Just yesterday I was reading Roger Ebert’s latest blog post, about some new projects, some in-progress developments…and about his recurring cancer. He was scaling back, taking what he called “a leave of presence” while tackling his illness yet again. Today, he passed away.
My love of movies has been lifelong, fueled quite handily by the minds of Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. Every week I would watch them on television, discussing the movies of the day and arguing over their value. From early on, I learned that it wasn’t enough for a movie to look good, or sound good, or have the newest, hottest leading man or lady. A good movie had to make you think, make you feel, just plain Do More than be out there to entertain you. It’s because of Roger Ebert that I generally eschew movies like Scary Movie 147 or The Next Terminator, and why I usually think “unplanned” sequels are a huge waste of time and film. But it’s because of the banter and discussion between Siskel and Ebert that I didn’t push myself completely toward the realm of snobbery, as frequently either one of them could be found to admit that even though production quality was substandard or the acting was awful in some places, something about that movie made them feel something, made them think about something in a completely different way. And so if only for that reason, the movie got a “thumbs up”, even if grudgingly.
I’ll admit, I started this blog with the idea in the back of my mind that someday I might have material decent enough to want to share with Roger Ebert. The dream would have been to become a part of his increasing legion of critics whose reviews augmented his own collection in various media outlets, although to have even been acknowledged as “decent” would have been wonderful. Fortunately for me, I enjoy this pursuit enough on its own to continue it at my ridiculously sporadic pace. I love experiencing movies. I love thinking about movies. I love discussing movies. Maybe someday I’ll even write a script of my own. The bottom line is, I write on this blog because I can–and I appreciate how freeing it was for Mr. Ebert to continue to write even when he lost the ability to speak. This blog may end up being the only voice I have on this subject, and that’s okay. I love doing this, and I’m so thankful to Roger Ebert for showing me by his example that it could even be done.
Rest in peace, Mr. Ebert. You were one of a kind.