Roger Ebert – A Film Critic With Poet’s Heart


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 :


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 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, 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 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.


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 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 .]



50 Years of Bond , James Bond

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JANUARY 29 , 2012           09.25  P.M.

In 2012 , Bond , James Bond completes 50 years of his screen existence . First Bond film Dr. No was released in October 1962 . Till date 22 James Bond films have been made and 6 different actors have enacted the iconic British spy on-screen .  Sean Connery ,  George Lazenby , Roger Moore , Timothy Dalton , Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig have played James Bond in 22 Bond movies till date . In this 50th year , 23rd Bond film ” Skyfall “ will be released in October .

Cover of

Cover of 007

Here is the complete list of Bond Films  :

1 – Dr. No – 1962

2 – From Russia With Love – 1963

3 –  Goldfinger – 1964

4 – Thunderball – 1965

5 – You Only Live Twice – 1967

6 – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – 1969

7 – Diamonds Are Forever – 1971

8 – Live And Let Die – 1973

9 – The Man With The Golden Gun – 1974

10 – The Spy Who Loved Me – 1977

11 – Moonraker – 1979

12 – For Your Eyes Only – 1981

13 – Octopussy – 1983

14 – A view To A Kill  – 1985

15 – The Living Daylights – 1987

16 – Licence To Kill – 1989

17 – Golden Eye – 1995

18 – Tomorrow Never Dies – 1997

19 – The World Is Not Enough – 1999

20 – Die Another Day – 2002

21 – Casino Royale – 2006

22 – Quantum Of Solace – 2008

23 – Skyfall – 2012 [ Yet To Be Released ]

James Bond is the fictional character of M 16 agent . His code sign is 007 . He first appeared in the books of Ian Fleming . Earlier Bond films were based on the novels of Ian Fleming but later films were based on some original storylines  also .

Ian Fleming first approached Sir Alexander Korda to make films based on his novels .  Alfred Hitchcock was also approached to direct a Bond film with Richard Burton as Bond . But things didn’t materialize . It is very strange that major Hollywood studios were also reluctant to put their money in Bond films because they thought it is too British and too sex oriented . Slowly in 1961 things started falling in place . Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Salzman stablished their production company Eon Production and started filming ” Dr. No  “ .

Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Salzman produced Bond films under their banner Eon Films till 1975 and after that Broccoli became the sole producer . This is the reason , Bond films are called and known as Eon series films .

In fact the creator of James Bond , Ian Fleming had created a sketch of Bond as per his vision. Broccoli and Salzman started searching for a suitable actor as per Flemings’ sketch and vision . Their first choice was Cary Grant . But he wanted to do just one film . Then James Mason was approached but he wanted to do just two films . Rex Harrison and David Niven were also approached but they also refused to play Bond for various other reasons and finally and reluctantly Sean Connery was chosen .

Ian Fleming's image of James Bond; commissione...

Ian Fleming's Image of James Bond

Sean Connery as James Bond

Ian Fleming's Screen James Bond

Sean Connery was the first Bond . He was the first one whom I saw as a Bond and therefore till date , for me , he is synonymous with James Bond . He acted in 6 + 1 films { 6 Bond Films Eon Series & 1 Non Eon Series }; ” Dr. No ” [ 1962 ] , ” From Russia With Love”  [ 1963 ] , ” Goldfinger ” [ 1964 ] , ” Thunderball ” [ 1965 ] and ” You Only Live Twice ” [ 1967 ] . After the gap of 1 movie , he returned again as Bond in ” Diamonds Are Forever ” [ 1971 ] . That was last movie of Sean Connery as Bond . An era ended with his retirement . Sean Connery again returned 12 years later to play Bond in a non – Eon series ” Never Say Never Again ” [ 1983 ] .

Sean Connery at the private party after the pr...

Sean Connery - James Bond - 1

After Sean Connery’s refusal to play Bond , George Lazenby played Bond just once . ” On Her Majesty’s Secret Service [ 1969 ] was his first and last film . He was rejected by the audience . In fact I disliked him so much that I am yet to see that film . After this , Sean Connery again returned as Bond in ” Diamonds Are Forever ” [ 1971 ] .

English: Actor George Lazenby at the November ...

George Lazenby - James Bond - 2

After Sean Conner’s last film , Roger Moore was chosen to play the iconic character . He played Bond in 7 films and then retired after playing Bond for 12 long years . After initial hitch , he was accepted as Bond and after Sean Connery , he is considered the most successful Bond . For some section of audience , he is the most successful Bond ever  . His Bond films are ;  ” Live And Let Die  ”  [ 1973  ] , ” The Man With The Golden Gun  ”  [ 1974  ] , ” The Spy Who Loved Me ”  [ 1977  ] , ” Moonraker  ”  [ 1979  ] , ” For Your Eyes Only ”  [ 1981  ] , ” Octopussy  ”  [  1983  ] and  ” A view To A Kill  ”  [ 1985  ] . After this film , Roger Moore retired at the age of 58 . For me an era again ended .

English: portrait of Sir Roger Moore

Roger Moore - James Bond - 3

Then came Timothy Dalton . He was chosen to play Bond when Sean Connery retired . But he refused on the grounds of age . Eventually he came after Roger Moore’s retirement . Like George Lazenby , he was also outright rejected . He also played Bond in just two films . ” The Living Daylights ” [ 1987 ] and ” License To Kill ” [ 1989 ] are his starrers as Bond .

Timothy Dalton - James Bond - 4

Third most successful Bond , Pierce Brosnan acted in 4 Bond films . He was supposed to play Bond after Roger Moore but fate willed otherwise . Ultimately he replaced Timothy Dalton . ” Golden Eye ” [ 1995 ] , ” Tomorrow Never Dies ” [ 1997 ] , ” The World Is Not Enough ” [ 1999 ] and ” Die Another Day ” [ 2002 ] . According to me he is the third most acceptable James Bond after Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

English: Brosnan Pierce at Cannes in 2002.

Pierce Brosnan - James Bond - 5

When Pierce Brosnan was replaced with Daniel Craig , there was again a furore . Many Bond fans and this includes me , found him uncouth and rustic . He is yet to get wide acceptance as the 6th Bond but he has already churned two successful Bond movies ; ” Casino Royale ” [ 2006 ] and ” Quantum Of Solace ” [ 2008 ] . His 3rd Bond film ” Skyfall ” [ 2012 ] is ready for release in the 50th year of Bond , James Bond .

Wax figure of Daniel Craig at Madame Tussauds,...

Daniel Craig - James Bond - 6

Produced mainly at Pinewood Studios , United Kingdom , this longest running film series in the history of motion pictures has grossed US $ 5 billion till date . Bond series is second only to Harry Potter series in total box office collection .

Countries James Bond has visited in the films.

Countries of the World Visited by James Bond in Films

James Bond Island

James Bond Island

From top left, clockwise: Peter Burton, Desmon...

Permanent Characters of Bond Films

The first Bond film , which I watched , was the third Bond film . It was Sean Connery starrer ” Goldfinger “ . I watched it in the Niranjan Talkies of Allahabad . The year was 1967 . This 1974 Bond film was running to packed houses and I went to watch it with my friends . It was nothing like the Hindi films , which I had seen before coming to Allahabad . The memory is still fresh  and till now I am a hardcore fan of James Bond films .

Out of non Eon series , I have seen Sean Connery starrer ” Never Say Never Again ” [ 1983 ] . I have not seen non Eon ” Casino Royale ” [ 1954 & 1967 ] . So cannot comment about two most famous non Eon Bonds ; Barry Nelson and David Niven .

In this 50th year , through this blog , I express my feelings as a fan . My keenness should be gauged by the fact that till date I have missed only few Bond films .

How can you not see Bond , James Bond !



Ode – 3 : To Manoj Night Shyamalan

Manoj Night Shyamalan’s new film ” The Last Airbenderwas released this week and as has become the fashion, it has been unequivocally and mercilessly panned by the critics. I am so anguished by this behaviour of learned critics that now I am turning into a follower and I am becoming a biased fan of Mr. Shyamalan. I always wonder, why the western critics are so vehemently against Mr. Shyamalan and why almost all his films are invariably panned ? Let us have a look on all the films which he has made so far:

1 – PRAYING WITH ANGER – ( 1992 ) :

He made this film while he was still studying in New York university. He borrowed money from his family, friends and from relatives and apart from writing the script, also acted in it. It was not released commercially, so I am not counting it or taking it in reckoning.

2 – WIDE AWAKE – ( 1998 ) :

Six years after making his first amateurish film, Mr. Shyamalan made this film which was released commercially. Though it got completed in 1995, it was released in 1998.

3 – THE SIXTH SENSE – ( 1999  ):

This third film of Mr. Shyamalan is his first commercial success. It was released in 1999 and it is Mr. Shyamalan’s biggest hit so far. Made with the budge of $ 40 million,  it earned $ 660 million worldwide. It was nominated for Academy Awards in 6 categories including best picture, best director and best original screenplay. Starring Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment, this film is the 6th biggest grosser of all times in Hollywood history.

4 – UNBREAKABLE – ( 2000 )  :

This 4th film of Mr. Shyamalan was made with the budget of $ 73.2 million and it grossed $ 244 million worldwide. Bruce Willis again worked with Mr. Shyamalan along with Samuel L. Jackson.

5 –  SIGNS – ( 2002 )  :

This Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix starrer had budget of $ 72 million and it grossed $ 635 million worldwide. Incidentally this film is Mel Gibson’s most successful film ever and is the highest grosser of Mel Gibson’s career.

6 – THE VILLAGE – ( 2004 ) :

This Joaquin Phoenix starrer was made with the budget of $ 71.6 million and it grossed $ 256.2 million worldwide. It was nominated for one Academy Award, though it was panned by the critics.

7 – LADY IN THE WATER – ( 2006 ) :

This film was a definite flop and it could not recover its cost. The ignominy of  the matter was that it was nominated at 27th Golden Raspberry Awards in 4 categories. I do admit and  consider that it is a bad film.

8 – THE HAPPENING – (  2008 ) :

Though panned by critics this film grossed $ 163.3 worldwide. It was the 3rd highest grosser of that year.

9 – THE LAST AIRBENDER – ( 2008 ) :

This film got released this week and its box office result is still awaited. Its budget is $ 150 million and it’s opening weekend collection is  $ 70 million .

Out of 9 films, his first film was not a commercially released film. So out of remaining 8 films, the result of his latest offering is still awaited. So if we go through the statistics of remaining 7 films, he has given only 1 flop and  6 blockbusters. Isnt it an enviable record ? Isnt it praise worthy ? Isnt it commendable ? For western critics it is not . They call him ” one track pony ” and they decorate him with all sorts of pejoratives. They have already written his obituary. He is subjected to this kind of ridicule in spite of his enviable track record. All the films of a maker can’t be  masterpieces. No one can claim to have 100% track record. So why western critics so vehemently oppose him and why almost all his films are invariably panned ? I am copying and pasting an article, published in THE SUN to substantiate my point :


Entertainment Movies

The downfall of M. Night


Last Updated: July 10, 2010 2:00am

M. Night Shyamalan (<A HREF=
M. Night Shyamalan (WENN.COM file photo)

HOLLYWOOD — It was a particularly sizzling July afternoon during the summer of 1999 when I trudged across the Disney Studios Burbank lot toward my appointed destination.

To tell the truth, by then an air-conditioned screening room held a lot more promise than what was being shown — some new Bruce Willis thriller.

After all, Willis hadn’t exactly been box office dynamite in recent years, what with stuff like The Siege and The Jackal.

So I selected a seat positioned directly beneath an air vent and settled in just as the lights started to go down.

Some two hours later I was effectively chilled — and it had absolutely nothing to do with the A/C.

It had everything to do with The Sixth Sense.

By the time it officially hit theatres a couple of weeks later, the drama with the killer twist ending and the haunted kid who saw dead people was well on its way to becoming a pop culture phenomenon.

Everyone was asking, who’s this M. Night Shyamalan guy and where did he come from?

A decade later, they’re asking why he’s still here.

Because, in recent years, with the exception of, say, Signs, his subsequent output has become increasingly ridiculous, not to mention eye-rolling pretentious.

M. Night has fallen.

From the laugh-out-loud ludicrous big reveal of The Village (his final association with Disney) to the laugh-out-loud ludicrous (period) Lady in the Water to the just plain inept The Happening, each new film seemed to bring Shyamalan to fresh artistic lows.

Along the way, a succession of studios took the bait, only to be left holding the bag when audiences would ultimately catch on to the fact that the latest effort “from the director of Sixth Sense and Signs” was no Sixth Sense or Signs.

Not only could Shyamalan no longer justify the rare, hands-off autonomy he had earned from studio execs thanks to those early successes, but he was running out of places willing to bankroll another of his cloaked-in-secrecy scripts.

With last weekend’s arrival of The Last Airbender, meanwhile, came the hope that, since the subject matter originated, not from Shyamalan’s once-fertile imagination, but from a hit Nickelodeon animated series, the downward spiral might be curbed.

But while the special effects were decent, the movie as a whole earned him his worst notices yet.

That it nevertheless opened over the traditionally lucrative Fourth of July holiday weekend with a solid $70 million was attributed mainly to the marketing powers of Paramount Pictures.

Determined to protect its $150 million production investment, the studio pumped in almost as much for a worldwide awareness campaign pulling out all stops to get fans of the original series into theatres over the weekend ahead of the nasty warning Tweets.

The majority of those who turned up over the weekend were males under the age of 25 who had been big fans of the animated series and were likely in the market for something — anything — other than The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

Or maybe they were just in it for the air conditioning.


Michael Rechtshaffen is a Canadian entertainment writer based in Los Angeles.


After reading this article, can you still feel that this criticism is fair and not biased ? If his recently released film collected $ 70 million in the first weekend, is it proper to say that audiences are going just to spend some time in the air-conditioned hall ? Sorry, I have tolerated enough and I am not going to take this insult any more. Western press is biased and they are behaving like  racists of worst kind. You may not like the film, you may not like the direction, but you can’t write the obituary of an artiste whose track record is so impeccable. Every director can make bad films. Every maker has given damp squibs. But no critic can say that a particular artiste is finished. In Mr. Shyamalan’s case this is happening too often and too soon. Mr. Shyamalan is a master craftsman and barring one or two , all his films are  blockbusters. Alfred Hitchcock also made same kind of films throughout his life and no one called him ” one track pony “. Some of his films today look mediocre, but to say that he was a mediocre director, would be blasphemous and will be considered a sacrilege.

American media sang paeans to ” SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE ” , which was definitely a mediocre film. Since it was made by a British , it got many Academy Awards. But an Indian Mr. Shekhar Kapoor or a P.I.O. ( person of Indian origin ) Mr. Manoj Night Shyamalan are panned and their films are ridiculed mercilessly and vehemently. If this is not racist behaviour, then can anyone enlighten me, what is it ?




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