In Memory of Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert passed away yesterday, at the age of 70, as you've no doubt heard. There's no way I can match the poignancy of the eulogies written by people who knew Roger and his work far better than I did. So I'll just toss in a couple cents and leave it at that. I valued Roger's opinion on the many films I've seen greatly- if there was something I was thinking about going to see or getting from Netflix, I would often check his review first to make sure it sounded good. It was in reading his reviews of The Bourne trilogy (and his readers' responses) that I first discovered the work of David Bordwell, whose blog and books have been as influential to me as any film class I ever took. Roger and I didn't always agree, put his was an opinion that I always respected.
It's been noted how far reaching Roger's voice became, even after it was relegated to print media. I'd like to think that people reading his reviews would start to think about movies more critically, beyond just whether they're good or bad. Movies have been, and remain, the mass medium of our culture, and are too important to see and forget about by the next day. If Roger's mass appeal shows anything, it's that anyone, young, or old, film student, or casual consumer, can start to take the movies seriously.
His blog was also a source of great interest, even when he wasn't talking about movies. Roger seemed equally adept at writing about any subject- art, politics, religion- and had something valuable to say for all of them. His piece on Alcoholics Anonymous was particularly memorable for me- I had never known he'd struggled with addiction, but admired him even more for being able to overcome it.
I've linked to Roger's reviews when appropriate, or when he has a turn of phrase I simply can't improve upon. Fortunately, his website has almost his entire career going back for decades, so I look forward to consulting Roger Ebert long into the future.