Monday, July 28, 2008

While My Thumb Gently Weeps

It was announced last week that Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper were leaving "At the Movies," the film review program that Ebert launched with Gene Siskel decades ago. To me, "At the Movies," though, had been dead for many years, ever since the death of Siskel. Nevertheless, this news still made me a bit sad.

Of all the television shows I grew up watching, "At the Movies" was perhaps one of the most influencial. It was a show that taught me that not all movies were good and how to discuss what made a movie good or not good with intelligence and wit. In my teens, I dreamed of becoming a movie critic like my idol, Gene Siskel. I always preferred him to Ebert. I thought his analysis of films tended to be a bit more cerebral and thoughtful. When the two disagreed on a film's merit, I rarely sided with Ebert. Although I ultimately chose to pursue a career in education, my love of film has never waned, nor has my love of sharing my opinion about a film I've seen. This blog (and my on-air stints on The Ford Show ) has allowed me to make that youthful dream come alive. Every time I sit down to my computer to write a review (stay tuned later this week for my review of Step-Brothers), I think of Siskel and those many Saturday afternoons spent in front of the television learning about film from him and his partner in crime.
What prompts me to write this particular post, outside of procrastinating in the face of the amount of yard work that waits for me outside, is this article I read this morning. Here, Roger Ebert looks back on the program that turned these two geeky Chicagoans into stars. It's a funny, touching inside look at how the program turned film criticism into entertainment and renews my appreciation for the influence these two men had on film -- and on me. The balcony will always be open for them.

1 comment:

Peter Von Brown said...

I grew up watching this program as well. I agree that it helped broaden one's scope of movie-watching. I also preferred Siskel. Ebert, I am sorry to say, eventually became a source of entertainment for me rather than trustworthy critique. Case in point: He did not like the first Spiderman movie. It had its flaws, yes, but overall I feel it leapt from the pages into a great thrill. Ebert claimed it "Too much like a comic book." Is he aware of the source material? Conversely, he loved the Hulk movie (the Lee one, not the recently released)because it proved "just like a comic book." Um...? And that movie is(for me at least) unwatchable. Ebert does have a great book, though, I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie. A collection of his his reviews which are cruel but bursting with comedy.

Ultimately, I think the Internet killed the became all too easy to get umpteen thousand reviews.