Life Itself



Film critic Roger Ebert lives again in this part documentary part biography about the life of a man who forever changed the film critic career. First of all, i am not a fan of Ebert’s for unjust things he did while giving his reviews for a couple of films on television for the whole world to see. What he did wasn’t important, but it’s just proof that sometimes we as film critics can go over the line when it comes to hating a movie. I am not foolish for even a second though when it comes to giving respect where it’s due. If it wasn’t for him, i am not sure i would even know or care what a film critic was by the age of 15. Along with his partner Gene Siskel, Ebert became big after winning the pulitzer prize for his work in the Chicago Sun Newspaper and going mainstream with the duo’s TV show. What i really liked about this documentary is a couple of things that you won’t always get from most biographies. For one, the story is told in the present during the final days of Roger Ebert’s life. He pushed through a lot of painful days after losing his jaw and facing several surgeries for Thyroid Cancer. This film by director Steve James is a view from a fan’s perspective. That could usually get old quick, but James spares no expense at the hands of his idol by telling the viewers the whole story. Ebert was at times an ego shovanist who would pout until he got his way at a lot in his life. They also show the outtakes of the pure rivalry between he and Siskel, and those clips alone are worth giving this film a look. I can always look at a biography about a deceased person with interest, but i think it takes a lot more guts to give the whole story even when that person is gone. I also dig how the film will show a clip of a movie he reviewed and then show in text his exact words towards that film. It gives viewers some insight on the films he likes and dislikes and explains to you why. I also learned a lot myself that i didn’t know to begin with including his marriage to a black woman and being welcome into a black family. It was cool to get that perspective from his wife, Chaz and hearing the opinions from the point of view of her family. Ebert served as the first positive white influence for not only Chaz, but her sisters as well. Life Itself is the title of Ebert’s autobiography, and that’s appopriate because the film has on screen chapter wording that take quotes directly from his book. One of those quotes and the sole reason for naming it Life Itself is because he always felt that he was the director, writer and star of the film that was his life. He said he never knew how he got casted for such a big role, but it was the perfect one for him. Life Itself certainly opens up my perspectives about the huge influence he had on not only his readers, but Hollywood elite. Sit down interviews are given by Martin Scorcese, Werner Herzog and Rahmin Bahrani. They paint the picture of a 1960’s film reviewer who was always ahead of his time describing the emotions that he felt when he reviewed a motion picture. Herzog even dedicated one of his films to Ebert’s memory. This is funny because there were numerous times when Ebert openly trashed Herzog as a director, but somehow the two were good friends. Scorsese even states that Ebert knew him better as a director than Martin even knew himself. As if you can’t tell, i definitely recommend this film to not only fans of Ebert but fans of film in general. I think there is a story here that needs to be heard about standing by principles when the big money comes knocking, and appreciating what you have before it’s gone. Life Itself doesn’t just focus on a man’s career. It is a full circle portrait of the way Roger Ebert lived his life, with thumbs up.

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