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TinyRedLeaf 2013-04-04 18:12

Roger Ebert, film critic, dies at 70
Farewell Ebert, and thumbs up for the insights

Chicago (April 4, Thu): Roger Ebert, 70, who reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years and on TV for 31 years, and who was without question the nation's most prominent and influential film critic, died on Thursday in Chicago. He had been in poor health over the past decade, battling cancers of the thyroid and salivary gland.

For a film with a daring director, a talented cast, a captivating plot or, ideally, all three, there could be no better advocate than Ebert, who passionately celebrated and promoted excellence in film while deflating the awful, the derivative, or the merely mediocre with an observant eye, a sharp wit and a depth of knowledge that delighted his millions of readers and viewers.

Along with his fellow reviewer and sometime sparring partner, Gene Siskel, he could lift or sink the fortunes of a movie with his trademark thumbs up or thumbs down on their popular TV show, At the Movies.

"No good film is too long," Ebert once wrote, a sentiment he felt strongly enough about to have engraved on pens. "No bad movie is short enough."

He believed that a great film should seem new at every watching, adding that he had seen Citizen Kane, his favourite, scores of times. His credo in judging a film's value was simple: "Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions never lie to you."

He lost part of his lower jaw in 2006, and with it the ability to speak or eat, a calamity that would have driven other men from the public eye. But he refused to hide, instead forging what became a new chapter in his career, an extraordinary chronicle of his devastating illness that won him a new generation of admirers.

On Tuesday, Ebert blogged that he had suffered a recurrence of cancer following a hip fracture suffered in December, and added that he would be taking "a leave of presence". In the blog essay marking his 46th anniversary of becoming the Sun-Times film critic, he wrote: "I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers hand-picked and greatly admired by me."

Ebert graduated in 1964 as a journalism major from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was editor of The Daily Illini. He also served as president of the United States Student Press Association.

He did graduate study in English at the University of Cape Town under a Rotary International Fellowship. He then became a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Chicago, but left to become a feature writer at the Sun-Times.

Though his knowledge of film was limited, he was named the paper’s first movie critic in 1967, when he was 24. Newspapers at the time wanted young film critics to speak to the young audiences being attracted to movies likeThe Graduate and Bonnie and Clydeas well as New Wave films by French directors like Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard.


KiraYamatoFan 2013-04-04 18:37

Really sad news. To me, he's the best there was and the best there is of a film critic. :(


Archon_Wing 2013-04-04 18:37

Didn't expect that to come so soon. Sad indeed.

Obelisk ze Tormentor 2013-04-04 19:13

Even though, in some cases, I disagree with his view (like his insistence that we shouldn’t invest in “soulless” (eg. robot) MCs like the one in Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence), there’s no denying that he really knew which movies are good, mediocre, or bad. His reviews are ones that can give insight to the young generation about some truly great movies out there. It’s such a huge loss and he will be missed. Man, I missed his movie reviews already.

JagdPanther 2013-04-04 19:56

Definitely sad news. I didn't always agree with his reviews, but I always read his review for any movie I saw. I really appreciated his insight and often if I disliked or liked a particular part of a movie I found his review to say something about it and I would agree with it. He was one of the best in the business and he will be missed.

james0246 2013-04-04 20:45

I had actually met Ebert a dozen or so times over the past 15 years (parties, festivals and film series, and one class :)), and while I can't claim to have known the man, any time I managed to see him or speak with him was always fun. He even remembered a discussion we had concerning Lindsay Anderson...though he initially attributed the discussion to someone else (which is still pretty damn cool). I'll miss his reviews and I'll miss the man.

p.s. Ebert has a memoir (Life Itself) that he wrote shortly after his previous bout with cancer. It's a decent read and has some interesting insights on film and life and how they react and interact with each other.

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