Roger Ebert, one of the most influential and famous film critics of all-time, has passed away at the age of 70. According to Variety, he died of complications from cancer. In his remarkable life, Ebert wrote more than 15 books including his autobiography, Life Itself, in 2011. In 1975, Ebert became the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for criticism. He also didn’t simply look at cinema from afar, but also participated in the development by writing Russ Meyer‘s 1970 film, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Perhaps most notably (and it’s hard to say what’s most notable in Ebert’s life), he and Gene Siskel took advantage of television as the new medium to bring film criticism to the masses. Both wrote for newspapers, but in the age of television, their “Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down” brought film criticism to an even wider audience than their Chicago papers could reach.
Hit the jump for my thoughts on Ebert’s passing. Our deepest condolences go out to Ebert’s wife, Chaz Hammelsmith Ebert, and his countless friends and colleagues.
If you need further proof that Roger Ebert is one of the greatest film critics of all time, consider the fact that he’s writing some of the best and most thoughtful essays and reviews at age 70, over forty years after he began his career as a professional film critic. His 2011 memoir Life Itself is a fascinating read, and now a trio of filmmaking giants has optioned the book for a documentary. Ebert broke the news himself on Twitter:
“Whoa! My memoir has been optioned for a doc by Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”) and Steven Zaillian, with Martin Scorsese as exec producer.”
So that’s Steve James, director of one of the best documentaries of all time (Hoop Dreams), Oscar-winning screenwriter Steven Zaillian (Schindler’s List, Moneyball), and Mr. Martin Scorsese. Hit the jump for more, including a reaction from Ebert and the synopsis for his memoir.
The A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips iteration of At the Movies aired its final episode last month, but celebrated film critic Roger Ebert will bring back his own half-hour movie review program with a twist. Over at Roger Ebert’s Journal, from the critic’s long-time home The Chicago Sun-Times, it has been announced that Ebert will produce Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies, an all-new half-hour program slated to start airing in January of 2011. In addition to reviewing movies with the copyrighted Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down format, the program will also focus on coverage of New Media, special segments on classics, on-demand viewing and genres. So who will take post as hosts of the new series? Find out after the jump.
It is one of those too weird to not be true stories.
In 1977, at the height of The Sex Pistols fame, Roger Ebert and Russ Meyers (who had previously collaborated on the unfairly maligned Beyond the Valley of the Dolls) were hired to make a feature about the band. The film was to be called, Who Killed Bambi? and was to play like a punk rock version of Help! filming lasted two days before production was shut down because of funding issues. Very shortly thereafter the band broke up and Sid Vicious (as well as Nancy Spungen) were dead.
Short snippets of footage appeared in Julien Temple’s 1980 film The Great Rock’n'Roll Swindle, but it appeared as though all other evidence of this piece of punxploitation — which included scenes of Sid Vicious and his mother casually shooting heroin and Sting playing a police Bobby who beats up Johnny Rotten — was lost.
Not any longer. Earlier today, Roger Ebert finally posted a full transcript of the screenplay on his superb blog. Read on for the rest.
Roger Ebert, who has grown to legendary status, especially after the moving piece on him in Esquire (I also suggest a touching piece by Will Leitch on Deadspin), will show off his new speech device on today’s Oprah. I don’t want to say new “voice” because as anyone can tell from his writing, Ebert never lost that. In fact, it’s only become stronger over the years. The more serious I’ve become about movies over the years, the more I’ve come to respect him.
Hit the jump for my personal thoughts about Ebert over the years and a sneak peek of his appearance on Oprah this afternoon.
Most people know Roger Ebert for his movie reviews and his trademark “thumbs up” rating system. Perhaps those people know that Ebert has been battling health problems for years, including a bout with cancer that has claimed most of his lower jaw and rendered him mute. But in an Esquire article, Chris Jones gives us a revealing, sometimes sad, sometimes inspiring look at the most famous movie critic of all time.
Hit the jump for some excerpts and my thoughts.