Roger Ebert died today.
I was never a big Ebert guy; I always preferred Pauline Kael and, later, J. Hoberman. But Ebert easily won my respect, especially in the last few years. Since this site is about reviewing movies, Ebert is relevant to me by definition.
I can remember watching Sneak Previews on PBS starting when I was about 11 — it was the only TV show around that actually reviewed movies, and that was always very enthralling to me. For some reason I always remember Siskel and Ebert reviewing this talky Jon Voight movie Table for Five as the kind of thing nobody else on TV was interested in doing. I think I preferred Siskel somewhat, but I liked them both. I liked it when they agreed, and I liked it when they disagreed. I appreciated that you could watch, on TV, two men who were clearly experts in their field engaging in an impassioned debate about their area of expertise. The ratio of substance to bullshit was always pleasingly high — and not always easy to find on TV, then or now.
Ebert’s reviews have the great virtue of being to the point, unfussy, clear, and engaging. Ebert understood his own preferences so deeply that Continue reading