I finally watched Life Itself, the documentary about Pulitzer-Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert. It’s an excellent movie that tells Ebert’s life story and captures his final days as he succumbs to thyroid cancer.
Like so many others, I enjoyed the Siskel and Ebert movie review shows, but it was his writing that made me an Ebert fan. Before IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, I would consult Ebert’s movie guide for reviews and synopses. His guide was more than that, though; there were interviews with directors, longer essays on film-related topics, and in-depth looks at certain aspects of the movies themselves.
Years later I picked up a used copy of his Alone in the Dark, then read whatever Ebert book was on the local library’s shelves. What impressed me over the years was that throughout his writing, whether it was in one of his many books, newspaper columns, or blog posts, Ebert remained passionate about film. I respected the fact that as his blog grew in reach, he began recruiting other reviewers from around the world to review movies. He was strong with his opinions, but he gave a platform to others.
Most of all, I appreciated how honest he was with his reviews and his life. There are a few details that weren’t sugarcoated in Life Itself (for example, his drinking problem, or the images of him after his numerous surgeries) and I’m sure he liked how it was handled: honestly.