I was lucky enough to grow up in a town where the local newspaper syndicated Roger Ebert’s columns. Every Friday, I’d sit down with my bowl of cereal before school and read his reviews of the latest releases. Because of the prominence he’d reached as a critic by the 90s, along with that of fellow former critic Gene Siskel, I took his word on film as gospel. When he loved a film I had no interest in, or vice versa, I figured it was because of an age disparity, that I’d get it when I was older,. When he loved a film I was excited for, it made the anticipation all the more intense.
As I got older, my enjoyment of movies matured with me. I began reading his archive of reviews online, noting how his tastes had changed through the years. In my late teens, I started using his “Great Movies” list as an atlas for my future filmic enjoyment. Through that list, he inculcated a lasting appreciation for older cinema, and gave me a taste for the obscure, challenging movies I love today.
At his best, Ebert could appreciate the sensitivity and humanity that great films have. His review of Marie Antoinette, for example, points out how the film depicts the loneliness that is particular to women.
He could also be devastatingly funny, when dealing out scathing blows to Hollywood schlock (my favourite was for Four Christmases).
Ultimately though, his best quality was his earnestness, which shined through everything he wrote. He loved film very intensely, and took life seriously. He inspired me to do the same, and for that reason amongst many others he’ll be missed.
Deauville, Basse-Normandie, France. August 1st, 1988.
Photograph by Jodi Cobb, National Geographic
Noreaga - Super Thug
Nore’s real life as a Sheik.
DyE - Fantasy
…and my favourite video (about growing up) as an adult. Crazy this has almost 24 million views.