Thursday, April 4, 2013
What Roger Taught Me
I discovered Siskel & Ebert when I was an early teen. It was on at a really random time in the middle of the night, so I would tape it and then watch it the next day after I got home from school. After discovering his show, I started reading his reviews in print, sometimes feverishly looking for a hard copy of the Chicago Sun-Times at Barnes and Noble. His banter with fellow critic Gene Siskel was like watching an exciting tennis match (I remember an argument between them when they expressed their picks for the Oscars in 1997).
Every Friday, every week, I would go to his site and read his reviews. I felt like I knew when he would give a thumbs up or thumbs down to, and when I was wrong, I would only want to read his reviews more.
Ebert's warmth and sincerity rang true in his writing. He wanted to tell you about why he liked or disliked something, and he taught me that I did't have to fully hate or love something. I could love the cinematography of one movie and hate the acting. I could love the pacing and hate the production design.
The most important thing I learned from him was to keep an open mind about things. Be surprised. Don't be afraid to love something everyone else seems to hate. He obviously loved to learn and express and feel things. I will take that honesty with me no matter if I see a Jane Austen adaptation or a mindless stoner flick.
I will miss you, Rog. Thanks for everything.