Last week I wrote about the late Michelangelo Antonioni and Ingmar Bergman, but after I posted my column, I made a startling discovery. Over the past two months, we lost two more masters, the African filmmaker Ousmane Sembene, who died June 9 at age 84, and the Taiwanese filmmaker Edward Yang, who died June 29 at age 59. As with Antonioni and Bergman, I was lucky enough to have reviewed the final films of both filmmakers, Sembene's Moolaade (2004), and Yang's Yi Yi (2000), and I gave each a four star rating. In fact, I'd rate Yi Yi as perhaps the finest film of the decade so far. Unlike Antonioni or Bergman, these two never received any Oscar nominations and so their deaths did not rate headlines. I suppose if I had been more diligent about combing the web for movie news, I would have found out about them earlier.
Also this week, Buena Vista posted two decades' worth of movie reviews from Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert's various TV shows, including all the "guest critics" from 1999 and Siskel's "replacement," Richard Roeper. I've been addicted to this site since it debuted last Thursday, looking up my favorite movies from mid-1986 (where the reviews seem to begin) to early 1999 when Siskel passed away. Like many movie buffs my age, I grew up with Siskel and Ebert and learned a good deal from their show. It's wonderful to see Siskel again, as well as a younger, more vibrant Ebert, arguing with passion about movies they genuinely care about.