It greatly saddens me whenever I’m reminded that Roger Ebert can no longer speak. Once upon a time I happened upon his DVD commentary track on our copy of “Dark City” and it was amazing. It was like attending a film class lecture on one of my favorite movies, by one of my favorite critics (in fact, if memory serves, the track itself was based on one of his actual lectures). Having tried my hand at being a film student in college, I was giddy. I was more giddy when I discovered a similar track on “Citizen Kane”. But, alas, there are no more lectures from Mr. Ebert, and I consider that a crying shame.
On the up swing, I discovered his website a few months ago, and have been an avid reader since. I love Ebert’s reviews because he doesn’t just critique a movie based on his personal whims doled out as factual statements – he tries to actually understand the movie, however much fluff it may contain, and gives out a rating based on how well the movie achieved what it was trying to achieve. It the movie was never trying to be anything more than entertaining nonsense aimed at kid’s, that’s how he rates it. He’s upfront on his personal opinions and biases, so even if you don’t agree with him, you at least have a yardstick to measure by. When I read a review of a movie, I don’t really want to hear if it’s “good” or “bad” (unless it’s really at either extreme), but I do want an idea of what I’m walking into, and I think Ebert does an insanely good job on that end. It probably helps that he seems to have not only watched, but studied and remembered nearly every film ever made. His movie knowledge is mind boggling. I could spend a few hours just reading though his “Two Thumbs Up” Files looking for something new to watch, or reading his entertaining “Your Movie Sucks” files.
But the real diamond on the site is his journal. The essay I read on it today, which chronicles both his own tribulations in dealing with his inability to speak, as well as the trails of a reader who is similarly afflicted, was just heartbreaking and thought provoking. Profoundly heady stuff that will truly make you appreciate all that you have this season. Imagine your one big wish was to just enjoy a tall cool glass of water. It’s a good essay to mull over before stressing out too much over the old Christmas shopping.
Read it here.