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Film critics, bloggers remember Ebert

BURBANK CA - JULY 29:  Film critics Richard Roeper (L) Roger Ebert appear 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno'

BURBANK, CA - JULY 29: Film critics Richard Roeper (L) and Roger Ebert appear on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" at the NBC Studios on July 29, 2004 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Robert Roeper;Roger Ebert

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Read more online at www.suntimes.com

Updated: May 8, 2013 6:49AM



Roger Ebert’s death Thursday prompted an outpouring of tributes. Here is a sampling of remembrances and reflections found online and in print about the longtime Sun-Times movie critic.

“Roger Ebert had been the editor of the Daily Illini and had graduated a few years before I got to campus. But he still got the DI, as we called it, by mail every day in Chicago. Even though I didn’t really know him, Ebert began clipping out my columns from the paper and putting them on the desk of the editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, Jim Hoge. When I was a senior, I got a call from Hoge asking me to come to Chicago, where he offered me a job. I politely turned him down, saying I wanted to work for magazines. That night, when I was back in Champaign-Urbana, I got this roaring call from Ebert, telling me that nobody in his right mind would turn down the offer of a job from a newspaper! Newspapers were where the most important writing in America was done!”

— Roger Simon, chief political columnist, Politico (www.suntimes.com/19279797-761/roger-simon-the-debt-i-owe-roger-ebert.html)

“The more Roger became a prisoner of his body, the more he seemed to escape into his rich and sophisticated mind. By the agreement of almost everyone I know, his writing in these last years was among the best he’d ever done, more personal and expansive, marked by a still-astonishing rate of productivity. He wrote a wonderful memoir, close in its deceptively profound, plainspoken way to two of the writers Roger most admired: Charles Dickens and Samuel Johnson.”

— Scott Foundas, chief film critic at Variety (http://variety.com/2013/film/opinion/roger-ebert-dead-variety-remembers-1200333601)

“As infallible as I think he was to me in the early going, what made Ebert so indelible as I got older was precisely how personal his relationship to the movies and to his readers obviously was. ... One of the best things about his memoir was that it reclaimed him as a human from his encroaching reputation as something of a saint; but boy, he was ... important. To me, to my friends, to many of the people who came to love movies and culture at the same time I did.”

­— Linda Holmes, host of NPR’s Monkey See blog (www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2013/04/04/176273118/remembering-roger-ebert)

“Everything he wrote — reviews, columns, blogs, interviews, tweets, etc. — was personal. He didn’t hide behind an alter ego. So the sense that readers ‘knew’ him wasn’t misplaced. And that’s why his death is felt so keenly by so many ­— not because he is ‘greater’ or ‘more famous’ than anyone else but because he let us get close. Even to those who never met him, he was a friend and companion.”

—James Berardinelli, at ReelViews.net, whom Ebert mentioned in a 1998 interview with The Reader’s Michael Miner (www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/everybodys-critic/Content?oid=896526)

“A critic for the Chicago Sun-Times for forty-six years, the Ebert era has bracketed the better half of film history. Unlike the fanatical doctrines of Pauline Kael, the humility of his observations broke through the cultural feudalism of cinema snobbery to land right aboard the brains and the breakfast tables of the American family. With syndication in more than 200 national newspapers, his voice of easy reason trickled from Chicago to Hollywood.”

— India Ross, film and TV blogger on The Huffington Post U.K. (www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/india-ross/citizen-roger-ebert_b_3018283.html)

“But if the TV show ensured that Roger Ebert was famous while he was alive, it’s his writing for newspapers and the Web that should ensure he’ll be remembered long after he’s dead. For one thing, he was an exceptional stylist. I might disagree strenuously with Ebert’s opinion about a movie; I might bristle at a factual flub or two about the plot; but I was almost always awed at his prose, which was thoughtful, graceful, funny, and accessible.”

— Jesse Walker, Books editor at Reason.com, in a blog post (http://reason.com/blog/2013/04/05/in-memoriam-rip)

“Ebert ... was at bottom mainly interested in pop culture, something that I suspect is true of most people who write regularly about film, the ultimate mass medium. But he was genuinely responsive to high art as well, and if he was more a reviewer than a critic, he almost always had sensible things to say about the films that he saw. After you read his reviews, you knew pretty much what to expect if you went to see them for yourself, which is no small achievement.”

— Terry Teachout, who writes a blog on the arts in New York for ArtsJournal (www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight)

“Ebert wasn’t a critic in the generally perceived sense of tearing a film to pieces. He believed that language was best used to show how films achieved beauty within their own terms. That optimistic spirit grabbed me early on as a wonderful idea: enjoyment and appreciation first; giving words to these second. I’m not sure I’d be at the DN without that.”

— Cameron Mount, film columnist at the Daily Nebraskan (www.dailynebraskan.com/arts_and_entertainment/article_56109e34-9d9f-11e2-9c7f-001a4bcf6878.html)

You can find more Ebert coverage and links to the full pieces excerpted at www.suntimes.com.



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