RIP Roger Ebert

Monday, 8 April, 2013

We woke to the sad news last Friday morning that renown US film critic Roger Ebert had died, aged 70. This just days after announcing he was taking a leave of presence to seek treatment for a recurrence of cancer.

While I may not have agreed with every last thought Ebert offered when reviewing a film, there was no going passed the evenhanded approach he adopted to the movies, or at least most of them, that he critiqued.

After all making a film is no small feat, and considering I’ve never made it passed writing a would-be screenplay, studying some aspects of film production, and doing a spot or two of extras work, I can only begin to imagine how difficult the process must really be, sentiments Ebert articulated in an article of his I linked to in 2008:

I like movies too much. I walk into the theater not in an adversarial attitude, but with hope and optimism (except for some movies, of course). I know that to get a movie made is a small miracle, that the reputations, careers and finances of the participants are on the line, and that hardly anybody sets out to make a bad movie. I do not feel comfortable posing as impossible to please.

Precisely. RIP Roger Ebert.

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“The Tree of Life” will grow on lovers of film, see if it doesn’t

Tuesday, 1 May, 2012

Roger Ebert adds The Tree of Life to his list of the ten greatest films of all time, ousting Dekalog, by Krzysztof Kieslowski, actually a collection of ten one hour films, in the process:

I will choose “The Tree of Life” because it is more affirmative and hopeful. I realize that isn’t a defensible reasons for choosing one film over the other, but it is my reason, and making this list is essentially impossible, anyway. Apart from any other motive for putting a movie title on a list like this, there is always the motive of propaganda: Critics add a title hoping to draw attention to it, and encourage others to see it. For 2012, I suppose this is my propaganda title. I believe it’s an important film, and will only increase in stature over the years.

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Sure there’s cliches in films but I didn’t know there were so many

Thursday, 27 October, 2011

An extensive list of clichés and plot flaws found in movies compiled by US film critic Roger Ebert.

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Roger Ebert on overcoming the fear of death

Thursday, 22 September, 2011

US film critic Roger Ebert talks about mortality, and overcoming his fear of death, in an excerpt from his recently published memoir Life Itself:

What I expect to happen is that my body will fail, my mind will cease to function and that will be that. My genes will not live on, because I have had no children. I am comforted by Richard Dawkins’ theory of memes. Those are mental units: thoughts, ideas, gestures, notions, songs, beliefs, rhymes, ideals, teachings, sayings, phrases, clichés that move from mind to mind as genes move from body to body. After a lifetime of writing, teaching, broadcasting and telling too many jokes, I will leave behind more memes than many. They will all also eventually die, but so it goes.

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Twitter and the era of the selfish mind

Wednesday, 1 April, 2009

Movie critic and author Roger Ebert’s take on Twitter, and why he’s chosen not to opt in:

I thought at first this compulsion desire was centered in teenagers. Then I began to observe it among editors, lawyers, cops, waiters, sports fans, construction workers, people in restaurants, even people watching movies. During President Obama’s recent address to a joint session of Congress, a good many members of his audience could be observed twittering. This is as childish as throwing paper airplanes in class.

I do, by the way, sometimes Twitter at movies, but only before the screening begins. As to twittering during a presidential address, if useful information or excerpts are being disseminated then fine, otherwise he’s right with the paper aeroplane comparison.

Via cafedave.net.

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20 of the best movies of 2008 by Roger Ebert

Thursday, 18 December, 2008

Renown film critic Roger Ebert has compiled a list of the Top 20 movies of 2008. While I haven’t seen a few of his choices (some haven’t yet been released in Australia), I am especially looking forward to Frost/Nixon and Che.

Look at my 20 titles, and you tell me which 10 you would cut. Nor can I select one to stand above the others, or decide which should be No. 7 and which No. 8. I can’t evaluate films that way. Nobody can, although we all pretend to. A “best films” list, certainly. But of exactly 10, in marching order? These 20 stood out for me, and I treasure them all. If it had been 19 or 21, that would have been OK. If you must have a Top 10 List, find a coin in your pocket. Heads, the odd-numbered movies are your 10. Tails, the even-numbered.

As he says, “The best films of 2008… and there were a lot of them”.

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I also like movies too much to trash them

Tuesday, 23 September, 2008

US film critic Roger Ebert talks about how he arrives at a particular rating, that is X number of stars out of five, for the movies he reviews. This paragraph in particular stands out for me:

I like movies too much. I walk into the theater not in an adversarial attitude, but with hope and optimism (except for some movies, of course). I know that to get a movie made is a small miracle, that the reputations, careers and finances of the participants are on the line, and that hardly anybody sets out to make a bad movie. I do not feel comfortable posing as impossible to please. Film lovers attend different movies for different reasons, all of them valid; did I enjoy “Joe vs. the Volcano” more than some Oscar winners? Certainly.

I’m into being generally favourable when I write about the films I see as well. This possibly works against me though. I was asked several months ago if I would like to write reviews for an entertainment site, but I knocked the offer back as I felt I couldn’t be critical (read: nasty) enough.

Like Ebert, I want to try and see the good side of any movie I watch, and write about it accordingly. I studied film production one summer so have a small understanding of the difficulty in making a movie. Trust me, there’s more to it that than pointing a camera somewhere and shouting “action”.

Ask anyone who has made a Tropfest movie, for instance, which are only seven minutes in length, if you want an appreciation of what is involved, and then see if you keep up the pace for 120 (give or take) minutes.

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