it’s rare that one gets to write a memoir of her/his life and a memoir of her/his work. roger ebert is one of those unicorns who can do this. i feel like this one is the bookend to life itself, and i’m great-full for all of his contributions to the bizness of commenting on cultural works.
“Every critic has a writing persona, and most strain to create one of memorable eccentricity. Too many critics bully us to accept their tastes because of their greater expertise; one of today’s most famous often launches a piece by assuring us that he championed a film or the director long before anyone else did. Ebert never intimidates. He’s never clever at the expense of the movie, but neither is he utterly self-effacing. The quality he projects in his writing is that of a sensitive, curious appetite for new cinematic experience, whether coming from a blockbuster, an indie, or an import. In watching what transpires on the screen he tries to grasp, by means of his sympathetic imagination, the highest ambitions to which the film might aspire, whatever its genre or level of production. He serves the film, not his ego; his modesty doesn’t dissolve his standards but reminds us of how flexible those standards are.” (xiv, foreword, David Bordwell)
two thumbs way up.