Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Reviews of Roger Ebert

As I'm sure almost everyone has heard by now, film critic Roger Ebert died this last week at the age of 70. About a month or so back I began wondering if something was wrong with his health since his site began featuring reviews by others with increasing frequency. Other writers (with more research power and time at their disposal) have already written about Ebert more completely than I could hope to. Instead of an in-depth look at his life and overarching influence, I'd like to simply tell you how his work has influenced me, and then point out a couple of my favorite Ebert reviews.

I have a list of potential "great works" which I wrote a few months back, they range from webcomics to songs to novels; "the reviews of Roger Ebert" is one of the items on that list. I realize it sounds cliche, but his reviews were actually a big part of why I decided to start this blog. The way he views movies with an active, critical mind drew me in and challenged me to do the same. I have read more than a thousand of his review articles over the last couple of years, even reading reviews for movies I never intend to see. He sees films quite differently from the way I do, and though it is not uncommon in the least for me to disagree with his opinion about a particular film or scene, I always appreciate what he brings to light. I am even able to read what he wrote about Gentleman Broncos without wanting to rejoice in his recent passing. I know, too soon.

RIP Roger Ebert, thank you for your insights.

-MA 4.9.2013


The GWR "best of" Ebert:

North - "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it." Note: The reason there are no stars displayed on the top of North's review is because it received no stars. 

Primer - "The movie delights me with its cocky confidence that the audience can keep up. 'Primer' is a film for nerds, geeks, brainiacs, Academic Decathlon winners, programmers, philosophers and the kinds of people who have made it this far into the review. It will surely be hated by those who 'go to the movies to be entertained' and embraced and debated by others, who will find it entertains the parts the others do not reach. It is maddening, fascinating and completely successful." This has been reviewed on GWR as well.

The Village - "Eventually the secret of Those, etc., is revealed. To call it an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes. It's a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It Was All a Dream. It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore."

Beavis and Butt-Head - "It is impossible to feel any affection for B&B. They aren't lovable goofs, like Bill and Ted (of 'Excellent Adventure' fame). Judge has stripped them of all redeeming qualities. Why, then, did 'Beavis and Butt-Head Do America' hold my interest, and amuse and stimulate me--why was the movie so much fun? Because B&B represent an extreme version of people we see around us every day, and because the movie is radical and uncompromising: Having identified B&B as an extreme example of grunge, disaffection and cheerfully embraced ignorance, the movie is uncompromising in its detestation of them." This has been reviewed on GWR as well.

Baby Geniuses "Bad films are easy to make, but a film as unpleasant as 'Baby Geniuses'' achieves a kind of grandeur. And it proves something I've long suspected: Babies are cute only when they're being babies. When they're presented as miniature adults (on greeting cards, in TV commercials or especially in this movie), there is something so fundamentally wrong that our human instincts cry out in protest."

Battlefield Earth -  " 'Battlefield Earth' is like taking a bus trip with someone who has needed a bath for a long time. It's not merely bad; it's unpleasant in a hostile way. The visuals are grubby and drab. The characters are unkempt and have rotten teeth. Breathing tubes hang from their noses like ropes of snot. The soundtrack sounds like the boom mike is being slammed against the inside of a 55-gallon drum. The plot. . . .But let me catch my breath. This movie is awful in so many different ways."

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Ebert! Sometimes he likes movies that I don't, but very few people know how to intelligently critique film the way he did. He should be remembered as one of the great writers of our time. He is so expressive with a keyboard!