A little late, I know (been away on vacation), but I wanted to add a few brief words to the chorus of affectionate memories of longtime print/TV film critic Roger Ebert, who died last week after a long battle with cancer. Except for one brief, pleasant conversation on a Toronto sidewalk more than a decade ago, I didn’t know Roger — but, like so many of us, I felt like I did. (It feels right to refer to him as “Roger,” doesn’t it, not the more formal “Ebert”? That alone speaks volumes. I greatly admired Pauline Kael, too, but I would never refer to her as “Pauline.”) I guess I’ve “known” Roger since I was a teenager, watching him and Gene Siskel on “Sneak Previews”; later I became a regular reader of his reviews, marvelling at his productivity and thoughtfulness, sometimes disagreeing but feeling sure that was the point of it all: thinking about what moved you, and conveying that. Roger was a career newspaperman and a wonderful writer; someone who never lost the joy of being a little kid at the movies, but who understood that it wasn’t just the movies that mattered. He took vivid pleasure in great art and great entertainment, found wit in the most horrific of moviegoing experiences, and wrote with such honesty and kindness and humor and wisdom that a lot of us stopped in our tracks last week when we heard of his death, as if we’d lost a friend. “He realized connecting with people is the main reason we’re here,” said his stepdaughter at a memorial service Monday — and he did that, through TV and newsprint and books (read his beautiful memoir “Life Itself” right away, if you haven’t already) and rogerebert.com and Twitter — and now, always, in our memories. Rest in peace, Roger. You once told an interviewer that you hoped “Citizen Kane” would screen over and over in heaven; I suspect you’ve got an aisle seat.
April 11, 2013 at 10:46 AM