Growing up in St. Louis, my Mother, brother and I would watch Siskel and Ebert eagerly awaiting to see which films would get the "thumbs up" or "thumbs down". What was even more entertaining was when the two disagreed on how whether a film was work going to see or if it was a real stinker. I have to give it to them...they were like dogs with the last bit of meat left on the bone...not giving up without a real good fight to the finish.
However, what I most miss about Roger Ebert is that acerbic wit conveyed through the written word to those of use who loved the movies and no one loved them more than Roger Ebert. Let it be duly noted that Ebert is the "only" film critic to ever receive a Pulitzer Prize, a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times for decades and discovered before any of us, the impact of blogging and how that technological advancement in media would change how movies are talked about, streamed and promoted forever.
Roger Ebert is the main reason I decided to review films via blogging. Unsurprisingly, most film bloggers and/or reviewers are mostly middle-aged white men. There are less than 5% of women that are reviewers and an even a less percentage of those are of ethnic backgrounds. So, this little girl from St. Louis decided it was time to put that B.A. from Howard University in Communications to good use and set an example for others the same way Roger Ebert set one for me.
Life Itself, based on Ebert's bestselling memoir, is a colorful love letter to a funny, painful, transcendant life that was bigger than the movies he reviewed. Roger Ebert was a loving husband, friend, adversary and journalist who became one of the most influential cultural voices in American Cinema.
He better half, Chaz Ebert is a woman whose backbone is stronger than either one of them could have ever imagined. "No" is not in her vocabulary ...nor was it ever an option for her when it came to Roger. The universe always knows who is right for you at the right time in the right place and in the right space. Chaz and Roger Ebert were magical and powerful together. Chaz continues the legacy of Roger to keep his voice as poignant now as it was when he was here with us in the physical realm through his website www.rogerebert.com, where you can find his blog posts and reviews from his various colleagues.
In the words of the legendary critic, Pauline Kael, Roger Ebert was an Urbana, Illinois "soldier of cinema", who loved Dave Brubeck, old bookstores, old diners, attended Cannes Film Festival often over the years despite flunking French five times in school, inspired a whole new generation of filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Ava DuVernay...but most of all Robert Ebert loved the movies.
I'll let Roger have the final words for this post as he prolifically says it best in his last online journal entry...A Leave of Presence
R.I.P. Roger Ebert...I will always love you and be grateful for planting the seed with me as a young girl to appreciate the love of film through the eyes you and my Mother. Here's hoping you and Gene Siskel are somewhere in the universe duking it out one last time:)