Richard Corliss offers up a loving essay of appreciation about film critic/icon Roger Ebert, in honor of the ailing journalist’s 65th birthday. It’s a great summary of why Ebert is such a treasure to film fans, filmmakers, and the public at large. Corliss writes:
Of the four or five films up for review on his weekly TV show, he typically would give a thumbs up to two or three of them, making me wonder who in the civilian community has time to see all these movies. But as one of the few critics with a practical familiarity with filmmaking, Roger knows that the machinery of film production is so cumbersome, the pressure for commercial success so great and the odds against making anything good near-astronomical, that the best intentions often get dashed on the rocks of compromise. So he’s nearly as sympathetic to the attempt to make a good film as to the achievement in bringing it off. He errs, if erring it is, on the side of generosity.
When he doesn’t like a movie, he will often go out of his way to mention some attractive element amid the carnage, giving what amounts to a review that says, “Yes, but! Big but!” And when he decides that a movie rates a pan — a “Bah, thumbug,” if you will — he tends to approach the task not with the hot rage of a jilted suitor, or the curled lip of contempt that is the occupational habit of other critics (this one included), but with the fretful brow of a knowing, caring family doctor. He diagnoses the symptoms, then calmly and compassionately explains the nature of your ailment.
Thanks to GreenCine, for the link.