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What's up with Roger Ebert?


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Initial post: Dec 27, 2012 8:34:16 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 27, 2012 8:36:40 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
I've been reading Ebert's movie reviews since the early 80s, buying every one his yearly review compilations. I just visited his website for the first time in a bit and noticed something different about his reviews there. They are shorter than they gave been historically.

I doubt Ebert has less to say about contemporary films than he has those of even the recent past, so I wonder what's going on here? Are the reviews posted on the website edited for length from their original size, which, presumably we will get to read when they are published in next year's compilation?

If, on the other hand, these are the original reviews and Roger has decided to cut his word count, I am a bit disappointed. Moreover, I noticed that I didn't get as much sense from the reviews I read of what
Ebert really thinks about the movies. There were no discussions of directors, or photography, just an idea of what the film was about and some mention of the actors.

Curious. I hope it's not because of health issues. Ebert is a national treasure for film fans and it's way too soon for him to lay down his pen.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012 9:14:34 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 27, 2012 9:17:28 AM PST
Hikari says:
@Cav
I think, sadly, yes, Roger's current brevity in reviewing is due to his health issues. He has admitted he does not have the energy he once did and has had to cut way down on the number of new films he can sit through and the amount of time spent writing. He's still active doing work for various film-related projects--he's got some kind of institute, doesn't he, that he heads up? And he is still planning new books. He has to marshall his resources now that he is subsisting from a tube, and I think his website is largely run by interns.

He is a national treasure, and I have usually enjoyed his writing and wit even when I have disagreed with his politics. Watching "Siskel & Ebert" used to be a highlight of my week. Considering that what he's been through would have probably felled most men, we are blessed to still have him among us. I wish him many more years, but enjoying Roger at reduced output will be the accomodation we all have to make.

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 9:50:28 AM PST
Cavaradossi says:
Hikari

Thanks for the explanation. I'm sorry to hear it but not really surprised. I, too, hope he has many years ahead of him to share his love of movies with us.

Another thing I like about Roger Ebert is his admirable intention to keep the memory of his friend and colleague, Gene Siskel, alive, a devotion touching in its loyalty. I would suspect that sort of thing is as rare in Ebert's profession as it is in the Hollywood business he covers.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012 11:39:58 AM PST
Hikari says:
The thing that made the Siskel & Ebert show such a delight to watch was the Frick and Frack, Mutt and Jeff dynamic of what appeared to be polar opposite temperaments who happened to choose the same profession. I don't know if Roger and Gene were really that diametrically opposed in personality, but they were certainly wildly divergent in their physical packaging. (Roger used to be chubby. I wish we could have him chubby again.) Either by accident or something of design, they so often seemed to take opposing viewpoints when it came to rating the films they both saw. Even if they were in agreement about Thumbs Up! or Down! they often fixated on different things to love or hate about a movie. I thought of Gene Siskel as more the New York film intelligentsia/intellectual and Roger seemed to be more of a jovial heartland Everyman of film. These were their personas on camera anyway--I was in high school when I first started watching their program and wasn't familiar with Roger's written reviews until later. But I'd be on the edge of my seat during their show waiting for them to get into one of their arguments over a movie--was it going to be good-natured ribbing this week, or would it be a more contentious sort where the combatants were getting visibly perturbed with each other? Despite healthy egos on both sides of the aisle, I felt that this working relationship did verge into a real regard for one another. Though their friendship did not extend to Ebert finding out any earlier than anyone else did about his colleague's illness. I miss Gene, and have never been able to bond with this Roeper guy. Hope Ebert keeps plugging for a long time yet, but it is sad to think of where we have been vs. now.

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 11:55:25 AM PST
vivazappa says:
Siskel always liked the odd movie and when I saw them I would agree with him...RIP Gene!

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 12:13:47 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
Hikari

Yes, Siskel & Ebert were a weekly ritual with me, too. I think Roeper probably did as well as could be expected under the circumstances, but I never was never truly won over either.

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 12:52:01 PM PST
W.T. says:
Ebert has been more rigid and even bitter in some of his reviews over the last few years. I wonder if that means he's in pain and that's making him shorter-tempered? He used to be kind of a cut-up. Now he's been getting into juvenile twitter wars and silly stuff like that....

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2012 7:32:10 PM PST
D. Larson says:
I can't speak to his twittering, since I ignore all things twit, but it seems to me that Ebert's reviews have gotten softer, not more bitter. He gives three and four stars to stuff that a mean critic would cut off a a star, star and a half. He seems willing to let junk slip by on the merits of "meaning well" or being nicely photographed.

Anyway, I've valued Ebert's reviews over the years because his middle-brow tastes agree with mine more often than not. And, I've got each and every one of his yearbooks lined up on my shelves. They've often steered me to obscure titles at the video store .

Posted on Dec 27, 2012 7:34:46 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Dec 31, 2012 8:08:29 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 28, 2012 5:38:44 AM PST
W.T. says:
What I mean is, Ebert has gotten so that if anyone dares to challenge him on a review, he turns downright hateful in his response to it. He used to enjoy good-natured debate back in the old days. Now his response to anyone countering his view is just, well, bitter.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2012 10:13:04 PM PST
Balok says:
@Bill:

> Now his response to anyone countering his view is just, well, bitter.

Then maybe it's a good thing that I never pointed out to him that in the essay about _The Bank Dick_ on his website, he misspells Egbert Sousè's name (he spells it Sousé with an accent ague instead of with an accent grave).

Posted on Dec 31, 2012 8:09:56 PM PST
Georgedc says:
Ebert has turned bitter and easily butthurt by adult subjects.

He's no longer any good at reviewing modern films of the last 10 years.

Posted on Dec 31, 2012 10:36:00 PM PST
Cavaradossi says:
I don't follow anyone's twittering, so I have no idea about that aspect of Ebert's writing, but I don't see in his reviews this bitterness you guys are talking about.

Posted on Jan 1, 2013 5:48:08 AM PST
stevign says:
One thing I always noticed about the two was Siskle was more forgiving of sentimentality than Ebert. On that I side with Siskle.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2013 5:57:18 AM PST
stevign says:
It never looked to me like Ebert enjoyed someone disagreeing with him very much. He may have liked Siskle personally, perhaps even respected him, but it always seemed like in his mind he was being saddled with a partner in order to get a TV series. If given the option, I bet Ebert would have preferred to go it alone. In short, Ebert's ego was much larger than Siskle's.
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Discussion in:  Movie forum
Participants:  8
Total posts:  15
Initial post:  Dec 27, 2012
Latest post:  Jan 1, 2013

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