Life Itself (Steve James – 2014) A

I’ve purposely put off watching this for a long time. I thought it would be too depressing soon after Ebert’s passing. The doc is based on Ebert’s fantastic memoir of the same name.  It is an honest look at the life and career of Roger Ebert complete with an unflinching look at his latter days after disease robbed him literally of half his face and his ability to talk. He lived a full life, was a very smart individual and had his a demons and issues as well. Ebert is a big reason I love the movies I love and was one of the few “celebrities” whose passing actually saddened me. Favorite highlights include his long relationship with his co-host Gene Siskel, his championing of little known film-makers who almost owe him their careers (like Scorsese!)  and his relationship with wife Chaz. Ebert was not just a movie “critic”, he really was his own voice and his own category. No one writes like him today or is nearly as accessible as he was. He rarely “bashed” even bad movies. His love for film was evident and he educated, familiarized and challenged his readers.


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