Thursday, July 17, 2008

This is Why I Love Roger Ebert

If you only know Roger Ebert as (forgive me) the "fat guy who gives movies "thumbs up or thumbs down"" then you really don't know Roger Ebert at all. Before the television show, before the "thumbs" there was and still is a giant of the written word, a master of film criticism and an unabashed lover of the movies. His Great Movie series of essays have broadened my film palette to include such luminaries as Jean-Pierre Mellville and Yasujiro Ozo, the "UP" series by Michael Apted, and the wonder of films like PEEPING TOM and PARIS, TEXAS. For years he's run his Overlooked Film Festival (now known as Ebertfest), which features both new and old films deserving of more recognition, and has famously taught films by dissecting them one shot at a time.

More recently he's been plagued by cancer and additional injuries that, while taking away his voice and a large portion of his mobility, hasn't deterred his passion for movies in the slightest. He's still covering at least 3-4 films a week for the Chicago Sun Times, and now he has a blog.

That's right, folks. Roger Ebert has joined the Internet community.

I bring all this up because in his most recent entry Ebert has written a beautiful tribute to the power a particular film has to define our life, and how over time our viewing of the film changes without a single frame being altered.

For Ebert this film is LA DOCLE VITA. Read it. It sums up everything I've ever felt about how a film can encapsulate a life, and is perhaps the best expalantion for the millions of us who go by the name "cinephile," "film-geek," or a couple dozen others that spring to mind.

And if nothing else, you'll get a hysterical anecdote about the filming of the famous Trevi Fountain scene.

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