Roger Ebert – A Film Critic With Poet’s Heart


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           APRIL 11 , 2013           04.35 P.M.

Roger Ebert Memorial Portrait

Roger Ebert Memorial Portrait (Photo credit: faithmouse)

Roger Ebert , the renowned US film critic and TV anchor , who was almost as famous as many of the Hollywood stars , died on April 04 , 2013 aged 70. It is sad that I got introduced to his world very late in my life . I am thankful to internet that I could know him intimately through his blogs , his twitter-handle and his hugely popular columns in newspapers . Now I do follow him on twitter but it all started recently . It all began just now .

Roger Ebert, american film critic.

Roger Ebert, American Film Critic. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roger Joseph Ebert

June 18, 1942 – April 4, 2013

” No good film is too long and no bad movie is short enough ”.

Roger Ebert was an American journalist, film critic, and screenwriter . He was a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death . In 1975, he was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, an award given to newspaper writers . As of 2010, his reviews were syndicated to more than 200 newspapers in the United States and abroad . Ebert also published more than 20 books and dozens of collections of reviews .

Described as a “critic with the soul of a poet” Roger Ebert was named the most powerful critic in America by Forbes in 2007.

Writing on his blog on Tuesday i.e. April 02 , 2013 , he said he planned to take a “leave of presence”. He explained: “It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing : reviewing only the movies I want to review.”

But two days later on April 04 , 2013 , he died early in the afternoon at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.

Ebert, a guest lecturer at the University of Chicago, was said to have been “prolific, almost to the point of disbelief” with the weekend section of the Sun-Times often featuring as many as nine of his interviews, profiles and reviews.

His work included interviews and profiles of notable actors and directors in addition to his reviews – celebrating such legends as Alfred Hitchcock, John Wayne and Robert Mitchum.

In 1969 he took a leave of absence from the Sun-Times to write the screenplay of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls for Russ Meyer .

Cover of

Cover of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

He also found television fame on Sneak Previews on PBS . It made Ebert a household name along with fellow critic Gene Siskel – who died in 1999 .  Ebert’s television career was curtailed in 2002 when he was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. He was unable to speak and eat after further surgery in 2006.

Film critic Roger Ebert and Hazel Dickens in P...

Movie critic Gene Siskel at the Governor's Bal...

Movie critic Gene Siskel at the Governor’s Ball party after the 1989 Academy Awards, March 29, 1989 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Writing his last blog this week in April 2013 he said: “It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital . So, on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.”

His thumbs up and thumbs down reviews were very famous among the connoisseurs of cinema , who read his column or watched his show .

Thumbs down : Classic Ebert reviews :

Stargate (1994) “The movie Ed Wood, about the worst director of all time, was made to prepare us for Stargate.”

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) “If you want to save yourself the ticket price, go into the kitchen, cue up a male choir singing the music of hell, and get a kid to start banging pots and pans together. Then close your eyes and use your imagination.”

Battlefield Earth (2000) “Battlefield Earth is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It’s not merely bad; it’s unpleasant in a hostile way

Armageddon (1998) “No matter what they’re charging to get in, it’s worth more to get out.”

North (1994) “I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.”

His last blog amplifies his persona in the best possible way . I am re-producing the whole piece from his website :

Roger-red-seats

A Leave of Presence

by Roger Ebert

April 2, 2013   |   1032

Thank you. Forty-six years ago on April 3, 1967, I became the film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. Some of you have read my reviews and columns and even written to me since that time. Others were introduced to my film criticism through the television show, my books, the website, the film festival, or the Ebert Club and newsletter.  However you came to know me, I’m glad you did and thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for.

Typically, I write over 200 reviews a year for the Sun-Times that are carried by Universal Press Syndicate in some 200 newspapers. Last year, I wrote the most of my career, including 306 movie reviews, a blog post or two a week, and assorted other articles. I must slow down now, which is why I’m taking what I like to call “a leave of presence.”

What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away. My intent is to continue to write selected reviews but to leave the rest to a talented team of writers handpicked and greatly admired by me. What’s more, I’ll be able at last to do what I’ve always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.

At the same time, I am re-launching the new and improved Rogerebert.com and taking ownership of the site under a separate entity, Ebert Digital, run by me, my beloved wife, Chaz, and our brilliant friend, Josh Golden of Table XI. Stepping away from the day-to-day grind will enable me to continue as a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, and roll out other projects under the Ebert brand in the coming year.

Ebertfest_Chaz_Roger.jpg

Ebertfest, my annual film festival, celebrating its 15th year, will continue at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, my alma mater and home town, April 17-21. In response to your repeated requests to bring back the TV show “At the Movies,” I am launching a fundraising campaign via Kickstarter in the next couple of weeks. And gamers beware, I am even thinking about a movie version of a video game or mobile app. Once completed, you can engage me in debate on whether you think it is art.

And I continue to cooperate with the talented filmmaker Steve James on the bio-documentary he, Steve Zaillian and Martin Scorsese are making about my life. I am humbled that anyone would even think to do it, but I am also grateful.

Of course, there will be some changes. The immediate reason for my “leave of presence” is my health. The “painful fracture” that made it difficult for me to walk has recently been revealed to be a cancer. It is being treated with radiation, which has made it impossible for me to attend as many movies as I used to. I have been watching more of them on screener copies that the studios have been kind enough to send to me. My friend and colleague Richard Roeper and other critics have stepped up and kept the newspaper and website current with reviews of all the major releases. So we have and will continue to go on. At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it’s like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you. It really stinks that the cancer has returned and that I have spent too many days in the hospital. So on bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.

I’ll also be able to review classics for my “Great Movies” collection, which has produced three books and could justify a fourth.

For now, I am throwing myself into Ebert Digital and the redesigned, highly interactive and searchable Rogerebert.com. You’ll learn more about its exciting new features on April 9 when the site is launched. In addition to housing an archive of more than 10,000 of my reviews dating back to 1967 we will also feature reviews written by other critics. You may disagree with them like you have with me, but will nonetheless appreciate what they bring to the party. Some I recruited from the ranks of my Far Flung Correspondents, an inspiration I had four years ago when I noticed how many of the comments on my blog came from foreign lands and how knowledgeable they were about cinema.

We’ll be recruiting more critics and it is my hope that some of the writers I have admired over the years will be among them. We’ll offer many more reviews of Indie, foreign, documentary and restored classic revivals. As the space between broadcast television, cable and the internet morph into a hybrid of content, we will continue to spotlight the musings of Pulitzer Prize-winning TV critic Tom Shales, as well as the blog “Scanners” by Jim Emerson, who I first met at Microsoft when he edited Cinemania. The Ebert Club newsletter, under editor Marie Haws of Vancouver, will be expanded to give its thousands of subscribers even bigger and better benefits.

Roger_old_office425pix.jpg

For years I devoutly took every one of my tear sheets, folded them and added them to a pile on my desk. The photo above shows the height of that pile in 1985 as it appeared on the cover of my first book about the movies published by my old friends John McMeel and Donna Martin of Andrews & McMeel. Today, because of technology, the opportunities to become bigger, better and reach more people are piling up too. The fact that we’re re-launching the site now, in the midst of other challenges, should give you an idea how important Rogerebert.com and Ebert Digital are to Chaz and me. I hope you’ll stop by, and look for me. I’ll be there.

So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I’ll see you at the movies.

[ Above portion is Taken from his website ]

Ebert compiled “best of the year” movie lists beginning in the 1960s, thereby helping provide an overview of his critical preferences . His top choices were :

On behalf of all the students and staff of my acting institute  Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , I offer my condolences to Ebert’s wife Madame Chaz Hammel-Smith and his family and admirers .

I may not be running the most famous acting school of Mumbai , or the most famous acting institute of India , or the most famous acting academy of bollywood , or the most famous acting institute of the world , I may be small and very insignificant , but I thought it proper to offer my condolences to Madame Chaz and show my respect to the most famous film critic of the world . On his death even Barack Obama , the president of United States of America , expressed his grief . It shows his stature and importance .

Rest in peace sir ! You will be missed a lot . I will always be in touch with you through your website and your books . I will always regret the fact that I came to know you when the end was so close .

[ This blog is not entirely written by me . Name of the movies posted above is taken from Wikipedia . Long introduction of Roger Ebert is taken from his website and his thumbs down quotes about movies have been taken from the various sources and articles posted on the internet . I am indebted and express my gratitude .]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

www.vidur.co.in

www.kreatingcharakters.net

www.facebook.com/VidursKreatingCharacters

www.facebook.com/vidur.chaturvedi

www.vidurfilms.com

www.youtube.com/ividur

www.twitter.com/VidurChaturvedi

www.jaibhojpuri.com/profile/VidurChaturvedi

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Arun Shanbhag

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