The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Roger Ebert

Tonight I honor the memory of a legend who's shoes I will likely never be fit to lick. Roger Ebert was the great statesman of film critics. He knew the medium inside and out. I didn't always agree with him. In fact, I often wondered how this genius of a critic could have written something as wacky as "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" but I would be so privileged to get my screenplay, "The Cleansing", produced... and hey, if it sucked, I'd like to think I'd be in good company.

Sometimes he gave bad reviews to movies I liked, and sometimes good reviews to movies I despised. I never based my opinion on his, but he often helped me make a decision on whether or not I would spend what little money I have on a ticket to see something, and where movie tickets are nowadays, that's invaluable. Any time I watch a movie for the first time, I've always felt compelled to look up his review of said movie to see what he thought.

I died laughing at his refusal to rate or discuss "The Human Centipede." He just outright said "I refuse." He WATCHED the movie, understand. Screened the whole thing. Just wouldn't dignify it with a review, despite admitting it was his job to do so... I think that's awesome of him.

He also championed animation as an art form when many of his contemporaries wouldn't. That deserves to be commended.

I think I'll link to some of my favorite reviews, and blog posts, written by the man.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - "If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination... The movie has been signed by Michael Bay. This is the same man who directed "The Rock" in 1996. Now he has made "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen." Faust made a better deal."

"I'm a proud Brainiac" - "Those who think "Transformers" is a great or even a good film are, may I tactfully suggest, not sufficiently evolved. Film by film, I hope they climb a personal ladder into the realm of better films, until their standards improve. Those people contain multitudes. They deserve films that refresh the parts others do not reach. They don't need to spend a lifetime with the water only up to their toes."

I Spit On Your Grave - It is a movie so sick, reprehensible and contemptible that I can hardly believe it's playing in respectable theaters, such as Plitt's United Artists. But it is. Attending it was one of the most depressing experiences of, my life.

Freddy Got Fingered - "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."

The Twilight Saga: New Moon - The characters in this movie should be arrested for loitering with intent to moan. Never have teenagers been in greater need of a jump-start. Granted some of them are more than 100 years old, but still: their charisma is by Madame Tussaud. "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" takes the tepid achievement of "Twilight" (2008), guts it, and leaves it for undead. You know you're in trouble with a sequel when the word of mouth advises you to see the first movie twice instead. Obviously the characters all have. Long opening stretches of this film make utterly no sense unless you walk in knowing the first film, and hopefully both Stephanie Meyer novels, by heart. Edward and Bella spend murky moments glowering at each other and thinking, So, here we are again.

Pearl Harbor - "Pearl Harbor is a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours, about how on December 7, 1941, the Japanese staged a surprise attack on an American love triangle. Its centerpiece is 40 minutes of redundant special effects, surrounded by a love story of stunning banality. The film has been directed without grace, vision, or originality, and although you may walk out quoting lines of dialog, it will not be because you admire them."

Gladiator - "By the end of this long film, I would have traded any given gladiatorial victory for just one shot of blue skies... "Gladiator" lacks joy. It employs depression as a substitute for personality, and believes that if the characters are bitter and morose enough, we won't notice how dull they are.

Troy - "Troy is based on the epic poem The Iliad by Homer, according to the credits. Homer's estate should sue."

And, of course...


  1. I've been saying this a lot today but here's a little more detail.

    I've had my disagreements with the man. I like Oz the Great and Powerful more than him and I don't like The Swan Princess depsite him giving it a thumbs up.

    However, I can't deny his influence and legacy. He was no doubt a nice guy and he loved film, he had passion. And he was even funny, see his Garfield 2 review as an exmaple.

    It's going to be weird not hearing or reading another word from him ever again but he lived a long rich and wonderful life. And he won't suffer from cancer anymore. I'll miss him.

    R.I.P. Roger Ebert

  2. It's so sudden and sad to have lost this great man. But you're quick to have come up with a good tribute entry to him. I'm still trying to think of my own.

  3. Thank you for your sincere comments.
    It proves that we do not always have to agree in order to respect and admire another man's talent.
    He will be missed!

  4. I've been a huge Ebert fan since high school. Great post.

  5. Damn this sucks, I always enjoyed Eberts reviews. He was one of the few film critics left out there whose opinion I actually valued, whether I agreed with him or not.

    Your list is missing my all time favorite review and all time favorite quote from him Greg.

    Deuce Bigelow: European Gigolo (a film so bad, he gave it "zero stars"):
    "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."

    RIP Roger Ebert.

    1. Though you got give credit to Schneider for giving Ebert flowers when he had the surgery.

      No hard feelings as they say. His movies suck sure but still.