Friday, April 5, 2013

Roger Ebert (1942-2013)

My brother and I were somewhere in Ohio on the last leg of our drive from Seattle to Baltimore when my good friend Mister Muleboy texted me with the sad news that film critic Roger Ebert had passed away.

"My favorite critic," I wrote back. "Great influence. Last of his kind. He will be missed."

All of which is true. Many people have already offered up their memories and appreciation of the man and his work, and I can't add much to it. I will say I think what I liked best about Ebert is that he so obviously loved movies, loved people, loved life. His joyful passion came through every word he ever wrote or spoke.

You'd think that first trait—loving movies—would be a prerequisite for a film critic, but if you read enough writing about movies, you know it's not. Indeed, some critics (professional and otherwise) are so soured on the subject, you'd think they were writing at gunpoint.

Not Ebert. I get the impression that at the end of a long day of previewing movies for the Chicago Sun-Times, he relaxed by watching another movie, probably in the company of someone who liked talking about movies. His enthusiasm couldn't help but rub off on you.

And when I say he was the last of his kind, I mean that when a few years ago illness first forced him to take a long break from reviewing movies, I realized there was no single, unifying voice out there waiting to take his place. There'll be plenty of movie reviews written without him, but never again, I think, will there be a single starting place when it comes time to read them. He was the touchstone for a generation of movie fans.

I will miss him and I know I am not alone.

No comments: