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April 4, 2013

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert made me love the art of film more than I already did.

I admired him so much.

I loved his impassioned reviews of movies he loved and hated. I loved his arguments with Siskel (and Roeper). I loved his yearly Movie Home Companion

I loved that he championed films like Hoop Dreams, which he and Siskel were outraged wasn't nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. 

Most critics can be taken with a grain of salt, but when Ebert loved a movie -- when he gave it a "BIG thumbs up!" -- it made me want to see it. I always looked forward to his year end lists of best and worst films. 

I remember specifically 1998. It was a year filled with wonderful, groundbreaking, and critically acclaimed movies such as Out of Sight, Life Is Beautiful, Pleasantville, The Truman Show, Rushmore, Saving Private Ryan, American History X, A Simple Plan, A Bug's Life, Pi, The Big Lebowski, etc. etc. But for his top film of the year, Ebert picked a movie no one had heard of called Dark City. It made me want to see it. And when I did I, not surprisingly, fell in love with it. What's more, he so loved the film that he provided a commentary track for the DVD.

One of the things I admire most about Roger Ebert was that when life handed him lemons...no it handed him manure...he kept on going. He battled cancer with the dignity of a prince. When it took his jaw, he kept making appearances anyway. When it took his voice he found a company that used his DVD commentaries (which also included Citizen Kane and Casablanca) to give his voice to his computer narration system.

Through and through he was a class act. Just yesterday on his blog he wrote "Thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for... thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."

Roger died today at 70. He will be greatly missed.


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