The world lost an amazing film critic today when Roger Ebert passed away at age 70. He had struggled with cancer for many years but worked as a critic for many more, 46 in total for the Chicago Suns-Times. When cancer took his jaw and ability to speak in 2006, he refused to slow down and used the internet to continue to communicate. His twitter account has over 800,000 followers and his website gets millions of clicks every day.
Roger Ebert inspired me to love movies. Before I started reading his reviews reprinted in the Windsor Star every Friday, my perspective on film was limited to Disney and Dreamworks Animation. I had not seen any classics like Jurassic Park, The Sound of Music or Titanic and it wasn’t until I started reading Roger’s reviews did I long to explore the classics.
When he published his review of Avatar in 2009, something clicked in me. I went to see it opening weekend and suddenly was amazed by what cinema could do. I tracked Avatar and The Hurt Locker all the way to the Oscars and from then on I was hooked on the movie bug. I wanted to be like Roger, getting paid to watch and write about movies.
As soon as I could drive, I started going to the theaters more. And once I got Netflix and discovered the immense library of classics, I started working on catching up with all that I missed. Such classics as The Big Lebowski, Fight Club and Lost in Translation were just some of the movies I caught up on. And after watching each one, I would turn to Roger’s website and read his reviews of these, studying them on how to be critical and creative in reviews.
Last fall, starting with Looper, I finally started writing my own reviews right here. The blogs name, Jbenny at the Movies, was inspired by Roger’s show. Now that I had an audience and had moved closer to a theater, I made it my mission to review as many films as I could, just like Roger. By the time the Oscars had rolled around, I had reviewed 15 movies including every best picture nominee.
So thank you Roger Ebert for many great years of film reviews. And thank you for inspiring me to watch and review movies. Your wit and charm on Twitter and in reviews will be missed. But now you are in the cinema in the sky and will never miss a movie again.