Opposable Thumbs


Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper are departing the TV show that made them celebrities. Someday I'll write a detailed appreciation of Ebert's smart, funny, and unpretentious writing. For now I'll link to Patrick Goldstein's comments about the show in the L.A. Times:

[T]he success of the original "Siskel and Ebert at the Movies" was a fluke, owing more to the engaging personalities of the two critics than their actual opinions. Siskel and Ebert, though trained as ink-stained wretch newspaper men, turned out to be a great showbiz buddy team, the film-critic version of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. They had a chemistry on screen that transcended critical heft. Siskel was no Pauline Kael-style deep thinker, but on camera, he had verve and a dry wit. Tall and slender, Siskel was Stan Laurel to Ebert's chubby Oliver Hardy. They were song and dance men, even when reviewing the drekiest of summer trash. As much as I admire Ebert, once Siskel was gone–he died in 1999–the show lost momentum. The magic was gone. Teaming Ebert with Roeper, with all due respect, was like putting Walter Matthau on screen with Greg Kinnear–a respectable match, but not one made in heaven.

Television is a performance medium. Criticism is about words and ideas, which is why it belongs on the page, be it in a newspaper or on a computer screen. As a fan of Ebert, I'm delighted to see him abandoning TV and putting all his energy into writing again.

Goldstein adds a couple of bonus videos. I liked this one best: