Daily Archives: April 5, 2013

R.I.P. Roger Ebert, the greatest film critic who ever lived. And the Internet in 1995; remember this?


**I know Fridays are always repositories of Good News in this space, but it’s been a rough week; apologies for there being no post Thursday, but I was sitting shiva at my fiance’s parents house; my soon-to-be bride lost her grandfather at age 93.
While checking the Internet Thursday night I saw that Roger Ebert had died, and I got sad all over again.  I can’t write anything about him as well as anything he wrote, but I tried a little here.

There were a ton of Roger Ebert tributes all over the Internet Thursday night. None of them will match Chris Jones’ sensational profile in Esquire from two years ago, which I’ve written about on here before. But Will Leitch’s memories are terrific, and so was this piece from The Onion.

I think what so many people are feeling about the loss of Ebert is not just that he was a terrific writer; which he was, and not that he was just such a funny and entertaining man on TV and in interviews, which he was for so many years with the late, great Gene Siskel.

But it was Ebert’s humanity that really struck home. He was, by all accounts, a genuinely decent human being, who was much kinder than necessary on so many occasions.

Having never been lucky enough to meet him, it’s his writing that will stick with me the most. There may be nothing more delightful in the English language than Roger Ebert obliterating a bad movie with his prose.
Here’s a little sample:

On “The Brown Bunny,” 2003: “I had a colonoscopy once, and they let me watch it on TV. It was more entertaining than The Brown Bunny.”
On “Armageddon, 1998:” “No matter what they’re charging to get in, it’s worth more to get out.”

On “Mad Dog Time,” 1996: “Mad Dog Time is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Oh, I’ve seen bad movies before. But they usually made me care about how bad they were. Watching Mad Dog Time is like waiting for the bus in a city where you’re not sure they have a bus line.”

But if all you remember about Ebert are his movie reviews, that’s a shame. In recent years, as cancer ravaged his body and made his face unrecognizable, he took to writing lengthy, beautiful posts on his blog at rogerebert.com.   

He faced his illness with courage, humanity and humor, and never once pitied himself at all. I leave you with what he wrote about his own mortality; it’s beautiful and simple and better than anyone else could’ve said.

“I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.”

R.I.P., Roger Ebert. The world has lost a wonderful soul.

**Finally today, I leave you with something a little lighter. I’m a sucker for these “time capsule” type videos about the Internet. Check out the first few minutes of this report about this new-fangled fad from 1995: