Hello, fellow moviegoers!
For this post, I decided to do something a little different. I felt it was about time to expand my horizons and review a documentary film. I've found myself only reviewing narrative films and TV shows, and documentaries are just as important an aspect of the film industry as any other movie. I felt like my review for one was long overdue.
I knew that it couldn’t be just any documentary. It had to mean something to me. Something that could not only entertain me, but also inform me on a subject that I am very passionate about. Last night I decided to watch Life Itself. For those of you that don’t know, Life Itself is a documentary that focuses on the life and career of esteemed movie critic Roger Ebert. I had never heard of Roger Ebert until just a couple years ago, and by then he had already passed. Ebert inspired so many people to follow their dreams and do what they love. Some of the people inspired by him have in turn, inspired me to start this blog.
Ebert has a very impressive life and legacy, but does the movie live up to that? Here are my thoughts…
I don’t think there is a more suiting documentary to be my first one to review. Going into this film I didn’t know a lot about the life of Roger Ebert. I knew that he was a famous movie critic. He started one of the first video movie review services with Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, a show that really started a renaissance of film-lovers around the globe. I knew that he was a remarkable writer and critic, but not much else.
This film was utterly enthralling. The life of this man is so inspiring and moving that I was in awe at times of how Ebert was able to overcome the trouble he faced. Whether those were his problems with health, the show, or with other people, every time I was amazed by the way he handled the situation. I now look at some of the trouble I have in my life and see that it is nothing in comparison to what this man had to go through, and throughout all of it, he never stopped working.
The way director Steve James went about telling his story was great. It started out with him towards the end of his life in the hospital and jumped back and forth between him becoming this huge personality and that time. It was an awesome way to go about telling the story of this amazing man.
Probably the best part about this film is they didn’t sugarcoat anything. They didn’t portray Ebert as this perfect gentleman who never did anything wrong and was liked by everybody. No, they weren’t afraid to delve into more controversial parts of his life. He may not have been the nicest guy, but he always made a compelling argument. He and Gene Siskel may have disliked each other very much at first, but over time they grew to love each other.
Not once during this film did I feel like this was one of those boring documentaries you watch in school, and everybody falls asleep in. Which is the best compliment I can think of. The story of Roger Ebert’s life is such an appropriate one to tell with a movie like this.
The film did slow down a little bit in the middle, and I found myself spacing off and thinking about other things from time to time. Overall this is a fantastic movie. I would definitely recommend Life Itself. If you consider yourself an avid film fan, or if you actually watched Siskel & Ebert & the Movies, it’s on Netflix, so go and check it out!
So what do you think of Life Itself? Do you find Roger Ebert’s story as inspiring as I do? Let me know by commenting on this post!
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