Roger Ebert
September 16, 2004 8:14 PM   Subscribe

Roger Ebert's new web site, launched by the Chicago Sun-Times, includes nearly 10,000 pieces of the newly svelte critic's writing, including more than 5,500 film reviews dating back to 1967. Love him or hate him, that's quite a (free) resource. [via TV Barn]
posted by realityblurred (31 comments total)
Love him.
posted by spilon at 8:22 PM on September 16, 2004

Very cool stuff. Love the so-somber-it's-silly "framing" pose.

I just looked up and enjoyed reading a couple of older film reviews of his I'd missed when they came out. Somehow I guess I trust the earlier, fatter Roger more (Roger more! How do I do it?) because it seems like lately I see his name and "two thumbs up!" attached to every third piece of crap that comes down the pike.
posted by soyjoy at 8:24 PM on September 16, 2004

I don't always agree with Roger, but as far as mainstream movie critics go he's right up there with Terry Lawson of the Detroit Free Press and Peter Travers of Rolling Stone (Travers reviews are often way too short because of his magazine format, but I probably agree with him more often than most critics).

And for what it's worth, you've been able to access a great deal of his old reviews (which were already stored online, just not as accessibly) through rotten tomatoes. He's has for ages.
posted by The God Complex at 8:41 PM on September 16, 2004

Thanks for the link. I just read his review of one of my fav films, Tati's Playtime (which will likely force me to finally buy a DVD drive for the iBook I plan on getting.)
posted by ParisParamus at 8:47 PM on September 16, 2004

Many thanks, realityblurred - I always like reading his reviews and it's great to have all of them at hand.

I was a film critic for a few years and Ebert reminds me of a colleague (who became a good friend) who had the same enthusiasm but also the same bane: he was far too easy to please. And why? Because, like Ebert (I suspect - I've never met him) he just loves movies - the dark hall, the image, the actors, the experience - to the point where almost anything projected on a big screen is adored the minute it starts.

While it's an endearing trait, it makes for dubious criticism, unless you have a personal decoder. The best critics, imo, actually hate the movies - they're bored and jaded and see their work as just a job - but have this countervailing (illusory?) romantic ideal of the (capital letter) Cinema in all its impossible purity.

So, when a movie is able to bring them out of their cynicism and malevolence, it tends to be worth seeing.

Too many reviewers are just star-struck fans. This friend of mine once told me that every time he entered a movie theatre he still couldn't get over the fact that he was getting in for free, despairing those of us who thought we weren't being paid a fraction of what it cost us to actually watch the damn things.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:56 PM on September 16, 2004

I love Ebert. Of course it doesn't hurt that he's basically from my hometown but it seems he has very similar tastes in movies as me. I like how he's not afraid to give good reviews to movies of dubious artistic quality if he finds it very entertaining.
posted by gyc at 9:10 PM on September 16, 2004

Finally, I can now easily find his old reviews. And alas I search for The Shining only to find out that he didn't review it. But, he did Caligula AND Deep Throad AND Zardoz. And to top it off, he didn't even review Police Academy 2-7 either! I will send my complaints to the movie answer man.
posted by graventy at 9:11 PM on September 16, 2004

Love him, even if he is totally misguided and wrong about some movies. I enjoy his criticism, writing, and humor, but sometimes I'm just baffled at what he expects to get out of a film.
posted by majcher at 9:15 PM on September 16, 2004

His old site had a lot of back reviews too. Everything from the Internet age, I presume.

It worked faster too.
posted by smackfu at 9:19 PM on September 16, 2004

One interesting bug is that in the "Ebert Recommends" section, he has some reviews for movies that haven't come out yet, e.g. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. So if you click on them, it pops up a generic username and password scheme instead of showing the review.
posted by smackfu at 9:23 PM on September 16, 2004

I'm going to jump on the Ebert-loving bandwagon. If he still has the guts to say this, he can't be bad at all.
posted by rafter at 9:34 PM on September 16, 2004

Every Friday I check his site to read the new reviews. I think I've read just about every review he's written in the past 5 years.

Some peculiar "thumbs down" reviews I completely disagree with (Fight Club, Usual Suspects) and he has a tendency to overpraise any film with Sandra Bullock or Neve Campbell. Still my favourite critic. Some of my favourite reviews include that of Irreversible, which I enjoyed but Ebert really goes into and explains why the chronology is so important and how it adds to the story, and his review of Looney Tunes: Back in Action... where Ebert spends half the review giving a story about him and Albert Brooks and a Daffy Duck coffee mug.

And it looks like IMDB hasn't included all his older reviews yet, like Zardoz. I'll have to remember to check his site for a while. Some strange reviews, he gives a negative review to Straw Dogs, but gives a positive review to Last House on the Left, a poorly made Straw Dogs rip-off (he mentions they cover the same ground).

And majcher, are you saying the new Resident Evil is a good film? He may like art films but he's kind enough to rate films relative to their genre, I assume his bad review is because it is not as good as other zombie films like Dawn of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead and 28 Days Later, which he gave positive reviews to.
posted by bobo123 at 9:36 PM on September 16, 2004

He seems to like almost everything lately - my respect for his reviews has dropped in the last couple of years.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:56 PM on September 16, 2004

I don't always agree with him, but I love reading his reviews. He has a way with the language. Thanks, realityblurred.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:25 PM on September 16, 2004

This is awesome. Ebert's one of my very favorite critics in any medium, and he can write. He's thoughtful, considered, and can explain his thought processes.

The Sun-Times formerly had his reviews back to 1986 -- this new site has many, many older ones.

His glossary is great.

Can't stand the TV stuff, though.
posted by Vidiot at 11:35 PM on September 16, 2004

I enjoy a lot of his earlier criticism, although nowadays he tends to give anything with a buxom female lead 3.5 - 4 stars automatically (see: either of the Tomb Raiders). I suppose we can't expect much from the writer of Beneath the Valley of the Dolls, but it gets a little predictable.

I was thinking of starting a site which listed errors in his reviews -- incorrect names, plot points, character relationships -- but that's probably more indicative of my strength of character than his.
posted by John Shaft at 12:29 AM on September 17, 2004

Nice one, thanks!
posted by carter at 12:34 AM on September 17, 2004

Love him, but does Robert "American Traitor Douchebag" Novak need to stare at me on the home page?
posted by eyeballkid at 12:48 AM on September 17, 2004

like others have pointed out, I seldom agree with Ebert, but I like him. my favorite American critic is Jonathan Rosenbaum, and I liked Elvis Mitchell a lot before he went Harvard on our asses. I occasionally read Ebert because every once in a while he manages to surprise me with things like

"The Insider" had a greater impact on me than "All the President's Men," because you know what? Watergate didn't kill my parents. Cigarettes did.

also, he sounds like a decent man who has also read a few books, which can't hurt.

I enjoy a lot of his earlier criticism, although nowadays he tends to give anything with a buxom female lead 3.5 - 4 stars automatically

you say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by matteo at 12:53 AM on September 17, 2004

I love Ebert's writing, and his unabashed love of the movie experience. We take that for granted, but he and Gene Siskel were really at the vanguard of that ideology, which shied away from the more intellectual critical approach to a more fundamental "did I enjoy it?" one. The availability of so much older material is a testament to this. It's true, in his increasing age, he has softened his edge and developed a creepy/endearing fondness for movies that feature young women in skimpy outfits.

But in the end, Miguel, I think you're confusing an "I love everything" attitude for an openness, an ability to let a movie engage you however it wants, and judge it on its own terms rather than your own. He also embraced the internet (and the Mac) early on, do double good on him!
posted by mkultra at 6:44 AM on September 17, 2004

Roger Ebert's commentary track on the Dark City DVD is one of the best I've ever heard.
posted by Prospero at 7:00 AM on September 17, 2004

If you'd like to waste an enjoyable afternoon or two at work, I recommend searching different years (any year(s), really) and setting the advanced search function to find only movies he gave one star or less to. As already noted, his pan of "Signs" is classic, but this (note: actually a 2-star review) might be my favourite, especially this passage:

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.'' With headaches like this, no wonder they invented Gregorian chants to take the load off.

I don't always agree with the guy, but he's clearly forgotten more about movies than most of us will ever know, and I've come to regard his occasional inexplicable lapses in judgement as a case of just loving movies too much. I have a friend like that who came back from The Lost World practically weeping with joy.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:14 AM on September 17, 2004

I'm an unabashed Ebert fanboy. I *knew* I should have posted his new site when he mentioned it in his Answer Man column last week. I love how he loves all styles of film. He's a great champion of unappreciated arthouse fare (witness his Overlooked Film Festival) and pure blockbuster entertainment alike. He can also be delightfully vicious when it's warranted; he's at his best when reviewing either a great movie or a terrible one.

My favorite Ebert review is his one-star review for Amageddon. The whole entire review is quotable:

"Armageddon" reportedly used the services of nine writers. Why did it need any? The dialogue is either shouted one-liners or romantic drivel. "It's gonna blow!" is used so many times, I wonder if every single writer used it once, and then sat back from his word processor with a contented smile on his face, another day's work done.
posted by zsazsa at 7:43 AM on September 17, 2004

I recommend searching different years (any year(s), really) and setting the advanced search function to find only movies he gave one star or less to.

Also, I imagine most people on this thread already know this, but his greatest pans (through 1999, anyway) are collected in a book, I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie.
posted by soyjoy at 7:48 AM on September 17, 2004

Love him. Joined his site as soon as he mentioned it on his regular SunTimes site. Didn't tell MeFi about it, for shame.

Somehow I guess I trust the earlier, fatter Roger more (Roger more! How do I do it?) because it seems like lately I see his name and "two thumbs up!" attached to every third piece of crap that comes down the pike.

Really? I've found the opposite to be true - he seems more critical in lots of ways lately than he did way back when, although I do think that his tastes seem to have broadened in some areas, he is far more willing to be outspoken about all kinds of things these days, including liking movies which may not be "good", but which are definitely "good crap" - I don't think this makes him "easy to please" (as Miguel said), but rather brave enough to say when he likes something just because he likes it, regardless of how good it is (in more than one of his reviews you'll read him saying things like "I can't recommend it, but I have an irrational liking for it anyway) - maybe it's because I have quite a long list of personal favourites which I'd never say are good, but which I love anyway, but I respect the fact that he is capable of loving movies from any genre, from independent to art house to mainstream, he has no snobbery when it comes to movies.

He's a remarkably intelligent man, and his style of writing just keeps getting better and better - he's so wry and amusing (read his review of The One). I don't always agree with him, but even when I don't, I respect his reasoning to back up his impressions. I owe Roger Ebert a lot, he changed the way I thought about movies a long time ago (I've been reading/watching his reviews for more years than I care to think about), and has opened my eyes to all kinds of movies I would never have sought out otherwise. Currently, I'm using his The Great Movies as a source for rounding out my viewing.
posted by biscotti at 8:36 AM on September 17, 2004

I like Ebert a lot, but I'm just starting to forgive him for getting me to rent the worst movie I've ever seen, Pumpkin. THREE AND A HALF STARS!!! WTF!?
posted by callmejay at 8:47 AM on September 17, 2004

Great site, thanks for the link... Though Anthony Lane from the NEw Yorker is my new favorite critic. I highly recommend his anthology: "Nobody's Fool." His review of "The Prince of Egypt" is worth the price of admission.
posted by adrober at 9:39 AM on September 17, 2004

By the way, the "hate" link in the original post gets some of the facts about the Ebert/Gallo feud wrong (they've made up since). See here.
posted by biscotti at 11:59 AM on September 17, 2004

Sometimes I get a little burnt out on the movies. I get tired of the bloated Hollywood crap, the self-important indie crap, and the who-gives-a-shit attitude of the cheap crap. Then Ebert's latest yearend review book comes out and his enthusiam reignites my old love for films and I find myself furiously scribbling lists of the movies that passed me by. Thanks Roger!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:05 PM on September 17, 2004

Ditto what most others have said: I very much enjoy Ebert's writing, reviews, insight, and intelligence.

I disagree with him on many political issues, but that's irrelevant to his "value" to me as a movie critic.

You know what? Maybe we should stop calling Ebert and his fellow film critics "critics" -- how about movie ANALYSTS? "Critic" generally has a negative connotation, while "analyst" more accurately describes what he actually does.

posted by davidmsc at 12:23 AM on September 18, 2004

"Analyst" makes it sound like he'd be downgrading the buy rating on Paramount.

"Critic"'s etymology: Latin criticus, from Greek kritikos, from kritikos able to discern or judge. . .
posted by Vidiot at 5:17 AM on September 18, 2004

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