The One With Life Itself – A Movie About Roger Ebert

(Razlan’s Note: This is the first contributed post by Alex Lou, whom will be guest blogging for You Got Me Blogging for movies he loves to hate and hates to love)

It is perhaps fitting that my first review of 2015 is about one of the most prolific and famous film critics of our time, Roger Elbert in “Life Itself”

There was a time when Siskel and Ebert’s “Thumbs Up” was my guide to selecting movies. As my appreciation for films evolved, that system became too simplistic for me. After Gene Siskel passed on, I continued reading Roger Ebert’s reviews online, and I often found myself disagreeing with his assessment. For example, he gave a gushing, glowing review of “Knowing” (2009), one of the most awful Nicholas Cage movies (and there were SO MANY) I’ve had the misfortune of watching. Opinions aside, I’ve always admired Ebert’s writing – it was clear, cohesive and reflected his passion for movies.

Roger Elbert in Life Itself

This documentary, based on his memoir of the same name, recounted his career highlights (the successful TV show “Siskel & Ebert & the Movies”, winning the Pulitzer Prize, his “discovery” of Martin Scorsese, etc.) The parts that exposed his ego and his love-hate relationship with Siskel were certainly enlightening, but it was his courage in battling cancer that moved me.

Roger Elbert in Life Itself

His life-force was so strong that even when his tumour-stricken lower jaw was removed (taking away his speech and the ability to eat), he refused to give in. He continued to write and communicate with the people he loved, especially his devoted wife Chaz.

Roger Elbert in Life Itself

Director Steve James, took pains to paint a rounded picture of his good friend, resulting in a balanced documentary that was respectful and touching. I won’t be surprised if Roger Elbert in “Life Itself” gets a Oscar nomination next year.

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