Remembering Roger Ebert

April 8, 2013

The TFCA was very sad to hear of the passing of famed film critic Roger Ebert last Thursday. Many of our members (some who knew Roger personally for many years) wrote pieces on him that we’d like share.

Everyone called him Roger (Brian D. Johnson)

Remembering Roger Ebert (Norm Wilner)

Appreciation of Roger Ebert: the man who loved movies (Liam Lacey)

Thought Bubble: R.I.P Roger Ebert (Andrew Parker)

Chris Knight on Roger Ebert: Our chief film critic remembers the man who was all thumbs (and that’s a good thing)

Roger Ebert a big man with a big heart (Liz Braun)

RIP Roger Ebert (1942-2013) (John Semley)

For Roger Ebert, it was always about the movies: Howell (Peter Howell)

Roger Ebert dies at 70 (Kiva Reardon)

Remembering Roger (Eli Glasner)

Jennie Punter wrote the following about her experience working with Roger:

In 2004 I worked as the field producer for Boston film critic Gerald Peary’s documentary about American film criticism “For The Love of Movies,” which had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in 2009.

In the late summer of 2004 I travelled with Gerald and a cinematographer to Chicago, where we filmed former Chicago Reader film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum in his shelf-lined apartment, a teenaged Gabe Klinger in his parents’ house and Roger Ebert on the set of his TV show, in its final year at that familiar cosy, theatrical location.

More than any other city, even New York, Chicago felt to me–in 2004 at least– like the crucial North American intersection of everything film criticism had been and was destined to be.

Roger was more than gracious to our small crew, generous with his time and, as always, completely candid about his own work and the profession in general. It was the first time I met him in person. I was so pleased to discover that the dude whose rants and raves I’d enjoyed over the years in print and on TV was more interested in talking about movies than about his own role in “the conversation.” During the Chicago shoot with Roger, I did not mention that I was also a film critic (or film reviewer, as I preferred to call myself) because I had a particular role to play on set as a wrangler, nudging Gerald from time to time during the interview, making sure everything was set up so that smooth interaction could take place.

In my 20+ years as a film critic I think Roger’s approach to his work is probably the closest to what I was aiming at in my fumbling attempts to write about cinema. I always thought of my readers as anyone who picked up the paper, and that it was my job to give them my opinion, put the film itself and my opinion in a context that could be easily explained and maybe share one or two facts or ideas they might not have considered … and every once in a while there would be time and space for an inspired riff or burst of insight. That’s what Roger did and what I tried to do.

Not all of Roger’s reviews were created equal. He had his good days and bad, made mistakes like all of us, re-evaluated his thoughts on some titles years after his original views were published. But he was consistently enthusiastic and eloquent and intelligent, let’s face it, made everyone feel like their opinion  mattered. Thumbs up, Thumbs down. That’s what it often boils down to.

And of course as we all know he was among the first major scribe to seriously embrace the new, abbreviated form of communication known as Twitter and really set the standard for perfect engagement. I will miss his daily tweets. It was so hilarious to see him face off against younger industry “tweet stars” a couple of years ago at a TIFF event — a moderator chose a topic and participants had a limited to write a pithy tweet. Roger blew everyone out of the water. That’s how he rolled.

Trailer of For The Love of Movies.