Our goodbye: Ryan on Roger Ebert - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
4Apr/130

Our goodbye: Ryan on Roger Ebert

"When I am asked, all too frequently, if I really sit all the way through these movies, my answer is inevitably:
Yes, because I want to write the review."
Roger Ebert (June 18, 1942 – April 4, 2013)

Ebert and ChazRyan COMMENTARY w/o RatingI knew he was sick and was getting worse. He had become quiet on his webpage and social media. I was preparing myself for this but when I heard that Roger Ebert had passed away it hit me harder than I could have imagined. I had met the man a few times and got to shake his hand but was not a family friend or relative yet I feel like this death was more than just a typical celebrity death for me, this man was my idol and I think I  just realized how big of an impact he had made on me.

Ever since I have been into film there was one name that went along with movie criticism and that was Roger Ebert. At first I knew him from his show and the talk show appearances he made with Siskel but it wasn’t until I was older than I discovered his writing. Many of times I got more enjoyment from his reviews than I did from the movie itself and no one could write a great review for a bad film like Ebert and I think the reason this was the fact he ALWAYS wanted to see a good movie. Many people now see movies with the hope and glee that they will be able to tear it down, Ebert always wanted to see a movie that moved him. When he saw
these movies he was wonderful at gushing about it and his joy was infectious that it made you not WANT to see the film but HAVE to. While I didn’t always agree with his views and sometimes could not imagine what he actually saw in a film I always was glad that he liked it so much.

Yet, for every time that I didn’t see what he saw there were at least 5 movies that I agreed with him about 100%. Without Ebert I don’t know if I would have been introduced to Billy Wilder, Westerns, Dark City, LA Confidential, The Coen Brothers and countless other films that his writing made me search out. His Great Movies series of books were what got me into classics and I will always be very thankful of that.

But the appreciation (and love) that I felt for the man goes beyond movies and writing, he always felt like one of “us”. He was born a place about 2 hours from my hometown and we have both lived in Illinois for our lives, he loved Chicago as much as anyone could and almost were guaranteed a positive review if you used Chicago well in your film. I could look at him and see a person from my neck of the woods making it and think that if I do something a 1/3 as well as him I did good. He was always a person but also something to aspire to be, he was an institution.

Whenever I would see a movie, whether it be new or old, I would check what Ebert said right away. It was always nice to see if he agreed or not and what kind of morsel he would pick up that I never would have. I almost didn’t feel like the movie watching experience was over until I did this. I think this is what I will miss most of all, hearing what he thinks about new movies. I know I am going to leave films like Superman or the newest Scorcese movie and wonder what Ebert would have thought of the movie.

Ebert had a yearly Overlooked Film Festival near me in Urbana, IL. I made it to the festival one of the years and had a blast. I always said each year that I was going to take off a few days of work and do the whole thing. It always seemed “next year” would be that year I did it. I had always planned on it and always said “next year” this year was going to be the year and I had planned on seeing at least 3 of the films but now Ebert will not be there. I missed my chance to hear Ebert discuss films for years on end for just a 40-minute drive. I am kicking myself because of this now and will be for a long time, it was just another example of not being guaranteed that next year. So long Ebert, I hope you are eating a steakburger and watching a great film right now wherever you are.

Posted by Ryan

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