Join 3,562 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


You don't realize it, but we're at dinner right now.
April 4, 2013 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Prolific and well-respected film critic Roger Ebert has died at 70.

Perhaps best known as one half of At The Movies with Siskel and Ebert (Siskel and Ebert defend Star Wars; Siskel and Ebert review Goodfellas), Ebert had in recent years blogged extensively about living with cancer, including the popular essay Nil by Mouth.

My personal favorite is this lovely reflection on his wife, Chaz.

The Chicago Tribune remembers the Pulitzer Prize-winning "critic with the soul of a poet."

Ebert's Great Movies: The First 100.
posted by Snarl Furillo (499 comments total) 73 users marked this as a favorite

 
.
posted by Twang at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by cnanderson at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Siskel and Ebert get in a snowball fight with David Letterman.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by dougzilla at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Token Meme at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2013


.

He will be missed.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:24 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


So sad to hear this. His reviews were always such fun to read/watch.

.
posted by DingoMutt at 1:25 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:25 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by room9 at 1:25 PM on April 4, 2013


Open post here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:25 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by drezdn at 1:25 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by vverse23 at 1:25 PM on April 4, 2013


Siskel and Ebert Outtakes

.
posted by obol at 1:25 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Mad_Carew at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2013


I felt a catch in my throat as I read that he'd died.

I liked that he talked about movies in a way that I, as just an average cineplex-going, popcorn-eating, blockbuster-watching person could both understand and learn from, and that he took movies as they came, assessing them based on what they were aiming to be, rather than on some lofty, serious idea of what film should be.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2013 [27 favorites]


The way he said thumbs up, the way he said thumbs down, the way he said goodbye.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Crap. One of the greatest writers and advocates great movies (And some horrible ones, did you know he loved Cop and Half?) ever had.

.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll always remember him as the strong-willed foil to Gene Siskel in this video.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


National Treasure. Fuck Cancer.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


.

He had been one of Metafilter's muses for a long time; some great stuff in those old posts.

This post from yesterday contains links to his last blog posting and some initial reactions from people here when this news broke earlier today.
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


.

One of the most courageous and humane public figures of our era. He was extremely generous with himself.
posted by selfnoise at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by dismas at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Broseph at 1:26 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by jrewing at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by pb at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by soakingbook at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by davebush at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2013


............................................................................................
posted by entropos at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


. fuck cancer...so optimistic sounding just earlier this week... :-(
posted by j_curiouser at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by gauche at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2013


Don't know if this will stay up but still...

.
posted by charred husk at 1:27 PM on April 4, 2013


One of my favorite works of his is his own talking about death and mortality:

"What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris."

Link Here.
posted by pipian at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2013 [23 favorites]


.
posted by lordrunningclam at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by dogwalker at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2013


RIP, Roger Ebert.

"“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."

:( He was wonderfully passionate and outspoken. And our lives were enriched for his presence.

This is completely heartbreaking.

Thank you for being At The Movies, Roger. You'll be deeply missed.

.
posted by zarq at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2013 [94 favorites]


I am going to buy a rice cooker now, in his honor.
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism at 1:28 PM on April 4, 2013 [25 favorites]


.
posted by Morvran Avagddu at 1:29 PM on April 4, 2013


Man, this came as such a surprise. I had just read his last update yesterday and he sounded so upbeat and that while he was going to start another cancer fight, he was still going to be around. The most amazing thing was when he mentioned last year was his most prolific ever, writing-wise and I just thought that was so incredible.

Ebert taught me to love movies. I loved kids movies and popular comedies when I was a kid and I would watch Siskel and Ebert each week to see what he thought of the newest films. I remember always being annoyed by Siskel, something about his criticisms I didn't like, but Ebert's heart always shown through. I didn't like that he would reference every movie callback he saw in a film (because he was a student of film history and I as a 8 year old, was not, with everything seeming new and original to me), but by the time I hit high school, I started to see the same patterns he did and loved his show (though I disliked Roper more than Siskel).

RIP Roger Ebert, you were an amazing person that sparked a love for film in thousands as well as all your writing about culture and politics over the past decade. You were an amazing and insightful voice during the Iraq War too. I'll really miss you.
posted by mathowie at 1:29 PM on April 4, 2013 [38 favorites]


.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:29 PM on April 4, 2013


I was looking around mefi for news about this, and came across this review of Garfield. There's a lot to be said about Ebert's courage, or about his quiet thoughtfulness in a lot of his more recent essays, but I find the above to be the most charming thing about him -- dude was engaged with cinema, like fully engaged. He rolled his sleeves up and dove right in and judged movies based on their own merits, and sometimes that meant giving a really good review to a CGI Garfield movie. I love that kind of take-on-all-comers willingness to treat each movie as a potentially-respectable cultural artifact.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:29 PM on April 4, 2013 [41 favorites]


.
posted by treepour at 1:29 PM on April 4, 2013


Also, I forgot the time he won the New Yorker Caption Contest.
posted by mathowie at 1:30 PM on April 4, 2013 [31 favorites]


.
posted by Ndwright at 1:30 PM on April 4, 2013


Think of this youtube video as an auditory time-line of my thoughts following Roger Ebert's life.

Career ___________________________________________ Cancer

"Wonderful!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . "BOO!"

.
posted by Fizz at 1:30 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by bruceo at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by joeyh at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2013


I'm not sad. He gave everything that he had in him to give and the world was better for it.

His blog, for those who haven't read it, is wonderful.

Ave atque vale.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


He left this final blog post on April 2nd, saying he was going to start slowing down on his reviews after recently being diagnosed with cancer again. (The server seems fairly inundated right now, here's the BBC story on it from this morning.)
posted by dgaicun at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2013


He was the MetaFilter of my youth. Thank you, Roger.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


He handled his devastating illness with such grace; he kept on being that person who appeared to be rejoicing in doing exactly what he was meant to do. I'm so sad that he's gone.

.
posted by BibiRose at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


.
posted by Kitteh at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2013


mathowie: "Also, I forgot the time he won the New Yorker Caption Contest."

Heh. Love the airplane one.
posted by zarq at 1:31 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


But...but... yesterday....but...but....wtf?.....what the fuck just happened?....waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. :(

No words, man.
.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]



posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2013


I'll have some popcorn tonight in his memory.;-(
posted by orange swan at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2013


I feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ah, shame.

.
posted by Grangousier at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2013


I Do Not Fear Death by Roger Ebert.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Where ever he's gone, I hope there are aisle seats.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


“I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”
— From his legendary review of North.
posted by General Malaise at 1:33 PM on April 4, 2013 [21 favorites]


.
posted by Feisty at 1:33 PM on April 4, 2013


Such a monumental effect on the way I think about movies and art in general. I personally have given him shit over the "are games art" nonsense, but even that made me just feel more endeared of him, somehow. Like he wasn't an untouchable giant, just aq really smart, passionate, funny, warm guy who could be as wrong as anyone else.

I miss him already.
posted by Navelgazer at 1:33 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Knappster at 1:33 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:33 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by gompa at 1:34 PM on April 4, 2013


I'll see you at the movies.
posted by Ghislain Bellec at 1:34 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are critics whose reviews baffle me. Then there are those critics who are fantastic to read - but who seem to hate every film that you like (Dave Denby).

And then there is Robert Ebert, who seems to like what you like - but illuminates with your opinions with amazing intelligence and generosity - that you feel a little smarter for agreeing with him. He's the leader of your movie gang.

His piece on Christopher Hitchens, and travelling to undiscover'd land was heartbreaking and sweet. And now he is on his journey also - and I wish him nothing but the best on his travels.

.
posted by helmutdog at 1:34 PM on April 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


Even though it was a long time coming, and even though 70 is a very respectable age to live to, and even though he accomplished more things and influenced more people than I ever could hope to, this is still heart-wrenching news. He has been there for every part of my life, arguing about movies with his friend/nemesis in my parents' console television, the weird joy I felt as a teenager when I figured out he'd written a goddamned Russ Meyer film, the later Ebert who was to be respected beyond belief for his honor and his passion and his humanness and his concern.

Sad day, today.
posted by item at 1:34 PM on April 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


.
posted by stoneandstar at 1:34 PM on April 4, 2013


:(

he'll be very much missed.
posted by lenny70 at 1:34 PM on April 4, 2013


Damn this is sad. He will be deeply missed.

.
posted by homunculus at 1:35 PM on April 4, 2013


.

I had a hard time believing it when I read the news.

I have nothing eloquent to say.

He fucking loved movies.
posted by Sara C. at 1:35 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Aww, goddamnit. Fuck cancer, man. Fuck cancer.
posted by klangklangston at 1:35 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by pemberkins at 1:35 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by rtha at 1:36 PM on April 4, 2013


Previously, a great essay from Esquire about him, how he was doing "the writing of his life" after his cancer surgery.

d
posted by Melismata at 1:36 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


´´´´´´¶¶¶¶
´´´´´¶´´´´¶¶
´´´´´¶´´´´´¶
´´´´´´¶´´´´¶
´´´´´´¶´´´¶
´´´´¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶
´´´¶´´´´´´´´´´´´¶
´´¶´´´´´´´´´´´´¶
´¶¶´´´¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶
´¶´´´´´´´´´´´´´´´¶
´¶´´´´´´´´´´´´´´´¶
´´¶´´´¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶
´´´¶´´´´´´´´´´´¶
´´´´¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶¶

Thumbs up, Roger! Class act. Thank you.

Gene has one up, too (two thumbs up!), waiting for you to join him in The Balcony of Balconies!
posted by ericb at 1:36 PM on April 4, 2013 [49 favorites]


.
posted by Golden Eternity at 1:36 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by asnider at 1:36 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by raysmj at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by delicious-luncheon at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2013


I want to thank Ebert again for his unbridled support of Asian-American filmmaking and the way he defended our right to depict ourselves as complete, flawed, even amoral characters instead of some perfect token model minority.
posted by casarkos at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2013 [24 favorites]


Is there any news about what he died of exactly? The update from two days ago was so upbeat, my first thought was did he die during surgery or something? Or was it not so sudden and unexpected from those closer to him?
posted by mathowie at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, goddammit, that wasn't supposed to happen. He was supposed to recover, at least for awhile, and I had planned to post a comment on his site. I was going to paraphrase my observation in the other thread that, should things turn out for the worst, having been the guy on TV whose opinion you could trust was a darn good epitaph, all by itself.

Now I'm very sad I won't get to tell him that. He probably wouldn't have seen it, in the likely avalanche of well-wishing, but I would have tried anyway.
posted by Malor at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't forget his only feature movie, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls with Russ Myers.

.
posted by sourbrew at 1:38 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Looking at his late-career work, it's not a stretch to say that Roger Ebert had one of the truly great second acts in American public life. What an incredible loss.
posted by deadmessenger at 1:38 PM on April 4, 2013 [26 favorites]


Ave atque vale.
posted by whuppy at 1:38 PM on April 4, 2013


Grab a kleenex. This will make you tear up.

VIDEO: Roger Ebert remembers Gene Siskel

EBERT: "Our rivalry was very real. But all the time we were becoming better and better friends. We were like brothers."

REPORTER: "Do you miss him?"

EBERT: "I miss him terribly every day."
posted by zooropa at 1:38 PM on April 4, 2013 [20 favorites]


.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:38 PM on April 4, 2013


The last time I cried about the death of someone I'd never met it was Mr. Rogers.

For much the same reasons

- a quote, from Roger Ebert:

“‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs, no need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
posted by FritoKAL at 1:38 PM on April 4, 2013 [24 favorites]


He was wonderful, and a true role model for me in the way he dealt with adversity, the way he enthusiastically pursued his many interests, and his overarching philosophy of kindness.

.
posted by HotToddy at 1:38 PM on April 4, 2013


Awww maaaaaaaaaaaaaan! I was just reading his review of Stoker, which I saw last weekend.
posted by WidgetAlley at 1:38 PM on April 4, 2013


My favorite movie critic, and all 'round classy guy.
posted by justgary at 1:38 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by /\/\/\/ at 1:39 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by white_devil at 1:39 PM on April 4, 2013


Well, fuck.

I am fucking crushed.

And I don't have a . big enough for this.
posted by palomar at 1:39 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by endotoxin at 1:39 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by devinemissk at 1:40 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by dogheart at 1:40 PM on April 4, 2013


I knew that this news was coming, after the announcements earlier this week (Ebert always seemed like he would die at his desk, computer in hand) but damn. Such a punch in the gut to hear the news. Our loss, to be sure.

.
posted by librarylis at 1:40 PM on April 4, 2013


I am way more upset by this than I expected to be.

.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:40 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


On one hand, the news of his passing is trending on Twitter. On the other hand, he is no longer around to Tweet.

So on balance has Twitter traffic increased or decreased?


-----


.
FADE TO BLACK

posted by mazola at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Gortuk at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2013


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.
.
posted by audi alteram partem at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


.
posted by psoas at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2013


I want to thank Ebert again for his unbridled support of Asian-American filmmaking and the way he defended yt our right to depict ourselves as complete, flawed, even amoral characters instead of some perfect token model minority.

YES. I had just posted that Youtube link on facebook. Brilliant.

.
posted by sunset in snow country at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2013


. Thank you, Mr. Ebert.
posted by Vibrissae at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by X | ANA | X at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2013


As a young person, one of the first pieces of criticism I ever read was Ebert's (scathing) commentary on Night of the Living Dead. I was pleased, years and many years later to realize that although I'd never agree with that review, and would find others to disagree with just as much, I was in agreement with him more and more. And more importantly, found things to think about in what he wrote.

He gave more than he took, and the world is darker for his passing.

.
posted by tyllwin at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by mrgroweler at 1:42 PM on April 4, 2013


Class act. My world is diminished by his passing.


.
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:42 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by postcommunism at 1:42 PM on April 4, 2013


YT: Siskel and Ebert guesting as themselves on 'The Critic'

Edit: changed link to right episode
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:42 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by montag2k at 1:42 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Lafe at 1:43 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by defenestration at 1:43 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by rosary at 1:43 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by jabo at 1:43 PM on April 4, 2013


I hate the way he died, but I love the way he lived.

Something you may not know about Ebert: after writing the screenplay for Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Malcolm McLaren and the Sex Pistols recruited the duo to produce Who Killed Bambi? Only a bit was ever filmed, but Ebert shared the whole screenplay a few years ago.

Full screenplay: Google cache, text only (works now); original blog post at Sun-Times (try later, server is hammered)

Ebert's essay on the film: Google text cache; original blog post
"I need you out here," Russ Meyer told me on the phone in 1977. It was 6 a.m. He could not conceive that I might still be asleep. "Have you ever heard of the Sex Pistols?"

"No," I said.

"They're a rock band from England. They got a lot of publicity for saying 'fuck' on TV. Now they have some money and want me to direct their movie."

"The Sex Pistols?" I said.

"Their manager is a guy named Malcolm McLaren. He called me from London. He said their singers were big fans of 'Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.' They go to see it every weekend they're in London. It's playing at the Electric Cinema on Portobello Road."

No director except possibly for Stanley Kubrick was better informed than Russ about where his movies were playing. Kubrick used to call specific theaters to complain about light intensity. Russ used to call to complain about theft. ...
posted by maudlin at 1:44 PM on April 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


.
posted by luciernaga at 1:44 PM on April 4, 2013


Rest in Peace Roger Ebert. You were one of a kind.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2013


So sad. Ebert was one of those folks who embodied great cinema and nurtured it and was my goto critic. He was one million thumbs excellent.


.
posted by Skygazer at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2013


Oh no.

.
posted by painquale at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2013


So long, and thanks for so much thoughtful commentary on film, and general all around decency.

.
posted by Loudmax at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2013


I'm glad his suffering is over. He was truly a great person in so many ways.
posted by found missing at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2013


.

(With this loss, the world loses a lot more than just another name in a phone book. Ebert was living proof that the value of human life can't be calculated using simple arithmetic. I'm really going to miss reading his blog; it always felt like getting regular letters from a brilliant, intellectually adventurous and big-hearted personal friend.)
posted by saulgoodman at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


He had such a great (though TOO DAMN SHORT) life. I loved watching the outtakes from the S&E show -- oh, how those two could play off of each other. Over the past few years his writing has only gotten better. I doff my hat, sir.

.
posted by blurker at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.

I read the hell out of his Video Companions when I was a kid. Every review. To this day I retain predispositions toward movies I've never watched (Sharky's Machine, Gorky Park) based on the half-remembered advice of an experienced, irascible, eloquent, friend.
posted by Iridic at 1:47 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by pointystick at 1:47 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by ariel_caliban at 1:47 PM on April 4, 2013


I feel like they should shut the city down today
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:47 PM on April 4, 2013 [20 favorites]


See you on the other side, man. You wrote wonderfully; you died courageously.
posted by angrycat at 1:48 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Requiem aeternam dona eis Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescant in pace.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:48 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I had just read his last update yesterday and he sounded so upbeat and that while he was going to start another cancer fight, he was still going to be around.

*SIGH* When that was posted yesterday, they had to have known. Bleah bleah bleah.
posted by Melismata at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2013


My mom: "Was he the fat one or the bald one?"
posted by ColdChef at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2013


Aw hell, I messed up the first link and missed the edit window: Roger Ebert, our uncle from another mother
posted by casarkos at 1:50 PM on April 4, 2013


I was one of the first to post about this in the other thread, but that was just an initial "WTF NO" plus a link. I've been trying to digest everything since then into a more meaningful thought on what he meant to me, and it's been hard to pick just one thing.

But I guess for me, leaving aside his incredible writing in the later years of his life on his blog and on twitter, or all the fantastic writing he did with his reviews... The biggest effect he had on me wasn't just something related to movies, but this general idea that it's okay to like what you like even if it's something generally considered "dumb," and that it's important to be able to articulate why you do[1]. Not in a fanboy-ish "defend against any possible criticism of the thing you like" way, but in a way that combines emotional reaction to and intellectual involvement with culture in a way that I find very satisfying both as a process and as an end result.

He made me want to tear apart my reactions to things I'd previously treated very simply/reductively until I understood the how's and why's of my feelings so I could better share all that with other people, and that's had a huge effect on all sorts of things, movie-related and not.

[1] - (as best you can, and sometimes he wasn't always quite able to)
posted by sparkletone at 1:50 PM on April 4, 2013 [17 favorites]


Okay, I'll repeat myself ...

.



good man, who I always thought of as a friend, by which I mean, much of the pleasure was in disagreement, argument, conversation. So yeah, Roger, miss you, man, but you're still wrong about BRAZIL.
posted by philip-random at 1:21 PM on April 4 [+] [!]

posted by philip-random at 1:50 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


He was a movie critic who genuinely loved movies and wasn't afraid to like a "bad" one. He gave a thumbs-up to "Booty Call" as I recall (his justification: He laughed. A lot) and gave "Anaconda" four stars (He wanted to see the snake eat a person. It did. Boo-yah!). Too many movie critics seem to think they are too cool to like movies. He was not like that.

He also had politics I admire.

One of my heroes. I don't know when he became one of my heroes, but there you are.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:51 PM on April 4, 2013 [19 favorites]


Of everything he did, I am particularly fond of his commentary track for Dark City.

.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:51 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm quite confused by this, after the update from yesterday, which gave no hint of this (sure, the cancer was back, but it was framed as a long-term struggle). This is horrible news - I respected the man so very much.

Godspeed sir.
posted by Palindromedary at 1:52 PM on April 4, 2013


.

I imagine him and Gene Siskel on little clouds, halos aloft, tossing popcorn into their mouths and watching a movie together again.
posted by Elly Vortex at 1:52 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ebert's writing went a long way in teaching me how to respect, appreciate and criticize art on its own merits, rather than by a nebulous concept of "good art," and that is worth the world to me.

.
posted by griphus at 1:52 PM on April 4, 2013 [17 favorites]


I think my favorite paragraph of his is the closing of his review of The Village. Such a great pan.

To call it an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes. It's a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It Was All a Dream. It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore. And then keep on rewinding, and rewinding, until we're back at the beginning, and can get up from our seats and walk backward out of the theater and go down the up escalator and watch the money spring from the cash register into our pockets.

But my favorite line that he wrote is from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls: "This is my happening, and it freaks me out!"
posted by painquale at 1:53 PM on April 4, 2013 [14 favorites]


.

He surely will be missed. Glad I was able to see him at the Telluride Film Festival over the years. Early on I had thought he was just a mainstream critic limited by the usual Hollywood films. But as the years went on and I heard his views and saw the breadth of his knowledge about film I realized he knew as much about film as anyone out there. I always hoped he would be back at the festival or at least back on panels at other festivals talking film and espousing his insightful, open-minded views. RIP Roger.
posted by Rashomon at 1:53 PM on April 4, 2013


Even with the advance warning about his cancer returning, that was certainly sudden. I just hope that Gene remembered to save him the aisle seat.
posted by Strange Interlude at 1:53 PM on April 4, 2013


I've been in awe of how Roger Ebert has lived with his illness and its consequences. I have a pretty strong conviction that the sheer volume of writing he put out in the these last few years were motivated not simply by a desire to keep communicating when speech was denied to him, but also from a conscious choice to model a healthy response to adversity. That response amounts to "go down fighting, and fighting hard, to make every last minute that you have count". I never met Roger Ebert, and I know it's tough to judge a person's character based on their public persona, but I loved the guy and I'm heartbroken to hear that he's gone.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:54 PM on April 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


Obama on Ebert:
Michelle and I are saddened to hear about the passing of Roger Ebert. For a generation of Americans - and especially Chicagoans - Roger was the movies. When he didn't like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive - capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical. Even amidst his own battles with cancer, Roger was as productive as he was resilient - continuing to share his passion and perspective with the world. The movies won't be the same without Roger, and our thoughts and prayers are with Chaz and the rest of the Ebert family.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:54 PM on April 4, 2013 [26 favorites]


Dammit. I grew up with Siskel and Ebert, and as an adult have really grown to appreciate his (mostly) nuanced reviews; my favorites are the ones where he spends about 75% of the review tearing into all the ridiculous plot holes and clichés in a film, only to confess in the last 25% that he loved it in spite of, maybe because of those things. Sometimes movies are like that. After the announcement earlier this week I realized that these last few years, the first thing I do whenever I finish watching a movie is to see if Ebert reviewed it, and what he thought it of it.

It's been tough reading the things he'd written about his declining health, but unlike Gene Amole's reflections, Ebert's always managed to be somehow ultimately positive. The man put up a hell of a fight and his voice (even after he lost it) was so strong it seemed like he'd be around forever.
posted by usonian at 1:54 PM on April 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


.
posted by 41swans at 1:55 PM on April 4, 2013


RIP to the man who wrote the immortal line:
"Ere this night does wane, you will drink the black sperm of my vengeance!"
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:55 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by languagehat at 1:55 PM on April 4, 2013


I took a class he taught years ago in which he would take movies apart shot by shot. We did 'To Have and Have Not' with Bogart and Bacall, Altman's Three Women and a Bergman. It was a complete joy. He was as warm and real in person as you might imagine.

He will be missed.
posted by readery at 1:55 PM on April 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


.
posted by cooker girl at 1:56 PM on April 4, 2013


Long ago I posted a comment about meeting Roger Ebert in London back in the '70s and what an amazingly kind and gracious guy he was to me. I am terribly sad that cancer put him through so much shit these past years, and took him so very much too soon.
posted by Kat Allison at 1:56 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Inpsifendus: That response amounts to "go down fighting, and fighting hard, to make every last minute that you have count".

That, I am led to believe, is the Chicago way. I mentioned this in the recent thread, but Chicago has a veritable pantheon of literary greats. Ebert more than earned his place among that elite group of extraordinary writers from Illinois.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


.
posted by disclaimer at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by ldthomps at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2013


Wow, that's really too bad. I was another one who read the post a few days ago and thought "whew" that he hadn't died and was gearing up for another fight.
Really sad news.
posted by chococat at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by SansPoint at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2013


"I believe universal health care is, quite simply, right. It is a moral imperative."

Ebert was such a warrior. I'm a film fan, yes, but by profession I am an advocate for health care reform. Reading his blog posts about his support for our shared cause brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.

"It seems to me that universal health care is a win-win proposition. It provides an umbrella of protection for those who cannot afford or qualify for health insurance. This helps us all. Every time you learn from the news about our latest jobless statistics, consider this: A newly jobless person who was insured through an employee health plan is about to become a newly uninsured person. It's for our mutual good that we live in a healthier society. To provide universal coverage is the moral thing to do. "

Unable to link directly to his blog right now but here's a good Daily Kos story that offers a nice wrap on his advocacy for health care reform.

RIP, Roger. You will be sorely, sorely missed.
posted by deliciae at 1:58 PM on April 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'll freely admit that as a class, I dislike movie critics: far too many of them seem more interested in impressing people --- 'look at me! see how intellectual and cultured I am?!?' --- than in fairly discussing the merits of a particular production. And if it ain't 'film', i.e. artistic as all get out, if it's a mere (gasp!) entertainment for the unwashed masses..... well then, it's automatically no good.

Roger Ebert was by far the exception to that rule, and I too loved him for it. My most sincere condolences to his wife, his friends and family.
posted by easily confused at 1:58 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:58 PM on April 4, 2013


I loved how accessible he was on Facebook and Twitter. He was so real, so funny and honest, so smart, and SO fucking courageous.

Goddammit.

I agree, they must have known his death was imminent when they broke news of his cancer's return. I like to think he didn't want people to worry -- a last act of kindness, a courageous and poignant final scene.

.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 1:58 PM on April 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


.
posted by tingting at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2013


He was one of the good ones. Very sad to hear this.
posted by odayoday at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2013


I didn't like the Siskel and Ebert show growing up. I'm not sure why I watched it even, maybe it was on between shows I liked and I didn't bother changing the channel. But we didn't go to movies, so it wasn't very relevant, and I also formed a very definite impression that the two of them were mean and cranky and didn't like anything, including each other.

It was a delight to discover, many years later, that I had been very, very wrong, and I'm pretty sure it's thanks to the regular posts on Ebert's writing on MetaFilter that I had my mind changed. So my thanks to Ebert for his extensive, thoughtful body of writing, and my thanks to his fans here for introducing me to it.
posted by EvaDestruction at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by custardfairy at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by chrchr at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by fuse theorem at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by fremen at 2:00 PM on April 4, 2013


.

And thank you for using that title, Snarl. That was my favorite column of his.
posted by RakDaddy at 2:00 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, something klangklangston said the other day in a different thread, which has stuck with me for some reason ...

I tend to think that it's maybe harder to do good criticism than good art, because you can do good art accidentally. I don't think you can accidentally do good criticism.

Not talking about Mr. Ebert, but he might well have been.
posted by philip-random at 2:00 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:00 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Smart Dalek at 2:00 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by lalochezia at 2:00 PM on April 4, 2013


That sucks. I really feel for his wife. I saw a video of them together once and it was obvious that they loved each other very much.

.
posted by grouse at 2:01 PM on April 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


The greatest film critic. I won't know who to turn to anymore.

.
posted by kjh at 2:01 PM on April 4, 2013


.

(and actual tears. damn.)
posted by brand-gnu at 2:01 PM on April 4, 2013


AVC: You've said you feel comfortable living on in memes. What contributions of yours to you foresee living on in that form?

RE: Well, not "comfortable," because I'd prefer living on as myself. But some of my often-repeated phrases may hang around for a while. "A film is not about what it is about, but about how it is about it." "No good film is depressing." "3-D is the waste of a perfectly good dimension."
-Roger Ebert, RIP
posted by kliuless at 2:02 PM on April 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


Someone linked to part of it above, but if you can find the The Critic episode featuring Siskel and Ebert, it's great, one of the best that surprisingly underrated show ever did.

It's a bit hard to remember how, but he was one of the first movie critics to have a substantial web presence, and he accepted email from anyone, and even personally replied to some of them. And he gave us countless little meme's in the form of Ebert's Little Movie Glossary. And while he liked many films, even some that some of us might look down on (Space Jam), when he didn't like a movie he was HILARIOUS. He was the master of the bad movie review.

Such a wonderful guy! And he's gone now! Alas.
posted by JHarris at 2:03 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lots of stuff has already been linked here, but anyone looking for a sense of Ebert the man (as opposed to the critic) should read Will Leitch's piece from a few years ago.
posted by Rangeboy at 2:03 PM on April 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


When I was in high school I started reading him because he was the guy who said my beloved video games could not be art. That, along with a copy of The Seventh Seal my English teacher lent me, began a long love affair with film as art and just plain enjoying the movies.

As I attended college I played far fewer video games and watched far more movies. Ebert was my go to guide on the medium.

I've been out of school for almost a year now and I have, by chance, started playing video games again. I'm excited about where video games are as a form. Games are beginning to criticize their own tropes and to question the pervasiveness of violence in its triple A titles.

I notice when games do this and I am better able to vote for the games that do this with my dollar because good art is good art. The years where I wasn't playing games and I was watching movies allowed me to enjoy art more, to enjoy ALL art more.

That was in large part due to Roger. He may not have personally enjoyed video games but he allowed me to see the beauty they are capable of.

That's the thing, Roger Ebert helped me see the beauty of which all things are capable. That's what a great critic does. He was one of the greatest. I will miss him very much.


.
posted by sendai sleep master at 2:04 PM on April 4, 2013


A classy and fair critic, something this world is lacking. RIP good sir.
posted by futureisunwritten at 2:04 PM on April 4, 2013


Oh, and one of my favorite Ebert lines about a movie I genuinely adore:

"You used to be able to depend on a bad film being poorly made. No longer. The Punisher: War Zone is one of the best-made bad movies I've seen."
posted by griphus at 2:05 PM on April 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 2:05 PM on April 4, 2013


I really liked the way he kept doing things to support younger critics, including starting the show At the Movies. He could so easily have rested on his laurels.
posted by BibiRose at 2:05 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:06 PM on April 4, 2013


He once linked to a short documentary video I made describing the last week of Tiny Tim's life. Why does an impromptu documentary video shot on location in a single afternoon in Minneapolis discussing the death of Tiny Tim have 94,000 views?

Roger Ebert, that's why.

From afar, without ever meeting him, he brought me an audience. I know I am not alone in this, and I thank you for it, Roger, and will miss you.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:06 PM on April 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


It's a bit hard to remember how, but he was one of the first movie critics to have a substantial web presence, and he accepted email from anyone, and even personally replied to some of them.
This could probably be attributed in part to his friendship at the U of Chicago with Don Crabbe, computer columnist. Don used to attend Roger Ebert's class there every time it was held. When Mr. Crabbe passed on, Roger insisted on writing the obituary.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:08 PM on April 4, 2013


What I love about his reviews is that he could describe a movie without giving away the plot and give you enough information to allow you to make a good decision on whether or not to see the movie. That is hard to do and he was great at it.
posted by zzazazz at 2:10 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Let's see. Rome is seven hours ahead of New York. In other words, those clever monks said, "The baby will be conceived between 6 and 7 a.m. on Jan. 1, Rome time, but that will be between 11 p.m. and 12 a.m. in a city that does not yet exist, on a continent we have no knowledge of, assuming the world is round, and there are different times in different places as it revolves around the sun, which of course it would be a heresy to suggest.''

.
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:11 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Theta States at 2:11 PM on April 4, 2013


• - Wow. I can hardly believe this. Sad. I loved his writing and sensibilities.
posted by bz at 2:11 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Flashman at 2:11 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:13 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by sutt at 2:14 PM on April 4, 2013


.

We've lost a great man today and all I have is two thumbs up for a life well lived. RIP Roger.
posted by arcticseal at 2:16 PM on April 4, 2013


I'm going to guess that this beautiful reflection on Chaz was the one you intended to link. We have lost a great man.
posted by Lame_username at 2:16 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by synecdoche at 2:17 PM on April 4, 2013


Alan Sepinwall's obit post is a good reflection on what Ebert meant to him.
posted by sparkletone at 2:18 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The way he lived his life was a light & an inspiration. We've lost an articulate & intelligent member of humanity.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:19 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by rahnefan at 2:21 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by bilabial at 2:22 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by asciident at 2:22 PM on April 4, 2013


I grew up always knowing of Roger Ebert. I didn't always agree with what he had to say but I always respected it and him for saying it. He taught me that being a critic wasn't just about being critical -- it was also about expressing your admiration and love for the art form you were writing about.

I read so many critics that seem to actively dislike whatever the general medium is they're writing about. Or at least approached the specific thing they were reviewing like it had to prove something to them -- they started with zero and then would work their way up.

I think Ebert approached movies like they were going to be good -- he'd walk into the theater assuming he'd give it four stars -- and then work his way down from there. I think that's a beautiful way to approach things and it's something I've tried to remember.

I don't know if I'm expressing that clearly. I'm feeling pretty gutted by this.
posted by darksong at 2:24 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


As much as I can love anyone I haven't met, I love Roger Ebert (I refuse to use the past tense).
posted by maxwelton at 2:24 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I Do Not Fear Death by Roger Ebert.

Well that's the one I was gonna post. Good writer; great guy.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:24 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by joeblough at 2:25 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by reductiondesign at 2:25 PM on April 4, 2013


Seen on Twitter (@aradwanski): "Hoping we don't read anywhere that Roger Ebert "lost his battle with cancer," because if anyone won one of those, it was him."
posted by bowline at 2:25 PM on April 4, 2013 [29 favorites]


Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert interviewed in Playboy (SFW)
.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:27 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.

Just, .

Damn it.
posted by HostBryan at 2:27 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by sfred at 2:29 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 2:29 PM on April 4, 2013


BooURNS!

.
posted by mattbucher at 2:30 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Ber at 2:30 PM on April 4, 2013


I don't know if I'm expressing that clearly

No, that was a good articulation of one of the things I liked about his approach to things as well.
posted by sparkletone at 2:30 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by gnomeloaf at 2:30 PM on April 4, 2013


. 👎
posted by DigDoug at 2:31 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by goshling at 2:33 PM on April 4, 2013


This is my favorite thing he wrote: Chris Burden: "My God, are they going to leave me here to die?"by Roger Ebert / May 25, 1975
Because he is talking about weird conceptual art with zero pretension and sincere engagement, and because it captures this little moment from art history, from before I was born, so vividly I think I know exactly what it would have been like to be there.
posted by velebita at 2:33 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by sarcasticah at 2:34 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 2:34 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Lynsey at 2:34 PM on April 4, 2013


I am very sorry that he has passed away, although I am glad it was after such a full life.

I have been glad (? doesn't seem like the right word, exactly, but I can't come up with the right one somehow) for the links to everyone's favorite reviews, essays and memories, however, and hope everyone will continue sharing them.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:34 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by quazichimp at 2:34 PM on April 4, 2013


I was too young to see him on TV but I love reading Ebert's reviews. There's a great line in his review of Herzog's 'Nosferatu' where he says it doesn't need subtitles because "all dialogue in a vampire movie is saying 'this is merely a prelude to the unspeakable act we both know is going to take place later'".

.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:36 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Via Jay Smooth:
"One American critic was so angry she chased me to the exit to inform me, 'This film is a call to racial violence!' I thought not. I thought it was a call to empathy, which of all human qualities is the one this past century seemed most to need."

- Ebert on Do The Right Thing
posted by zombieflanders at 2:36 PM on April 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


.
posted by Cosine at 2:37 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by brundlefly at 2:37 PM on April 4, 2013


::[_] :: [_] :: [ . ] :: [_] :: [_] ::
posted by salishsea at 2:37 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by trip and a half at 2:41 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by merelyglib at 2:41 PM on April 4, 2013


"O’Rourke’s was our stage, and we displayed our personas there nightly."

"A Bar on North Avenue.
posted by timsteil at 2:41 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


He, and Siskel, were the first critics I ever paid attention to. They opened the door to possibilities of cinema, long after Siskel passed and Ebert shouldered on.

Siskel has been missed for years and I'm sorry to say that now Roger will be all soon. But damn, he had a good run.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:41 PM on April 4, 2013


I really should not have let curiosity get the best of me and look to see what Breitbart.com had to say. :(
posted by josher71 at 2:41 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by jim in austin at 2:42 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by epilnivek at 2:43 PM on April 4, 2013


This is very saddening. I can't imagine summoning up the courage and strength to weather what he did in recent years at all, let alone with Ebert's stunning grace, energy, and creativity. I grew up in Chicagoland in the 70s and watched Siskel and Ebert on WTTW right from the start, so he's just been a friggin' fixture of life itself for decades and a great touchstone of "back home" and of learning to love film, arts, culture.

I hope the end was full of peace and comfort for Ebert and his near ones.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:49 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I wish I knew what to say, but I'm not even sure what I feel at the moment. I grew up, first watching and later reading, his reviews. He taught me a good deal more than just what movies could be good and bad.

Safe travels Roger, and thanks for all the wit, wisdom, empathy and insight.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:51 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by shoepal at 2:52 PM on April 4, 2013


One of those people you only start to appreciate more as you grow older and you actually start to have an inkling of the difficulty and value of what they are doing.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:52 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm so sad to see this, the man introduced me to a lot of wonderful movies and more importantly taught me how to better enjoy the movies I watch.

For the last year and a half, I've been watching all of his "Great Movies." His personal list of 300 or so movies that he deemed great and to which he was still contributing regularly. For each move on the list he watched it anew and wrote a brief essay with a critical re-examination on why he considered the movie great.

Lately, I have been getting closes to the end of the list, but he was still adding new movies to it regularly via the Sun-Times. Now Ebert is gone and the list will come to an end.

I will miss his writing, he helped open my eyes, and for that I am grateful.
posted by borges at 2:52 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


From what I've been told, his commentary on Dark City is great, too. I might have to check that out.

.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:54 PM on April 4, 2013


Not too long ago, I added every available Ebert Great Movie to my Netflix queue. A fantastic way to familiarize yourself with film.

As a former Chicagoan, what I also liked about Ebert was his Midwestern lack of pretense. He was a great critic without being an insufferable snob.
posted by seemoreglass at 2:54 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Just damn. His writing changed my life. Until I began devouring his collected reviews in his massive books, movies were just...movies.

His writing and insight and criticism helped me understand WHY I like certain films and genres, and WHY some movies are not satisfying, and so on.

Can't find a link, but I believe he said something along the lines of: "A movie isn't about what it is about - a movie is about HOW it is what it is about." Took me a few beats to fully grasp, but there it is.

Disagreed with some of his politics, but his insight into human nature and culture, coupled with his masterful way with words, was simply extraordinary.

Our world is a far better place for having had him.
posted by davidmsc at 2:55 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've written a lot of obits for a lot of people whose work I admired and loved. This is the first time I've ever sat looking at the cursor going, "Well, it's not going to be just a GIF of me crying, so you'll have to try harder, brain."

I just thought the world of him, and like a lot of writers did, I had one incredibly brief and fleeting exchange with him that I cuddled in my memory like a teddy bear.

Just gutted.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 2:57 PM on April 4, 2013 [35 favorites]


GODDAMN IT

.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 2:58 PM on April 4, 2013


Many films diminish us. They cheapen us, masturbate our senses, hammer us with shabby thrills, diminish the value of life. Some few films evoke the wonderment of life's experience, and those I consider a form of prayer. Not prayer "to" anyone or anything, but prayer "about" everyone and everything. I believe prayer that makes requests is pointless. What will be, will be. But I value the kind of prayer when you stand at the edge of the sea, or beneath a tree, or smell a flower, or love someone, or do a good thing. Those prayers validate existence and snatch it away from meaningless routine.

.
posted by Kinbote at 2:58 PM on April 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yes, this is about right.

Roger Ebert Hails Human Existence as 'A Triumph' (The Onion )
posted by TwoWordReview at 2:59 PM on April 4, 2013 [60 favorites]


.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:59 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by joedan at 2:59 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by pt68 at 3:00 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by jquinby at 3:01 PM on April 4, 2013


DAMMIT ONION YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO MAKE ME CRY.
posted by JHarris at 3:01 PM on April 4, 2013 [18 favorites]


.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 3:03 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Ickster at 3:05 PM on April 4, 2013


When I was younger, I wasn't a fan. There were other critics that more often gave reviews to movies that I would end up agreeing with. Eberts reviews were very often far from what I would think, and I admit that the shrillness and pettiness of the arguing between Siskel and Ebert turned me off a bit.

As I grew up, I started to 'get' Ebert more. I started to read more closely. The last few years, after his diagnosis and surgery, it seemed he underwent a profound change, or, more likely, he was the same all along, and felt that it was time to say all he'd left unsaid. I was stunned to see his name so often in the past few years, tied to such great writing. I realized what I was missing far too late, and now he's gone.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:05 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


.
posted by brennen at 3:08 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by New England Cultist at 3:10 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by anya32 at 3:10 PM on April 4, 2013


Ebert was film for me. I read his reviews sometimes before seeing films, and sometimes after. We seemed to love the same films, and I treasured his ability to put into words what I couldn't.
posted by mani at 3:13 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by caryatid at 3:16 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by get off of my cloud at 3:16 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by samsara at 3:17 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:19 PM on April 4, 2013


. Unlike Roger, I'm at a loss for words.

I was going to see him in two weeks at EbertFest. I assume that it'll still go on and if it does, we're still going but it's going to be very weird. I've been to three EbertFests so far an they've been one the best things I've done in my life. The atmosphere of love and community that he created with that festival is amazing. I wish that I could have been to one before he got sick and had his speaking voice but I'm so glad that I had the opportunity to go to the once I have.
posted by octothorpe at 3:19 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by oneironaut at 3:19 PM on April 4, 2013


Siskel and Ebert take on critic John Simon over Star Wars.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:20 PM on April 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


what a shame. wishing comfort to his wife and family and friends.

.
posted by lemniskate at 3:22 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:24 PM on April 4, 2013


Ebert's philosophy of reviewing, to take the work on its own terms rather than playing here's-what-I'd-do, really crystallized what it is that makes a narrative - or really, any piece of art - good. He advanced the form tremendously and puts me to complete and utter shame as a writer.

There's Steak n' Shake and one of the Great Movies in my future this weekend, I think.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 3:26 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


jenfullmoon: "But...but... yesterday....but...but....wtf?.....what the fuck just happened?....waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. :(

No words, man.

.
"

This was my exact reaction.

.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:27 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some of my favourite people have either died or revealed they're dying this week. Also, I got mugged last night. I hate this week. This week can fuck off.
posted by Decani at 3:28 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Roger Ebert wrote two whole books that exclusively discussed movies he thought were terrible. When you read them you find that he rarely burns a movie because he had a funny thing that he could say at someone else's expense, or because he was feeling spiteful, but mainly because he was disappointed that the film wasn't better. Even when he's being negative, there was a certain amount of optimism there - even when he didn't love what he'd seen, you could tell he still loved movies, and the disconnect between those two things was what frustrated him.

When I read film criticism written by people in my generation I almost never see that sort of generosity. We've all been raised on the internet, where your opinions are on your personal site, where you success is built on being able to build a brand, and where building a brand is based on being able to stand out, and standing out often means putting yourself at the center of the story, writing whatever makes you look the wittiest or the cleverest, regardless of whether or not it's fair to what you're criticizing.

So when I say that I'm sad that we will probably never see the likes of a Roger Ebert again, I'm not saying that idly. I'm saying that because I think sincere and heartfelt criticism is the only criticism worth reading, and Roger Ebert was probably the last great uncynical critic standing who had the ability to reach the masses, not just people who already shared his exact interests. I don't think we will have another writer who thought about movies from an intelligent but non-academic standard in my lifetime. He really will be missed.
posted by Kiablokirk at 3:29 PM on April 4, 2013 [44 favorites]


oh no
.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:31 PM on April 4, 2013


.

He was one of the good ones, one of the smart ones, and one of the true voices.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 3:32 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by mosk at 3:33 PM on April 4, 2013


Just saw a news post titled "Roger Ebert 1942-2013". Really just made me pause, just how fragile it all is.

Thumbs up to you, good sir. You'll be at the movies.

.
posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 3:38 PM on April 4, 2013


I will not be able to convey the depth and breadth of how this has affected me because I cannot write with anything like the skill and nuance that Roger Ebert did. We need an Ebert to eulogize Ebert.

Fuck cancer.

.
posted by tzikeh at 3:38 PM on April 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


.

One day as a little kid I stumbled upon one of the earliest episodes of "Sneak Previews" on PBS. (I think I had turned on the channel expecting some other show, and found the network had changed the schedule.) The show became one of my main introductions to the world of movies beyond those aimed at kids, and to the adult world of culture and criticism.

Years later, when I was evaluating coming to Northwestern for college, my Dad and I came to Chicago for a campus visiting weekend. We took some time to drive downtown, and I remember getting excited at the sight of the Chicago Sun-Times building facing the river, just like on the opening credits of the Siskel & Ebert shows. That really summed up my excitement at the prospect that I would soon be living there.
posted by dnash at 3:38 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by klausness at 3:39 PM on April 4, 2013


When I stumbled upon Dreyer's Ordet and Ozu's Late Spring on a whim as a teenager (took them out of the little local library, watched them late at night while my parents slept), I was so stunned and felt adrift for a long time because they had changed me but I didn't have anyone to talk to about them. Eventually I found his pieces from the "Great Movies" project and it sounds so silly but it really put my heart at ease, to know someone understood exactly why they mattered so much. He wrote directly of how Ordet made it hard for him to sleep at night. "'Late Spring' tells a story that becomes sadder the more you think about it", he wrote, and also noted how powerful the last scene in it is. Those two reviews meant a lot to me and always will. And it was through them I discovered he was pretty much always spot fucking on for that entire series--I'd go slowly but surely through my Criterion/Netflix queue, and whenever I loved a movie he almost always had reviewed it in a way I appreciated, usually listed as one of the Greats.

And yeah, he was often funny and clever, but not in a smug or vicious way. I miss him already. And yeah, want to break out the rice cooker tonight in his honor.
posted by ifjuly at 3:43 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by interrupt at 3:43 PM on April 4, 2013


.

The older I get the more I'm convinced that the world needs nothing more than genuine, kind, real people who are totally unafraid to be themselves. And that's what he was.
posted by Cygnet at 3:45 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I grew up in Chicago and always thought of Ebert as kind of a cock. I also thought Richard Roeper was a shitty replacement for Siskel (especially over Michael Wilmington).

I don't know how he managed it, but he carried himself with immense dignity in his twilight years - at an age when people fade into obscurity and cynicism, he widened an already wide audience, and touched a lot of people with his candor and vulnerability. God bless him. Some of us need the reminder - no matter how bad things get, and should we choose to tap into it, we all seem to possess this innate ability to transcend our circumstances. To be optimistic and to love. That is what makes us distinctly human.
posted by phaedon at 3:45 PM on April 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


When Siskel and Ebert was on the air in various forms I loved it and watched regularly, as did most people I knew. Unlike many here, I nearly always disagreed with Ebert and agreed with Siskel. But I always wanted to hear what he had to say.

As the years have passed I grew to respect the man more, even though I didn’t keep up with his reviews. Reading what others have said I think I need to read some of his books and go back to some reviews. Whether I agreed with him or not, he was always interesting and thoughtful, and seemed like a good guy that led an interesting life and made a lot of people happy. What more do you want out of life?
posted by bongo_x at 3:46 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by snsranch at 3:46 PM on April 4, 2013


I was so loving the pieces he wrote "around" but not necessarily about movies lately, the stories about his youth and how he came to love movies, and about long-gone Chicago, and about the newspaper business. Ah, this makes me sad. Thanks for all the words -- and thumbs -- Roger.

👍 and .
(today I am glad that Emoji work)
posted by wenestvedt at 3:47 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also thought Richard Roeper was a shitty replacement for Siskel (especially over Michael Wilmington)

A friend of mine used to refer to the show in those years as "Ebert and Not-Siskel."
posted by dnash at 3:47 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


nonononono

no.

.
posted by kagredon at 3:47 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by vibrotronica at 3:51 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Kpele at 3:51 PM on April 4, 2013


He was not "just" a film critic, he was a great writer in his own right. He was a gentle and kind mind who had more in common with Ray Bradbury than any other writer of our time. I will miss him so much.

.
posted by jbickers at 3:53 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


What a shock this was. He seemed to be doing so well. I feel like a friend died. The urge to cry, surprised I feel so strongly.

He conveyed his humanity so well, humbly, warmly. I loved his geeky, eye-glassed, high foreheaded chubbiness, those watery blue eyes, his double chin combined with his brilliant articulateness. What immense balls he had to come out in public so disfigured after the arduous surgeries that deprived him of some of his great life pleasures, speaking and eating. With half his face disfigured, the maw of his droopy mouth, instead of being a Phantom of the Opera horror, he was that much more lovable, courageous, admirable and likable. His capacity to survive and thrive made his eyes twinkle more intensely, his smile became heroic and voiceless as he was, I wanted to hear what he communicated all the more.

His cancer journey took him from mere film critic to something more important. He became a very elegant human being and, in my opinion, a role model for those surviving cancer. The combination of him facing his mortality, his losses so bravely, seemed to bring out the best in his ability to share his joy of living, his experience of being alive, savoring the things he did, including film but also so much more, also his being a man, a person. He became very lovable.

I'm so glad he lived, shared his intelligent vitality, his joie de vivre, the world is a better place that he was in it. My condolences to his wife, Chaz, to his many friends and those who love him.
posted by nickyskye at 3:54 PM on April 4, 2013 [17 favorites]


I have no idea how I'm going to know which movies to watch now.
posted by empath at 3:55 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


.
posted by Cog at 3:55 PM on April 4, 2013


Here's to a life well lived.

.
posted by Wonton Cruelty at 3:55 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sad news. I didn't always agree with his reviews (though I often did), but I especially appreciated his writing in recent years about his illness and his reflections on his life. I'll miss reading his writing; he was a thoughtful man.

.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:56 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by c10h12n2 at 3:57 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by andraste at 3:59 PM on April 4, 2013


.

in addition to his reviews, his general blog was one of the single-person general-focus blogs that I consistently enjoyed; he was always kind and thoughtful and interested in his topic, even if his conclusions weren't always ones I backed. He engaged, frequently and well, with the people who'd comment on his posts.

I knew that his recent announcement was a preliminary goodbye, but I expected this news to come in a few months or years, not a day later. Which really makes me feel like a fool, because this isn't even the first time this year that I've seen this happen. A professor in my department--a man who worked down the hall from me, who I'd interviewed with when I applied to my program, whose group I very nearly joined and who always had a kind word for me in the hallway or at department socials--took a leave of absence a year and a half ago, to be treated for oral cancer (like Ebert.) This semester, he came back to teach a class that I was taking, in spite of still not having fully recovered his speech. Everyone was relieved, taking this as a sign that he'd ultimately beaten it. We got an email early in the semester that class would be cancelled a week or two, because our professor was in the hospital for what the email assured us was a minor complication. I attended his funeral about a week after that.

Fuck cancer.
posted by kagredon at 3:59 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


It was always great seeing him at Telluride, where he was as big a film fan as the rest of us. I will always remember the night he stood up at the Nugget Theater and announced that he had just learned of the death of Pauline Kael; I felt the same shock then that I do at his passing now. I am so sorry that the plans he wrote about in his last blog post won't happen, but happy that as of two days ago he was still making plans and posting his thoughts.

Will miss him.
posted by OolooKitty at 4:01 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Throughout my life, I've generally watched one, maybe two movies a year. I'm just not a movie watcher. Yet even as a kid, I've always watched any show Roger Ebert was on. I've seen countless reviews of movies I knew I'd never watch. And this last year, since I've gotten rid of cable and don't subscribe to any online services, I've taken to raiding the $5 DVD bins for "emergency" tv viewing. Still haven't watched many of them, but the way I pick them out is simple - if Roger Ebert gave it a thumbs up, I buy it.
He was also the first celebrity I followed on twitter, and one of the few I've continued to follow. What a huge hole there is in the world now.
.
posted by MexicanYenta at 4:01 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nthing "I Do Not Fear Death."

We exchanged thoughts about his passing via email in my group at work, which is something we haven't done on current events or news in the time I've been there. So that speaks to me of his universality of appeal and level of respect.

aav.

.
posted by the sobsister at 4:02 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by uberfunk at 4:04 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by litlnemo at 4:06 PM on April 4, 2013


My favorite line of his is from his review of the terrible, terrible Mad Dog Time:

"'Mad Dog Time' should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor."

.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 4:08 PM on April 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


.

I used to read his twitter feed religiously, although life got busy and I forgot about it. Yesterday he was so full of hope, and now he's gone. He will be missed. Fuck cancer.
posted by impishoptimist at 4:09 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by newdaddy at 4:10 PM on April 4, 2013


I called it Sneak Previews long after it left PBS.

Man.

Both Siskel and Ebert were fellows that I expected to have a long, long run, just being two geezers passionately talking about movies on my telly.

And I loved how Ebert kept submitting cartoon captions until The New Yorker FINALLY accepted one.

I looked for his FB posts every day.

.
posted by droplet at 4:14 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Roger Ebert published a cookbook (The Pot and How to Use It) after he lost the ability to eat, drink, and smell. Who among us would even be able to bear thinking about food, much less share fun recipes and tips for the rice cooker? What an amazing man.

.
posted by Wordwoman at 4:17 PM on April 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


.
posted by Wemmick at 4:23 PM on April 4, 2013


The last time I cried about the death of someone I'd never met it was Mr. Rogers.

This has been on my mind for much of today, and I keep thinking that Mr. Rogers is a very apt comparison for Roger Ebert. I think they both shared an extremely rare gift of engaging sincerely, seriously, and without cynicism with their particular profession. They never took a cheap shot. They took everything seriously, whether it warranted it or not. Being on the receiving end of that focus is such a gift and it often makes you a better writer or filmmaker or person or whatever thing you are trying to be.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:24 PM on April 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


“I am devastated by the loss of my love, Roger — my husband, my friend, my confidante and oh-so-brilliant partner of over 20 years. He fought a courageous fight. I’ve lost the love of my life, and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other.

“Roger was a beloved husband, stepfather to Sonia and Jay, and grandfather to Raven, Emil, Mark and Joseph. Just yesterday he was saying how his grandchildren were ‘the best things in my life.’ He was happy and radiating satisfaction over the outpouring of responses to his blog about his 46th year as a film critic. But he was also getting tired of his fight with cancer, and said if this takes him, he has lived a great and full life.

“We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.

“We are touched by all the kindness and the outpouring of love we’ve received. And I want to echo what Roger said in his last blog, thank you for going on this journey with us.”

Chaz Ebert
posted by alexoscar at 4:26 PM on April 4, 2013 [54 favorites]


I am lucky enough to have interacted with him. Years and years ago, I worked at a cafe inside of a college campus in downtown Chicago. He taught a class weeknights. He was friendly and kind, even to those of us who worked behind the counters.

It's really telling, how someone treats service workers. He was a completely class act. He was a great man, and will be missed.

.
posted by bibliogrrl at 4:30 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've seen so many obits for Roger in my RSS feeds today (yay, Tiny Tiny RSS) but this is among the most interesting, offering up a little-seen side.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:31 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:32 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by sonic meat machine at 4:33 PM on April 4, 2013


Between the Iain Banks news yesterday and this today...

I will miss him, he was one of my all-time favorite people.
posted by biscotti at 4:35 PM on April 4, 2013


Is there any news about what he died of exactly? The update from two days ago was so upbeat, my first thought was did he die during surgery or something? Or was it not so sudden and unexpected from those closer to him?

From the announcement on his blog
:

“We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.

So it sounds like his death was expected in a general sort of way, but not nearly so soon. He probably had a stroke or heart attack or something like that.

Probably a blessing of sorts; I think he probably didn't have a pleasant future to look forward to.

Like some of the people here mentioned, I was no great fan of his reviews. I just didn't agree with them. But they were well crafted and conveyed big concepts with small words. He seemed to be one of those (all too rare) people who get better with age. He climbed over every stumbling block and emerged better in some way. I don't know many people who can sustain that into their 70s. So god bless. Hopefully, he is in heaven with an apple pie meeting back up with a Gene Siskel with a full head of hair.

(On preview: jinx!)
posted by gjc at 4:38 PM on April 4, 2013


Chaz is an immensely warm and beautiful person. They had the kind of relationship that can only happen after you've tried and failed with someone else. Gratitude for each other was a constant presence.

I said in a previous thread that I hoped to capture something of what they obviously shared. I feel like my husband and I shared a tiny sliver of it as we drove home today, reflecting on things: a deep gratitude that we got to experience their warmth in person, and a deep gratitude that we can experience things like that together.
posted by Madamina at 4:42 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


And MAD magazine's website remembers Siskel & Ebert (circa 1991). I'm sure Roger had a copy autographed by Mort Drucker.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:44 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


My first encounter with Roger Ebert was at the age of nine. It was "At the Movies", Ebert and Siskel were reviewing Pink Floyd - The Wall and I ended up with nightmares for several weeks, in spite of my dad's attempts to comfort me.

For a long time, Roger Ebert was connected in my mind with the terror from that night. It is only in the past several years that I began reading his essays and digging through the archives to read his reviews. Now, I can add my life's regrets that I did not acquaint myself with his voice sooner.

Ten days ago my 92 year old grandfather passed away from a slow moving blood cancer that robbed much of the joy out of the final years of his life. Now Roger Ebert. Fuck Cancer.

.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 4:46 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by getawaysticks at 4:49 PM on April 4, 2013


...especically considering that he wrote the forward to "MAD About the Movies", that contained this quote:
“I learned to be a movie critic by reading Mad magazine… Mad’s parodies made me aware of the machine inside the skin—of the way a movie might look original on the outside, while inside it was just recycling the same old dumb formulas. I did not read the magazine, I plundered it for clues to the universe. Pauline Kael lost it at the movies; I lost it at Mad magazine.”
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:49 PM on April 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


.
posted by freshwater at 4:50 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by methinks at 4:51 PM on April 4, 2013


A great man, our loss a big one with his passing.

.
posted by dancestoblue at 4:56 PM on April 4, 2013


★★★★
posted by Ruodlieb at 4:57 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


.
posted by variella at 4:59 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by maryr at 5:00 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:04 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by zardoz at 5:05 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by quoz at 5:06 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by florzinha at 5:07 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by FiveNines at 5:08 PM on April 4, 2013


Rest in peace to a hero of mine.
posted by penduluum at 5:08 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by martin10bones at 5:10 PM on April 4, 2013


I watched Mr. Siskel and Mr. Ebert on 'Sneak Previews' when I was growing up. They were the first adults I ever saw be passionate about movies. As a child, understanding that it was ok to feel that strongly about something like a movie was world changing. They were the first adults to show me that I could have a different life than the lives I saw around me, and that it was ok to see the world differently than my parents saw it.

.
posted by Brody's chum at 5:11 PM on April 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


.
posted by condour75 at 5:12 PM on April 4, 2013


As a journalist and writer, discovering , reading, studying and enjoying Roger Ebert's writing taught me so much about writing and served as an inspiration to me in many ways.

His autobiography, Life Itself, is a touching, funny, beautiful read.

Shattered right now.
posted by chris88 at 5:16 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by rogueepicurean at 5:19 PM on April 4, 2013


.

Dammit.
posted by annsunny at 5:21 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by humanfont at 5:21 PM on April 4, 2013


I feel like they should shut the city down today

I feel like the city shut down today – sunny, but empty and windy with cars and the El slowly passing by.
posted by suprenant at 5:27 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 5:28 PM on April 4, 2013


Mr. Ebert, I can only hope you have started in on the 'cue and are holding me a spot. I still plan to be fashionably late.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 5:33 PM on April 4, 2013


"Pearl Harbor" is a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours, about how on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle.
.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:34 PM on April 4, 2013 [30 favorites]


.
posted by ecourbanist at 5:35 PM on April 4, 2013


.

I loved reading his reviews (new and old), and I also enjoyed following him on Twitter - for his comments as well as the many interesting reads he posted.

My favorite thought from him: "It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it."
posted by Put the kettle on at 5:36 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by evilDoug at 5:38 PM on April 4, 2013


Someone above posted a link to this Nightline interview from 1983, but I want to link to it again. Check it out, in case you passed it over.
posted by sutt at 5:43 PM on April 4, 2013


Goddamn it. He was great, and this is a motherfucker.

I don't know why, but it was life-changing for me to read a piece of his in Salon on the 20th anniversary of the death of John Lennon. it was so goddamned intelligent, heartfelt, and well-written; and I was shocked to see the byline, because my mid-20s self had pigeonholed Ebert as some fraudulent blowhard just for being on TV. Seeing that he could write really well, and was a textured person with an obviously vibrant intellectual life really opened my eyes. I've enjoyed him immensely ever since.

He's on the short list of people who I've consciously thought, "wow, I would be a much better human being if I could try to be more like this person."
posted by COBRA! at 5:45 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Serious obit: Ebert will be, for me, the greatest film critic that ever lived, passing even Pauline Kael in his ability to convey optimism and love not just for the movies he loved, but for movies in general. When he disliked movies I liked, he didn't make me feel bad for liking them, he made me think about the ways that other people see the world which I don't often notice. When he loved films that I hated, he often helped me see the lighter sides to things that I stubbornly refused to see on my own. Or he was just wrong, and I loved that too: it made him feel like a friend to me, rather than a higher power. A smart, caring, loving friend.

I could wax on a whole lot longer about the man and what he meant to me, but so many others have expressed just that that I can just say: I was one of the people he touched, and he changed the course of my life in tiny ways I might never fully understand, but will always acknowledge. I hope that one day I can be as caring and generous a man as he seemed.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:48 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


What? I mean I know he was sick and there was a recurrence and all that, but its all too soon, you know? And for all his apparent luddite-ness in him not appreciating video games as art, he took to blogs and Twitter and all that pretty easily.

.
posted by the cydonian at 5:49 PM on April 4, 2013


.

So sad, I loved Ebert!
posted by marimeko at 5:51 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Sphinx at 5:53 PM on April 4, 2013


And this, from his tribute to Chaz:

"and [we] drove over to San Remo in Italy to visit the grave of Edward Lear, and on the way back we stopped in Monte Carlo and in a cafe over coffee I proposed marriage."

How could you NOT marry someone who would accompany you, or ask you to accompany them, on such a visit?
posted by emilypdx at 5:53 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by nile_red at 5:59 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by msbubbaclees at 6:02 PM on April 4, 2013


Gutpunched. I've referred to him almost weekly in my life and he's a pillar not only as a film critic but as joyful thinker and writer of many things. He's one of maybe three or four people I can summon dozens of quotes from on demand. And the way he challenged poor thinking with the same grace and rapier wit as he challenged poor filmmaking, especially in these last several years, has been an inspiration to behold.

Just a couple (imperfectly remembered, I'm sure) from the top of my head:

"Pearl Harbor is a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours, about an infamous morning in 1941 when Japanese fighters staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle."

"I will be sure to except that fact."

And in response to being called a "fat pig" by Vincent Gallo: "Although I am fat, one day I will be thin; but Mr Gallo will always be the director of Brown Bunny."

I'm a little disappointed in myself now to observe that I've only seemed to have memorized his stinging rejoinders. He was of course every bit as delightful to read when he loved his subject, probably even more so.

His influence on my life is also felt every day as I've just started my own movie criticism project. I'd always hoped to eventually elevate it to the level I'd be comfortable showing it to him; he was so accessible, through his twitter feed, his blog, his "Ebert's Club" newsletters, I'd always dreamed of someday sharing it with him. I'm left now trying to bring it up to his standards in his memory.

Leonard Bernstein once said, "I've been all over the world and I've never seen a statue of a critic." Perhaps before Roger there simply hadn't been one who deserved it.
posted by churl at 6:02 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


His love of movies is so infectious that sometimes I read his review books just to fall in love with movies again. I have all of his books and cherish them. I will miss him terribly.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:02 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll just leave this here.
posted by scalefree at 6:02 PM on April 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


.
posted by learnsome at 6:09 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:09 PM on April 4, 2013


Oh man, I loved that scalefree. Great zingers, one after the other. My favorite was Ebert's [Protestantism], "the only fucking religion that has a Reader's Digest as a prayer book."
posted by nickyskye at 6:15 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


He was a grand man - a truly grand man - and what will we do without him?
posted by aryma at 6:19 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by graventy at 6:27 PM on April 4, 2013


.

I knew this day was coming but I wish it hadn't. When I heard the news, I was in my car and I yelped "No!" and then a stream of swear words.
posted by subbes at 6:28 PM on April 4, 2013


RIP, and Thank you, Mr. Ebert.
posted by jonmc at 6:32 PM on April 4, 2013


I watched Sneak Previews and At the Movies before I was really old enough to understand all of the nuance of their criticism. By paying special attention to their conversations - with Ebert's role a huge part of my ability to put it all in context - I did grasp that nuance and it advanced my love of film and stories well told, and helped me be a better judge of which filmmakers were respecting my intelligence.

How could we have had that without Ebert? Impossible.

And then he went on to share so much more with us, and encouraged so many to embrace goodness and kindness. And he was so open with so many of his own struggles, giving us a chance to tell him how much we appreciated him while he was still with us. Invaluable.

He's gone from this turn, now, and I can only hope that the great outpouring of affection and respect for him will provide comfort to those who were closer to him, who truly love him and will need to heal day by day from their loss of this person they shared with us.

Goodbye, Mr. Ebert, and thank you.

.
posted by batmonkey at 6:33 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Will Leitch (Deadspin founder who wrote that great piece about how Ebert personally helped him) was asked today to write about Mr. Ebert for the Sun-Times:
Roger wrote the way we all want to think, the way we all wish we WERE: Open-hearted, open-minded and with open arms. He was funny, he was mean, he was wistful, he was moving, he was everything ... his writing felt like LIFE. Writing about Roger in death feels like a cheat, a confession of inferiority: The only person I want to read about Roger's death is Roger.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:35 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Metafilter, to my knowledge, only has three saints: Fred Rogers, Jim Henson, and Roger Ebert.
posted by JHarris at 6:38 PM on April 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


Herzog on Ebert:

“I’ve always tried to be a good soldier of cinema myself, so of course since he’s gone, I will plow on, as I have plowed on all my life, but I will do what I have to do as if Roger was looking over my shoulder. And I am not gonna disappoint him.”
posted by Dismantled King at 6:42 PM on April 4, 2013 [24 favorites]


.
posted by Atreides at 6:47 PM on April 4, 2013


When Stanley Kubrick died, it was one of those big deaths in the world of film. An entire episode of Ebert's show was devoted to his work. We've lost other great and important people, but with Kubrick, you not only lost an important person, but an entire wing of film itself.

Ebert's own passing is roughly as big. I'm trying and failing to think of very many people alive who have cast such a long shadow in their own chosen profession. Ebert made quality films and quality film criticism something other than just a means for self-absorption or intellectual masturbation. His work was accessible, but always thorough - or maybe it was thorough, but always accessible.

Either way, he was one of those rare columnists whom I read every. single. week. From my teenage years onwards, I have read his work every week. No longer.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:48 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 6:51 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by griffey at 6:52 PM on April 4, 2013


Damn

.
posted by jadepearl at 6:55 PM on April 4, 2013


“We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.

Small mercies. Ebert was a man who wasn't only respected but loved.
posted by ersatz at 6:57 PM on April 4, 2013


"Hey Roger. I've been saving you a seat." Sentimental, but hell with it. Feels like a time for sentiment.

.
posted by jokeefe at 7:05 PM on April 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:06 PM on April 4, 2013


Some of my favourite people have either died or revealed they're dying this week. Also, I got mugged last night. I hate this week. This week can fuck off.

Hah, yeah. I came back from having dental surgery and then found out this news. And then my coworker was all, "Who's Roger Ebert?" and I had to restrain myself from dishing out a throttling. (Turns out she didn't figure out who I meant right off the bat. Don't ask me how that happened.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:11 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, I don't want to just let this go with a period. When I moved to Chicago in 1977, and was utterly blown away by the size and energy of the city, one of the things that helped keep me grounded were these two guys who would argue about the movies. I never met either of them, but they were so unpretentious, witty, and warm that I felt like they were my friends before I'd actually made friends. Sincerely, they were among the best people that the city has ever had.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:13 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by but no cigar at 7:17 PM on April 4, 2013


.

*heavy sigh*
posted by schnee at 7:18 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


When you get down to it, a movie review... is just a movie review. They're ephemeral bits of writing, they pass and go, connected to pop culture. It's easy to write a crappy movie review, one that does its job and is read and then forgotten. It ain't nothing important, just to say if a movie is good or bad.

But Roger Ebert did it, and he did it in such a way that it was meaningful and enriching. He did it with joy, care, and deep intelligence. He did it so that it did matter. Roger Ebert is the sort of person who proves that human life, whatever its form or ambition, can be a thing full of grace.

I hope I can live a life like Robert Ebert. I hope I can reach a death like Roger Ebert's.
posted by meese at 7:18 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Edna Million at 7:19 PM on April 4, 2013


This is the first time I've shed tears over someone passing that I didn't personally know. I came to appreciate his style over the past few years, and loved his Twitter feed, and his general openness with his fans. This is such a huge loss.

The way he battled cancer is legendary and so, so inspiring. I'm very glad his end was peaceful and dignified, he deserved nothing less. I hope my final years are a tenth as fulfilling and graceful as his.
posted by Fig at 7:24 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry at 7:31 PM on April 4, 2013


"You will read a lot of pieces like this one today and tomorrow and the next day. Each story will be different but the message will be the same: we are all here, doing what we do, because of Roger Ebert. We all watched "Siskel & Ebert." We all read his reviews. We all studied the movies his books directed us to. We all wanted to be Roger Ebert when we grew up. We never will, but we'll honor his memory by doing this job the best we can." --Matt Singer.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:36 PM on April 4, 2013


“Sometimes two people will regard each other over a gulf too wide to ever be bridged, and know immediately what could have happened, and that it never will.”


― Roger Ebert

I know exactly what he meant, but had never been able to articulate it.
posted by whoaali at 7:41 PM on April 4, 2013 [15 favorites]


.

Not just a critic, but a good critical thinker. With such focussed passion. I will really miss him.
posted by Philofacts at 7:43 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


.

for a beautiful soul
posted by nzero at 7:48 PM on April 4, 2013


.

and again, fuck cancer.

stupid fucking cancer.
posted by SuzySmith at 7:56 PM on April 4, 2013


If I were on Death Row, my last meal would be from Steak 'n Shake.

I hope it was.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:00 PM on April 4, 2013


I took the Monsters out to our favorite neighborhood pub for a late lunch today. I happened to glance up mid-sangria and see Roger on one of the TVs. "Oh, hey, Roger Ebert! Cool! I guess they're talking about his announcement that he's concentrating on his personal site?" I looked down at my plate and Elder Monster gasped. "Oh, shit. Mom, he died."

And there in my favorite neighborhood joint, I burst into quiet tears. After I collected myself, I explained that I had been paying attention to Roger Ebert since I was a small child. At The Movies with Siskel and Ebert was the highlight of my week. If he didn't like a film, he explained exactly why. Ditto if he loved it. He was so articulate, so detailed, and so damned passionate.

My heart is broken today.

.
posted by MissySedai at 8:03 PM on April 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


.
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 8:03 PM on April 4, 2013


My name is Roger, and I'm an alcoholic

.
posted by Mister Bijou at 8:06 PM on April 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


.
posted by Aizkolari at 8:21 PM on April 4, 2013


. :(
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:21 PM on April 4, 2013


.

Imma miss this guy. Like Carl Sagan, Ebert's always given me hope that people are mostly good most of the time, and that life is worth living.

The love he so clearly shared with Chaz was always a sight to behold. She and her family are in my thoughts today.
posted by ztdavis at 8:21 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


“We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition.

If I have to go (and we all do), that doesn't sound like a bad exit. Just slip away quietly while in the presence of loved ones. And having seen Roger and Chaz in person, their mutual love just sort of radiated off them.
posted by octothorpe at 8:35 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:36 PM on April 4, 2013


Did he end up in "Heaven Can Wait," (1978, 3 stars out of 4) or was he cast down into "Heaven's Gate?" (1980, 1.5 stars) Perhaps he's still in "Defending Your Life." (1991, 3.5 stars)
posted by Sunburnt at 8:36 PM on April 4, 2013


I didn't know before tonight that his wife was African-American. I know that shouldn't matter, but some part of me finds it inspiring that he was as free from prejudice and eagerly open to perhaps-unfamiliar experiences in life and love as he always seemed to be in his writing. Chaz's statement made me cry, and I'm just happy that they shared the love that they did.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:38 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


.
posted by artdesk at 8:42 PM on April 4, 2013


I was doing all right until I remembered that he's not going to write about any more movies. And I'm still not ready for that.

--Metafilter's own Linda Holmes

That hadn't even really hit me until now. I generally try to avoid reading film critics before I see a movie - most of the time, the more I go in "cold" the more I enjoy it. But then when I get home, as my own thoughts have started to coalesce, I go searching for the published reviews to compare, and Ebert was usually the first one I looked for.
posted by dnash at 8:43 PM on April 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I would have to say he's at the "Gates of Heaven" (1978, great movies but site is too overwhelmed to link).
posted by TedW at 8:44 PM on April 4, 2013


.

Getting older sucks. One by one, the iconic people are leaving us.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:48 PM on April 4, 2013


I got through:

"There's your dog; your dog's dead. But where's the thing that made it move? It had to be something, didn't it?"

These words, by a woman who has just buried her dog, are spoken in ``Gates of Heaven.'' They express the central mystery of life. No philosopher has stated it better. They form the truth at the center of Errol Morris' 1978 documentary, which is surrounded by layer upon layer of comedy, pathos, irony, and human nature. I have seen this film perhaps 30 times, and am still not anywhere near the bottom of it: All I know is, it's about a lot more than pet cemeteries.

posted by TedW at 8:50 PM on April 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm worried this may sound egotistical, but... I'd long had a private fantasy to some day make a movie that Ebert would review. He might not have liked it, but I would have felt immensely proud anyway.

After being sad about his death and that I wouldn't get to read any more of his writing, the end of that vain little fantasy made slightly more sad.

Is all mourning of celebrities/artists/creators we don't know personally egotistical? Are we mourning the person, or just the fact that we won't get any more of their output to enjoy? I don't know.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:51 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Joakim Ziegler: I vote for "both."
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:55 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


.

Weekend before last I was in Southern Illinois and there was a little ad for his UIUC film festival at every table of the Steak and Shake. Sums him right up, I think. Oh, the sparks that would fly between him and Siskel. Rest in peace, ya old crank.
posted by halonine at 8:56 PM on April 4, 2013


There are not enough thumbs in the world to put up in respect of how he lived his life.
posted by rollbiz at 8:57 PM on April 4, 2013


.

I found an interview from Playboy 1991 with Siskel and Ebert.

In it Ebert [who was more opinionated then] says:
Ebert: Well, the most amazing parody, the one that had Gene and myself picking our jaws up off the floor, was Danny Thomas and Bob Hope doing us on one of the Bob Hope specials. I mean, when you grow up with Bob Hope, it’s like if we were to look up at Mount Rushmore and there were two more guys up there, and it was Siskel and Ebert.

Here is that video.
posted by Rashomon at 9:03 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sure, of course, fuck cancer.
But through or because of or despite his battle with cancer, Ebert somehow managed to transcend being a movie critic and evolve into a true modern day American icon. One that we could be proud of. The word "hero" gets thrown around a lot lately. Every firefighter and teacher and cop seems to be a "hero" these days. But the way that Ebert, stricken with a debilitating disease and not just persevering, but actually achieving soaring new heights of expression through writing even though cancer took away his jaw...that's an example we can all learn from, and that, to me, is what heroism looks like.
I'm thankful to cancer for whatever part it played in Ebert's need to intensify his output, increase his reach through Twitter, and expand his subject matter beyond movies to life itself.
I'm certainly the better for it.
I never thought I'd be saying this, but thank you, Cancer. Thanks for taking a great critic of the movies and turning him into a great American, a voice that grew stronger even without speech, and a hero.
Thank you, Cancer, and on the way out, don't forget to go fuck yourself.
posted by FeralHat at 9:15 PM on April 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


Thank you, Mr. Ebert, for teaching me how to watch movies, not just see them. And thank you, too, for all the work that you put into Ebertfest.

I came to Urbana from the East Coast for grad school in 1996, certain that I'd find it a cultural wasteland. I was wrong. During my first year, UIUC screened 2001: A Space Odyssey in its original 70mm format as part of "Cyberfest," a celebration of UIUC's computing history on the occasion of HAL's 1997 birth. Roger Ebert returned to his hometown to host it, Gary Lockwood was a special guest, and Kubrick sent his snarky regards. The Virginia theater was completely packed -- not just to see the film, but to hear Roger Ebert discuss it.

The success of the 2001 Cyberfest screening gave birth, two years later, to the first "Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival" in 1999. There were 10 films; I saw Tron for the first time ever (to the shock of my geeky cohort of friends), shown in amazing 65mm. Every year after that, Ebertfest kept going -- and growing. This year there are 14 films and an amazing roster of panelists. Each year, Ebert would select the films himself, introduce the festival, and host the discussions. A wonderfully warm sense of community grew around it, as octothorpe said above. It would have been an amazing festival anywhere (even by my New York standards!); the fact that it was in Urbana was almost beyond belief.

I said in the other thread that I wish I'd gone to many more Ebertfest screenings than I had when I was in grad school. I still do, and I still hope to find a way to attend this year's, too (only two weeks from now if it goes as scheduled), although Ebert's absence will be an unfillable void. But right now, more than anything, I'm profoundly grateful that I was fortunate to see him, hear him, learn from him, and attend the marvelous festival that he created.

Thank you, Mr. Ebert, for enriching my life.

.
posted by Westringia F. at 9:17 PM on April 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Roger Ebert taught me more about criticism than I ever learned in grad school.

There are so many critics who get all hung up about cinemaaah. But Ebert, there was a guy who plain damn loved the movies.

.
posted by MrBadExample at 9:23 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by cazoo at 9:24 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by eye of newt at 9:27 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by katherant at 9:30 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by mike3k at 9:35 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:37 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by MyTwoCentsToo at 9:41 PM on April 4, 2013


A couple of more lines from that Herzog phone interview w/ Entertainment Weekly linked above-

“I always loved Roger for being the good soldier,” Herzog told EW, “not only the good soldier of cinema, but he was a wounded soldier who for years in his affliction held out and plowed on and soldiered on and held the outpost that was given up by almost everyone. The monumental shift now is that intelligent, deep discourse about cinema has been something that has been vanishing over the last maybe two decades. And it has been systematically replaced by celebrity news. It is what it is, and we have to stand the tide. I try to hold out and keep up what Roger was after.”

Inspiring, that.

cancer already knows how the fuck I feel about it
.
posted by hap_hazard at 10:02 PM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:05 PM on April 4, 2013


. I'm just sad, like he was someone I actually knew in RL.
posted by Mittenz at 10:44 PM on April 4, 2013


.
Goddamn cancer.
posted by faineant at 10:54 PM on April 4, 2013


I admire the life he lived and am thankful that he lived in my time. He had a very clear, intelligent and honest communication style.
posted by lucien at 11:14 PM on April 4, 2013


.
posted by clockworkjoe at 11:18 PM on April 4, 2013


This is what I wrote on Facebook about him. It contains a lot of anecdata and quotes already well-covered in this thread, sorry. I didn't want to make it choppy or unwieldy by breaking it up.

***************************************************
Most people only know Roger Ebert as a movie critic. For me, he was so much more than that that I barely even think of him as a movie critic.

I remember my Mom being a fan of him, saying she agreed with him more often than Siskel, so one day at the library I checked out one of his books of movie reviews. I still have it; I never returned it.

I consumed more and more Ebert books, and in reading his obits, people credit him for making them "look at movies in a different way." But for me, they made me look at Ebert in a different way. I just loved his writing and could not get enough of it. Movies were the subject, but that didn't matter. I'd happily read him as voraciously as if he wrote about daffodil cultivation.

What made him such a peerless writer? Everything. He was hilarious. He was kind. His turns of phrase could give a dead man chills. But most of all, he was a philosopher, a humanist of the best kind, and he would seamlessly work in his reflections on the human condition in to his reviews.

In his review of Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! by Pedro Aldomovar, Ebert wrote,

"To know me is to love me.

This cliche is popular for a reason, because most of us, I imagine, believe deep in our hearts that if anyone truly got to know us, they'd truly get to love us - or at least know why we're the way we are. The problem in life, maybe the central problem, is that so few people ever seem to have sufficient curiosity to do the job on us that we know we deserve."

Wow. And he wasn't even driven to such inspired words by loving or hating the movie. He gave it a middling review, and ended it with a couple paragraphs that, while not as philosophically-charged, demonstrates writing chops that, again, I would follow him to the ends of the earth to read:

"Almodovar is a director with an enormous following around the world, but movies like "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" leave me feeling increasingly left out. His previous film was the widely-praised "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown," a movie I had a curious relationship with. I saw it once, and had no discernible reaction at all. It did not engage my attention for even a scene, and at the end I had trouble even remembering it. So I went to see it again, and the same thing happened.

That doesn't mean the film contained nothing; what it means, I think, is that Almodovar's polarities are so perfectly lined up in opposition to my own that it is quite possible for one of his movies to shoot right through my brain without striking a single cell. I seek an explanation for this phenomenon not in film criticism but in the behavior of subatomic particles.

With "Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!" I was at least left with a memory of the film, but I am not sure this is progress for Almodovar."

He unleashed another core-shaking truth in his review of Christopher Munch's "The Sleepy Time Gal:

"Life's missed opportunities, at the end, may seem more poignant to us than those we embraced--because in our imagination they have a perfection that reality can never rival."

Did I mention he was hilarious? He said one movie was the first movie in history not to improve upon a blank screen for the same span of time. His review of Highlander 2: The Quickening is so funny I can't even quote it. Just go and read the whole thing: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19911101/REVIEWS/111010305

He also delivered the greatest act of ownage in this history of pop culture. It was regarding Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, starring Rob Schneider. Ever critic understandably hated it, and Schneider took exception to this, going after one writer in particular, and...well I'll let Ebert tell it. From his review:

The movie created a spot of controversy last February. According to a story by Larry Carroll of MTV News, Rob Schneider took offense when Patrick Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times listed this year's Best Picture Nominees and wrote that they were "ignored, unloved and turned down flat by most of the same studios that ... bankroll hundreds of sequels, including a follow-up to 'Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,' a film that was sadly overlooked at Oscar time because apparently nobody had the foresight to invent a category for Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic."

Schneider retaliated by attacking Goldstein in full-page ads in Daily Variety and the Hollywood Reporter. In an open letter to Goldstein, Schneider wrote: "Well, Mr. Goldstein, I decided to do some research to find out what awards you have won. I went online and found that you have won nothing. Absolutely nothing. No journalistic awards of any kind ... Maybe you didn't win a Pulitzer Prize because they haven't invented a category for Best Third-Rate, Unfunny Pompous Reporter Who's Never Been Acknowledged by His Peers."

Reading this, I was about to observe that Schneider can dish it out but he can't take it. Then I found he's not so good at dishing it out, either. I went online and found that Patrick Goldstein has won a National Headliner Award, a Los Angeles Press Club Award, a RockCritics.com award, and the Publicists' Guild award for lifetime achievement.

Schneider was nominated for a 2000 Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor, but lost to Jar-Jar Binks.

But Schneider is correct, and Patrick Goldstein has not yet won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, Goldstein is not qualified to complain that Columbia financed "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo" while passing on the opportunity to participate in "Million Dollar Baby," "Ray," "The Aviator," "Sideways" and "Finding Neverland." As chance would have it, I *have* won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.


Of course, he wrote those reviews (except for the Schneider one) before cancer nearly killed him. It did take his jaw, compelling him to wear a prosthetic one that robbed him of the ability to speak or eat, and fixed his face into wide, permanent, involuntary grin.

How did he react to no longer being able to do two of the pleasures we take the most for granted, two abilities that even sickness rarely robs anyone of? He rolled with it. He went back to writing. He wrote a motherfucking cookbook after he lost the ability to eat, which is the greatest example of "If life gives you lemons, make lemonade" in the history of mankind. I'm not sure there's a person on this earth as bereft of bitterness as Roger Ebert.

I say "he went back to writing," but that doesn't do him justice. He expanded his blog. He became a Tour de Force on Twitter. He kept writing movie reviews for the Chicago Sun-Times as he had for the last 45 years. In the end, someone tallied it up. He had done more writing in 2012 than he had in any other year. At age 70.

How did he do it? I think it has mostly to do with his mindset. One more quote, this one not in the context of a movie review, but a personal essay, after he reemerged following his first bout with cancer. I've quoted it here on Facebook many, many times, and I'm going to quote it again, because it is no less than my religion, and the man who wrote it died yesterday:

"“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out."

That is what I endeavor to do, and I encourage anyone else to do the same: Do what you do, try to make people happy, and try to make yourself happy, until the day you die.

And he did, until the day he died. Or at least, the day before. He announced on his blog the cancer had returned, and although this meant he would not be as prolific in his output, he'd still be updating his blog and writing movie reviews on occasion all the same. He called this work slowdown "a leave of presence," such a goddamn clever phrase. And then he left our presence.

As for me, this is only the third "celebrity" who I "loved" that passed away (Mitch Hedberg and Hunter S Thompson were the first two), the first one I shed a tear over, and the first one I have written about. I have no steady forum for my writing, except for sports. Still, I had to write this. Absolutely had to. So to my Facebook friends it goes.

We are fortunate to have been contemporary consumers of Ebert's work, for the world with Ebert in it is one that the post-Ebert reality can never rival.
posted by mreleganza at 12:29 AM on April 5, 2013 [28 favorites]


.
posted by St. Sorryass at 12:39 AM on April 5, 2013


.
posted by oonh at 12:40 AM on April 5, 2013


"Roger Ebert is no mystic, but he knows things we don't know."

.
posted by Harald74 at 1:20 AM on April 5, 2013


.
posted by Defying Gravity at 2:07 AM on April 5, 2013


A bit on his passing on Chicago Tonight.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 2:44 AM on April 5, 2013


As near as I can tell, the last Ebert review on the site is of The Host, which got 2 1/2 stars.
posted by JHarris at 2:55 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ten Movies Roger Ebert Really Hated.

mreleganza, the "blank screen" review was for Mad Dog Time:
" "Mad Dog Time'' is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Oh, I've seen bad movies before. But they usually made me care about how bad they were. Watching "Mad Dog Time'' is like waiting for the bus in a city where you're not sure they have a bus line."

posted by zarq at 4:01 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Not a lot to say that people haven't already said, except that he was a great example for how to approach things on their own terms without losing your ability to think critically about them. He was a fantastic writer. His determination over the past 10 years was awe-inspiring. I'm glad he seems to have gone out with dignity.
posted by lodurr at 4:58 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


... i will add that his honesty about alcoholism may turn out to be some of the most important writing he ever did.
posted by lodurr at 5:01 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


.

A few years ago, when some friends of mine and I were fortunate enough to score a book deal out of a dumb Twitter thing we were doing, it came time to find someone to write the foreword. One of the first big Twitter names to notice us and promote us was Roger Ebert, and he was an idol for many of us, so we went to him. Some folks suggested that we try to get a bigger name, but we stuck with Ebert, who graciously accepted, and wrote a foreword that was way more than we deserved. For us, a giant had stooped down and given us a hand. For him, he was just being a guy who liked talking about the stuff he liked. His going to be missed, but his wit, intelligence, skill, style, and graciousness will never be forgotten.
posted by Legomancer at 5:05 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


.

I hope he gets the recognition he deserves at next year's Oscars
posted by Renoroc at 5:25 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


hmm, good point. the Academy can be very hidebound, and there are a lot of people in Hollywood who hate his guts. He was a screenwriter, but I don't know if he was a paid-up guild member or an Academy member (the latter I suspect not, the former I suspect so, at least while he was working with Meyer).

so it's a maybe. i'd like to see it. it's hard to argue that his enthusiasm hasn't been a benefit to the industry.

plus, he's often been very kind to actors -- when he pans a movie he often takes pains to note that it's not the actors' fault, and often singles them out for making a herculean effort with the crap they've been given. so probably also some people in hollywood really love him.
posted by lodurr at 5:57 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


But what am I saying: Scorcese loves him. Marty will make it happen. I feel a little better now.
posted by lodurr at 6:03 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


yeah, I figured he was a lock for the death montage for next year. I mean he has to be, right?

I say death montage with all due respect, I love it and pull a fistful of tissues every time in preparation.
posted by sweetkid at 6:36 AM on April 5, 2013


Oh yeah Scorsese who has the Academy wrapped around his little finger.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:41 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ebert was the only movie reviewer who understood the genius and lasting impact of Natural Born Killers, and the impeccable style of The Crow and Dark City. He was an übermensch, and will be sorely missed.


posted by dbiedny at 6:41 AM on April 5, 2013


scalefree, that clip is so great that it's what I came here to share.

Just a few days ago I was thinking about how much I use "A $narrative isn't about what it is about, but how it is about it" in thinking about why I like or don't like particular works. Like so many in this thread I've used the Great Movies list as part of my film education. And I am grateful for Ebert's advocacy of Sita Sings the Blues, which helped a little indie film fight its battles.

Scalzi remembers Ebert.
His Web essays have a sharp, bright but autumnal quality to them; the leaves were still on the trees but the colors were changing and the snap was in the air. It seemed to me Ebert wrote them with the joy of living while there is still life left. I loved these essays but they also made me sad. I knew as a reader they couldn’t last. And of course they didn’t.
I think I sensed the same thing. 'I have many sacred places, where I sit and think, "I have been here before, I am here now, and I will be here again."'
posted by brainwane at 6:55 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


.
posted by schyler523 at 7:11 AM on April 5, 2013


Today's Q is all about Ebert: the podcast should be available soon. The Q blog from yesterday includes a video excerpt of an interview with Ebert (using his text-to-speech software) as well. The whole audio segment is here.

What I just learned and what delights me: when Ebert got his star on the Walk of Fame, it was Werner Herzog who presented it to him. This Flickr stream shows some shots from that day, including pictures of Ebert with Chaz and all the kids (and grand-kids).
posted by maudlin at 8:03 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


See you at the movies, Roger.

.
posted by kinnakeet at 8:07 AM on April 5, 2013


I first discovered Ebert when I was probably still a single digit age and watching Sneak Previews on PBS was a weekly ritual in our house (followed by every other incarnation the show took on over the years). I liked the show to the degree that I was enough of a film fan that it was nice to have this forum for intelligent movie discussion and, of course, it was fun to watch Siskel and Ebert bicker. Other than that I didn't really give either critic much thought.

I was probably in college (so I'm guessing this was the early 90s) when I first discovered Roger Ebert's forum on Compuserve, which included a database of his written reviews. This was an absolute revelation. Through that forum and later his own website, I think I have mentally gone through every movie I've ever seen in my life since birth and actively sought out Ebert's review. While there are other good movie critics out there, the quality of Ebert's writing was definitely on a level above anybody else in my view. While our tastes didn't always align, his reviews, which were always so well-written, thoughtful, enlightening, accessible, personal, sometimes moving, often funny, were always the first I would seek out.

With a young child at home, I've become one of those people who only gets out to the theater to see new releases a few times a year at best, and those are mostly kid movies. Still, and I'm sure this sound incredibly petty and selfish, I'm sad that one of my favorite weekly rituals of obsessively checking Rogerebert.com every Thursday to get Roger's take on the new films of the week is now over for good. Nobody can live forever but I wish we could have had a few more years with Ebert.
posted by The Gooch at 8:30 AM on April 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Both Siskel and Ebert lived well below the average US male life span.

What is the average life span of a movie critic, by the way? Does the sedentary existence of an Olympic level movie-watcher significantly weaken the human body?

I would imagine it can't lead to a very strong heart.
posted by dgaicun at 8:48 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find that Chaz's comments about his relationship with her children and the grandchildren to cheer me a little. I was reflecting this morning that it seemed sad that Ebert was never someone's dad, because it seems (from an outside view) that he would be good at it and take pleasure in it. In a lot of ways, the role of grandfather is even more rewarding, and I'm glad he got to experience that part of life.
posted by anastasiav at 8:56 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


.
posted by WalkingAround at 9:15 AM on April 5, 2013


.
posted by cman at 9:19 AM on April 5, 2013


Let's all agree that this will not be the last time we extensively quote Roger Ebert. Future generations will enjoy his writing as much as we have and its our duty as the living to make sure they're exposed to him.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:48 AM on April 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh yeah Scorsese who has the Academy wrapped around his little finger.

OK, point taken, but they'd do this for him. He can just dial up Clint or Stephen or Bobby and ask for a small favor.
posted by lodurr at 10:52 AM on April 5, 2013


... Chaz's comments about his relationship with her children and the grandchildren ...

In a column he wrote some time back about his reasons for deciding to lose weight, he remarked that one of his reasons for doing it was that "the grandkids" were always wondering why "grandpa Roger" was so tired all the time. At the time I didn't know anything about his personal life so I figured they were his, but I remembered that after learning he'd married late.
posted by lodurr at 10:54 AM on April 5, 2013


.
posted by dragonplayer at 12:12 PM on April 5, 2013


Husband and I are going to Steak n' Shake tonight for our Friday night date. Going to try to remember not to order tomato on my everything-else steakburger, and get a milkshake.
posted by ifjuly at 12:23 PM on April 5, 2013


As near as I can tell, the last Ebert review on the site is of The Host, which got 2 1/2 stars.

From Jim Emerson's statement on the web site:

Actually, he filed two or three other reviews before his condition took a sudden turn for the worse. But this final one -- sent March 16 and labeled "FOR USE as needed," is of Terence Malick's "To the Wonder," which (spoiler warning) he liked quite a lot.

So, it looks like a couple more are coming, woo-hoo!
posted by Melismata at 12:57 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like so many others here I loved his writing, tried to emulate his good natured joie de vivre, and was in awe of the way he made the best of adversity. I too returned home from movies consulted the Internet for Mr. Ebert's opinion on what I had just seen. I am so sad that I won't be able to do this anymore. I always liked him, and I think MetaFilter helped me to like him even more, so thank you MetaFilter for that.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:00 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The discussion here about Ebert's relationship with his grandkids reminded me of this terrific entry in his "Great Movies" series, written in the form of a letter to his grandchildren.
posted by The Gooch at 1:28 PM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Melismata, I am so glad his last review wasn't for The Host, but was possibly the latest Malick film. I know from his Tree of Life review that he felt a certain sense of simpatico with Malick and like to think of Ebert watching films he loved and felt inspired by in the end.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:39 PM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


.
posted by Wyatt at 1:16 PM on April 6, 2013


.

The balcony is now closed.
posted by koucha at 1:53 PM on April 6, 2013


Roger Ebert's last review: 'To the Wonder'

(Apparently you may need to register to access the review. I didn't, but I'm not in the US.)
posted by Defying Gravity at 1:50 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


You have to log in to view it at the Sun-Times, but it is free on his website.

""Well," I asked myself, "why not?" Why must a film explain everything? Why must every motivation be spelled out? Aren't many films fundamentally the same film, with only the specifics changed? Aren't many of them telling the same story? Seeking perfection, we see what our dreams and hopes might look like. We realize they come as a gift through no power of our own, and if we lose them, isn't that almost worse than never having had them in the first place?"
posted by anastasiav at 9:06 AM on April 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


What a great review to go out on.
posted by octothorpe at 7:42 PM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Westboro Baptist Church to Picket Roger Ebert's Funeral
posted by octothorpe at 8:22 AM on April 8, 2013


Westboro Baptist Church to Picket Roger Ebert's Funeral

That's something to be proud of.

(They might as well start reformulating those headlines to read, "Westboro Baptist Church honours good person by picketing funeral.")
posted by Sys Rq at 8:59 AM on April 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


(They might as well start reformulating those headlines to read, "Westboro Baptist Church honours good person by picketing funeral.")

Reminds me of those Jack Chick tracts in which the Devil would appear and plead with the reader to put down the comic, badgering the reader to go no further, out of a visceral fear of the reader being saved.

The WBC comprises nasty do-nothings who can't get attention in any other way. They're a joke now, and years down the road, they'll only be a faintly-remembered joke. Their presence will only further underline Ebert's legacy, as a man who created an honest, cheerful body of work that inspired others to make more and do better.

All in favor of condemning the WBC to an eternity of herostratic "fame", say aye...
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:42 AM on April 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I suspect Ebert would have been pleased, actually. I just hope his nearest will take it in the same spirit.
posted by Harald74 at 2:06 AM on April 9, 2013


Goodbye, Ebert and goodbye morning. Since no-one I know knows that you're gone; I'm going to spend the rest of my morning looking at this thread. Sigh.... I miss you already.
posted by NoRelation at 6:19 AM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


A minor derail:

This was the last movie review Roger Ebert filed.

This sentence is nice. It isn't "This was the last movie review Roger Ebert ever filed," or "This was the last movie review Roger Ebert filed, ever," or "This was Roger Ebert's final review." I like it.

What's going to happen to the Ebert Club? Is anyone here a member? I wonder what's going on behind the paywall, or if it's gotten a spike in memberships.
posted by JHarris at 9:56 AM on April 9, 2013


Also, the new look for the rogerebert site is pretty nice.
posted by JHarris at 10:03 AM on April 9, 2013


I'm a member. Last two Ebert Club newsletters quoted here:
__________________________________________

Dear Club Members,

A notice was recently sent out regarding Funeral arrangement for the Grand Poobah.

I neglected to include the time, so here it is again, but updated.

Note: I can just hear Roger now, reminding me to always double-check - and smiling at the irony of it, given how often he used to forget things. :-)

Funeral services for Roger Ebert will be held Monday, April 8, 2013, at 10:00 am the Holy Name Cathedral, 730 N. State St., in Chicago. The service will be open to friends and fans, though seating will be limited. Open seats are first come, first served.

In lieu of flowers, send donations to The Ebert Foundation, c/o Northern Trust, 50 S. LaSalle St., Chicago, 60603. The foundation is a nonprofit that supports arts and education programs.

Sincerely yours,
Marie Haws,

Editor and Club Secretary of the Ebert Club

__________________________________________


Dear Club Members,

As most of you know, Roger was planning to move to a new site. One built especially for him - a custom job. Then fate stepped in and as a result, people were sent scrambling and there's only 24 hrs in a day. In simple terms, there's a few glitches still left to iron out with the formatting, inside the new Ebert Club. It's technical.

When it's ready, you will receive another announcement containing the link and where to find it.

As for when, hopefully April 9, WED.

Unless I get a sudden email the minute I send this notice out, telling me it's ready to go now. Forcing me to send you a new notice telling you to forget the last one. :-)

Thank-you for your patience.

Sincerely,
Marie Haws,
Club Secretary and Recreational Director
posted by churl at 3:42 PM on April 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


A roundup of editorial cartoon obituaries. Thumbs are a common motif, unsurprisingly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 AM on April 10, 2013


And I also thought this was quite touching - a special tribute from the New Yorker, where they spotlight some of his caption contest entries. Apparently he still kept entering the contest even after winning.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:03 AM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one with his face on a thumb is profoundly terrifying.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:34 AM on April 10, 2013


It probably shouldn't bother me but I get a little annoyed with cartoonists using heaven imagery in tribute to someone who wasn't a believing christian. Ebert wasn't the kind of person who would be offended by such things and would think it was funny but it seems thoughtless to ignore the specific person's personal religion.
posted by octothorpe at 11:38 AM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


It is rumored that one of Roger Ebert's thumbs is sitting on a shelf in a cryonics lab between the heads of Walt Disney & Ted Williams

why
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:08 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


It probably shouldn't bother me but I get a little annoyed with cartoonists using heaven imagery in tribute to someone who wasn't a believing christian.

Amen.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:46 PM on April 10, 2013


Thursday's memorial tribute to him is archived here; I haven't watched it yet myself, but it apparently includes remarks from Gene Siskel's widow and John and Joan Cusack, among many others.
posted by carrienation at 11:15 AM on April 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I went to my first movie tonight following Roger Ebert's death (Oblivion), and I really, really miss coming home and reading his take on things. It is a palpable absence. Damn, I just miss the man.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:11 PM on April 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just got back from our second trip to Ebertfest, which was incredible in 50 billion ways. We were wiped for a variety of reasons, so we didn't end up meeting up with any MeFites.

But people, if you want to see why Ebertfest and the culture that Roger helped create are so incredible, feast your eyes on this video of Tilda Swinton's 2013 Ebertfest Dance-Along.

It was such an emotional time, for so many reasons. Every film that Roger picked seemed to have some relevance to families, love, relationships, hope, all that. We had such amazing conversations with famous and less-famous people from all over the world. At one of the afterparties, I hung out at a table with Chaz's granddaughter, Roger's assistant, and a 19-year-old "Far-Flung Correspondent" that Roger had mentored, who had come all the way from India with his mother.

Ten minutes before that dance party, I was out in the street, bawling stupidly in the arms of Patrick Wang, the writer/director/star of the amazing, amazing In the Family, about how I HAVE FRIENDS WHO MIGHT GET DEPORTED BECAUSE THEY CAN'T MARRY THEIR GAY PARTNERS AND WE SHOULD NEVER BREAK UP FAMILIES AND AND AND AND...

It was all about conversations and meaning and love and life. Watching Chaz dance onstage during that Barry White song made me cry all over again.

Thanks for everything, Roger. We'll be back next year.
posted by Madamina at 7:48 AM on April 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


Madamina, I knew that someone else was there too but couldn't remember who. Of the four EbertFests that I've been to, this was the best. The movie selection was almost perfect (I didn't really like Julia, but loved the rest) and the vibe was great. I hope that the momentum can continue without Roger.

In the Family was an amazing film for any number of reasons, Patrick Wang is a serious talent.
posted by octothorpe at 11:26 AM on April 24, 2013


« Older This Saturday is International Pillow Fight Day....  |  Ward Kimball's home movie foot... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments