I grew up watching Roger Ebert’s movie reviews on the PBS series, “Sneak Previews”. He and his co-host Gene Siskel would always give lively critiques on movies, some of which could be pretty heated.
Ebert’s writings were fair and honest, not stuffy and pompous as I found with other film critics. One critic, Paulene Kael was unforgivably harsh on films now considered a classics. Writing for the New Yorker, Kael stated in her 1977 review of the blockbuster “Star Wars”, she replied, “there’s no breather in the picture, no lyricism”, and that it had no “emotional grip”.
Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Ebert called the film “an out-of-body experience”, compared its special effects to those of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and opined that the true strength of the film was its “pure narrative”.
Ebert talked more about film critique in an interview in 1997.
Overall, I found myself agreeing with Ebert about 90% percent of the time, as opposed to Siskel. I knew if there was a movie Ebert hated, I knew enough not to waste my dollars on the film. His writing herald enough to be honored with a Pulitzer Prize for film critique writing.
On his final blog post, Ebert wrote that he was scaling back his daily film reviews. But in reality, he saw his own mortality. Ebert ended with this final passage, “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.”
With his passing, I’m not sure what to do now that my most reliable film critic has passed on.
The Balcony in the movie theatre has closed…forever.