Friday, April 5, 2013

Ebert I miss you already

I felt deeply saddened yesterday when I learned that a man who I never met (yet felt was my friend) passed away. I came to be so deeply and emotionally connected to Roger Ebert through his writing. I discovered him more than two decades ago and much like everyone else, loved what he and Gene Siskel had to say about the movies of our time.

But to say that Roger Ebert was a film critic does not do him justice. He is the first of his industry to receive the Pulitzer Prize...a thing I used many a time to silence those in my social circle who would say offhandedly "I don't trust what reviewers have to say about movies."

These "friends of mine" would always pop off with that excuse when I (in the role of wet blanket) declared that I would not be going to see a movie and "I hope you have fun." Sometimes I'd have to resort to: "Well...let's see you win a Pulitzer Prize for anything and maybe I'll care about what you have to say. Until then shut up about that bad movie 'cause Roger Ebert hated it, and I'm going to save money and time." Anyone that knows me in real life pretty much knows that there needs to be a reason to hang out. If there is no reason, I'm not going to make up a bad one to provide an excuse to socialize. No thanks. Being alone is better than being bored with multiple people.

I trusted Roger Ebert. I loved practically every movie he told me I'd love, and my taste closely echoed his. Truthfully, I would not have seen "Jack the Giant Slayer" had I not purposefully (on a cold Sunday night) looked up his review to see if the movie was worth a ticket. Roger Ebert gave it the "thumbs up." Within ten minutes, I was on my way to the theater.

One of my favorite lines comes from a Roger Ebert review wherein he examined the awful gorn flick "The Human Centipede." He says, "I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine."

Even when he truly hated a film or found it's very existence puzzling, he always had a way with words.

Writers we lost one of our own yesterday...one of the giants. And I don't think there will ever be another movie reviewer who, in death, will make national news.

Ebert, I miss you already.

55 comments:

  1. Hey,

    Never was a fan of movie reviewers, but even I knew Ebert was special, so I am sad for you today, but how fitting you were able to honor him with E...

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  2. I used to watch his show sometimes when I was younger, and I thought he was such an insightful and articulate man. He will be greatly missed.

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  3. Agree with Mark completely. Ebert will be missed.

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  4. I had to post about him today as well. He battled cancer for so long and it finally beat him.
    He was more harsh with his reviews in the beginning but relaxed over time. I usually trusted his reviews.

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  5. I've been missing him since he left TV. So sorry to see him go -- I loved the commentary track he did for the Dark City DVD...

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  6. What a great choice for "E". I often wonder how movie reviewers put up with having to sit through the most awful of movies.

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  7. I was sad to hear the news, too. Ebert will definitely be missed.

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  8. I didn't appreciate him nearly as much until he lost his voice and was on Twitter all the time. Then I found out what a cool guy he was. It's sad now that without him and Siskel who's the greatest film critic left: Leonard Maltin? Rex Reed? Richard Roeper? The job of film critic is seriously going to die out in the next 10-20 years and then all we'll be left with are Tweets and blogs and such.

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  9. Hi Michael, nice to meet you. Followed you via Alex's blog.

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  10. He really was a fantastic reviewer and person. I'm certainly going to miss him.

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  11. He certainly was an icon, especially with his thumbs up. He will be missed by many.

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  12. Back in the old days, I always enjoyed it when Siskel and Ebert would argue over movies -- made me want to see go them all the more.

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  13. He was an icon in the movie industry, becoming even larger than life after Siskel's death, filling the void left in the partnership.

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  14. I've been following his reviews too, though not quite as long as you I'm afraid. He was an inspiration to movie critics everywhere.

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  15. I was SO SHOCKED when I found out. I had just seen an interview with him the previous day and he told the audience that he would be slowing down a bit because of his re-occuring cancer. THEN ...

    It is sad. I was one of THE best critics... He certainly will be missed.

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  16. Hi Michael .. I knew he'd had throat cancer for a while -- but again was very saddened to find he'd succumbed.

    Thanks for writing this article about Roger Ebert - I am looking forward to reading his obituaries ... one of those where people will remember many things about him.

    I used some of his words about the Silent Movie "The Passion of Joan of Arc" 1928 and put links in .. at my post "The Silent Pianist talks ..."

    Ebert described the way the film was made .. and how they achieved the sets etc ...

    Thanks for posting about him .. I hope a book will come out in due course .. I imagine that will be very informative ..

    Cheers but a sad "E" ..Hilary

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  17. Hey Michael,

    I remember when I lived in Vancouver, I used to watch "Siskel and Ebert" and their often conflicting movie reviews.

    I share your admiration for a good man.

    Happy alphabeting, Michael.

    Gary, your cordial host of the alternate alphabet challenge :)

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  18. I started watching Siskel and Ebert when I was a kid.
    Ebert was a great inspiration.

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  19. Wow, I had no idea he won a pulitzer, very cool:) Thanks for enlightening me:)

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  20. I have watched him since I was in high school -- which suffice it to say is a very long time. He will be missed!

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  21. Kenneth Turan had a lovely tribute to him on NPR this morning. He will be missed.

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  22. Siskel and Ebert were TV icons. I loved their show and they sent me off to see a lot of great movies.

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  23. I didn't always agree with his opinions but I loved the way he wrote. He was a masterful wordsmith and I credit him with making me a better writer.

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  24. I didn't always agree with his opinions but I loved the way he wrote. He was a masterful wordsmith and I credit him with making me a better writer.

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  25. I'm saddened by his passing. Sorry to hear about is illness.

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  26. I remember watching him and Siskel on TV a long time ago. He will be missed.

    I realize this was not the point of your post but I loved this line - "Being alone is better than being bored with multiple people."

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  27. Beautifully done Michael. There aren't many public figures I respect more than Roger Ebert. As one of his many Twitter followers, I will miss his insights, into much more than movies, a great deal.

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  28. Definitely sad - an icon of our era, to be sure.

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  29. He was definitely an influential person.

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  30. He was a special guy. It's funny how we can get attached to public people that we don't know. I was really sad when Luciano Pavarotti passed away. I had always wanted to see him live in concert.

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  31. A lovely tribute. I grew up with Siskel & Ebert too and always thought they had the best job in the world.

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  32. How fitting that today's A-Z letter is E. It is strange to have household named famous people pass away. It makes me feel like I'm getting old. Well, I hope Eberts family is holding up in this tough time.

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  33. I knew someone would do a tribute to Ebert today. Used to love watching him and Siskel go at it. He did write beautiful reviews, too. Also, I read an article this morning about him finding the love of his life at age fifty. Thought that was pretty cool. :)

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  34. This is beautiful, Michael. Roger Ebert would be pleased. Two thumbs up.

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  35. Nice tribute, Michael. I admitted to someone just yesterday that we never saw a film before checking Mr. Ebert's website first. He knew his stuff. He understood what made a great movie. He lived to be entertained. What more can one ask for?

    Bravo on your post.

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  36. I always loved watching Siskel and Ebert when I was younger. It wasn't until much later that I started actually reading Ebert's reviews and realized what an amazing writer he was. I enjoyed his reviews because he wasn't pretentious like so many critics tend to be.

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  37. Even I liked listening to this guy though I seldom pay attention to movie reviews.

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  38. Nice commemorative post of a truly original reviewer. Thumbs up Michael!

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  39. What a lovely tribute and great E.

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  40. I've seen posts around the net about Ebert's death. Seemed he was indeed special and good at what he did.

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  41. Aww, so sad. I hadn't thought of this before, but I think I'll go look up his reviews I've loved over the years...

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  42. Sometimes people we don't know touch our lives in unique ways, don't they? And we miss them more than others we do know... Cheers!

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  43. Michael, I was sad when I heard, too. I fondly remember watching Siskel and Ebert debate films. For me, it's the end of an era, which always saddens me and makes me sentimental.

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  44. There have been a lot of tributes to him, but this one is my favorite.

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  45. I don't really follow movie reviews, but I was sad to hear he had passed away.

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  46. He was certainly an authority on movies and was always right on point. I find it kind of funny that he review The Human Centipede and I appreciate what he had to say. Rest in peace, Mr. Ebert, and a thumps up to you for the memorable reviews you've left us with!

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  47. Ebert will truly be missed. Great post!
    Connie
    A to Z buddy
    Peanut Butter and Whine

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  48. Sorry I missed this when it was new, but glad I didn't miss it altogether. Great tribute. Thanks.

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  49. I had no idea Ebert was gone. I have to say, I didn't always like the movies he liked or dislike the movies he disliked, but I ALWAYS respected his opinion. I knew that he was of the right opinion (I just have some bad taste in movies sometimes).

    To Ebert.

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  50. Roger was a great writer and cinephile. I loved all of his reviews as well as his other pieces. Great tribute today.

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  51. You've expressed so many wonderful sentiments in this post. Love the line about being bored alone or in a crowd...couldn't agree more! As for human centipede - my kids won't even let me see previews...they saw it and were not impressed at all! Yes, we lost a great one, and this post is a fine tribute to him!

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