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The story of how an eccentric French shop-keeper and amateur film-maker attempted to locate and befriend Banksy, only to have the artist turn the camera back on its owner. The film contains... See full summary »
'Life Itself' recounts the surprising and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert - a story that's by turns personal, wistful, funny, painful, and transcendent. The film explores the impact and legacy of Roger Ebert's life: from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism and his nearly quarter-century run with Gene Siskel on their review show, to becoming one of the country's most influential cultural voices, and finally to Roger's inspiring battles with cancer and the resulting physical disability - how he literally and symbolically put a new face on the disease and continued to be a cultural force despite it.Written by
The original plan for the film was to document the active schedule Roger Ebert maintained despite his illness, including attending screenings, writing reviews and for his blog, and hosting dinner parties with his wife. However, before filming began Ebert suffered a hip fracture that required months of rehabilitation, and he was later diagnosed with a new cancer, meaning the documentary instead became (in part) a chronicle of his final days. See more »
I don't know Pauline Kael. I never knew Pauline Kael, but fuck Pauline Kael. Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel were the most powerful critics of all-time in any realm.
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PROS: Marvelous view of a man most of us cinema buffs grew to love even as we sometime scowled in disagreement. Director Steve James did well marking the journey from childhood on forward. I was pleased to see appropriate time spent on that part of his journey most near and dear to our hearts... Siskel and Ebert at The Movies. This was also the most entertaining aspect of the film. Roger's late in life love tale which included his new extended family was heart warming on many levels. Who knew his love of kids and especially his instant grand children. How wonderful that he took the time to travel the world with his new family in two. His life's work and contributions from those who knew him was top notch. Overall a truly satisfying look back at Roger's life and the 'gifts' he bestowed to us over many years.
CONS: While director James gives short shrift to the many destructive years of Roger's alcoholism, a horrid disease, he was determined to dwell on Rogers final illness. One reviewer notes correctly: James dwells excessively on Ebert's terminal illness – close-ups of his chin-less face are omnipresent. Another also gets it right noting: (James) camera brings us – oftentimes relentlessly – into the final months of his life James shows us the famous Esquire front page photo Roger selected at the 'height' of his illness...to basically bare it all. The photo showed Roger's 'dignity' at the worst of medical time of his life. It is an astounding insight into the man and what he choose to reveal. On the other hand Roger did NOT choose to use photos of a suffering, bed ridden man with the camera staring through the void that was once his mouth/jaw. Nor did he choose a close-up of a nurse shoving a tube down his throat as he sat squirming. I am thinking Roger got it right and James relentless, in your face, fascination with the final months of Roger's life got it wrong.
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