Fans of film journalism will love this documentary about the noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert, although the movie is just as much about his battle with the cancer that took his life in 2013. It's a lively, fast-paced doc, but even at two hours it feels oddly truncated as the two topics seem to fight for screen time. Fortunately both are potent: the story of Roger's love of cinema and the footage of his astoundingly cheerful refusal to let illness get him down.
Based around Roger's eponymous autobiography, the film quickly traces his background as a film lover who rose through the ranks at the Chicago Sun-Times to become an unusually resonant film reviewer, able to express opinions and even high-minded cinematic observations in ways that were never cynical or snobbish. He found national (and even global) fame through his TV programmes opposite rival Chicago critic Gene Siskel, which began in 1978 and standardised their "thumbs up"/"thumbs down" verdicts. At age 50, Roger met his wife Chaz at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and her children and grandchildren became his. In 2002, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and underwent a series of surgeries that by 2006 made it impossible for him to speak. But he carried on writing reviews and making public appearances (speaking through his computer) until his death.
Filmmaker Steve James had startling access to Roger during the final year of his life, following him to hospitals and rehabilitation centres. Looking at his cancer-ravaged face is difficult at first, but Roger's smiling eyes and constant joking reinforces his optimistic, matter-of-fact approach to life. And he keeps reminding James that this documentary has to show everything, never flinching away from the truth. As a result, the film is a remarkably intimate look at how Roger and Chaz faced the illness and made difficult decisions along the way. This adds an emotional layer to the documentary that's remarkably moving, putting Roger's work into the context of his life and death.
Continue reading: Life Itself Review
He was well known for an extraordinary turn of phrase he made during a press conference in 2002, but former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld did not impress everyone. Following the harrowing 9/11 attacks in 2001, Rumsfeld drew criticism from all across the America for becoming one of the key figures in enforcing the both the war in Iraq which began in 2003 and ended in 2011, and the war in Afghanistan which started less than a month after 9/11. It is often wondered whether or not Rumsfeld would've become President of the United States had Ronald Reagan enlisted him as Vice President over George W. Bush. Either way, Rumsfeld changed attitudes with his notion of 'known knowns', 'unknown unknowns' and, of course, 'unknown knowns'.
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In the early 1970's, drama student and former Miss Wyoming Joyce McKinney met 19 year-old Kirk Anderson at Brigham Young University, Utah. They embarked on a relationship but some time later, Kirk fled Utah and in her words, 'vanished', after finding out that Joyce had miscarried. But she didn't give up so easily; she hired private investigators to look for him, where they eventually found him living in England.
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Fans of film journalism will love this documentary about the noted Chicago critic Roger Ebert,...
He was well known for an extraordinary turn of phrase he made during a press...