I’m with Zeldar – I go to Ebert after I see the movie. I don’t use him as a guide for whether or not to see a movie, but I usually find his comments on a movie I’ve seen extremely interesting, whether I agree with them or not.
Neat trick since it isn’t possible to find a critic who agrees with you 100% of the time.
Me, I don’t bother with reviews, I go see the movies that look interesting to me and have found that at least 75% of the time the movies I go see are, if not great, at least a worthwhile time to spend a couple of hours.
If I read reviews at all its after I see a film, and even then usually only when I feel especially strongly about a film, to see if the critics loved it or hated it as much as I did.
Ebert’s an idiot and an enjoyable writer. His reviews go down pretty smoothly, but they’re mostly useless.
He gives movie a star rating, from one to four, but ever since his stupid “thumbs up/down” thing became established, he really only rates on a binary system: three stars equals thumbs up, belolw three stars equals thumbs down.
And, as noted here, and MANY times before, he seems to load his reviews with factual flubs, as if to catch plagiarizers or something.
The only movie critic I take seriously nowadays is this newspaper’s Jonathan Rosenbaum: Rosenbaum is at least willing to reconsider his first opinion after he’s lived with a movie for a while–he’s kind of in the process of reconsidering Verhoeven, whom I place with Hitchcock and Sirk, and who (mark my words!) will someday placed by YOU with Hitchcock and Sirk–but he didn’t get Dancer in the Dark.
I am quite the opposite. It doesn’t matter a bit to me whether I agreee with the reviewer. I will read reviewers that give me insight into the films, both before and after I have seen them. Rotten Tomatoes is a good general consensus, but I go to Ebert for the insight.
I love Fargo, as does Ebert who names it as one of his great movies. I never had a good explanation for the Mike Yanagita scene before I read his review. I also appreciate his ranking of movies within their genre. Thus, XXX is ranked in comparison with other mindless action moves, not The Hours.
I regularly disagree with him, but I don’t mind. I get the Washington Post and am cursed with Stephen Hunter, so any writing looks good by comparison.
Medved, before he became a moral scold, actually wrote a couple of decent books on films with his brother, Harry.
I haven’t had the (Luck? Misfortune?) of ever reading Rex Reed. How bad is he?
“This newspaper” being the Chicago Reader. See here:
I agree that Rosenbaum is a great critic; he often points out the social and political subtexts in films, even those in mass ‘entertainment’ releases, which are roundly ignored by most other critics. He has stated that he does not review films necessarily to recommend them to readers – how can one predict whether a complete stranger will have the same reaction as oneself? His reviews are carefully written in the first person, often stating “I never liked…”, or “My impression was”, which is honest and not presumptuous. Now you may say that anyone can do this, but this is from a man with an encyclopedic knowledge of film, especially foreign film; also, one who has a deep political awareness.
I like Ebert, too; the man writes well, and if he gets some details wrong, one must remember that it is rarely small details that make a movie good or bad. It’s the big stuff – directing, writing, acting, and editing.
Most critics for major dailies are good. I’ve also liked stuff from the guys who reviews for the Onion and for Slate.
Rich Roeper is a numbskull who must have really good connections. His column in the Sun-Times makes me think I could write a column; he’s a shallow, banal yuppie who speaks for all shallow, banal yuppies. He should be underwriting morgages somewhere.
I have not trusted Ebert since he gave Speed 2 a thumbs up.
Short answer: not any more. There was a time when, even though I often didn’t agree with him, I could reliably tell from Ebert’s reviews whether I would like a given movie or not.
That stopped a few years ago. Lately his reviews have become far to erratic to use as a barometer. A good example is his gushing review of The Cell, a movie with some nifty visuals, some uninspired performances, and a thoroughly putrid script.
I still think he’s one of the best and insightful critics around. He’s one of the few that actually discusses a movie’s strengths and failures. I don’t always agree with him, but in broad general terms, he’s pretty astute.
I really like the TV show, not so much for the reviews, but for the clips. Lots of time I can view the film clip and decide for myself if the film is something I like. If I’m still unsure, the Ebert review (vs. Roeper’s) will help me decide.
Plus Ebert gives long reviews. Lots of Rotten Tomato reviews are too short to give a good sense of the movie.
Why aren’t there more TV shows that review movies? I remember the other PBS show (after Siskel and Ebert left PBS), but it sucked. Any other suggestions on where to watch reviews?
He makes Ebert look like James Agee. An absolute moron.
Ebert is a doormat. He is overly generous in his praise and is almost hard-pressed to find something he doesn’t like (though there are always curious exceptions). These are some movies he’s given 3 or more stars to this year alone:
American Wedding, Bruce Almighty, Head of State, Hollywood Homicide, Lara Croft Tomb Raider 2, Le Divorce, Phone Booth, Sinbad, S.W.A.T., 2 Fast 2 Furious, Uptown Girls
I’m sorry, but this list is a joke (and there are a lot more I could take issue with, too). Any mainstream reviewer that can embrace so much crap is a critic not worth considering. Sure he champions good movies, too (how could he not when he likes so much?), and I don’t mind that he has a nationwide forum to bring smaller movies to people’s attention.
But anyone who watched the audition process for Siskel’s replacement could easily see that he was out-of-his-depth with most of his colleagues–they were running circles around him and were often taken aback by what he would praise or condemn. That his final choice was the idiot Roeper shows that he’s on cruise control.
And yes, his commentary on the Citizen Kane DVD is surprisingly good, but I had to turn off the one on Casablanca after just a few minutes.
I don’t really trust him as a reviewer anymore, but I do enjoy his writings and comments about older movies. I love his commentary on the Citizen Kane DVD.
I think the reason he gave The Cell such high marks is because of Jennifer Lopez. That’s why he liked Gigli so much, or so I’ve heard. That’s why I don’t trust him. I would think he would be above that, by now.
Ebert can be a bit too much by the “critic book” sometimes, and I agree that compilations of critics (like rotton tomatoes) are the best bet for assessing a film. The worst sort of movie critics in my book are not the highbrow ones who pan most mass market films, but the guys (usually appearing in alternative newsweeklys) who refuse to even review the films that are appearing on 90% of the screens in America. There’s a guy in my neck of the woods named Godfrey Cheshire who reviews only really obscure foreign and art films. I mean, I appreciate the need to focus attention on films that don’t have multi-million dollar marketing budgets, but geeze louise, I don’t really find useful a review of some Japanese film that is playing only at a film festival on Tuesday and Wednesday night at the performing arts center in the next city…
I also dislike critics with an axe to grind, like this guy. This asian-american critic was so offended by the fortune cookie plot contrivance in the otherwise positively received Freaky Friday that he spent the entire review giving us his life story and neglected to really tackle any other part of the film. How pretentious self-centered blowhards like this acquire jobs as film critics is totally beyond me…
Judging by other threads on the subject, he probably gave one star per JLo boob and ½ for the boob she’s engaged to.
pure is a movie critic?
I like that Ebert is not one of those critics who only breaks out the fourth star for films that are in a foreign language, and that he will admit to enjoying films that are not necessarily high art films by any means.
I don’t always agree with him, and usually don’t use him as the sole determinant of whether I will see a movie or not, unless I’m indifferent to the movie, in which case a bad Ebert review usually cements my decision to give the movie a miss. Neither a good nor bad Ebert review is likely to make me see a movie I was actively avoiding (e.g. “Freddy Got Fingered”), or deter me from seeing a movie that I really want to see (“Spider-Man”).
Like others, I like Ebert’s writing, but I don’t “trust” him. Especially when it comes to my genre of choice: horror.
Ebert hates all horror movies (at least the ones he reviews anyway, horror is a genre that he skips many movies from). But if he does review one, he always focuses on some obscure plot point or piece of dialogue that he disliked and spend the whole review ranting about it.
He has no business reviewing horror movies (and apparently sci-fi movies too according to this thread).
Following up on what JuanitaTech said:
This is the Roger Ebert who gave the original ‘Die Hard’ a lousy two stars…but then gives 3 1/2 stars to an incredibly bad SEQUEL to a RIP-OFF of ‘Die Hard!’
He only gave 2 stars to Die Hard, arguably the deepest action film ever? Blasphemy.
As for his ranking movies within their genre, I think he completely failed on this point for Bad Boys II. His review, and most all of them I read for this movie, generally panned it. Yet these reviews all made me want to see the movie even more. And for me, it delivered exactly what it promised–excessive, gleeful, amoral, wanton destruction.
On the whole, though, I like his style.
Ebert’s errors in detail have been mentioned so often that I actually have marked a few of them when noted, just to back up the statement. I’m not trying to pick on the guy here; these have just been found in about the thirty or so reviews of his I’ve read.
My general opinion of him is that he’s a decent writer, a bad reviewer and a pretty good critic (by reviewer I mean whether one can form an opinion on what to see, and by critic I mean more analysis). One thing that really comes out and gives him such appeal is his genuine love for movies. It’s apparent in the way he can see thousands of films and not get dulled by it; he always seems to be interested in movies - his criticism is slanted especially towards their value as entertainment, but he can include other aspects. I presume his defense of Gigli may be part of this - he really wants movies to be good, and wants people to try and make good movies.
His ratings are too inconsistent to make him a good reviewer - for example, he gave Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead 0 stars, mainly because he though it a bad adaptation of the play.
Anyway, here’s some errors in reviews I’ve found :
Minor detail : In Ever After, he switched the names of Jacqueline and Marguerite. Almost no effect, since he does it consistently.
Bizarre comment : In Das Boot, he almost seems to be praising the filmmakers for making it a German boat, to ‘remove the element of patriotism’. Even stranger, since he specifically mentions later on the book and the journalist who wrote it. (I suppose by extension The Neverending Story must be pretty patriotic.)
Failed attempt at intellectual joke : In Josie and the Pussycats, he apparently thinks ‘subliminal’ has to do with light (I assume he confuses it with ‘lumina’). No one’s asking him to know etymology, but he’s attempting to mock the film with this point, and it falls flat on its face. He could have at least looked it up.