Life Itself

You might think you know Roger Ebert, but you probably don’t.

Did you know he wrote over a dozen books?

He won the first ever Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.

And when cancer stole his voice, he kept writing from his hospital bed.

Trailer for “Life Itself”

Watch “Life Itself”

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  • My Rating: 97/100
  • IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 88/100 (Users); 98/100 (Critics)

Review of “Life Itself”

“Life Itself” is like a love letter to the world’s biggest fan of movies: film critic Roger Ebert.

It’s directed by Steve James (“Hoop Dreams”!) and based on the book of the same name.

It’s like being invited to the coolest, most intimate dinner party where the guest of honor is Roger Ebert himself.

We meet the major characters in Roger’s life – from his doting wife Chaz to filmmaker friends like Martin Scorsese and Werner Herzog.

Ebert is any old critic.

Did you know he wrote over a dozen books and won a Pulitzer Prize?

And while Ebert was himself a mainstream brand, he also championed lesser-known films such as:

  • “My Dinner with Andre” (1981) – Ebert gave this low-budget, dialogue-heavy film a four-star review, helping to bring attention to the philosophical conversation between Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory.
  • “Hoop Dreams” (1994) – Ebert was an early supporter of this documentary, which follows two high school basketball players from Chicago. His praise helped the film gain wider recognition.
  • “Dark City” (1998) – Ebert gave this sci-fi noir a glowing review, calling it a “great visionary achievement,” despite its modest box office performance.
  • “Monster” (2003) – Ebert’s four-star review of this independent film helped draw attention to Charlize Theron’s transformative performance as serial killer Aileen Wuornos.
  • “The Fall” (2006) – Ebert praised this visually stunning film by Tarsem Singh, which had a limited release and might have gone unnoticed by many moviegoers.
  • “Synecdoche, New York” (2008) – Ebert named this complex Charlie Kaufman film the best of the decade, despite its relatively low profile and challenging narrative structure.
  • “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” (2011) – Ebert’s positive review helped popularize this documentary about the dedication and craft of sushi master Jiro Ono.

The doc doesn’t just idolize Ebert; it shows him – warts, wheelchair, and all.

It touches on his struggles with alcholism.

And it’s hard not to be moved by footage of Roger in his final months, robbed of speech by cancer but tapping away at his blog, forever the hopeless movie lover.

Thumbs up for the Roger the Critic and Roger the Man.

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, Chief Maniac, Daily Doc