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  #101  
Old 06-07-2019, 08:55 AM
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Oprah, wonderful example. While we can never know with absolute certainty how a Ebert review affected a films box office, we do know for a fact that if Oprah goes on TV today and tells everyone that Portnoy’s Complaint is the best work of fiction, ever, tomorrow it will be a best seller on Amazon, this we know, it has played out several times before. Now, we also know the cult of Oprah is apparently stronger than any other celebrity- but from this, would it not be safe to say that if a large many people buy a book because Oprah says its great, that a large number of people might not go see a film because Ebert says it sucks? And if he admittedly missed parts of that movie as he has done before, that might not be cool? At least I assume Oprah reads the books she touts.

And Emmanuelle is recommended because it succeeded in its aim of giving him an erection- Freddy Got Fingered’s aim was to disgust the viewer, and it clearly did that, so there’s that contradiction…

Last edited by Helmut Doork; 06-07-2019 at 08:57 AM.
  #102  
Old 06-07-2019, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Helmut Doork View Post
but from this, would it not be safe to say that if a large many people buy a book because Oprah says its great, that a large number of people might not go see a film because Ebert says it sucks?
No, it wouldn't. Oprah's popularity and media empire was magnitudes greater than anything Ebert ever commanded (not that he tried to).

Obviously Ebert's influence was something greater than zero otherwise he'd be a terrible film critic and media personality but he wasn't making films into blockbusters or flops with a single television episode or newspaper column.

That said, Beloved was produced by and starred Oprah and Ebert gave it 3.5/4 stars -- and it still flopped hard. Sometimes movies just don't resonate.

Last edited by Jophiel; 06-07-2019 at 09:12 AM.
  #103  
Old 06-07-2019, 10:26 AM
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And Emmanuelle is recommended because it succeeded in its aim of giving him an erection- Freddy Got Fingered’s aim was to disgust the viewer, and it clearly did that, so there’s that contradiction…
Some disgusting movies just suck, there's no contradiction there.

FgF garnered the following awards:
  • DFW Film Critics 2002 - Worst Film
  • Golden Schmoes 2001 - Worst movie of the year
  • Razzie Awards 2010 - Worst picture of the decade
  • Razzie Awards 2005 - Worst picture of the last 25 years (nominee)
  • Razzie Awards 2002 - Worst Picture, Worst Actor, Worst Screen Couple, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay
  • Stinkers Bad Movie Awards 2001 - Worst Actor, Worst On-screen Couple, Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy, Worst Sense of Direction, Worst Picture
The "Toronto Star" instituted an all-new rating for this film--Negative 1 star out of 5.

Some great quotes from reviews:
  • You could say that this was the second worst thing to happen in 2001. - Mike Stoklasa
  • Green, who looks like a chinless, hollow-eyed pederast at the best of times, is simply out of his league here, and the fact that the film drags interminably when it's actually a very average 90 minutes long betrays its essential emptiness. -- Marc Savlov
  • So awful it qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment. - Lou Lumenick
  • To dismiss this movie for being "offensive" would be to offer it high praise. - Owen Gleiberman
  • Bad decision after bad decision occurs over 93 minutes. - Robert K. Elder
  • One of the most brutally awful comedies ever to emerge from a major studio. - Robert Koehler
  • The movie is simply not professional. It's not, even by the lowest standards of Republic B-westerns in the '30s or bad, cheap horror films in the '50s, releasable. - Stephen Hunter
  • It's a performance that screams "Look at me!" louder and bigger than an elephant dick. And every bit as subtle. - Stephanie Zacharek
  • This movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't the bottom of the barrel. This movie isn't below the bottom of the barrel. This movie doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with barrels. - Roger Ebert

So it's not like Ebert was out on an island by himself. I'm pretty sure his review wasn't a major factor in the movie's dismal failure.
  #104  
Old 06-07-2019, 10:35 AM
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Data point:

We watched Three Days of the Condor yesterday. As I was looking at imdb for trivia, I noticed there is an Ebert review available, written concurrent with the film.

The review is good, it makes you want to see the film, it gives you most of the things that a review should, but...yet it has two examples where Ebert needed to have paid more attention.

One is this line from the review:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Ebert
He's a reader for something called the American Literary Historical Society...The society is a CIA front. The movie doesn't exactly make its activities transparently clear, but it seems to devour and computerize foreign books and magazines in a search for codes and messages.
Not clear? Redford explicitly spells out exactly what he does to Dunaway's character. He even adds, "Who'd invent a job like that?"

The second is more of a transcription error, but it distorts the point:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger Ebert
"Why is it," he reasonably asks a telephone contact, "that I have to identify myself to you, but you don't have to identify yourself to me?"
That's not what Redford says. His quote is "How come I need a code name and you don't?" While Redford's previous contact at the CIA was "The Major", Higgins did indeed identify himself as Deputy Director Higgins. Ebert makes it sound like the scene is cynical spy shenanigans, but in reality it is the scene where Higgins begins to treat "Condor" as a person. He starts calling him by his real name after this scene.

Last edited by Just Asking Questions; 06-07-2019 at 10:37 AM.
  #105  
Old 06-07-2019, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmut Doork View Post
And Emmanuelle is recommended because it succeeded in its aim of giving him an erection- Freddy Got Fingered’s aim was to disgust the viewer, and it clearly did that, so there’s that contradiction…
That's not a contradiction, unless the only criteria by which Ebert judged these movies was, "Did it meet its goal?" There's a lot of other criteria involved there, some mentioned in the review, some not mentioned because he's got to fit his review into a certain limited number of column inches. He might also disagree with you about FgF goal being nothing more than "be disgusting." Was that the film's only goal? My understanding is that it's also supposed to be funny. He might also feel that some goals are not worthwhile goals - a well made film that does a good job of advocating for a white supremacist ideology should still be given a bad review, because it's "goal" is abhorrent. Lastly, and most tellingly, you're comapring reviews he wrote twenty five years apart. Is a critic not allowed to have his tastes change over the course of a quarter of a century?
  #106  
Old 06-07-2019, 02:20 PM
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True, Canby savaged the original four hour cut, but this was shown as a premiere, one theatre only. It was recut and given a wider release. Ebert and Kael savaged that cut. The dreadful reputation pre-release was mainly known only to film insiders and was due to, among other things, way over budget, great amount of waste (rebuilding an entire set because Cimino wanted it a foot closer or something), animal cruelty, etc. None of which matters to the viewer, except maybe the animal cruelty. Viewers don't care what it cost, their ticket cost was the same at 1 million or 40 million. Average person in 1980 did not know inside info on movie dailies.

So agree, in this case, Canby savaged it and Ebert piled on, which is still a problem in film criticism today- monkey see, monkey do.

For further reading:

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/ri...d-heavens-gate
Wastefulness, budget busting, and carelessness may not matter to viewers, but all of those matter to producers, especially if the film is not a financial success. Sounds like Cimino himself caused the death of his career.

Last edited by TimfromNapa; 06-07-2019 at 02:21 PM.
  #107  
Old 06-07-2019, 02:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Just Asking Questions View Post
Data point:

We watched Three Days of the Condor yesterday. As I was looking at imdb for trivia, I noticed there is an Ebert review available, written concurrent with the film.

The review is good, it makes you want to see the film, it gives you most of the things that a review should, but...yet it has two examples where Ebert needed to have paid more attention.

One is this line from the review:



Not clear? Redford explicitly spells out exactly what he does to Dunaway's character. He even adds, "Who'd invent a job like that?"

The second is more of a transcription error, but it distorts the point:



That's not what Redford says. His quote is "How come I need a code name and you don't?" While Redford's previous contact at the CIA was "The Major", Higgins did indeed identify himself as Deputy Director Higgins. Ebert makes it sound like the scene is cynical spy shenanigans, but in reality it is the scene where Higgins begins to treat "Condor" as a person. He starts calling him by his real name after this scene.
Previous thread about errors in Ebert's reviews https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=721206
  #108  
Old 06-07-2019, 02:38 PM
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I always felt Ebert was top notch in his criticism. He saw more in movies and was a far better writer than anyone else.
I agree. Roger Ebert was always my most trusted reviewer, often writing with insight, passion, and a perspective that I often found I shared. In his review of My Dog Skip, for example, a film that I found so deeply emotional that it's hard to watch, only Ebert could write with this kind of intellectual honesty: "A movie like this falls outside ordinary critical language. Is it good or bad? Is there too much melodrama? I don't have any idea. It triggered too many thoughts of my own for me to have much attention left over for footnotes."

For an example of a useless reviewer, I give you the New Yorker's Richard Brody. I hate to say it because I love the New Yorker, and I have nothing against Brody, but he inhabits some sort of strange art-house world of his own that has very little in common with mine.

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Because I still often hear people quoting the North and FGF reviews, and the Rob Schneider and Vincent Gallo insults and find it offensive a man could take pleasure in ruining careers and lives and not really care about it.
You find it "offensive" that the man had opinions, and had the right to express them, and had earned the intellectual stature to be considered worth listening to? And I find it difficult to believe that any single critic has the awesome power to "ruin careers and lives", much less that someone of Ebert's ethical and intellectual standing would have engaged in such pursuits just as a form of malicious fun. I suspect that the real issue here is Ebert dared to criticize some of your personal sacred cows.
  #109  
Old 06-07-2019, 02:41 PM
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Wastefulness, budget busting, and carelessness may not matter to viewers, but all of those matter to producers, especially if the film is not a financial success. Sounds like Cimino himself caused the death of his career.
Cimino didn't just kill his career. He killed a major studio (United Artists). In the last 38 years, while there have been bigger and more wasteful flops, no single movie has been so financially disastrous that it literally drove a long-established Hollywood studio to bankruptcy.
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  #110  
Old 06-07-2019, 03:01 PM
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I agree. Roger Ebert was always my most trusted reviewer, often writing with insight, passion, and a perspective that I often found I shared. In his review of My Dog Skip, for example, a film that I found so deeply emotional that it's hard to watch, only Ebert could write with this kind of intellectual honesty: "A movie like this falls outside ordinary critical language. Is it good or bad? Is there too much melodrama? I don't have any idea. It triggered too many thoughts of my own for me to have much attention left over for footnotes."
See, this is CRITICISM. Ebert, rather than saying "movie good" or "movie bad," is consciously stepping back and discussing whether rating a movie on a linear scale from good to bad is always relevant in understanding the film and what it means. He's discussing cinema as art and how the viewer relates to it. That's the kind of smart, insightful criticism one hardly ever sees in movie reviews.

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Cimino didn't just kill his career. He killed a major studio (United Artists).
And the thing is, "Heaven's Gate" didn't kill his career. It took a few years for him to be handed the reins of a movie again, but he got more chances. He made more films and they were all mediocre to bad.
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Last edited by RickJay; 06-07-2019 at 03:04 PM.
  #111  
Old 06-07-2019, 05:03 PM
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Obviously Ebert's influence was something greater than zero otherwise he'd be a terrible film critic and media personality but he wasn't making films into blockbusters or flops with a single television episode or newspaper column.

That said, Beloved was produced by and starred Oprah and Ebert gave it 3.5/4 stars -- and it still flopped hard. Sometimes movies just don't resonate.
Another example of lack of influence was that both he and Siskel railed against what they called "dead teenager movies." Didn't do a damn bit of good.

As for errors, you try taking notes in the dark and then rushing to your office to write a review. Sure there will be errors. I've seen plenty of other critics screw up things about movies I know. They had neither a pause nor a rewind button.
I've also seen movie academicians screw up plot points of movies they had DVDs of.
  #112  
Old 06-07-2019, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Helmut Doork View Post
And Emmanuelle is recommended because it succeeded in its aim of giving him an erection- Freddy Got Fingered’s aim was to disgust the viewer, and it clearly did that, so there’s that contradiction…
My wife and I saw the original uncut Emmanuelle (the one with Sylvia Kristel) in a legitimate movie house. It was fairly explicit (although not in your face, so to speak) but it was also a big budget, richly photographed film that actually had a storyline and at least passable acting. One non-sex scene was done so well the audience actually broke into applause. As for its sexual appeal, all I'll say is that I agreed with Ebert.
  #113  
Old 06-07-2019, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post

As for errors, you try taking notes in the dark and then rushing to your office to write a review. Sure there will be errors. I've seen plenty of other critics screw up things about movies I know. They had neither a pause nor a rewind button.
Fair enough. I wouldn't notice the errors if I didn't enjoy reading Ebert's reviews so much - there are probably a lot of reviewers with worse errors but I don't read them - because they are nowhere near as interesting as Ebert was.
  #114  
Old 06-07-2019, 05:39 PM
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To be precise, he reviewed the first one in the series. I never remember him reviewing another. The last in the series, if I remember correctly was Emanuelle and Howdy Doody.
He reviewed the second one, but not kindly.

It's also worth noting that his review of the original was a lot more nuanced than, "It gave me a boner, so I guess it was alright." He spends a lot of time explaining why, in the context of not-quite-hardcore "skin flicks," this one stands out as pretty good. Similarly, his review of Freddy Got Fingered is aware of the genre in which it exists - he name checks Un Chien Andalou as another film that relied on gross-out imagery and non-sensical storylines to shock the audience - and grades it on that standard, by which he feels it fails.
  #115  
Old 06-07-2019, 11:26 PM
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I agreed with Ebert more often than not, and thought he wrote well. Much to his credit, he agreed with me as to the genius of Dark City and Breaker Morant.

But I don't revere him, and never did.

Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 06-07-2019 at 11:26 PM.
  #116  
Old 06-08-2019, 02:34 AM
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He reviewed the second one, but not kindly.

It's also worth noting that his review of the original was a lot more nuanced than, "It gave me a boner, so I guess it was alright." He spends a lot of time explaining why, in the context of not-quite-hardcore "skin flicks," this one stands out as pretty good. Similarly, his review of Freddy Got Fingered is aware of the genre in which it exists - he name checks Un Chien Andalou as another film that relied on gross-out imagery and non-sensical storylines to shock the audience - and grades it on that standard, by which he feels it fails.
Compare, also, his review of The Human Centipede, the one time I know of where he refused to give a film a star rating, good or bad:

Quote:
I have long attempted to take a generic approach. In other words, is a film true to its genre and does it deliver what its audiences presumably expect? “The Human Centipede” scores high on this scale. It is depraved and disgusting enough to satisfy the most demanding midnight movie fan. And it's not simply an exploitation film.

...

I am required to award stars to movies I review. This time, I refuse to do it. The star rating system is unsuited to this film. Is the movie good? Is it bad? Does it matter? It is what it is and occupies a world where the stars don't shine.

Last edited by Alessan; 06-08-2019 at 02:34 AM.
  #117  
Old 06-08-2019, 05:53 AM
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...Some great quotes from reviews: You could say that this was the second worst thing to happen in 2001. - Mike Stoklasa
Ouch.

Ebert was my favorite reviewer and I was saddened when he died. I certainly did not agree with all of his reviews, but he was, to me, the best writer of any critic I have read by far*.

Maybe I'm different than most, but deciding whether to see a film is just part of the reason I read reviews. The other is to be entertained by reading about something I am interested in. In this regard, Ebert excelled.

I haven't seen his memoir, Life Itself, mentioned yet. It is my favorite autobiography.


mmm


*Anthony Lane of The New Yorker is my main guy now, for the same reasons stated above
  #118  
Old 06-08-2019, 01:32 PM
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Ummm...

He had books. Reading was one of the extremely few things about childhood I actually enjoyed, and he had huge books of reviews I could spend hours on. Highly intelligent and skillfully nuanced even if I didn't agree.

He also had some compelling articles about numerous subjects. His perspective on Chris Ofili's contentious painting and coverage of the Bush/Gore presidential debates were some of the finest writing I remember from the era.

Never caught the "video games aren't art" thing (and I never gave a damn either way to begin with), so that didn't bother me.

Reverence? What am I, a choirboy? I like me some brains. Nuthin' fancy 'bout that.
  #119  
Old 06-08-2019, 02:58 PM
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I had a few interactions with Roger Ebert online and he seemed like a pretty nice guy. I will say that for me, it began with his reviews and eventually went past that. Once he got on twitter and started his blog, we got a better picture of who Roger was. He began to write and post about politics, religion, science(he was interested in evolution), and many other topics.

When he died, I thought of movies. But I also knew we lost a great mind for just about any topic.

It's a crying shame he missed out on Trump. He would have both hated him and also not been entirely surprised we ended up with him.

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Previous thread about errors in Ebert's reviews https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=721206
I am the creator of that thread and still think most of his reviews are accurate and he didn't make that many mistakes.
  #120  
Old 06-08-2019, 04:22 PM
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Late to the thread...

Personally, I always just watched the trailers for the movie and, if it looked good, then I went to see it and if it didn't, then I didn't. A good reviewer would, really, just tell me what to expect from the movie - I already got that from the trailer. A bad reviewer would give his opinion of the movie, but that's an opinion and mine may be wildly different. Ultimately, it's still all entertainment. Very few wide-release films are worse than watching paint dry.

But I did once decide to see what all the fuss was and read through a dozen or so Ebert reviews of movies I had seen.

So far as I could tell, the main thing that seemed to make him decide to like movie was whether it had good cinematography.

Maybe that's just his taste, but I could see that also being a key to his success and a good focus for any reviewer who did want to be successful. Most of the film-going audience is big on the visuals. A reviewer who rates based on that as their main condition will be popular. Personally, I don't give a crap about that. Star Wars is just a good v. evil story with mostly bad acting, if you don't care about the visuals. Most people were amazed by the visuals, and they loved it. Ebert loved it. I was entertained but didn't find it anywhere near as good as, say, Enemy Mine.

Obviously, I'm unlikely to gain a big following as a movie reviewer. But certainly you would appreciate that I'm unlikely to find much interest in Ebert's reviews.

A couple of his negative reviews were relatively funny, but I'm sure that I've seen more blistering diatribes than his. Even the posters here have outdone it.

I assume that he was a reasonable good person. I assume that he wallowed in obscurity for a while, and certainly had to bear with a pretty tough illness for a while, but he also had a sizable portion of his life where he was a big success and probably made a healthy living. Hopefully, the overall balance was pretty good.

His reviews weren't for me, but that's okay.
  #121  
Old 06-08-2019, 09:22 PM
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At the library, I picked up a dvd of Casablanca with Ebert giving a running commentary throughout. Absolutely brilliant. Ebert could see things in Casablanca that I hadn’t seen in 10+ viewings, and he could express those things better than I will ever be able to.

Last edited by Capn Carl; 06-08-2019 at 09:25 PM.
  #122  
Old 06-08-2019, 09:37 PM
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No critic should be judged based on which movies he liked or disliked. Ebert himself hated having to give ratings to film. You need to read his comments to understand where he's coming from. The quality of a critic is in how perceptive he is, in how well he understands what was intended with a film (or book or whatever) and to perceive as well whether or not those goals were achieved. The number ratings do not tell you that. It's about how the critic communicates why he felt what he felt that is important. A good critic can tell you if you should have any interest in a film, not based on whether he liked it or not, but in how he describes the film. What moves a any given person, critic or not, is not always going to be the same thing that moves you. That's why you READ the review to understand where that critic is coming from. It was Ebert's vast understanding of film that allowed him to put each new movie into perspective.

I enjoyed reading Ebert even when I totally disagreed with his opinion on a film, because he more often than not, would have something to tell you that maybe did not realize when you first saw that film.

BTW, Gene Siskel was also an interesting critic and friendly to his fans (he helped me obtain an old vhs copy of Solaris years ago). I always prefered Ebert because some of Siskel's 'rules' with regards to how to judge a film didn't seem right to me.
  #123  
Old 06-08-2019, 09:40 PM
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At the library, I picked up a dvd of Casablanca with Ebert giving a running commentary throughout. Absolutely brilliant. Ebert could see things in Casablanca that I hadn’t seen in 10+ viewings, and he could express those things better than I will ever be able to.
I went through a course that analyzed the movie over a few days, once. It's a strange one in that it seems to garner a lot of analysis - given that the thing was a stand-out hit in its time - yet it was basically thrown together from random parts and just happened to luck into being really good.

To some extent, all of the everything explaining how good it is - implying that someone did something right for it to have ended up that way - is probably not correct. It's less like explaining the works of a genius and more like explaining why Yosemite Valley is beautiful but the Tswaing Crater is just sort of...meh. You can work out rules to explain the difference, but implying that there was intelligence behind it is wrong.

Whether Ebert did that or not, I don't know since I haven't seen the documentary. Just musing.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 06-08-2019 at 09:41 PM.
  #124  
Old 06-08-2019, 09:59 PM
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I liked that Ebert would sometimes host public screenings of movies that he loved. Whenever anyone in the crowd said "Stop," the film would be stopped, and there would be a discussion of whatever that person had noticed or wanted to talk about. Obviously you wouldn't want to do that the first time you ever saw a film, but if you loved it and knew it by heart, I always thought that would be a pretty cool way to deep-dive into it.
  #125  
Old 06-08-2019, 11:36 PM
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My reverence for Ebert -- and "reverence" is the correct word -- stems from the fact that we had near-identical tastes. And even on the few occasions I disagreed with him, he could at least cogently explain his point of view.

Or at least, the times I thought I disagreed with him. Case in point: I'm a big Coen Brothers fan, and so is the wife since I introduced their movies to her. But the one movie of theirs that she had not seen, and which I had not seen since it first came out, was Raising Arizona. That is the one Coen Brothers film Ebert absolutely hated. He said that at least once a week, someone told him he was wrong in his view of Raising Arizona. I thought he was wrong too, a rare instance of us disagreeing. Then one day when the wife and I were still in Bangkok, I found a copy of the film and watched it with her. I had remembered it as being hilarious. When we watched it all these years later, I found it to be a complete piece of garbage. The wife agreed. She wanted to know what could have been wrong with the Coen Brothers that they could put out all these other wonderful films and yet issue this stinker. Ebert was right once again.

Some bozos will seriously try to say you must watch all movies and then decide for yourself which ones are good. But who the hell has time for that? My old drama teacher back in uni told us the thing to do was find a reviewer you tend to agree with, and I certainly found that in Ebert. By the same token, his old partner Gene Siskel I found to be a negative barometer. If Siskel hated a movie, odds were good I would like it.

And I will always be profoundly grateful to Ebert for introducing me to the films of Yasujiro Uzo, particularly the great Tokyo Story, on my personal top-10 list. I still remember 25 years ago in Bangkok, the local chapter of the Goethe Institute ran a film festival that lasted for two or three weeks. Each night they would screen one film by Uzo and one by the German filmmaker Wim Wenders. Wenders, whom I also discovered via Ebert, lists Uzo as one of his greatest influences. One Saturday there was a free daylong seminar, with a lecture on Wenders by a German reviewer who was flown in and a lecture on Uzo by the late Donald Richie, who was flown in from Tokyo. And for lunch, the entire audience was taken down the street and treated to a hotel's buffet lunch at no charge. It was all free -- the seminar, the lunch. That was a great time.

I'll always remember Ebert's death. April 2013. The news came as the wife and I were leaving on a trip to Japan. I really miss him.
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Last edited by Siam Sam; 06-08-2019 at 11:38 PM.
  #126  
Old 06-09-2019, 07:52 AM
DesertDog is offline
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Originally Posted by Voyager View Post
As for errors, you try taking notes in the dark and then rushing to your office to write a review. Sure there will be errors. I've seen plenty of other critics screw up things about movies I know. They had neither a pause nor a rewind button.
I've also seen movie academicians screw up plot points of movies they had DVDs of.
I dropped Pauline Kael from my list of reviewers to pay attention to when in her review for Jeremiah Johnson she said that in the last scene Jerry had given the Indian the finger.

Yes, the freeze-frame was in the theatrical print. Perhaps she was rushing to meet a deadline but it's as if she said in a review of Citizen Caine, "... and 'Rosebud' remains a mystery to this day."
  #127  
Old 06-09-2019, 08:39 AM
Wendell Wagner is offline
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I don't think that there is anything like an established body of film criticism (or reviewing) with widely agreed-upon judgments about most films. What exists is a diverse set of movie critics (or reviewers) who disagree about many things. Oh, if you were to average their opinions about current films, you would find a vague agreement about what the best recent movies are. That's what happens in all the various best-of-the-year awards - some more-or-less agreement with wide divergence.

That's part of why I think it's hopeless to decide who the best critics were. They were all flawed. I think there's a better case to make that Pauline Kael was overrated than that Roger Ebert was overrated. Kael, with her job at The New Yorker, was more respected back then than Ebert, with his job at The Chicago Sun-Times and Sneak Previews. But she wasn't that great. As Woody Allen said, "She has everything that a great critic needs except judgment. And I don't mean that facetiously. She has great passion, terrific wit, wonderful writing style, huge knowledge of film history, but too often what she chooses to extol or fails to see is very surprising."

Film reviewers don't have that much effect on how movies do. As I said earlier, they have almost no effect on how blockbusters do. They can get little-known films to be seen by more people and hence make more money. So what should you do to choose what films to see? I don't rely on any single critic. I look at several reviews, talk with other people about what they like, and make an imperfect choice of what movies to see. I only have time to see fifty to one hundred new movies each year. I know that, try as I might, these won't be quite the best fifty to one hundred of them.
  #128  
Old 06-09-2019, 09:10 AM
Baal Houtham is offline
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He reviewed the second one, but not kindly.

It's also worth noting that his review of the original was a lot more nuanced than, "It gave me a boner, so I guess it was alright." He spends a lot of time explaining why, in the context of not-quite-hardcore "skin flicks," this one stands out as pretty good. (...).
A charming review (of the sequel), that provided multiple pleasures.
Life is pleasant. Emmanuelle's husband has no apparent line of work, although he maintains a little office at home - primarily, I suspect, because one scene requires a desk for Emmanuelle to crawl under. Such are the demands of sexual liberation.
...
The attractive elements of the original "Emmanuelle" are present here, too: the pretty Sylvia Kristel, the languorous color photography, the exotic locations, the outrageous fantasies. But somehow the characters seem to have lost track of their sanity; they wander from one encounter to another like wife-swappers at a post-lobotomy ball. They have glazed looks in their eyes, and think with their mouths open.
  #129  
Old 06-09-2019, 02:46 PM
maxxy is offline
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He deserved it


I had the distinct, but unfortunately brief, opportunity to work with Ebert at the Sun-Times. He was far nicer to the copy desk than anyone of his talent needed to be. He produced reams of copy (which may account for the errors some crow about), but it was grammatically perfect and always interesting. He put in long hours.

Granted, I didn't know him during his drinking years, when, by his own admission, he could be a handful. But he was the opposite of pompous; he recognized his own faults and was humble about his abilities. He had a dizzyingly wide range of knowledge.

I never saw evidence that he took delight in ruining a career, but of course he took delight in skewering a bad movie -- just as much as he did in praising a good one.
  #130  
Old 06-09-2019, 04:09 PM
Siam Sam is offline
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"... but too often what she chooses to extol or fails to see is very surprising."
Heh. That makes me think of this incredibly lame Malaysian reviewer at one of the newspapers I worked at in Bangkok. After thoroughly trashing the atrocious Mary Reilly (1996), he then gave it six stars, saying any movie that had Julia Roberts and John Malkovich together deserved it. He was truly awful.
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The two most interesting things in the world: Other people's sex lives and your own money.
  #131  
Old 06-09-2019, 10:44 PM
LLCoolL is offline
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Hey, give him some credit. He roundly denounced Night of the Living Dead in a national publication -- Reader's Digest, no less -- and that helped the film achieve Cult Status.
Are you sure about that. His 1969 review gave the film 3.5 stars out of four:

https://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/t...ving-dead-1968
  #132  
Old 06-10-2019, 03:57 AM
Wendell Wagner is offline
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His 1969 review didn't give any kind of star rating to the movie. The link you're giving is to a 2004 webpage which says that he would at that point give three-and-a-half stars to the movie. It's not clear what he means in saying that. Has he changed his opinion about the film? Does he still think the same, but now he wants to say that he would give that star rating based on the same arguments he made in 1969?
  #133  
Old 06-10-2019, 04:13 AM
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His review of NotLD isn't about the movie at all - it's about the rating system, and about how little kids really shouldn't be watching contemporary horror movies. The movie itself is almost incidental to the article.
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