I just read a heartbreaking/uplifting profile of film critic Roger Ebert in this month’s Esquire. I knew he had been seriously ill a few years back, but had no idea that because of his 2006 illness, he lost his lower jaw and the ability to speak, eat, and drink. Just stop for a minute and try to imagine that…
I know Ebert is considered by many highbrows to be a "reviewer" and not really a "critic," but I’ve always valued his opinions and advice — and often find his tastes to echo my own. (And I’ve been reading his reviews and/or watching his TV show for going on 25 years.) Most of all, though, I’ve always been amazed at how generous a critic he is, how he always gives each film the benefit of the doubt. To me, he’s the opposite of most film reviewers, who seem to take a "guilty-until-proven-innocent" approach.
As evidenced by the Esquire piece, Ebert is a person with a wide range of references, someone who has a life outside of the movie theater. This breadth of knowledge, this appreciation of real life, has always shown in his criticism, even before the tragedy which befell him. Given the amount of movies he must see each week, I always wondered how he maintained such a fresh approach. Now I have a little more insight into that question.
So, thank you, Mr. Ebert, for all your fine work. As an avid filmgoer, I look forward to many more of your reviews in the future.