Search Results for: Roger-Ebert

Longreads Goes to the Movies: A Reading List

It’s 10:45 p.m., and I’m about to indulge in one of my strangest habits: watching a horror movie, alone, late at night. My cat is nearby, but he sleeps through this particular ritual. There are rules; the lights stay on. I don’t watch movies about home invasions or slasher flicks. Minimal gore, please. I love demon possessions, haunted houses, and paranormal investigations. Tonight, for instance, I’m watching the American version of The Ring for the first time. I perch my laptop on the edge, reach for the soft pretzel I picked up on the way home and press play. The scenes so far are tinged green; it is always raining. There’s an ill-fated Amber Tamblyn, gone in five minutes. There’s Adam Brody, harbinger of death and teen angst. My cat stretches, body bisecting the coffee table. The ceiling fan burns bright, blades in orbit.

What are your movie habits? What films do you return to, over and over? Here are five stories about A League of Their Own, High Fidelity, the films of John Hughes, Ghost in the Shell and, the criticism of Roger Ebert.

1. “‘A League of Their Own’ Stands the Test of Time.” (ESPNW Staff, ESPN, June 2017)

An oral history celebrating the 25th anniversary of the greatest baseball movie ever made, A League of Their Own, a film based on the real-life adventures of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

2. “I Grew Up in a John Hughes Movie.” (Jason Diamond, BuzzFeed, August 2014)

Jason Diamond wrote this beautiful essay two years before his memoir Searching for John Hughes debuted, and it made me want to watch and re-watch all of his films. Diamond’s childhood in the Chicago suburb of Skokie mirrored the neighborhood in Hughes’ iconic teen-centric films, Shermer, Illinois.

3. “Roger Ebert’s Zero-Star Movies.” (Will Sloan, Hazlitt, February 2017)

I finally accepted the fact I wanted to (maybe, possibly) be a Serious Writer the same summer I read Chris Jones’ iconic profile of Roger Ebert in Esquire. Ebert has held a small but significant piece of my heart ever since. At Hazlitt, Will Sloan explores the movies Ebert hated most, where he wonders, “What does it mean when the most famous and widely read American film critic regards a movie as ‘artistically inept and morally repugnant’?”

4. “All Shell, No Ghost.” (Eric Chang, Vogue, April 2017)

On hacking as “a method of seeing,” the parallel histories of Eastern and Western cyberpunk storytelling, and the laziness inherent in whitewashed films.

5. “‘High Fidelity’ Captured the Snob’s–and the Soundtrack’s–Waning Powers.” (Sean O’Neal, The A.V. Club, March 2017)

My first movie soundtrack was PhenomenonI’ve still never seen the movie, but I know every word to Eric Clapton’s lead single, “Change the World.” I can still hear Clapton crooning “and our love would ruuuuuuuule…” I thought Bryan Ferry’s “Dance With Life (The Brilliant Life)” was unspeakably beautiful (still do, honestly). My family listened to the CD on repeat. According to MovieTunes, this soundtrack was “the cutting edge of a collaborative art-form whose time has come.” The exuberance of 1996 stands in stark contrast to 2000—what a difference four years makes!—as you can see in Sean O’Neal’s take on the jaded and vaguely anachronistic High Fidelity and its accompanying soundtrack.

The Thinking Molecules of Titan

Longreads Pick

[Fiction] A previously unpublished sci-fi story by the writer and film critic, who died on April 4 at age 70:

“‘This is a vague idea,’ said Regan. ‘I’m still working on it. Titan evolves molecules that group in such a way that they, oh, get together, like, and don’t actually communicate, like, but prowl around in non-self-conscious collective-information patterns. That’s what we’re hearing, now that we’re closer to the source.’

“‘There’s only one way this is going,’ Alex said. ‘A lunar intelligence.’

“‘Intelligence is not required,’ Regan said. ‘All that’s needed are patterns that move more easily than other patterns. Patterns that lend themselves to pattern-originators. The way of least resistance. We don’t like sulfur, but it’s yummy for the deep-sea plumes.'”

Read more from the Longreads Roger Ebert Archive

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Apr 4, 2013
Length: 9 minutes (2,410 words)

Joe Pompeo: Everybody's doing this so I wanted to join in the fun

Joe Pompeo: Everybody’s doing this so I wanted to join in the fun

Foster Kamer: My Top 5 Longreads of 2010

Foster Kamer (ex-BlackBook + Gawker + Village Voice) is online features and news editor at Esquire


2010 was an incredible year for writing, bottom line. Despite the proliferation of things whose output is mostly antagonistic to great writing — like faceless “content farms” churning out hollow, Google-gaming information lacking anything of substance — great writing persisted. Twitter’s evolving as an aesthetic, yielding profundities from the most unlikely of sources, and a few performance artists, too. Blogging continued to evolve as a craft: some of its once loudest critics are now some of its most significant contributors. More and more people care about things being well written, and they remember them, even if they’re intended to be as disposable as a piece of produce. It’s an encouraging sign of what’s to come.

Putting together this list, I felt like I should make some omissions, like my (previous) employer, The Village Voice. There are too many great pieces I got to work with, but three worth noting were:

·  Steven Thrasher’s ranted-essay, White America Has Lost Its Mind, a pitch-perfect picture of America pre-2010 midterms.

·  All five installments of Graham Rayman’s The NYPD Tapes, undeniably some of the best investigative reporting in 2010. 

·  Live from Insane Clown Posse’s Gathering of the Juggalos. Camille Dodero took an empathetic look at a part of America that’s almost unanimously discarded, viewed like a freak museum exhibit. It was feeling, it was fair, it was compelling in every way an assessment of a subculture should be.

Putting this list together is a little torturous. That aside, these are my five favorite — and most personally important — things I read this year. I think you’ll like them. I’m very, very conscious about the omission of women — or anything really other than White Dudes — on this list, and I apologize for my narrow, singular selection. 

5. Profiling bands sucks. No matter how provocative the subject, writing about and interviewing “famous people” — but especially musicians — is a sharp, royal pain in the balls. Getting them to elaborate on their art? Inherently awkward. Both parties know exactly how fruitless and overreaching these things are. Nicholas Dawidoff’s April profile of The NationalforThe New York Times Magazineshould have been one of those things. [New York Times writer interviews five white dudes from Brooklyn making Pitchfork-approved music.] Face value: “Groan.” But Dawidoff managed to get as close to understanding this band’s creative process — really, not that complicated of one, either — as anybody in it, and we’re right there with him as it happens. It helps if you’re a fan or a young Almost Famous aspirant, but the story of just some guys becoming one of the most famous rock acts in America over a decade, and doing it without becoming celebrities or selling out fans? And writing the story well? It’s an anomaly. Some people left the piece the way a great band leaves you after a concert: wanting more, but satisfied no less. I did.

4. Michael Chabon’s introduction toFountain Cityis the most motivational thing I’ve read all year. It’s a four-chapter booklet packaged with the latest issue of McSweeney’s. It’s the epic Chabon started that he never finished, a novel “wrecked” by the author …until he decided to annotate what was written. In the introduction, Chabon — yeah, the same guy who wrote Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay — writes about the terrible, beautiful way the 20-something iteration of himself that went on to write those books failed at this book. As it turns out, it’s the same panicked, procrastinating, and eventually depressing way so many of us fail, too. It’s sad, sure. But: Chabon admits he even fell short annotating Fountain City, as he only revisited the first four chapters before watching it “sink” again. Yet that failure yielded the most successful and brutally honest meditation on failing as I’ve ever read. It’s barely ten pages, if that. Hopefully, McSweeney’s or Chabon will put it online. It’s too good to sit trapped in this $24 box, lest McSweeney’s fail something they don’t have to.

3. Technically released late last year, but I read it this year while writing about job changes at the New York Observer, a 23 year-old pink, weekly paper, that’s (mostly) historically striven to be classically New York in every way a contemporary publication born here should be: brilliant, but accessible; hysterical, yet never a joke; above all, true to its citizenry – Manhattanites – for better or worse. There wouldn’t be a Gawker without the Observer. Vanity Fair wouldn’t be the same, because the Observer was the last job Graydon Carter had before he was beckoned there. It was the birthplace of Sex and the City, some of the best writers and editors in New York City, and also, too many trend pieces that took hold nationally to count. And it was the place where Peter Kaplan (the longtime, former editor of the New York Observer) was given rise. You’ll understand why after reading Peter Kaplan’s introduction forThe Kingdom of New York, the Observer ”clippings” book, which tells the entire history of a publication — and the modern era of this city — in 11-ish pages. It’s hysterical and perfect and a little heartbreaking in the way great sentimentalizing and romanticizing — the kind that will make you nostalgic for things you’ve never experienced — often is. But also, endlessly inspiring: as a writer, as a New Yorker, as a reader, and as someone who tries to recognize a good moment when it’s in front of them. And thanks to the magic of Google, you don’t even have to buy the book to read it. Whattatown.

2. Every time you hear about those people who have risen from the most adverse and traumatic conditions a kid could be presented with, into prominence, they’re celebrities or writing a memoir (or both). A blogger is, in so many ways, the furthest thing from that. Some bloggers know this guy’s name, his longtime readers from when he used to blog for The Consumerist know who he is. But none of those people likely know anybody else in the same way they now irreversibly know him after Joel Johnson’s February 2010 post entitled Why I’m Funny. Some people spend years on their memoirs, hundreds of pages of public therapy, a backwards, sick competition where brand-name writers compare how fucked up their childhood was to the next person’s. I don’t know how long Joel spent on this, which begins with the sentence “The first time I ever came in anyone’s mouth, it was into the mouth of my stepfather.” But 6,215 words later, they should all be ashamed, because I know exactly how long it’s going to stay with me: forever, or at least until I write for the last time.

1. Like The Village Voice, I should probably also omit my top Longread of the Year, because it comes from the new job I started at on Monday. But I can’t, because Chris Jones’ profile of Roger Ebert in the March 2010 issue of Esquire was undisputably the best and most memorable thing I – and plenty of others – read this year. It introduced him to a new generation of people unfamiliar with the man and his impact. It made people who couldn’t give a shit about magazine profiles or Roger Ebert sob. [I’ll admit it, I got weepy.] But maybe most significantly, it redefined Roger Ebert to America. This wasn’t investigative journalism or the most hard-hitting interview ever conducted. It was quite simply — and incredibly — the product of great magazine writing. F. Scott Fitzgerald, you want a second act? Well, here’s a third. “Old Media” publications, like Roger Ebert, are supposedly dying. Yet, neither have seemed more alive than this in the last ten years. 

Patrick Doyle: Top 5 Longreads from 2010

Patrick Doyle is a senior editor for 5280 Magazine in Denver. 


The good folks at have been asking everyone for their five favorite pieces from 2010. Here are mine.  

Roger Ebert: The Essential Man,” by Chris Jones, Esquire
The best story of the year. Just give Jones his Ellie now.

The End of Men,” by Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic
A compelling case for why I and my male brethren are, umm, goners.

The Quaid Conspiracy,” by Nancy Jo Sales, Vanity Fair
Reminiscent of VF’s Pat Dollard story from a few years back; Sales gets out of the way and watches—along with us—the Quaid trainwreck.

Village Voice,” by Peter Hessler, The New Yorker
Hessler follows Rajeev Goyal as he wades through D.C. and Nepalese politics and tries to make the Peace Corps relevant again. 

Believeland,” by Wright Thompson,
A heartbreaking, but hopeful piece about post-LeBron Cleveland. (Also: Who knew that Dennis Kucinich was such a hoops fan?) I still haven’t forgiven ESPN for “The Decision,” but this is a much-needed salve.

Alex Pappademas: My Top 5 Longreads of 2010

Alex Pappademas is a staff writer for GQ


Rules: Nothing not published this year, nothing from GQ, because I work there, and—in the spirit of the assignment—nothing I didn’t first read on my iPhone. (And I realize now, having done this whole thing, that everything on the main list is from a print-based publication, which should not be taken as some kind of a Statement. I still love you, Internet!)

Michael Kruse, Lonely, Stressed and Frustrated: Inside the Mind of the Pinellas Monkey (St. Petersburg Times, May 16, 2010)

Best celebrity profile I read this year, and it’s a write-around. About a monkey. “People who are alone tend to make self-destructive decisions. They might drink too much or not eat right. They start giving up. And the monkey here, he explains, isn’t all that different.”

Mark Harris, The Red Carpet Campaign (New York, 2/7/10)

Reported essay about awards-season swirl and how the pseudo-event sausage of the Academy Awards gets made. The gist: “A good Oscar narrative makes voters feel that, by writing a name on a ballot, they’re completing a satisfying plotline. Only a few of these stories are effective, and every campaign season, movies scramble to own them.” Sprawling yet surgical; managed to make me care, in February, about a subject I’m usually utterly post-give-a-shit about by Thanksgiving.

Rob Tanenbaum, The Playboy Interview: John Mayer (Playboy, March 2010)

Yeah, this is the one where Mayer rendered himself culturally leprous with a few spectacularly ill-advised comments about African-Americans and his weiner— but it’s also the best Q&A with a rock personality I read this year. Speaking as somebody who does this for a living: It’s hard to get something interesting out of a subject who’s reluctant or dumb, but it’s actually way harder to take a quote machine like Mayer— who’s historically used compulsive self-disclosure and meta-acknowledgements of what he knows about the interview process to completely run the table in these situations— somewhere he doesn’t want to go. And, uh, obviously, that’s what happened.

Chris Jones, Roger Ebert: The Essential Man (Esquire, February 2010)

I spent an embarrassing amount of time—like, months—working on a snakebit-from-the-beginning Ebert profile for GQ five years ago. It never ran, mostly because it sucked. Sucked on draft 1, sucked worse on draft 18. (Like Rog once said about certain reviews: “The bad ones take forever.”) So I was all ready to hate this Ebert story just for existing and appearing in a magazine and reminding me of how spectacularly I blew it in 2005—but I didn’t, because it’s so goddamn good it turned off the part of my brain that hates people for being better than me. That part where Ebert gets mad at Disney’s copyright police for taking down YouTube videos of him and Siskel, and because he can’t yell, he makes the font bigger and bigger? “He presses the button again and again and again, the words growing bigger and bigger and bigger until they become too big to fit the screen, now they’re just letters, but he keeps hitting the button, bigger and bigger still, now just shapes and angles, just geometry filling the white screen with black like the three squares. Roger Ebert is shaking, his entire body is shaking, and he’s still hitting the button, bang, bang, bang, and he’s shouting now. He’s standing outside on the street corner and he’s arching his back and he’s shouting at the top of his lungs.” Holy fucking shit.

Joe Hagan, The Return of Governor Moonbeam, And Other Hallucinations From The Golden State (New York, October 10, 2010)

Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman contest the California narrative as the state, fiscally gut-shot by the housing collapse, tumbles broke and stoned into the sea; Hagan weaves Jerry’s free-association and Schwarzenegger’s puny-humans ranting and Meg Whitman’s total carpetbagging bullshit in and out of a bunch of elegant set pieces—the Hyatt-ballroom rally, the pot dispensary, David Boies’ beach house. The obvious comparison to make when you’re talking about a story where a writer tries to comprehend weed-hazy apocalyptic California is Joan Didion, but the real bookend for this one—culturally, decade-wise, whatever—is the series of dispatches Hank Stuever filed from L.A. and Sacramento back in 2003, during the nutsoid recall election that led to Schwarzenegger taking office in the first place. (They’re collected in his book OFF RAMP as one essay, “Recallifornia”; the story about Gary Coleman is here. Read those and Joe’s story back to back, groove on the paradox of Californian perma-decline.)

Honorable mentions, aka “I could have done 15 of these”:

Jay Caspian Kang, The High Is Always The Pain and the Pain Is Always the High (The Morning News, 10/8/10), which I read after everybody else put it on their Top 5 lists, so I’m not counting it, because totally arbitrary rules are rules.

Sean Witzke, Emma Peel Sessions 39 – ‘Have you seen the Lady From Shanghai? Orson Welles… that one makes no sense’ (, 7/5/10)

Molly Lambert, In Which We Eagerly Await Aaron Sorkin’s Friend Request (, 10/7/10)

Michaelangelo Matos, eMusic Q&A: Rob Sheffield (17dots, 8/5/10)

Mary HK Choi and Natasha Vargas-Cooper, On ‘New Moon’: ‘Teenage Female Desire Manifest’ (The Awl, 11/20/10)

Oh, and it’s from 2009, but: Chris Stangl, Ghost Train: The Lost Pauline Kael Review of PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) (The Exploding Kinetoscope, 7/7/09)

Matthew Aldridge: My Top 5 #longreads, 2010


My Top 5 #longreads of 2010, featuring a thief, a killer, a fraudster, two musicians, and a film critic:

The Art of the Steal Joshuah Bearman, Wired
“Blanchard slowly approached the display and removed the already loosened screws, carefully using a butter knife to hold in place the two long rods that would trigger the alarm system. The real trick was ensuring that the spring-loaded mechanism the star was sitting on didn’t register that the weight above it had changed. He reached into his pocket and deftly replaced Elisabeth’s bejeweled hairpin with the gift-store fake.”

Roger Ebert: The Essential Man Chris Jones, Esquire
“He opens a new page in his text-to-speech program, a blank white sheet. But Ebert doesn’t press the button that fires up the speakers. He presses a different button, a button that makes the words bigger. He presses the button again and again and again, the words growing bigger and bigger and bigger until they become too big to fit the screen, now they’re just letters, but he keeps hitting the button, bigger and bigger still. Roger Ebert is shaking, his entire body is shaking, and he’s still hitting the button, bang, bang, bang, and he’s shouting now.”

The Hunted Jeffrey Goldberg, The New Yorker
“Then comes an arresting sequence, one seldom seen on national television: the killing of a human. The scout, his face blotted out electronically, fires a single shot at him. Then, from offscreen, come three more shots. The camera stays focussed on the wounded man, lying on the ground. His body jerks at the first and third shots. Then it is still.”

The Mark of a Masterpiece David Grann, The New Yorker
“Reporters work, in many ways, like authenticators. We encounter people, form intuitions about them, and then attempt to verify these impressions. I began to review Biro’s story. As I probed further, I discovered an underpainting that I had never imagined.”

Insane Clown Posse: And God Created Controversy
Jon Ronson, The Guardian
“I suddenly wonder, halfway through our interview, if I am looking at two men in clown make-up who are suffering from depression. Shaggy nods quietly. ‘I get anxiety and shit a lot,’ he says. ‘And reading that stuff people write about us… It hurts.’”

See my (much longer) list of the best long-form journalism of 2009.

Follow @longreads, or search for #longreads on Twitter. Or follow me, @mpaldridge.

From Jason Fagone: my top five @longreads of 2010


  1. Jeff Sharlet, Harper’s, Straight Man’s Burden
  2. Atul Gawande, The New Yorker, Letting Go
  3. Patrick Symmes, Harper’s, Thirty Days as a Cuban
  4. Chris Jones, Esquire, What Happened to Roger Ebert?
  5. Moe Tkacik, Columbia Journalism Review, Look at Me!