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Gerald Cooperberg
07-02-2006, 05:51 PM
It seems to be all over the newswire tonight that film critic Roger Ebert underwent an emergency surgical procedure and is in grave condition. It's possible that by the time some of you read this, it will be the "RIP Roger" thread... in any case, Ebert-- perhaps as an inevitable consequence of being the most well-known-- seems to be the most polarizing writer in film criticism. I know some people that absolutely despise him (and a few celebrities have made no secret of their emnity-- he had a fairly public feud with Vincent Gallo a couple of years ago and David Lynch once put out a poster for his film Lost Highway proudly emblazoned with "Two Thumbs Down") and I know some that worship every word that drips from his pen-- I once met a guy in college that refused to watch any film if it wasn't on Ebert's list of "Great Movies". Personally, I've always enjoyed reading his writing. From a functional standpoint, I can usually understand his position on the films he reviews even when I don't agree with him. Aesthetically, I find his writing pleasing as well-- he writes with a passion and has a flair for nostalgia in a way that you're not going to get from Entertainment Weekly. Sure, there are a few things that annoy me (his penchant for commenting on the good looks of every leading lady, his meaningless star system), but overall I find him to be one of the few reviewers that I consistently seek out. What are your opinions of him? Are there any other reviewers that you always make a point to read? Whose writing do you love? Whose do you hate?


07-02-2006, 07:58 PM
I like Ebert greatly because he understands wht movies are all about. He can review the art film on its terms but also understands why Raiders of the Lost Ark is a masterpiece. He gets the difference between film for artistry and film for entertainment. Roger writes in an entertaining way and he he truly does LOVE movies. That's all I can ask for - the fact that some directors don;t like him or some actors -- well Roger is in the business of criticizing people's hard work.

07-02-2006, 09:34 PM
What I like about Ebert is that he's very clear about the underlying criteria with which he critiques a movie, so that you understand his point of view and can see if your own criteria for a particular type of movie lines up with his. I think in addition to understanding movies, he understands viewers and why viewers watch movies.

07-02-2006, 11:35 PM
I am not always a fan of Ebert, but I can appreciate his experience and his viewpoints. One thing that he clearly has is an understanding of both the 'importance' of films as well as the 'entertainment value' that films can bring. Sometimes I disagree with him, but I can also see where he is coming from just like all of us...we are all coming from a different viewpoint that involves various experiences and such. I might not like a movie about horses as much as someone who really loves horses, but that's because I am not a horse fan. Now I don't hate the creature, but I am not passionate about them...however, I can still appreciate good filmmaking and a film like SEABISCUIT certainly qualifies as a good film, not great, but good. Personally, I have films that I absolutely love and I also have films that I know are important to the medium and therefore I have a high regard for them, but wouldn't necessarily sit around and watch BIRTH OF A NATION over and over again.

07-03-2006, 08:28 AM
Good news is that Ebert seems to be stable and responding well ...

Like RGA said, the thing that I appreciate about Roger Ebert is that he truly loves movies and understands their role as entertainment, which is a point that seems lost on many other film critics who seem to be more in love with their own wordsmithing and pretentious pontificating than the movies themselves. (Manohla Dargis of the NY Times is the most glaring example of this) He's also one of the few high profile film critics who "gets it" when it comes to reviewing genre pics.

Most people know Ebert through his TV appearances, but they don't know that they he has also won a Pulitzer Prize for his writing and presents a festival every year for "overlooked" films.

I think that Ebert's love of films, as well as his overall knowledge of film history and technique, is evident in his DVD commentary tracks. It says something that he can deftly provide insights on classics like Citizen Kane and Casablanca, as well as genre pics like Dark City and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, for which he also wrote the screenplay.

Yeah, he gets a lot of crap (a lot of this is because of his high profile), but he'll also answer questions and e-mail in his column.

I don't always agree with Ebert, but IMO he's worth reading because he usually knows what he's talking about. Hope he gets well soon.

07-03-2006, 08:30 AM
He was sure pissed about how many legs the things had in War of the World.