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Thursday, April 4, 2013

45

Goodbye, Roger Ebert

I have always liked Nicolas Cage. I have refused to make him a punchline despite how much I love making punchlines out of everything else. When his 2009 sci-fi film Knowing was announced, its trailer was immediately trashed, but I remained hopeful. Early reviews were dismal, but I still bought advance tickets for opening weekend. On the Friday of its release, I read Roger Ebert's review. He gave it four stars, and knew he would be one of the few critics who praised it.

I was relieved.

The following day I saw Knowing and loved it. I was thrilled. I was compelled. I was impressed. I raved to my friends, but none of them would see it for themselves. "Did you read the reviews?" they'd ask.

"Yes, but did you read Ebert's?"

I'd like to take some kind of high road and admit that I loved him even when we disagreed because of my total respect for him as a writer, but I don't think that's true. Yes, I admire his passion for writing and film. Yes, I am inspired by his ability to use those passions as a kind of psychological armor as the rest of his body deteriorated over the past few years. But, as much as it pains me to say it, what I'll mostly remember is how often I agreed with him. How I'd spend every Friday since I was 12 reading his reviews while nodding my head. Or how I'd revisit his reviews after seeing a particular movie and think, "Same, Roger. Same."

Sometimes it's nice to have someone who can find that little moment in that meaningless movie you love and tell the world he agrees with you. Sometimes it's nice, I guess, to have a cinematic ally. He was mine. And I'll miss him.

[Roger Ebert, Film Critic, Dies at 70]



45 Comments / Post A Comment

Valley Girl

OH MY GOD NOOOOOOOOO

Valley Girl

For a split second I thought "No, he just said he's slowing down his work, that's not goodbye!" before the real truth sunk in. Fuck. Day ruined. I will watch Beyond the Valley of the Dolls through misty eyes tonight.

Scandyhoovian

@Valley Girl I know. Just two days ago he was telling us about his "leave of presence" and so at first I was like, "no, no, he's just... nooooooo"

crosberg

@Scandyhoovian I almost feel like, without work to force himself to move forward, he sort of...disappeared. Is that weird? I just feel like he was so involved that if he gave himself time to slow down he just couldn't do it anymore.

Lyssachelle

@crosberg GOD, I'll miss him. Movie reviews aside, he was my favorite part of Twitter.

vittoriama

This looks like such a fun@v

Josh is like Germany Ambitious and Misunderstood

Roger Ebert was a great writer and critic and made awful nerds mad.

he will be sorely missed

Scandyhoovian

I am genuinely bummed out. I've always googled "Ebert + [Movie Title]" to see if something was worth seeing in theaters. I loved his writing pre-twitter, but following him on twitter was something entirely in itself. Such a brilliant mind. :(

Mariajoseh

@Scandyhoovian yes! I did that Google thing too!

laurel

Now there's a fellow who faced mortality with grace and courage. And an unusual, valiant openness.

ourlightsinvain

Oh no, this is dreadful. RIP Mr. Ebert--we may not have always seen eye to eye, but I always respected your point-of-view and I've never sought out anyone else's reviews the same way. :( <3

katiemcgillicuddy

@ourlightsinvain I feel the same way, and I always found it to be quite fun to jokingly "yell" at him while reading his reviews that I didn't agree with (Roger! How can you give "Raising Arizona" only 1 1/2 stars! Come on, man!). It was like my delusional brain thought somehow we were having an actual debate. I will miss that.

katiemcgillicuddy

Jeez, 70 is way too young. Seemed like a genuinely lovely man. For those who missed it, Esquire did an absolutely wonderful piece on him a couple years ago that I will link below.

http://www.esquire.com/print-this/roger-ebert-0310

SuperGogo

First Royko, then Studs, now Ebert. Chicago keeps losing its best and brightest writers. *sniff*

HeyThatsMyBike

I'm gutted. This is the second "celebrity" death to make me cry as an adult (Jerry Orbach was the first). As a Chicago-area native, I grew up with an enormous amount of respect for Ebert whether I agreed with every review or not, and I've really loved what he's done with his non-film-related writing for the last few years. I mean, I knew he probably wouldn't live until into his 90s given his battle with health, but this is still a shock.
My heart goes out to Chaz.

camanda

@HeyThatsMyBike Oh, my God, off-topic I know, but Jerry Orbach's death was ridiculously hard on me. It took me ages to get over it. I still miss him.

Heat Signature

@HeyThatsMyBike JERRY ORBACH DIED??? Oh wait, I think I already knew that. Still. Traumatizing all over again.

Amphora

@HeyThatsMyBike It feels like you shouldn't cry at a celebrity death, but this is my third in the past year or so (Etta James, favorite children's book author, now Roger). His was such a powerful voice, even more so after he got sick.

HeyThatsMyBike

@Amphora Yeah, I think the fact that he was so relatable and human makes it really sting. He frequently referred to his fans as his "friends" and really treated them (us) that way. His blog always spoke to me - and his familiar tone really did make him seem like somebody I'd known all my life. He was opinionated and didn't shy away from disagreement, and yet had that rare gift of understanding that a disagreement over things like films or AA or really most things didn't preclude people from being able to be friends. He also admitted it when he really screwed up, which remains unusual amongst the well-known, and is incredibly admirable. So it's ok to cry on this one - he really was a good human being.

HeyThatsMyBike

@camanda And yes. I still miss Jerry. Those ads on the NY subways for several years afterward talking about how he donated his eyes to somebody in NY didn't help (and was it possible to read one of those without looking around the Subway car and wondering whether or not a person with Jerry Orbach's eyes was on your train??).

Myrtle

@HeyThatsMyBike " So it's ok to cry on this one..." beautifully said, and worthy of Mr. Ebert.

elissa_what?

@Amphora Me too; this one got to me. Especially the comforting "leave of presence" that he wrote on his blog. It reads like a goodbye: "The fact that we're re-launching the site now, in the midst of other challenges, should give you an idea how important Rogerebert.com and Ebert Digital are to Chaz and me. I hope you'll stop by, and look for me. I'll be there.

So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."

Definitely sobbing now!

Myrtle

@elissa_what? Went out with his literary boots on. Mr. Ebert, we salute you.

Reginal T. Squirge

This deeply saddens me.

area@twitter

I'm sad to see him go- he seems to have impressed many, many people with his kindness and his joy in his work. I still think he is wrong in declaring video games "not art".

camanda

@area@twitter I have never disagreed with him more than I did on that point -- he is wrong. Stubbornly, misguidedly, generationally-missing-the-point wrong. That's the thing I will always point to when I talk about disagreeing with a critic. But like I said below, it was kind of a wonderful argument, and if nothing else ignited a discussion about video games we weren't having much to that point. (He later published an amendment (Sun-Times link so it's obviously down) where he comes around a bit. Not much, but he is a grumpy old man, and knows it.) In a way it was Ebert as his best -- spectacularly wrong, sure, but it contributed to the culture and helped it evolve. That's my take on that.

HeyThatsMyBike

@camanda He also welcomed hearing the argument from the other side, which is a rare trait these days.

Danzig!

@camanda I found his arguments pretty compelling, personally, but I've always been chafed by vidja game culture warriors. Cliffy B posted a tweet essentially sort of saying that Ebert's death was apropos given the release of Serious Art Game Bioshock: Infinite,* and he was rightly pilloried for it.

*a great game, a fantastic sci-fi pulp adventure, and absolute visual poetry at many points, but there are good arguments to be made against it

area@twitter

@Danzig! Oh Lord, that is disgusting. Shame on him.

Heat Signature

I wonder how his wife is doing? I remember seeing an interview with him and being so impressed by how much they loved each other.

Emby

I am mad at the universe. Here was a man who uplifted me every time I read his work, who lifted up his own craft to the level of art when so many others have settled for good-enough.

cosmia

This is extremely saddening. I dislike having to say goodbye to one of the major influences on my choice to study film in university, which was immensely fulfilling in an emotional way if not a career-way. What an amazing insightful badass.

Amphora

Who else grew up religiously watching At The Movies every Friday night with their parents? Part of me is still made at him and Siskel for panning Balto.

Diana

I think I might cry about this one. I loved Roger Ebert so much. His blog was beautiful. Last month I shared this on my Facebook, and I think this is the right time for everybody to revisit it: http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2013/02/what_was_my_aunt_martha_trying.html

Vera Knoop

Oh, this is so sad.

yeah-elle

Wow, this is so sad. He will be missed. I didn't always agree with him, but wow, he was practically an institution in his own right, and always seemed to strive to new levels of earnest writing, which I respect immensely.

Blushingflwr

It is very sad, and it is too soon, but he is also inspirational. Here is a man who did what he loved, did it extremely well, and lived his life well enough to be loved by those who knew him and those who had never met him. There are worse things in the world than to live in such a way so as to have your death inspire strangers to weep.

lucy snowe

Have you guys seen this?
It's fun to remember him having fun, in his prime.

Let's see if I can embed it...

http://youtu.be/xUMZjy8rXE4

(Guess not. )

RIP, Roger.

Mingus_Thurber

He once tweeted a blog entry I'd written, about what I can't remember, after I sent him an email congratulating him on a new prosthetic he'd gotten. He then went out of his way to send, unsolicited, multiple emails to a friend of mine who'd recently lost her husband to cancer.

He was just as kind to me, checking in now and again. He had all that stuff going on, and still bothered to remember people he had never met.

I was going to email him the day that I read that he was going to do what he wanted to do from here on out. . .and then, the next day, I heard he had died.

Godspeed, Roger. Thank you for taking the time to chat, and to encourage my pal Sarah, and for generally being a hell of a guy.

lucy snowe

@Mingus_Thurber It's good to hear your experiences. He sounds like a warm, genuinely kind man.

I've been feeling a lot of regret for the fact that I didn't know much about his recent life, his health struggles, his beautiful blog.

I feel like I only really just met him, and he's gone.

But all this writing remains. I can still get to know him.
All sorts of ways of getting to live beyond the grave.

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