The film world remembers its most famous critic
It’s not often actors and film directors combine to praise a film critic. But – such was his influence to cinema – it’s hard to find a bad word for Roger Ebert, who passed away on Thursday following an announcement that he was re-battling cancer.
Ebert was famed for many things; his honest, unflinching approach to film reviewing; his thumbs up, thumbs down gesture; becoming the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize. "Roger was the movies,” said Obamba of Ebert. “When he didn't like a film, he was honest; when he did, he was effusive – capturing the unique power of the movies to take us somewhere magical. Even amid his own battles with cancer, Roger was as productive as he was resilient – continuing to share his passion and perspective with the world. The movies won't be the same without Roger, and our thoughts and prayers are with Chaz [Ebert's wife] and the rest of the Ebert family."
Ebert and that trademark smile
Perhaps the best way to pay tribute to a man like Roger Ebert, is to remember some of his best work. His reviews were often as funny as they were accurate, and this continued into the realms of modern cinema. "Sitting through this experience is like driving a tractor in low gear though a sullen sea of Brylcreem," he wrote of Twilight – New Moon. On North, he said: "I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it...Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it." This style of reviewing – new at the time but now commonplace amongst satirical blogs and modern writers – carved Ebert a niche, and he was loved for it.
Richard Roeper, who co-hosted At the Movies with Ebert for eight years, opened up on his last days. "When you'd leave him, he'd give you a thumbs up," says Roeper. "It was more like a carry on thing. It was business as usual. You wouldn't walk out of the hospital room feeling depressed. You'd walk out of there thinking I wish I had half the enthusiasm that Roger does. He was human like the rest of us, there were moments when things were very tough," adds the former host. "But when I saw him at the hospital or a home, there was nothing but passion and enthusiasm."