Sunday, 7 April 2013

Remembering Roger Ebert

Beloved film critic Roger Ebert died on April 4th 2013 at the age of 70 after a long battle with cancer. I have written an In Memoriam piece on the late, great critic Roger Ebert over at Filmoria.

President Barack Obama said 'Roger was the movies'.

His wife Chaz said 'the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world'.

He had just announced the day before his death his intention to slow down after writing '306 movie reviews, a blog post or two a week, and assorted other articles' in 2012 alone.

I didn't grow up reading Roger Ebert's reviews like so many others. I was well aware of Siskel and Ebert, if not just because The Bloodhound Gang had that lyric 'Yes I'm Siskel, yes I'm Ebert and you're getting two thimbs up'. Check it out:

But I did occasionally check out his reviews and most often enjoyed them. I didn't always agree with them obviously but when he got it right, he really nailed it. I'm going to share a couple of my favourites:

On Titanic: 'Movies like this are not merely difficult to make at all, but almost impossible to make well. The technical difficulties are so daunting that it's a wonder when the filmmakers are also able to bring the drama and history into proportion. I found myself convinced by both the story and the saga.'

On City of God: It 'does not exploit or condescend, does not pump up its stories for contrived effect, does not contain silly and reassuring romantic sidebars, but simply looks, with a passionately knowing eye, at what it knows.'

On Trainspotting: 'It uses a colorful vocabulary, it contains a lot of energy, it elevates its miserable heroes to the status of icons (in their own eyes, that is), and it does evoke the Edinburgh drug landscape with a conviction that seems born of close observation.'

 On Terminator 2: 'T1000, as played by Patrick, is a splendid villain, with compact good lucks and a bland expression. His most fearsome quality is his implacability; no matter what you do to him, he doesn't get disturbed and he doesn't get discouraged. He just pulls himself together and keeps on coming.'

On Schindler's List: 'What is most amazing about this film is how completely Spielberg serves his story. The movie is brilliantly acted, written, directed and seen. Individual scenes are masterpieces of art direction, cinematography, special effects, crowd control. Yet Spielberg, the stylist whose films often have gloried in shots we are intended to notice and remember, disappears into his work. Neeson, Kingsley and the other actors are devoid of acting flourishes. There is a single-mindedness to the enterprise that is awesome.'

We certainly didn't agree on Fight Club which Ebert called 'the most frankly and cheerfully fascist big-star movie since Death Wish' and a 'a celebration of violence'but his review is a brilliant teaching tool and I'm sure to always read it with my students when we discuss the film.

Anyway please go check out my proper In Memoriam piece on the late, great film critic Roger Ebert over at Filmoria.

What was your favourite Roger Ebert review?