Roger Respect: “Life Itself” on Ebert

He was never my favorite critic. Roger Ebert despised David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet” and panned David Cronenberg’s “Dead Ringers”. Only much later in their respective careers, did he seem to realize that both of those men were exceptional filmmakers. He was also known for positively reviewing some pretty horrendous junk(3 stars for “Speed 2: Cruise Control”), and being lukewarm on undisputed classics(only 3 out of 4 stars for “The Godfather Part II! And he rated Part III higher!!!). But agree with him, or not, he was probably the most influential film critic of the quarter century before his unfortunate passing in 2013 at the age of 70. Ebert had struggled with a terrible disease for a number of year before his death. He eventually lost part of his jaw, as well as that unmistakable voice, that many of us grew up on for decades, as the host of “At the Movies”(for many years with partner Gene Siskel, who lost his own battle with illness in 1999). But he plugged on until the very end, and you had to admire his bravery and stamina as he kept on writing about cinema until just just days before his death. And Mr. Ebert was always a fantastic film historian, with a tremendous wealth of knowledge. Hey, Roger really loved movies. So, it only seems fitting that a documentary film has been made chronicling his life, based on his 2011 memoir of the same name. It has received almost unanimous praise from film critics upon its July 4th limited opening, and it should prove to be an important time capsule for the rapidly declining art of film criticism. I’m expecting to be moved by the story of Roger Ebert in “Life Itself”. And if I like the film, maybe I’ll even do away with my letter grade system for it as a one shot tribute. Because it would only be fitting if it instead received a big “thumbs up”. I think Roger would have liked it that way.


2 comments on “Roger Respect: “Life Itself” on Ebert

  1. I’m going to be honest and admit that I did not like the guy a single bit. His constant disgust towards horror and incredibly low scores annoyed me. Ebert constantly claimed that all horror was sexist…and guess what? His website still does it courtesy of the monkeys currently writing on it.

    However, I may watch this at some point or another. I do feel bad about his unfortunate death despite not entirely respecting him as a critic. I do respect his knowledge and love for movies though.

    • Fair enough that you don’t dig Ebert…he pissed me off sometimes too. But I admired his passion, and he was a great champion for cinema and its preservation. However, I rarely agreed with him on the more challenging stuff…and he panned many marvelous films. I certainly appreciate your viewpoint. ML

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