Roger Ebert is something of a Chicago icon. Certainly . he will always be known as the first film critic to earn a Pulitzer Prize. In addition to putting film criticism on the map with his long running television shows (mostly with the late Gene Siskel, another Chicago icon), Ebert has invested time in getting more and more common folks to look at film more as a form of art in addition to simply being entertainment. He has for many years now hosted (personally) his own film festival at his (and my) alma mater (the University of Illinois), which showcases films that he feels have been overlooked by movie goers and/or critics. Despite his poor health in recent years and surgery that all but robbed him of his ability to speak, he continues to review films for the Sun-Times, and continues to make public appearances. I have always respected his work for trying to bring intelligent discussion to the common person to film. Certainly, I’ve learned a lot just by reading and listening to his discourse on film. You can agree with him or disagree with him, but I think it is pretty universal that his passion for film, and his passion for getting others to experience good film is universally accepted.
The above is a link to his Sun-Times blog which is featuring a real holiday treat! These are some of Mr. Ebert’s best written pans of films from over the years of writing film reviews. If you are looking for some (often funny) ways to say “bad” or “sucks”, Roger Ebert has a hundred new ways.
My all time favorite among his myriad slams against bad film making revolves around another reason I like Mr. Ebert: he has always given me the impression that he is more a man of substance than of outward appearance. Rather than retire from the public eye when his health deteriorated recently, he has kept up a busy schedule to continue taking good film to the public. He seems to have no qualms about noting that his health may not be the best. Years ago, he slammed a movie by director Vincent Gallo, who in turn, publicly, hoped for Mr. Ebert to come down with colon cancer. Mr. Ebert responded when he published his review of Mr. Gallo’s controversial film “The Brown Bunny”:
I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than “The Brown Bunny”.