Thursday, April 4, 2013

R.I.P. Mr. Ebert

When I was younger, mainly in the 1980's, I was just becoming a movie-phile.  When I moved to Okinawa, I discovered a whole new world of movies on Video, and I was glued to the TV for much of my high school years.  During that time, I would watch Siskel & Ebert just to see previews and clips, since FEN didn't air commercials.

My oldest distinctive memory was when they reviewed Rambo: First Blood part II.  Gene Siskel gave it a thumbs up, but Roger Ebert gave it a thumbs down.  From then on, I had a hate-on for him, and for years I would see film-critics as snobby hacks who judge movies based on a single set of criteria, without any thought given to the genre, like Roger Ebert.

Well, for the most part, that view of film-critics in general has remained, and I still believe that it's largely true.  However, in Roger Ebert's case, I slowly started to understand where he was coming from.  I figured out that what he was doing was holding film to a higher standard, in the hopes of influencing the film industry.  Not sure if I agree with him, even now.  And I think he was misguided and maybe a bit narrow-minded.

But what was important was that he stuck to his principles, and even though I rarely agreed with his views of any given movie, sometimes I actually did (though I recall back in the old days I agreed with Gene Siskel much more often).  As he got older, he seemed to open up a bit, and start to watch movies for their entertainment value, rather than strictly their aesthetic value.  So that, in the end, I found myself agreeing with his views more often (though still not always).

So, now that both halves of Siskel & Ebert are gone, I can lay to rest a bit more of my youth.  And bid a fond farewell to a man of integrity and class (even if he was wrong about Rambo).

Edit:  Apparently I misremembered Ebert's view of Rambo, and I apologize to Roger.  Though they both criticized the details and the politics, they both gave it a thumbs up.  Although during his description of the film, and its predecessor, First Blood, Roger misstates a lot of the facts of the films' stories.  You can watch the full episode here:

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I used to watch them too, and remember that the heavy set guy tended to like more SF/fantasy stuff than the thin guy. to this day, though, I don't know which was which as far as their names go.