Saturday, January 27, 2007

Bess Knows

It occurred to me, just a second ago, that I hadn't said anything at all in print about the absence, due to illness, of Roger Ebert.
His recovery has left a fairly obvious empty spot on the world of film criticism, though Turan, Kauffman, and others keep writing.

Ebert himself has been, undoubtedly, the most well-known film critic, but those who don't read film criticism might be puzzled as to why. What makes a film critic, and what makes film criticism? It's the most widely dismissed field of writing there is (next to blogging). In lieu of my own content, I thought I'd post some links to particular reviews of his that formed my attachment to him, and include some later reviews that reveal just exactly what a critic can be, at top form.

If you read none of these (shame), please, come back, and read his review of Breaking the Waves. I swear to you, he actually made me love the movie more than I already did. He wrote that review with easily as much compassion as it took to make that movie.

E.T.

Milk Money

Breaking the Waves

The Exorcist

Belle De Jour

Fitzcarraldo

Pulp Fiction

I Spit on Your Grave

Signs

Grave of the Fireflies

48 Hours

There are many, many more, and since 1968, the man hasn't stopped writing about the movies, until now. Notice how he describes that 1973 "began and ended with cries of pain" in his review of The Exorcist, or how much loathing (and for what reasons) he has for I Spit on Your Grave.

In the case of Grave of the Fireflies, take note of how he stands up for the brilliance of a terribly traumatic film, fully committed to his observance that "No great film is depressing; only bad ones are". Also, I put up a link to his review of 48 Hours, because early on in Eddie Murphy's career, he tracked with great sensitivity the how and the why of Murphy's success. It's astute and loving. Come back to us, Roger.

7 comments:

Agnes said...

just letting you know I am alive, sort of and reading.
too busy with futile stuff to actually have time to write an actual post.
take care

santoritimes said...

I was going to say something about how lars von trier is a complete son of a bitch (five obstructions!) but I got distracted by the word verification. rapsgv sounds like an upcoming guided by voices hip hop tribute album. The sheer ballsy "I hate the world"ness of that concept suggests that Lars Von Trier would be involved.

Plaid Avenger said...

oh, yes. LVT. Complete mutta Fugga.

Me (five minutes after Dogville): You are a very mean man who needs a mommie (a la Hook)

Also, my WV this time was GZWush!

santoritimes said...

Having just read the review for I spit on your grave, I am in complete solidarity with Mr. Ebert. Also, I would like to suggest that there is an off-putting and sick trend afoot in the contemporary industry that eerily mirrors this movie. I have seen and hated this movie, and my feelings about it have resurfaced when I watched all or part of any of the Saw films or the recent string of Eli Roth directed or produced travesties. I hate these movies passionately and Roger Ebert will tell you why.

Anonymous said...

Ebert has a lot going for him, it's true, and I certainly don't want the man to be ill, but...

I have my issues with him. It's not that his judgement is bad, per se, but it's just...the things that make him great, his willingness to embrace a movie as "one of the greatest fill-in-the-blank of all time" is also the serious problem with his reviews. It's like he never gets past that movie honeymoon stage, where one goes to see something, gets out and thinks, "That was good." Then, when one examines it later on, one thinks, "Wait, no it wasn't. At all." (This oftens happens with sequels, hence my reaction to Episode 3.) Ebert never gets to the thinking later part, and as a professional reviewer, he really, really should.

Unlike Peter Travers, who is my hero.

- Claire

Plaid Avenger said...

You should really, really read anything from his great movies section. Also read his review of the Graduate, it speaks to what you're saying.
Also, I'm of the opinion, nay, fervent belief that you better be head-over-heels crazy-ass in love with movies before you start to review them
Truffaut once said that he had to watch a movie (an excellent one, I suppose) a few times before he even understood what it was about, so breathless by the very magic was he made, he could barely understand all the words being spoken.

Plaid Avenger said...

err..yes. Look up The Graduate on his site, and read the original review, and then the re-release.

Now, I love The Graduate, but I think what he does there (and has done several times, actually) is fairly useful.