering samurai who takes his time to create an unanswerable dilemma for the elder of a powerful clan. By playing strictly within the rules of Bushido Code which governs the conduct of all samurai, he lures the powerful leader into a situation…

  • Mulholland Drive

    Mulholland Drive

    ★★★★

    A twisted road through a landscape of dreams

    It's well known that David Lynch's "Mulholland Dr." was assembled from the remains of a cancelled TV series, with the addition of some additional footage filmed later. That may be taken by some viewers as a way to explain the film's fractured structure and lack of continuity. I think it's a delusion to imagine a "complete" film lurking somewhere in Lynch's mind — a ghostly Director's Cut that exists only in his…

  • Blancanieves

    Blancanieves

    ★★★★

    Blancanieves

    Note: The following was reworked from a blog post that Roger Ebert filed from the 2012 Toronto Film Festival. In late March, he requested that it be refashioned into a review because he was not feeling well enough to write one from scratch. "Blancanieves" was one of 12 films invited to this year's Ebertfest, and Roger was one of the movie's biggest champions. As director Pablo Berger urged Ebertfest attendees, "If you like this film, spread the word, in…

  • The Ballad of Narayama

    The Ballad of Narayama

    ★★★★

    The elderly are left on the mountain to die

    "The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens up between its origins in the kabuki style and its subject of starvation in a mountain village! The village enforces a tradition of carrying those who have reached the age of 70 up the side of mountain and abandoning them there to die of exposure.

    Keisuke…

  • The Spirit of the Beehive

    The Spirit of the Beehive

    ★★★★

    "Everything in the movies is fake"

    In a vast Spanish plain, harvested of its crops, a farm home rests. Some distance away there is a squat building like a barn, apparently not used, its doors and windows missing. In the home lives a family of four: two little girls named Ana and Isabel, and their parents, Fernando and Teresa. He is a beekeeper, scholar and poet who spends much time in his book-lined study. She is a solitary woman who…

  • Veronika Voss

    Veronika Voss

    ★★★★

    The decay of a great star

    Rainer Werner Fassbinder premiered "Veronika Voss" in February 1982, at the Berlin Film Festival. It was hailed as one of the best of his 40 films. Late on the night of June 9, 1982, he made a telephone call from Munich to Paris to tell his best friend he had flushed all his drugs down the toilet — everything except for one last line of cocaine. The next morning, Fassbinder was found dead in…