Roger Ebert - Wikiquote
According to the Archive of American Television, Siskel and Ebert show's main draws, their relationship was based on fierce mutual respect. In , Chicago Sun-Times writer Roger Ebert became the first film critic his upbringing, his battles with alcoholism, his relationship with his wife, and his recent health struggles. Today, marketing decides many projects. It was because I'd found Roger Ebert's email and asked him a question. on writing, on life, on the tough job market that awaited me upon graduation. . Will Leitch's book Are We Winning? about the connection of baseball.
James shows archive footage of them bitching at each other in outtakes. It was the antagonism that raised the temperature of the show. The viewers loved their fights. Ebert liked being loved. I would see him at festivals taking pictures of people. He was a fan. He could have had the entourage, he could have revelled in all of that. It allowed him to show Ebert warts and all.
His early alcoholism is discussed. His ego and occasional mercilessness get an airing. How does James think Ebert would have reviewed Life Itself? But I thought about him throughout the entire process. I felt like, when I was editing, Roger was right here: He blogged about filmsabout his relationship with Chaz, about his memories of a life in the industry and about his cancer.
When surgery left him unable to talk, his blog became his voice. We don't wake up and immediately start engaging with plot points. But Ballast inexorably grows and deepens and gathers power and absorbs us. I always say I hardly ever cry at sad films, but I sometimes do, just a little, at films about good people. Review of Ballast 29 October I said this is the Batman movie I've been waiting for; more correctly, this is the movie I did not realize I was waiting for, because I didn't realize that more emphasis on story and character and less emphasis on high-tech action was just what was needed.
The movie works dramatically in addition to being an entertainment. There's something to it. Review of Batman Begins 13 June Dances With Wolves has the kind of vision and ambition that is rare in movies today. It is not a formula movie, but a thoughtful, carefully observed story. It is a Western at a time when the Western is said to be dead. It asks for our imagination and sympathy. It takes its time, three hours, to unfold.
It is a personal triumph for Kevin Costnerthe intelligent young actor of Field of Dreams, who directed the film and shows a command of story and of visual structure that is startling; this movie moves so confidently and looks so good it seems incredible that it's a directorial debut.
Sympathy I felt in the sense that I would feel it for a rabid dog, while accepting that it must be destroyed. I do not feel the film provides "a sufficient response to what Hitler actually did," because I feel no film can, and no response would be sufficient. All we can learn from a film like this is that millions of people can be led, and millions more killed, by madness leashed to racism and the barbaric instincts of tribalism.
Review of Downfall 11 March Let me tell you a story.
The real Roger Ebert revealed, ‘warts, waistline and all’ | Film | The Guardian
The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event.
Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me.Roger Ebert & Gene Siskel Review Visionquest
Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy. Review of Fargo 8 March The movie, as everyone knows, is about a man who finds himself living the same day over and over and over again.
He is the only person in his world who knows this is happening, and after going through periods of dismay and bitterness, revolt and despair, suicidal self-destruction and cynical recklessness, he begins to do something that is alien to his nature. He begins to learn. Review of Groundhog Day This is a film about — and also for — not only obsessed clerks in record stores, but the video store clerks who have seen all the movies, and the bookstore employees who have read all the books.
Also for bartenders, waitresses, greengrocers in health food stores, kitchen slaves at vegetarian restaurants, the people at GNC who know all the herbs, writers for alternative weeklies, disc jockeys on college stations, salespeople in retro clothing shops, tattoo artists and those they tattoo, poets, artists, musicians, novelists, and the hip, the pierced and the lonely.
They may not see themselves but they will recognize people they know. Review of High Fidelity 31 March It's so rare to find a movie that doesn't take sides. Conflict is said to be the basis of popular fiction, and yet here is a film that seizes us with its first scene and never lets go, and we feel sympathy all the way through for everyone in it. To be sure, they sometimes do bad things, but the movie understands them and their flaws.
Like great fiction, House of Sand and Fog sees into the hearts of its characters, and loves and pities them. A plot is about things that happen. A story is about people who behave. To admire a story you must be willing to listen to the people and observe them, and at the end of House of Sand and Fog, we have seen good people with good intentions who have their lives destroyed because they had the bad luck to come across a weak person with shabby desires.
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She and I had visited the same beach and discussed visiting it with our children and grandchildren. An icy finger ran slowly down our spines. Such a connection can be terrifying. What does it mean? We are the playthings of the gods. It is utterly inexplicable.
Roger Ebert: the man who revolutionised movie criticism gets his own film
This is an excellent film for teenagers. Review of The King's Speech 15 December Magnolia is operatic in its ambitiona greatjoyous leap into melodrama and coincidencewith ragged emotionscrimes and punishmentsdeathbed scenes, romantic dreamsgenerational turmoil and celestial intervention, all scored to insistent music.
It is not a timid film. Its characters are linked by blood, coincidence and by the way their lives seem parallel. This event is not "cheating," as some critics have argued, because the prologue fully prepares the way for it, as do some subtle references to Exodus.
It works like the hand of Godreminding us of the absurdity of daring to plan. And yet plan we must, because we are human, and because sometimes our plans work out. At three hours it is even operatic in length, as its themes unfold, its characters strive against the dying of the lightand the great wheel of chance rolls on toward them. Review of Magnolia in Chicago Sun-Times 7 January Magnolia is a film of sadness and loss, of lifelong bitterness, of children harmed and adults destroying themselves.
As the narrator tells us near the end, "We may be through with the past, but the past is never through with us. This is closely linked to a loathing or fear of behaving as we are told, or think, that we should. It begins deceptively, with a little documentary about amazing coincidences including the scuba diver scooped by a fire-fighting plane and dumped on a forest fire … coincidences and strange events do happen, and they are as real as everything else.
If you could stand back far enough, in fact, everything would be revealed as a coincidence. What we call "coincidences" are limited to the ones we happen to notice. I think it's a coincidence. Unlike many other "hypertext movies" with interlinking plots, Magnolia seems to be using the device in a deeper, more philosophical way. Anderson sees these people joined at a level below any possible knowledge, down where fate and destiny lie. They have been joined by their actions and their choices.
And all leads to the remarkable, famous, sequence near the film's end when it rains frogs. Countless frogs, still alive, all over Los Angeles, falling from the sky. That this device has sometimes been joked about puzzles me. I find it a way to elevate the whole story into a larger realm of inexplicable but real behavior. We need something beyond the human to add another dimension. Frogs have rained from the sky eight times this century, but never mind the facts.
Attend instead to Exodus 8: In this case, I believe, it refers not to people, but to fearsshamessins. In one sense, it tells absorbing stories, filled with detail, told with precision and not a little humor. The message of the parable, as with all good parables, is expressed not in words but in emotions. After we have felt the pain of these people, and felt the love of the policeman and the nurse, we have been taught something intangible, but necessary to know.
Review of Magnoliain review for Great Movies 27 November Empathy has been in short supply in our nation recently.
Our leaders are quick to congratulate us on our own feelings, slow to ask us to wonder how others feel. But maybe times are changing. Every Lee film is an exercise in empathy.
He is not interested in congratulating the black people in his audience, or condemning the white ones. He puts human beings on the screen, and asks his audience to walk a little while in their shoes. Review of Malcolm X 18 November The Man in the Moon is like a great short story, one of those masterpieces of language and mood where not one word is wrong, or unnecessary. It flows so smoothly from start to finish that it hardly even seems like an ordinary film.
Usually I am aware of the screenwriter putting in obligatory scenes. I can hear the machinery grinding. Although, in retrospect, I can see how carefully the plot was put together, how meticulously each event was prepared for, as I watched the film I was only aware of life passing by. He shows him as an ordinary man, kind, funny, flawed, shrewd, idealistic, yearning for a better world.
He shows what such an ordinary man can achieve. Milk was the right person in the right place at the right time, and he rose to the occasion. So was Rosa Parks. Sometimes, at a precise moment in history, all it takes is for one person to stand up. Review of Milk 24 November American movies are in the midst of a transition period.
Some directors place their trust in technology. Spielbergwho is a master of technology, trusts only story and character, and then uses everything else as a workman uses his tools. He makes Minority Report with the new technology; other directors seem to be trying to make their movies from it. This film is such a virtuoso high-wire act, daring so much, achieving it with such grace and skill.
Minority Report reminds us why we go to the movies in the first place. With courage, art and charity, she empathizes with Aileen Wuornosa damaged woman who committed seven murders. She does not excuse the murders. She simply asks that we witness the woman's final desperate attempt to be a better person than her fate intended. Review of Monster 1 January The ability of so many people to live comfortably with the idea of capital punishment is perhaps a clue to how so many Europeans were able to live with the idea of the Holocaust: Once you accept the notion that the state has the right to kill someone and the right to define what is a capital crime, aren't you halfway there?
The Rise and Fall of Fred A. In a time of flashy directors who slice and dice their films in a dizzy editing rhythm, it is important to remember that films can look and listen and attentively sympathize with their characters. Directors grow great by subtracting, not adding, and Eastwood does nothing for show, everything for effect. Review of Mystic River 8 October This is a painful movie to watch. But it is also exhilarating, as all good movies are, because we are watching the director and actors venturing beyond any conventional idea of what a modern movie can be about.
Here there is no plot, no characters to identify with, no hope. But there is care: The filmmakers care enough about these people to observe them very closely, to note how they look and sound and what they feel. Review of Naked 18 February Once is the kind of film I've been pestered about ever since I started reviewing again. People couldn't quite describe it, but they said I had to see it.
Review of Once 24 December In the twilight of the 20th century, here is a comedy to reassure us that there is hope — that the world we see around us represents progressnot decay.
Pleasantvillewhich is one of the year's best and most original films, sneaks up on us. It begins by kidding those old black-and-white sitcoms like "Father Knows Best," it continues by pretending to be a sitcom itself, and it ends as a social commentary of surprising power. That it's scary and dangerous to learn new ways. The movie is like the defeat of the body snatchers: The people in color are like former pod people now freed to move on into the future.
We observe that nothing creates fascists like the threat of freedom. Pleasantville is the kind of parable that encourages us to re-evaluate the good old days and take a fresh look at the new world we so easily dismiss as decadent. Yes, we have more problems. But also more solutions, more opportunities and more freedom.
I grew up in the '50s. It was a lot more like the world of Pleasantville than you might imagine. Yes, my house had a picket fence, and dinner was always on the table at a quarter to six, but things were wrong that I didn't even know the words for.
Review of Pleasantville 1 October Here is how [life] happens. We find something we want to do, if we are lucky, or something we need to do, if we are like most people. We use it as a way to obtain food, shelter, clothing, mates, comfort, a first folio of Shakespeare, model airplanes, American Girl dolls, a handful of rice, sex, solitude, a trip to Venice, Nikes, drinking water, plastic surgery, child care, dogs, medicine, education, cars, spiritual solace -- whatever we think we need.
To do this, we enact the role we call "me," trying to brand ourselves as a person who can and should obtain these things. In the process, we place the people in our lives into compartments and define how they should behave to our advantage.
Because we cannot force them to follow our desires, we deal with projections of them created in our minds. But they will be contrary and have wills of their own. Eventually new projections of us are dealing with new projections of them. Sometimes versions of ourselves disagree. We succumb to temptation — but, oh, father, what else was I gonna do? I feel like hell. I'll do it again This has not been a conventional review. There is no need to name the characters, name the actors, assign adjectives to their acting.
Look at who is in this cast. You know what I think of them. This film must not have seemed strange to them. It's what they do all day, especially waiting around for the director to make up his mind. Review of Synecdoche, New York 5 November Sometimes when you've read the novel, it gets in the way of the images on the screen.
You keep remembering how you imagined things. That didn't happen with me during Sophie's Choicebecause the movie is so perfectly cast and well-imagined that it just takes over and happens to you. It's quite an experience. It is about three people who are faced with a series of choices, some frivolous, some tragic. As they flounder in the bewilderment of being human in an age of madness, they become our friends, and we love them.
Review of Sophie's Choice 1 January Here is a lovely film about two high school seniors who look, speak and feel like real year-old middle-American human beings. Do you have any idea how rare that is? They aren't crippled by irony. They aren't speeded up into cartoons. Their sex lives aren't insulted by scenes that treat them cheaply. The story requires them to make love, but it doesn't insist we see her tits. Review of The Spectacular Now 2 August Films like Speed belong to the genre I call Bruised Forearm Movies, because you're always grabbing the arm of the person sitting next to you.
Done wrong, they seem like tired replays of old chase cliches. Done well, they're fun. Done as well as Speed, they generate a kind of manic exhilaration.
Review of Speed 10 June We are connected with some people and never meet others, but it could easily have happened otherwise. Looking back over a lifetime, we describe what happened as if it had a plan. To fully understand how accidental and random life is — how vast the odds are against any single event taking place — would be humbling.
Whoever that happens to be. Review of Three Colors: Red 2 December Terrence Malick 's The Tree of Life is a film of vast ambition and deep humilityattempting no less than to encompass all of existence and view it through the prism of a few infinitesimal lives.
The only other film I've seen with this boldness of vision is Kubrick's A Space Odysseyand it lacked Malick's fierce evocation of human feeling. The Tree of Life has awe-inspiring visuals suggesting the birth and expansion of the universethe appearance of life on a microscopic level and the evolution of species.
This process leads to the present momentand to all of us. We were created in the Big Bang and over untold millions of years, molecules formed themselves into, well, you and me.