(directed by Steve James, 2015)
****+ (out of 5)
> What a great beginning to my new year- to start off with such a dynamite film!
. This biopic of the late Pulitzer Prize winning movie critic Roger Ebert delivers beautifully on many different levels: as a portrait of a man’s life and work, a love story, a story of professional rivalry and a medical drama about facing death with dignity. Roger was such a public man, that we may think we know all there is to know about the infectiously enthusiastic cinephile. We would be wrong. Knowing he was dying soon of jaw cancer, the public man invited celebrated filmmaker Steve James (HOOP DREAMS, STEVIE, THE INTERRUPTERS) to make a documentary from his memoir of the same name- bringing the story, unflinchingly, right up to the limits of his life.
. Seeing Roger unable to speak, with a gaping hole where his jaw had been, is horrifying indeed. We can literally see through his lower face to his neck and collarbone, and it is a painful, painful sight- that is only mitigated when he smiles- mostly with his sparkling eyes. What hell he must have endured at the end! But Roger stayed remarkably positive throughout, continuing to find joy in his life through the love of his wife Chaz, and a single-minded devotion to his life’s work: sharing his deep and abiding love for movies. As a fellow film-nut and (amateur) reviewer, this sometimes-crusty man held a special place in my heart. I agreed with him more often than not. In any case, I always saw and understood his point- even if I disagreed.
. But none of that matters here. Here is a love story about a man, and his devotion. Sometimes uplifting, sometimes heart-wrenching , it’s just a beautiful document- a film well-made about a life well-lived.
* * *
© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.