Saturday, February 20, 2010

Roger Ebert: Telling It Like It Is

Roger Ebert has always been my favorite film critic. He is a brilliant writer who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975, the only film critic ever to do so. I've been watching and reading his work since the days of "At the Movies," his TV show with the late, great Gene Siskel.

As much as I love his positive reviews, his negative reviews are even better. I remember laughing out loud at the end of this one for M. Night Shyamalan's The Village. If you ever get the chance, read his awesome compilation of negative reviews, Your Movie Sucks

I was aware of his cancer diagnosis several years ago, and I remember reading his blog and praying for him. I even posted a few comments to encourage him.

I was glad to see he was back in business and writing again; his Chicago Sun-Times film review website is always the first place I turn for excellent film reviews. I've also been following him on Twitter; his tweets are funny and poignant, biting and sarcastic. He attacks and praises people, passes on links to great poetry and music, and snarks about politics. He's a really fun guy to follow.

The web has been abuzz with the publication of a story on him in the current Esquire Magazine. It's a great read. Talks all about his cancer surgeries, his current health, his career, his marriage... I highly recommend that you take the time to read it. The cover photo is getting a lot of attention, because no one has really seen what Ebert looks like these days, with his lower jaw removed. It's jarring and hard to look at. But I think it was a brave thing to allow... Ebert is vulnerable and open, with his image as well as his illness, his life and his work.

And, of course, Ebert blogged about the piece and his reactions to it. I love his words about the cover shot:
When I turned to it in the magazine, I got a jolt from the full-page photograph of my jaw drooping. Not a lovely sight. But then I am not a lovely sight, and in a moment I thought, well, what the hell. It's just as well it's out there. That's how I look, after all.
Characteristic Roger Ebert. Telling it like it is. As long as he's writing, I'll be reading.


Curt said...

I also enjoy Ebert's film criticism. He's not only informative, but informed, which is a rarity. He knows the art, the craft, and the history of filmmaking, and it shows in his reviews. I don't always agree with him, but I always respect what he writes.

I followed him on twitter for a couple of hours, but unfollowed him pretty quickly. He tweeted more about politics than film, and his politics are fiercely, almost hatefully partisan. He tweeted probably 25 times in three hours (which would cause me to unfollow anyone regardless of what they say), and with at least two-thirds of his tweets I felt like he was calling me an ignorant hick. Life's too short for that.

Matt Nightingale said...

Yes, I agree to some extent on the political tweeting... His wife, Chaz, apparently agrees with you. Read his blog post about the Esquire article. He even talks about apologizing to Rush. Maybe give him another try?

Michael said...

Hey buddy. I've always liked his film commentaries as well, and credit much of my love of the medium to both he and Mr. Siskel. So insightful.

Having known that he was struggling with health issues, I was not aware that he'd had his jaw removed. I find this photo both jarring...and inspiring. Look at the sparkle in those eyes! One can only imagine how being disfigured might pris open the ol' third eye. :)

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