Life Itself 2014 R CC

Amazon Instant Video

Available in HD
(141) IMDb 7.9/10
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A documentary that recounts the inspiring and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic Roger Ebert. It's personal, funny, painful, and transcendent. From his Pulitzer-prize winning criticisms to becoming an influential voice in America.

Martin Scorsese, Roger Ebert
1 hour, 55 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

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Product Details

Genres Documentary
Director Steve James
Starring Martin Scorsese, Roger Ebert
Supporting actors Werner Herzog, Ava DuVernay, Errol Morris, Ramin Bahrani, Gene Siskel, Stephen Stanton, Chaz Ebert, Steve James, Gregory Nava, Marlene Siskel, William Nack, A.O. Scott, Jonathan Rosenbaum, Sonia Evans, Nancy De Los Santos, Josh Golden, Donna La Pietra, Richard Corliss
Studio Magnolia
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 48 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Travis Hopson on July 4, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
You're going to read a lot of reviews about the Roger Ebert documentary, Life Itself, and most of them will be very personal, more personal than reviews tend to be and for very good reason. To many of us, Roger Ebert was the patron saint of film criticism. He was the inspiration for doing what we do; helping to instill in us a love of movies that was evident every single time he wrote or spoke about cinema. And this was before the age of the Internet, a time when we got our news from *gasp* newspapers or on a handful of television channels. Ebert was a giant, and Life Itself is a giant of a film.

Steve James, whose incredible documentary Hoop Dreams was championed by Ebert, took on the project while Ebert was still very much an active presence. It would be some time later during production that Ebert's hard-fought battle with cancer would claim his life, just as it had claimed his power of speech some time back. But James does not make this a story about the man's passing, although we are taken through the heartbreaking ups 'n downs of his final weeks. This is a look back at the life of a man emboldened by an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and an undying gift for communication. Ebert made film criticism personable without speaking down to his audience; he respected them too much for that. It was an attitude he learned while fighting for that same respect in the pits of his college newspaper, the Fighting Illini, penning volatile, politically-charged editorials that stirred the mind. What shines through is his intelligence on any number of subjects, whether its politics, sports, and of course, film. Much of Ebert's story is told by the man himself, in his own voice before the cancer took his jaw.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By VINE VOICE on July 25, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
I have watched “Siskel & Ebert” for years. From their days on PBS, when they had more time and went into more detail about each film, to their show’s incarnation in television syndication, when the reviews got a little shorter, the banter was a little less acidic to make more room for commercials. Then Gene Siskel died. I was a little shaken up, because I had watched this guy for years. I felt like I knew a little bit about him, that he was a friend I could trust. But Roger carried on eventually settling on Richard Roeper as a co-host. Roeper was no Siskel, but at least I still got to see Ebert give thoughtful, insightful reviews. Then Ebert got sick and eventually Roeper was left with a series of co-hosts, while they waited for Ebert to recover and get better.

My years watching “Siskel & Ebert” provided an early, lasting influence on my love for films and their reviews helped me discover many films I probably would not have otherwise known about without their input. Their love for film, and my admiration for both, helped me to start writing reviews and led me to try to get my voice heard. I feel a closer kinship to Mr. Ebert - he and I are very similar in many ways and his work has continued for many years beyond the death of Gene Siskel. Because of my feelings of admiration for Mr. Ebert, I was eager and reluctant to watch “Life Itself”, because I knew before-hand that it covered Roger’s death.

Ebert recovered from the surgery, to a certain extent, but the damage of the disease left him ravaged and ended his television career. The thyroid cancer and resulting surgeries and complications left him unable to speak or eat and his facial expressions became difficult for many, including me, to watch.
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43 of 55 people found the following review helpful By drollere on July 9, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video Verified Purchase
i'll preface my lukewarm review by saying a man is not a movie, and it is necessary to set aside the man in order to review the movie. one can ask: what would ebert himself have said about this film?

this story falls into two distinct parts. the documentary part concerns the life and times of roger ebert, boy journalist, adult editor and larger than life, groundbreaking movie critic and television personality. this is interesting as biography and as a historical look at journalism in the days before media empires made newspapers obsolete and cable channels made broadcast television irrelevant. compiled from archive materials and latter day interviews, all this material is fascinating and enlightening.

the travails part of the film is entirely focused on ebert's disfiguring, debilitating and agonizing medical troubles, including close ups of painful medical procedures and the terrible deformities that had to be accepted as the price of "affirming life". this is absolutely a necessary part of the ebert story and ebert was courageous to permit the extensive filming.

it's unfortunate that these two parts don't work together. part of the problem is incredibly indulgent editing (i could predict during the movie that director james was also an editor) that makes this film about 30 minutes too long and makes the life appear almost secondary to its end. but part of the problem is omission: ebert is healthy, then he is sick; he's a TV personality, then he's a blogger. by jumping back and forth between present and past, and focusing far too much on the gruesome present, we jump over the crucial transition. the two years between ebert's cancer diagnosis and his public announcement that he was "a sick man" is a blank; "ebert and roeper" is ignored.
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