Some of the people who used to fancy themselves as cinéastes and posted condescending missives on the old Cinemarati messageboards might disagree, but for me the most treasured voice in the area of movie reviewing has always been Roger Ebert. There's this idea that being a film critic means you have to turn up your nose at anything not made in Eastern Europe in the 1960's, but what Ebert has always been able to do is to evaluate a movie within its own genre. He's not expecting Iron Man
to be like Belle du Jour
, and aside from an unfortunate tendency to give any movie featuring Angelina Jolie in a tight sweater a pass, he's usually right on the money.
It's one of those cruel ironies of life that a series of cancer recurrences has robbed Ebert of his actual voice. A not-so-cruel irony is that what is coming out of the pen of Roger Ebert of late has more to do with life than movies, and he's arguably doing the best writing of his career in his online journal
The latest Esquire has an article
about Ebert's cancer battle, and about his life today, and while I'm sure most of us had the same response to the photograph accompanying the article, which shows the full ravages of the disease, the article is riveting, even if you, like me, will find yourself crying buckets after you finish reading it. And yet, crying seems in some ways like an inappropriate response, because the reality of Ebert not having to hide behind photographs of himself before he lost much of the lower half of his face gives him a new freedom to speak out. And yesterday he spoke out, in person, on Oprah Winfrey's show. He now speaks by typing out on a keyboard and having his thoughts spoken by a computer-generated voice not much different from that used by Stephen Hawking. But a company in Scotland called Cereproc is painstakingly dissecting hours of Ebert's DVD commentary tracks to reconstruct his actual voice
. Here's a sample, and it is truly amazing:
Labels: Roger Ebert