In the realm of movie criticism, people love absolutes. This movie is better than that movie. This movie is 2 stars and that one is 5 stars, etc. However, if you actually critique movies for a living, you quickly realize not all movies are created equal. There are times and circumstances where films that may not be equal are given similar grades for different reasons. Speaking personally, did I love Man of Steel for what it was and give it a positive review? Yes. Was the grade the same or higher than films on my top 10 of the year? Yes. But Man of Steel didn’t make the list because it served a different purpose than those films.
One person who would have totally understood that is Roger Ebert. Ebert was a big proponent of context in criticism (hence giving a thumbs up to Benji the Hunted but not Full Metal Jacket, as seen in Life Itself) and recommending The Longest Yard and The Honeymooners over War of the Worlds. Below, watch those two clips to hear Ebert explain his reasons for movie review ratings. Read More »
Right now I want to remember Roger Ebert by posting a series of video compilations featuring some of the best moments from the Pulitzer-winning film critic’s television reviewing days, which he shared alongside Gene Siskel and Richard Roeper. The videos were compiled by Clement’s Corner, and posted on youtube a few years back. In loving memory of Roger.
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Medellin Reviewed on Ebert & Roeper
The Pitch: From the season premiere of Entourage, the fictional film within the show is reviewed on Ebert & Roeper (which makes it technically the last reviewed film in the shows history). Watch Ari Gold’s response at this link.
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It was only a matter of time… Richard Roeper announced on Sunday that he is leaving the nationally syndicated Ebert & Roeper movie review television show. Apparently, Disney-ABC Domestic Television and Roeper were unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension, so Roeper’s last appearance on the show will air the weekend of August 16th. And with that Roger Ebert, who has been sidelined from the show for almost two years due to heath issues, has announced that Disney has decided to take the show in “a new direction” in which he “will no longer be associated with it.”
“The show was a wonderful experience. It was a great loss to me when surgery in July 2006 made it impossible for me to appear on the air any longer. Although I remained active behind the scenes, I feel that Richard Roeper and several co-hosts, notably Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott, have excelled at carrying on the tradition Gene Siskel and I began in 1975 with “Sneak Previews” on PBS,” wrote Ebert. “Gene and I felt the formula was simplicity itself: Two film critics, sitting across the aisle from each other in a movie balcony, debating the new films of the week. We developed an entirely new concept for TV that has lasted all these years. Few shows have been on the air so long and remained so popular. We made television history, and established the trademarked catch-phrase ‘Two thumbs up.’ “
Ebert concludes his letter reminding everyone that he still owns the trademark with Gene’s widow, “and the thumbs will return.”
“We are discussing possibilities, and plan to continue the show’s tradition,” promises Ebert.
Roeper, who joined the show in 2000 after the death of Ebert’s original co-host Gene Siskel, says he intends to “proceed elsewhere … as the co-host of a movie review show that honors the standards established by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert more than 30 years ago.”
A couple years ago Roger Ebert decided to put his entire review library online at RogerEbert.com. I’ve spent many hours on that website researching past movies in the extensive review database. I use to collect Ebert’s movie yearbooks which collected all his film reviews in a yearly collection. It amazed me that Roger would risk putting his entire archive online free of charge. And now he’s doing it again.
Starting Thursday, August 2nd, Ebert will be putting an archive of his television reviews online. The 1,000+ television shows represent more than 5,000 reviews, and will be available on demand at atthemoviestv.com.
“Gene and I knew those old shows would be worth saving, but for a long time nobody agreed with us. In the years before home video, it seemed like a waste of expensive video tape to preserve hundreds of episodes of our earlier incarnations on “Opening Soon at a Theater Near You,” “Sneak Previews” or “At the Movies.” After all, the movies we were reviewing weren’t going to be opening again, and who’d want to watch a show of old movie reviews? Right?” asks Ebert. “all of that changed, and the current era of DVDs and Blockbuster and Netflix and streaming online content began to unfold. Today, there would be an audience for the original Siskel & Ebert reviews of, say, “Batman” or “Jurassic Park,” or Ebert & Roeper trading opinions on “Crash” or “Brokeback Mountain,” or Martin Scorsese and I picking the best film of he 1990s.”
The archive will be searchable in various ways, including the ability for users to look-up specific movies, stars, or directors. But what Ebert also offers us an update on his current situation:
“I’m back in action in the Chicago Sun-Times and at rogerebert.com, but not on the air; the Ebert & Roeper site will provide links to my Sun-Times print reviews. Meanwhile, I watch from the other side of the camera. I hope to reclaim that other seat eventually, but I need more surgery to restore my ability to speak. I hope the show, now in its 32nd year, goes on and on and on. That was another thing Gene and I agreed on.”
I hope Roger comes back soon. Those guest critics are unwatchable at times (Jay Leno, John Mellencamp?), and Richard Roeper is only as good as his counterpoint.