Roger Ebert was an inspiration to all of us who loved movies
Roger Ebert has died, but the art form he loved is very much alive. We honor him not so much by remembering his reviews of North but rather his and Gene Siskel’s raves for Do The Right Thing during a time when pundits were sure that Spike Lee’s drama would cause race riots. We honor him by remembering his essays and his and Gene Siskel’s relentless championing of Hoop Dreams. We honor him by remembering what films and what filmmakers we never would have discovered at a young age had Ebert (and yes Siskel) not introduced us to them.
If the film critic has any kind of noble purpose, it is to shine a light on the good and the unexpectedly great in film.
No one gets into film criticism because they hate movies. We got into this because we love the cinema and we love the singular experience of watching great movies. If we have any kind of noble goal, it is to highlight what we love, even if its a minority opinion and even if it opens us up to ridicule from our peers.
If we have a social good, it is in highlighting the great movies that may have slipped under the radar. It is in highlighting the little-seen independent film that desperately needs the publicity to stand out alongside its peers.
It is also in highlighting the genuine artistry found in mainstream studio pictures, especially in a time when so many film scholars are all-too willing to write off every would-be ‘big movie’ and thus declare that cinema is dead. Cinema is not dead. Cinema is as alive as it’s ever been.
To read more go to Mendelson’s Memos
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