Roger Ebert, the film critic best known for his “thumbs up, thumbs down” movie reviews died Thursday after a battle with cancer. He was 70. A prolific writer, Ebert reviewed as many as 285 films a year and wrote 17 books. “My newspaper job is my identity,” he said in 2005.
From the Hollywood Reporter:
“The show, airing on Saturday nights around dinnertime in most major markets, demystified and popularized film criticism as the two chatted and traded opinions after clips of movies were shown. For the Buena Vista edition, Siskel and Ebert came up with their signature “thumbs-up/thumbs-down” appraisals; two thumbs-up (and later two big thumbs-up) was as good as a movie could get.”
Just this week, Ebert blogged about how he was going to slow down.
“Typically, I write over 200 reviews a year for the Sun-Times that are carried by Universal Press Syndicate in some 200 newspapers. Last year, I wrote the most of my career, including 306 movie reviews, a blog post or two a week, and assorted other articles. I must slow down now, which is why I’m taking what I like to call “a leave of presence.”
What in the world is a leave of presence? It means I am not going away.”
The Chicago Sun-Times, where Ebert reviewed movies for 46 years, quotes Ebert:
“‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoirs. “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhapy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
Below, Siskel & Ebert give a mixed review to “Aliens.”
Ebert lost part of his jaw to Thyroid cancer. Here he is talking finding his new voice at TED.