Film critic and icon Roger Ebert has passed away
UPDATE: You can read JoBlo's personal tribute to Roger Ebert right HERE.
Today is a sad day for the film world as legendary film critic and cinema icon Roger Ebert has passed away at the age of 70 after a long battle with cancer. Ebert recently announced he was taking a "leave of presence" from his duties at the Chicago Sun-Times. There are not enough words to explain what the man has meant to the world of movies. His deep love of film has impacted movie fans such as myself since I was little. There are not many people in this world who have not heard the phrase "two thumbs up" but I am not sure how many in the current generation of young people realizes where it originated. As a writer for a movie website, I often think back to the moments in my movie memory that helped me become the fan I am today. Roger Ebert was integral to that.
Living in the Chicago area, I gained a special kind of respect for Ebert and even saw him in the city prior to his cancer that took his lower jaw. I had spent many an evening in the Gene Siskel Film Center during my college days watching all sorts of films I never would have gotten a chance to experience at a regular movie theater. Ebert took film criticism to a different level in the 1980s and 1990s that many of us take for granted in this Internet-fueled age. But, realize that we would not exist if it were not for critics like Ebert.
Ebert wrote about movies from both the perspective of a studied film student as well as a movie fan. Having won the Pulitzer Prize for his work writing about movies, the man was no fool. Like any critic, his opinion was his own and he never insinuated that his perspective was absolute. The guy was a class act. My favorite quote of his is this:
If a movie is really working, you forget for two hours your Social Security number and where your car is parked. You are having a vicarious experience. You are identifying, in one way or another, with the people on the screen.
Roger Ebert was a film critic, but he was also a film writer, having penned the screenplay for Russ Meyer's BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. He was a teacher and held an annual film festival in his hometown of Urbana, Illinois. He was never afraid to be honest with his criticism and never shied away from saying things that other critics would avoid. He was an inspiration to everyone behind the camera, in front of the camera, and on the media end of the world of film.
Roger Ebert can now join his long time friend, Gene Siskel, and watch movies for eternity. Two thumbs up, Roger.
When you ask a friend if Hellboy is any good, you're not asking if it's any good compared to Mystic River, you're asking if it's any good compared to The Punisher. And my answer would be, on a scale of one to four, if Superman is four, then Hellboy is three and The Punisher is two. In the same way, if American Beauty gets four stars, then The United States of Leland clocks in at about two." - Roger Ebert