Ebert Gone

Roger Ebert has died. As you can probably guess, I didn’t see eye to eye with Ebert on politics. In fact, the first post I ever did for the old Moorewatch site was a rebuttal of many of the things Ebert said in his Sicko! review.

But as a film critic, I thought he was great. From my “Ebert is wrong post” (which has some language I’m not proud of, but won’t flush down the memory hole):

Roger Ebert is one of the great film critics (check out the insight of the last two paragraphs of today’s review). There are very few who can get a general audience excited about art films and Ebert is one of them. He’s never been a kaffeeklatsch critic who just wants to sit around with other critics and discuss Citizen Kane. He wants everyone to be excited about great film. He’s turned me on to a number of great films, notably Grave of the Fireflies.

Grave of the Fireflies, by the way, if you are ever feeling too happy and want to feel awful for a couple of days. It is a great film. And like many great films — United 93, for example — I can only watch it every few years.)

One of my favorite Ebert reviews was one I disagreed with. He wrote a long review of Return of the King justifying his three-star rating and explaining why he thought it was good but not what it could have been (I can’t link right now as the Sun Times server is flooded). I didn’t agree with him but I saw his argument and respected his opinion. I love articles that make me think and make me say, “I think you’re wrong, but you make a good argument.”

What was really fun was when Ebert would return to a movie and re-evaluate it. He liked The Big Lebowski, but later added it to his Great Movies list. The same with Planes, Trains and Automobiles. There are probably a dozen movies I would place an all-time great list that I wouldn’t have seen had Ebert not flogged them.

He wrote thousands of reviews, multiple books and a well-trafficked blog that touched on everything including politics. Roger Ebert loved movies and his love was infectious. He was a gifted writer, a gifted critic and a critical voice in understanding film over five decades. RIP.

Friday Five: SciFi/Fantasy

I’m liking these Friday Five threads. If nothing else, they allow for a little more fun and sunshine in a frustrating political time. We can argue tooth and claw on one thread about foreign policy and then join together in, say, our hatred of Battlefield Earth.

Today’s is top science-fiction or fantasy films. Broad swathe but only films, not TV series. You can lump series together, as I have, or consider them as separate films, as pleases you. I wrote a very long post on this for my own site, so I’ll just summarize here:

2001: As much out of respect as anything else. It’s one of the few that I would classify as a great “feeeelm”.

The Lord of the Rings: Yeah. The trailer for the Hobbit looks good. I’m still not seeing three movies, but the trailer looks good.

The Star Wars Trilogy: Empire is what elevates this one to the top three.

Pan’s Labyrinth: Wonderfully visionary and I always find something in my eye in the final scene.

The Harry Potter Series: Amazing what you can do with good writing and acting, isn’t it? more here for the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.

You can read the long post for any honorable mentions.

What are your five?