"40 Years is not enough:" Update on Roger Ebert
April 4, 2007 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Roger Ebert reports on his condition One link post to rogerebert.com article by the man himself on how he's doing.
posted by mojohand (43 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It is heroic that he is so determined not to let his affliction derail John Edwards' campaign for the Presidency.
posted by Slap Factory at 12:54 PM on April 4, 2007 [4 favorites]

Get well Roger! We miss you and need you in this time of dogs like "Norbit". And, except for Kevin Smith, the others who have been sitting in for you have been so outmatched by Roeper that it's sad to watch. You need to get back in there and hand Richard his ass again!
posted by birdhaus at 1:06 PM on April 4, 2007

He's sure been through some misery, sounds like. What a lucky guy, though, to have this job he's so passionate about. I really like that line "Forty years is not enough". We should all be so lucky to find jobs like that.
posted by Kangaroo at 1:10 PM on April 4, 2007 [2 favorites]

I have yet another new book being published this month: "Your Movie Sucks," reviews of movies I hated.

Every time I read something new by or about Roger Ebert, I like him a little more.
posted by peep at 1:10 PM on April 4, 2007

I wish him all the best but it's not like he has to watch the movies just for us.
posted by furtive at 1:16 PM on April 4, 2007

It's funny because when I first saw him with Siskel, I always agreed with Siskel & thought Ebert was a complete jerk. And then about the time Ebert got married I saw his reviews kind of change... and suddenly Siskel became the guy I never agreed with. Ever since then, I've pretty much agreed (or at least saw the point of) most of Ebert's opinions in his reviews. I may be wrong but it seems to me that over time he turned into a much more likeable guy & a far more open-minded reviewer.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:18 PM on April 4, 2007

I don't have time to read, is he giving himself the thumbs up or thumbs down?

Sorry. Really.

posted by cavalier at 1:29 PM on April 4, 2007

ms. lynn, I completely agree. Siskel was the level-headed, thoughtful reviewer to Ebert's more impassioned role. But he's turned into a very thought-provoking reviewer himself and even when I disagree with him, he's so persuasive and intelligent in his presentation that he almost wins me over.

Roeper is a whiny bitch.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 1:30 PM on April 4, 2007

Aww, I was just visiting his site and saw the essay, and was thinking "I bet no one on Metafilter's seen this yet." Yet when I got here, there it is.

Good reflexes, monohand.
posted by JHarris at 1:34 PM on April 4, 2007

Ebert needs to write another movie.

Sadly, Russ Meyer wouldn't be able to direct it, but I'm sure he could easily find someone to direct it.
posted by SentientAI at 1:36 PM on April 4, 2007

I find that any viewing of "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" is vastly enhanced by placing a small sign atop the screen that says "Roger Ebert wrote this."

I love that movie so much.
posted by jennyjenny at 1:39 PM on April 4, 2007

I used to listen to the Ebert & Roeper podcast at work until they (apparently) stopped the podcasts in late 2006. I much preferred Ebert's opinions to Roeper's because he was usually willing to review a movie on its own terms, within its genre, while Roeper seemed unwilling to admit that a movie that was trying to be silly and fun might actually succeed at exactly that, and be a good movie for it. For example, Roeper trashed The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, while Ebert said that if you're paying to see an action movie with lots of fast cars and hot women, you'll get your money's worth, as this is a well-done movie about fast cars and hot women. I didn't see the movie, but I sort of saw this as an example of this kind of elitism that Roeper often portrays that I don't see as much in Ebert.

Also, I enjoyed Ebert's commentary on the DVD of Dark City.
posted by good in a vacuum at 1:46 PM on April 4, 2007

Why do I respect Roger Ebert's opinion on movies? Ebert enjoyed Evil Dead 2 for what it was.
posted by lekvar at 1:58 PM on April 4, 2007

I also love the Dark City commentary. I like Ebert because he rarely takes a movie at face value and always opens my mind to new interpretations.
posted by HyperBlue at 1:59 PM on April 4, 2007

while Ebert said that if you're paying to see an action movie with lots of fast cars and hot women,

Uhm, that's not the reason we're all seeing movies (replace women with men or sly yet seductive cacti of the Gobi desert as your proclivities demand).
posted by eurasian at 2:13 PM on April 4, 2007

Vintage Siskel & Ebert. Who's the bigger asshole?
posted by AstroGuy at 2:20 PM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

I have yet another new book being published this month: "Your Movie Sucks," reviews of movies I hated.

Please come back soon Roger, we need you.

damn you AstroGuy, I was gonna post that too...
posted by fidgets at 2:27 PM on April 4, 2007

i give up
posted by fidgets at 2:28 PM on April 4, 2007

Godspeed, you [once] fat empreor.
posted by docpops at 2:39 PM on April 4, 2007

bring back spellcheck pleez
posted by docpops at 2:39 PM on April 4, 2007

Roger Ebert is an engaging writer and my Fridays are poorer for not having new reviews of his to read.

I recognize that to some (most?) Pauline Kael is the benchmark but I always found her impenetrable and, frankly, boring. Ebert to me is exactly what a great critic should be: open to new ideas, willing to review a movie on its own terms, and able to articulate his views in an entertaining way without being condescending.
posted by maxwelton at 2:47 PM on April 4, 2007

That vintage video is worth watching. Cute. I have really missed Ebert's reviews since he's been away the past many months.
posted by Listener at 2:47 PM on April 4, 2007

Do your critic exercises!
posted by miss lynnster at 3:23 PM on April 4, 2007

I enjoyed Ebert's commentary on the DVD of Dark City.

I want him to do commentaries on EVERY DVD.

I love Roger Ebert, and he seems to get better and better at his craft as he gets older, and more and more openminded. He's also become snarky as hell over the last few years and when he's being opinionated, snarky AND right, he's one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking people around. There are few critics out there with what Ebie has, he's a wonderful writer and as others have said, even when I disagree with his conclusions (which has become rarer over the many many years I've been reading/watching him), I always understand how he came to them. I hope he gets better soon.
posted by biscotti at 4:30 PM on April 4, 2007

Roger Ebert is a national treasure.

During his life among the movies he has amassed so much valuable insight, so much experience that it would be a tragedy to lose him. By far his greatest asset is his ability to convey (after 40 years!) his passion. There have been times when I have been burnt out by modern cinema but reading a few of his essays has jump started my desire to view. There have even been times when I disliked a movie, come home, read his review and rethought my opinion. No one alive today alive today has such great knowledge.

And it is entirely probable that no one alive after he is gone will be able to amass such knowledge. Hundreds of films are released every year and as the backlog grows, who will be able to see all the new releases while watching and re-watching all the old classics? How many times has Ebert seen Citizen Kane? Yet he still has time to see the lastest Disney release or the latest from John Waters or Sam Rami.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:49 PM on April 4, 2007

I never read much in the way of his reviews for the things he likes. The movies he hates are the reviews to dive into. Go directly to the one star flicks and enjoy.

My favorite probably still is his "The Brown Bunny" review and commentary (pre re-cut).
posted by Muddler at 4:50 PM on April 4, 2007

While I don't know what "The Brown Bunny" might have to do with a deleted post about Native Americans (the "The" link), I agree that I've seldom found myself clicking on his 3-4-star reviews. Not that they aren't well-written and edifying, but what I really love are the takedowns. (The advanced search lets you find reviews by star rating--search in the 0-1.5 range and you'll find some gems.)
posted by staggernation at 4:58 PM on April 4, 2007

Back in the Eighties as a young nerd and geek, I remember seeing Siskel and Ebert lecture at Decatur Community College in the Chicago suburbs. They were my heroes and I agree with miss lynnster about preferring Siskel but then Ebert. But they were both passionate about what they did and excited movie lovers about movies. In spite of the nastiness of the Youtube post by AstroGuy, he loved Gene and was key in establishing a film study center in his honor at the Art Institute. Besides, they were critics. Of course they had an opinion about each other.

There’s a great line in Sam Shepard’s True West. “Movies, that’s right movies. In America we make movies. Leave the films to the French.” Roger noted that line in his lecture. And that’s what comes through in many of his reviews. Sure, he clearly loves the art of film, but he’s passionate about movies. Which is why he loved Evil Dead 2 and once noted “When you ask a friend if Hellboy is any good, you're not asking if it's any good compared to Mystic River, you're asking if it's any good compared to The Punisher.”

Get well soon Roger.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:23 PM on April 4, 2007

I have been reading Ebert's reviews nearly non-stop for about 15 years, and while I haven't seen a whole lot of movies at the local cineplex, I know A LOT about many, many movies - even ones that I haven't seen -- because of his reviews. As noted above, he is knowledgeable, articulate, funny, and at times scathing. His insight into human nature is usually spot-on, and that makes all the difference in his columns and articles. He is truly the definition of "film critic," vice "film reviewer."

And politics - well, he and I part ways on several issues, but that doesn't mean that I don't value his insight and ability to write well.

Hope he gets better - 2-thumbs-up-better! - real soon.
posted by davidmsc at 5:35 PM on April 4, 2007

Who's the bigger asshole?

A tie?
posted by e40 at 5:37 PM on April 4, 2007

I was even aware he was ill. Now I feel really bad that ever since I can remember, I've had the notion that if Siskel and Ebert gave a movie a thumbs up, I didn't want to see it.
posted by who squared at 5:42 PM on April 4, 2007

That should be "wasn't."
posted by who squared at 5:43 PM on April 4, 2007

this discussion is incomplete without a link to Ebert's review of "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo".

the money line:

Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.
posted by pruner at 5:50 PM on April 4, 2007

Too many critics make the mistake of accepting their gut reaction to a film and then rationalizing it. Ebert generally doesn't do this. He uses his critical faculties and enormous experience as a lens through which he examines a film while keeping his gut reaction in mind. In other words, his gut reaction informs his criticism, but it doesn't define it. He's rated a number of films highly that he also said in his review he didn't really like.

The other thing he does very, very well is to balance the often conflicting roles of being an art critic and being a consumers' guide to movies. This is why he's able to let many merely entertaining films be merely entertaining films and review them accordingly.

That he balances these two roles and combines them, and because he loves movies and because he is a great analytical critic, he achieves something I don't think any other critic manages. He educates the average movie fan, he gets them to think about movies beyond their own gut reactions. He uses that naive enthusiasm as a way into a movie. He's basically a very good teacher. And that's a very good thing for a critic to be.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:56 PM on April 4, 2007

Siskel and him pretty much agreed a lot, but when they disagreed there were fireworks. They really invented the modern movie critic--one at home in TV or print. Both wrote excellent columns, and some how Chicago got the best movie criticism out there.

It was great.

Ebert will come back.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:05 PM on April 4, 2007

Also: one of my favorite "teachings" of Ebert goes something like this: A movie isn't about what it is about -- it is about HOW it is about it.
Understanding that really, really helped me enjoy movies much more. For instance, if I hadn't grokked that, it's unlikely that Kill Bill would be my favorite movie now.

posted by davidmsc at 9:06 PM on April 4, 2007

Roger Ebert's thoughts on fan-made DVD commentary have done wonders for the medium and for cinema.

He may not have invented the idea of Fan Made DVD Commentary, but his column for the now defunct Yahoo Internet Life magazine sure pushed many in that direction.

"I'd love to hear a commentary track by someone who hates a movie, ripping it to shreds. Or a track by an expert who disagrees with the facts in a film. Or a track by someone with a moral or philosophical argument to make. Or even a Wayne's World–style track from dudes down in the basement who think The Mummy Returns is way cool."

I know I probably would not have participated in Big Damn Commentaries had I not read Ebert's article about the concept in Yahoo Internet Life. Such websites might exist today without his cattleprodding anyway, but I kinda doubt it.

" I would also like to hear a psychologist analyzing Memento, a Vietnam combat veteran talking about Platoon, or Harry Knowles taking us one shot at a time through The Giant Gila Monster, one of the neglected classics he has resurrected for his annual birthday Butt-Numb-a-Thon."

It's almost like he gave us permission. Not that we needed it frankly, but the legalities of fans doing commentary for copyrighted material may perhaps be argued and laws even changed then changed back for years to come. Someone with Ebert's authority and experience in the field of film saying "sounds like fun! let's try it!" That did wonders for the concept.

If you know where to look, there's a treasure trove of people's thoughts on many films, just waiting for you to download them. Renegade Commentaries for example, or Hurricane Andy, or Sonic Cinema. Granted, it's an aquired taste, and what might be right for you may not be right for some, but you get the idea. Would Mike Nelson have taken the old MST3K concept and married it to downloadable mp3 commentaries had Roger Ebert not opened his big mouth five years ago?

It's hard to say. Maybe it woulda happened anyway.

In fact, I challenge you to take your favorite movie or tv show and record a DVD commentary for it, then put it somewhere on the Web. Maybe only one other person will ever listen to it, but so what? You'll have fun doing it. Audio commentaries of film breathe new life into old films, and give you a reason to revisit favorites as well as find new ways to appreciate those movies you skipped by before. I'm not sure if I'd appreciate Akira Kurosawa films without an audio commentator explaining to me why Seven Samurai and The Magnificent Seven are so important to international cinema history, or how many of Kurosawa's films are eastern adaptations of Shakespeare plays. Now I can't get enough of the guys' work, even tho I still can't understand the language.

Ebert needs to do what he does for another forty years. I look forward to it. Even when I disagree with him, I still enjoy what he has to say and appreciate his honest opinion. Still, the fact is he's already left his footprint in the industry, and he has already weaved into the fabric of cinema a legacy that will affect things for the better, for generations to come.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:44 PM on April 4, 2007 [1 favorite]

Ok yes but man, I sort of wish he were a little less popular.

Then I'd be able to get tickets to Ebertfest again.
posted by washburn at 10:47 PM on April 4, 2007

That he's coming out with a book of bad reviews is totally awesome. My favorite is Freddy Got Fingered, in which he opines the classic:

"This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels."

Get well Ebert, I've disagreed with you more times than I can count, but I've always respected you.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:33 PM on April 4, 2007

Also, I enjoyed Ebert's commentary on the DVD of Dark City.

I recommend anyone who hasn't heard this go check it out. It's one of the best commentary tracks I've ever heard.
posted by Mikey-San at 11:35 PM on April 4, 2007

Now that I have discovered (thanks staggernation) the advanced search function of his site, I will not get any further work done today.
posted by quin at 12:31 PM on April 5, 2007

I think it was Ebert commentary on Casablanca that catapulted him into my top ten folks I'd want to have a beer with. Agreed with all the points on how he's willing to take a movie on it's own merits and enjoy it for what it is. Every review is like having a half-mad friend from film school who did their thesis on obscure eurasian movies, but still loves going to the drive-in and throwing popcorn at the screen.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:32 PM on April 5, 2007

Damn you mefites, all saying what I want to say better than I can and before I have the free time to do so.

Meaning, of course, the Ebert is awesome and I hope he can start writing soon. How else will I know what to think about the movies?
posted by ztdavis at 10:37 PM on April 5, 2007

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