Roger Ebert, R.I.P.


Credit: Photo credit: Rebert / / CC BY-SA

It's a sad day for fans of film criticism: Roger Ebert, one of the most influential and famous movie critics of the last four decades, has died of cancer. He was 70 years old.

Ebert reviewed movies for the Chicago Sun-Times for 46 years, and was the first film reviewer to win a Pulitzer Prize for criticism. Here's how the Sun-Times obituary start:

For a film with a daring director, a talented cast, a captivating plot or, ideally, all three, there could be no better advocate than Roger Ebert, who passionately celebrated and promoted excellence in film while deflating the awful, the derivative, or the merely mediocre with an observant eye, a sharp wit and a depth of knowledge that delighted his millions of readers and viewers.

"No good film is too long," he once wrote, a sentiment he felt strongly enough about to have engraved on pens. "No bad movie is short enough."

You can read the rest of the obit here

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  1. Two Thumbs Up.

    1. Oh, come on. I’m not entirely sure what Ebert ever did to make some asshole on the internet applaud his death.

      1. Who said that was applauding his death and not saluting the man?

        1. I posted about Ebert’s death on another article and he responded with this:

          Good to see he finally got something right.

          I made an educated guess.

          1. Ah, that context does change things.

      2. It doesn’t take much. You just have to find the right asshole.

        1. Right here…you’ve found him!

          Good riddance you fat statist fuck! Not surprised you were a Chicagoan!

          Siskel was better too!

          1. Rotten Tomatoes was better.

          2. People with the wrong ideas are eeeevvvvvvviiiiiillllllllll.

        2. True fact.

          (I mean, I’m ambivalent at best about his reviews, and think his politics were abysmal*.

          But am not going to celebrate his death**; everything I know suggests that as an individual human being he was decent enough in his actions and intentions.

          And that’s all one needs to be.

          * Which is relevant only because he kept bringing them up and trying to use his movie-review fame to get them attention and action. The flip side of that is naturally that we get to judge him on it.

          ** It takes actually using coercion to enforce said abysmal politics to even begin to qualify for death celebration. Dictators are a prime example, and perhaps the worst of politicians in a democratic society.)

    2. That would have made some excellent alt-text.

      1. +2 thumbs

  2. But he was a total crap weasel liberal. This is the guy who called Dirty Harry a fascist picture.

    1. I was coming here to sort of say the same thing. But RIP anyway.

    2. And? He was a fucking movie reviewer.

      “Thank God this guy whose job it was to review movies is dead, since he had the gall to disagree with me politically!”

      Jesus Christ, guys.

      1. I wouldn’t wish death or cancer on anyone. I don’t think it is good he is dead. But I am not going to pretend that he was something he wasn’t.

        1. Roger could be absolutely spot on in his reviews or completely off base. He never seemed to inhabit the middle ground. So I got pretty good at figuring out when he was spot on and only listened to those reviews.

          Gene kept him on his toes. They were much better as a pair.

          1. They were. Ebert never got on my nerves until Siskel died. And then Ebert’s reviews and opinions got markedly worse and worse.

          2. I agree 100%. It was actually very useful for assessing films, and I found that I would agree with one of them most of the time but never really favored either. And it was interesting when they’d get into film schooly topics.

            1. Siskel liked My Dinner With Andre. Ebert hated it. That is when I started to suspect Ebert was full of shit.

              1. There were times when I’d think I tended to agree with one, then I’d go off the other direction. They really were much better together than apart–very complementary.

              2. Well, after about an hour that movie starts to fall apart, so there are legitimate complaints to make about it. But that first hour is pretty damn good.

                1. It goes a bit too long, yes. But it is still a good movie.

                2. Remember my suggestion that someone should make My Dinner with Adolf?

                  1. No. Because it’s stupid. Like you.

                    1. Come on, Wally Shawn and Bruno Ganz, reprising his excellent Hitler.

              3. I don’t remember that, but I remember thinking that Siskel was often closer to my opinion. He certainly was regarding that film.

                  1. That is one of the all-time best Simpsons gags.

      2. Well, he didn’t just disagree with me politically. He was quite influential and was not shy about using his reviews to push fatuous Hollywood leftism. So … not as bad as Krugman, but not as innocent as a lefty that sticks to his job.

    3. I love “Dirty Harry” but there’s no doubt that if Harry was a real cop, we’d be calling him a fascist thug and not a heroic vigilante.

      1. Even when he killed all those dirty cops?

  3. Best thing he ever did: Thumbs up for Beavis and Butthead. Weak point- approval of any movie with a sappy and formulaic treatment of race. Good writer. Apparently fearsome to his staff.

  4. While I stopped paying attention to his reviews long ago, I was a fan back in the Sneak Previews days. He had a pretty crappy time of it the last few years, too, which is sad.

    1. I always liked Shallot or whatever his name was better. Boy did that show die after his passing.

      1. I suspect you mean Siskel, because Gene Shalit was never with Ebert.

        1. Yes Siskel. Shallit was the guy with the stupid mustache. I confuse the movie reviewers of my youth sometimes.

      2. Gene Shalit? Or are you referring to some sort of animated onion that does movie reviews? I’m not familiar with that.

        1. For some reason this conversation is just making me think of a PI dressed up in a blue bear costume.

          1. What’s that got to do with shallots?

            1. It’s got to do with Genes.

              1. And, I guess, ingredients in a pasta dish.

                EDIT BUTTON!

                1. You eat bear pasta? Is that good?

                  1. Pro Lib, if we’re going to get our film company off the ground you’re going to have to get NetFlix by May 26th.

                    1. What? I’m strictly an Amazon Prime guy. This month, Das Boot for free! I love Das Boot.

                    2. That won’t cut it anymore by the 26th.

                    3. Come on, Nazis underwater!

                    4. “Das Boot” is superb. In German with subtitles only, of course.

                      Next month do you get to see “Crouching Tiger – Hidden Dragon?” In Chinese, with subtitles, of course….

  5. He never hurt anybody, so this is no cause for celebration, but he was a terrible reviewer.

  6. Roger Ebert, one of the most influential and famous movie critics of the last four decades, has died of cancer.

    Just like Gene Siskel. Either movie theaters or Chicago gives you cancer.

    I won’t piss on his grave over his politics. I agreed with and enjoyed Siskel’s review more often, but to minimize Ebert’s contribution to reviewing is a mistake. He’ll be sorely missed.

    1. “Just like Gene Siskel. Either movie theaters or Chicago gives you cancer.”

      Maybe the smoking in movie theaters that went on for years.

      Or the artificial popcorn butter.

  7. Am I the only one who enjoyed Beyond the Valley of the Dolls a totally sarcastic camp fun?

    1. I have never seen it. But the original is real camp fun.

    2. No, you are definitely not. When I first saw that film I was completely baked out of my gourd, and it changed my life forever. In fact, I think I know what I’ll be doing this weekend to celebrate his legacy.

    3. There’s no way that film was meant to be taken straight. He loved Russ Mayer films, FFS. He obviously knew when something was just a good time, and could appreciate it as such.

      Personally, I’ll always respect him for his awesome review of North.

      1. That was a classic. And, as I recall, he was a big fan of Reiner’s films before that one.

        1. North is the worst movie I have ever seen. Maybe not the worst. Toys might be worse. But it is definitely high on the list of movies that tried to be good but turned out horrible.

          1. I was warned away. Perhaps by Mr. Ebert. If so, he has my thanks.

      2. Russ Meyer. He wrote the script to one of Meyer’s films (Harry, Cherry, and Raquel, IIRC). Gotta give him credit for that at least.

        1. I think Beyond… was a collaboration with Meyer, borne out of his positive writings about RM’s other films.

      3. He had some epic takedowns. I always respect that.

    4. I liked it. Good ridiculous fun. Plus tits.

    5. It never ceases to amaze me that the man who wrote the screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls went on to become one of America’s most respected movie critics.

      Of course, I also think it helps explain why critics skew so lefty: there’s not much correlation between quality and success.

  8. Gene Siskel thought he was an asshole:…..siskel.php

    He said a lot of mean, nasty things over the years:…..everything

    Including some where he was pretty insensitive to the dead. So what goes around comes around, you know?

    1. Two wrongs makes a right?

      1. “Two wrongs makes a right”

        Why is it wrong to speak poorly of the dead. Seriously, since when does death grant absolution? If a guy was an asshole during his life, his dying doesn’t change the fact that he was an asshole. Guy got his full three-score years and ten.

        1. I have no problem with speaking ill of the dead. I was just responding to the apparent suggestion that his speaking ill of the dead justifies others speaking ill of him. If you think he was a bad person, I wouldn’t ask you not to say so.

        2. Freakonomics did a piece on the issue of speaking ill of the dead. I’m not convinced about everything on Freakonomics but this one was interesting:


  9. I heard an interview with him on Fresh Air a few years back. He seemed sincere, and dedicated to writing well. I disagreed with his politics, but respected his movie reviews. RIP, dude.

    1. More than a few years back, unless it was a potted piece with his computer voice.

      Interestingly, when TCM did a month of critics’ picks a back in I think 2010, Ebert’s being forced to prepare his comments beforehand led to him making better comments than any other of the reviewers.

  10. WE does it so often turn out that liberals are in private complete shitheads to their staffs? Ebert was known to be a complete asshole to the people who worked for him. That seems to be more common among bit public liberals than conservatives or libertarians.

    Maybe I am wrong, but I doubt there are many stories about how Penn and Teller are complete dicks to work with and for.

    1. Penn and Teller need people to keep secrets.

      Liberals can be a dick.

    2. It’s funny, but I found both Siskel & Ebert and Penn & Teller on PBS. And Python and The Prisoner.

      1. And Dr. Who and Hitchikers’ Guide to the Galaxy for me. I hate to sound old, but PBS pretty much peaked in the early 80s.

        1. Other than NOVA and the occasional special, I don’t watch it much. At least it’s not plagued with reality shows, I guess, except for that one they do where they ask me for money. Not very good, really.

          1. And even NOVA seems a bit dumbed down these days. The American Experience and American Masters both can be really good. And occasionally they will have a BBC documentary like Simon Schema’s History of Britain or this show called Shakespeare Uncovered that was on this winter. But all and all it is pretty sparse.

            In fairness, we tend to forget the crap from the past. Yeah there was NOVA and Cosmos. But there was also Matinee at the Bijou and a hundred other crap shows I am sure we have all forgotten.

            1. It seems that way to me, too. I could swear NOVA was much more hard science and didn’t give a fuck if you understood what they were talking about or not years ago.

              1. Some of it is probably that we are a bit smarter and less easily impressed than we were as 12 year old kids. But not all of it is that. I rewatched the old Cosmos shows on the Science channel a couple of years ago and they were a bit dated looking but seemed to be on a much higher level than science shows today.

            2. In fairness, we tend to forget the crap from the past. Yeah there was NOVA and Cosmos. But there was also Matinee at the Bijou and a hundred other crap shows I am sure we have all forgotten.


        2. Yeah, probably. Add Cosmos and Free to Choose to the list. I think they still do a lot of good stuff, though. Better than anything else on broadcast TV anyway.

          1. PBS could do the exact same shit if it dropped the 10-15% it gets from the feds and made up the difference in private funding. BFD.

          2. Their $250,000 version of The Lathe of Heaven was surprisingly awesome.

            1. Oh, yeah, I loved that. It’s miles better than the more recent one.

    3. Michael Moore is notorious for being a horrible boss. And an old friend once worked for the National Writers Union, and it was a horrible experience. He’s still a liberal, though.

    4. “That seems to be more common among bit public liberals than conservatives or libertarians.”

      I have a theory that liberals only pretend to have a moral compass. Their political views are part of the act, but deep down they don’t know the difference between right and wrong.

  11. Was this the guy who hated video games?

    I feel like Ebert had some sort of irrational axe to grind (like George Will and his hatred of blue jeans), but I can’t remember what it was.

    1. IIRC, he didn’t hate video games, he was just adamant in insisting that they were not art.

      1. They’re not art, which is why they’re awesome.

        1. If that modern art crap counts as art, video games passed into the art stage by Pong.

          1. I think you are confusing art that you like for art itself. Anything presented as art is art. It doesn’t make it good, but it does make it art.

            1. No, I’m not confused. I’m saying that if that’s the definition of art used (which is the only way modern art is getting in), then video games are art too.

              1. Do you even know what modern art is?

            2. After all look at Michael Savage.


            3. “Anything presented as art is art.”

              Calling a turkey a chicken doesn’t make it so.

              1. 4 a : the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced

              2. No, but calling a turkey art does make it so. Art is different from chickens that way.

            4. Some games really are beautiful from an artistic standpoint. If you’re playing a game that frequently makes you stop and stare at the view, or it makes you create an emotional attachment to the story or characters, it’s art.

              1. It really goes beyond that.

                Storytelling, music and score, and even new immersive game-play elements are all artistic.

      2. yeah, I hated him after that.

      3. That’s what it was.

        I don’t really understand how anyone who played anything of quality could say that.

        Oh wait…I just explained it.

        1. Pretty much. If you read any of his arguments on the subject, it’s pretty clear he hasn’t played anything post-1989.

      4. His reasoning for such was really stupid, basically the biggest reason he felt that video games couldn’t be considered art was because they were made for consumption. Art is supposed to be above money, except for sometimes, or something.

        Like most Regressivey Lefty types, he doesn’t realize that Art began as and remains a business.

        1. So the entire cannon of classical music, which was pretty much all written on commission for a price is not “art”?

          God liberals are morons.

  12. I loved his writing style and the wittiness of his reviews. I figured he was on his way out when he stopped writing reviews for his website. As a film lover I salute him, his politics notwithstanding.

  13. Ebert was crazy about gun control:…

    1. Well that just makes sense. He lives in Chicago so he saw what a utopia a place is when it has strong gun control.

      1. ….


        EDIT BUTTON!

    2. He wrote an extremely nauseating blogpost a couple of weeks back about being moved to tears by Giffords’s speech.

  14. In fairness to Ebert, we should take this moment to pause and consider the general decline of the quality of liberals in this country. Think about it. For all of his faults, who would you rather listen to Ebert or the fucking AV club?

    1. Peruse his blog from the last four years. There’s really not much of a difference.

      1. I honestly haven’t read his stuff in years. He got that bad?

  15. I remember when Ebert was on the Tonight Show with Chevy Chase. Chevy was promoting “Three Amigos”. Johnny and Chevy were joking around and Johnny in stride, as a throwaway line, asked Ebert what he thought of it. Ebert humorlessly launched into a long, pinheaded, serious review of the movie in which he just shit all over it – sitting right next to its star who was there expressly to promote it, as Ebert well knew. Johnny and Chevy were aghast, near speechless. Ebert was oblivious to what a jerk he was being because, I suppose, that’s how jerks roll. It was one of them most graceless things I’ve seen. I always hated that self-important dick ever since.

    1. Self important dick is a good way of describing him.

    2. Christ, what an asshole.

      1. Shhhhh…

    3. Not liking Three Amigos pretty much qualifies anyone as the Antichrist.

      How can someone watch the scene where they sing their own theme song and not laugh?

      1. Well I already knew I was the Antichrist. There were few funny lines in it but Martin Short, Steve Martin, and Chevy Chase have to be three of the most overrated comedians on earth. They’re hilarious when your 11 years old. Now, not so much. Although Short’s probably the least funny of the three he did do some funny bits on SNL earlier this year when he was on.…..or/n30770/

        1. Yeah I know. You a funny guy. I keel you last.

    4. He didn’t like “Three Amigos”?

      I give him a thumbs down.

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