Today the movie-loving world has lost a valuable voice: that of Roger Ebert, the most widely read critic (as far as I know) ever. I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about him, but the New York Times wrote an article on him that I found very interesting. Here’s another one where Christopher Nolan talks about what Ebert meant to him and the movies. For this man, a tribute is in order.
I kill time on Ebert’s site almost daily. He always has something interesting to say, and most importantly, his enthusiasm shines out through every review. For someone who loves movies and is just starting to review them herself (hmm hmm), these reveiws are very helpful. Sometimes I disagree with what he says, but that’s fine. I love reading his stuff, and I will sincerly miss the reviews and tweets he sends out.
So, in tribute, I volunteer links to some of my favorite Ebert reviews. Some of these movies I haven’t even seen, or read the reviews of them before I had seen the films. A lot of them I have only seen recently. These reviews were (and some still are) my only concept of the film. I would read his reviews not only to get an opinion, but to experience or reexperience the film. Granted, that works with almost anyone’s review, but only if they are a passionate and excellent writer such as Mr. Ebert. Also, there are almost no films that I can’t find on his site. He is an inspiration to film bloggers everywhere.
Last Tango in Paris: I really love this one, because I doubt I will ever be able to see the film. He paints a very very emotionally raw experience here though, and it always kind of awes me when I read it.
Cries and Whispers: Similarly, I doubt will ever see this. The shocking material and the pain it invokes are clearly brought forth in his review.
Persona: I saw this in film class, and after I got back from the screening I really didn’t know what to think about it, other than it was very strange. I was baffled, so I went to Ebert’s site. The reason I love this review is not so much that it explained the film to me, though it did to some degree, it’s more that there’s this one line from it that I really liked. I actually use it in my life, and I’m not even necessarily talking about Persona. ” I do not want to feel pain, I do not want to be scarred, I do not want to die. She wants . . . to be. She admits . . . she exists.” I paraphrase when I talk about it of course, but that is a really profound observation.
Vertigo: One of my favorite films, and my favorite Hitchcock. I had seen it once a long time ago and hadn’t really known what to think about it. I came back to it about a year and a half later after reading something in class that reminded me of it. But before I could get my hands on the movie, I contented myself with reading Ebert’s review. Later, I cited it in my paper on the film for English class.
Raging Bull: I have now seen the film, but before I got to it I read this review. I really like how he explains the premise of the film. It’s not so much boxing as it is jealousy and insecurity. It definitely affected my viewing of the film.
The Age of Innocence: This is another one I saw after reading his review. The power of the story comes through in his review and when I saw it, it was just like I thought it would be! (wow super nerd over here) I’m not really sure how I came across it in the first place, but while waiting to actually see it I read Ebert’s review incessently. I love how he quotes Scorcese a lot in it.
The Band Wagon: This is one of my favorite movies from my childhood, and I think it’s very underrated. Not by Mr. Ebert, however, which means a lot. It also has a lot of information on the background of the film that I find fascinating.
The Apartment: this is another one I read while waiting to see the actual film. He captures it very well, how at it’s core The Apartment is a very sad and tragic movie.
There Will Be Blood: again, I mostly read this while waiting to watch the film itself. I love this film so much; I’m probably a bit more enthusiastic than he is about it. Still, I really liked when he talks about John Huston and Peter O’Toole’s imitation of him.
Barry Lyndon: this review really helped me get a handle on what Kubrick was doing in Barry Lyndon. This one line about Kubrick seems really accurate as far as I can tell (having only seen three of his films), and is also very well put and interesting: “He likes to take organic subjects and disassemble them as if they were mechanical.” That’s pretty much how I’ve thought about Kubrick ever since I read it.
This one’s not a review, but I had to include it anyway. It’s an interview with Tarantino at Cannes after Pulp Fiction premiered. It’s fascinating to hear Taratino talking and the Ebert commenting on him at the same time.
So many links in this post! I hope you get to read some of his reviews, if you haven’t already. All of them are good, these are just some of my favorites. I’m eternally grateful to Mr. Ebert, who took the time to write all of this down for us. He proved that film lovers can be creative in their enthusiasm, which is something I try to do with my reviews. He means a lot to me, and I’m sorry he’s gone.
Rest in peace, Roger.