Thursday, April 4, 2013
R.I.P. Mr. Ebert
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: