Saturday, July 5, 2014

A supplement to the Roger Ebert documentary LIFE ITSELF.

Yes, the LIFE ITSELF documentary film of film critic/author Roger Ebert's life and work (getting both theatrical and cable TV On Demand releases) is as good as the reviews say it is.

But, in the apparent need to keep the running time around two hours, some things and/or people are unexplained or under-discussed.  Here's a list.

1. HOWIE MOVSHOVITZ: a critic friend of Ebert's interviewed in LIFE ITSELF.  Movshovitz was a film critic for the now-defunct Colorado newspaper RockyMountain News and has reviewed for Colorado Public Radio.  Here's a sample review of his for the reissue of Max Ophuls' LOLA MONTES:

2.  JONATHAN ROSENBAUM: former critic for the alternative newspaper Chicago Reader and film historian (DISCOVERING ORSON WELLES).   For a sampling of Rosenbaum's film writing, his website is:

3.  About half of LIFE ITSELF concerns the long-running teaming of Ebert with Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel.  For a comprehensive look at their partnership/rivalry, read the e-book ENEMIES, A LOVE STORY: THE ORAL HISTORY OF SISKEL AND EBERT by Josh Schollmeyer.

4.  RICHARD ROEPER: Ebert's post-Siskel TV partner (presumably chosen both for being telegenic and younger) is not mentioned in the film.  Perhaps Roeper may appear in a DVD release extra.

5. RUSS MEYER--the soft-porn provocateur is dealt with in a sort of handle-this-with-a-pair-of-tongs fashion in LIFE ITSELF.  After BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, Ebert did more screenwriting for Meyer.  Ebert contributed the original story for 1976's UP!  using the pseudonym  "Reinhold Timme". And the script (under nom de plume R. Hyde) for 1979's BENEATH THE VALLEY OF THE ULTRA-VIXENS.  In 1977, Ebert and Meyer began work on a later-abandoned film starring The Sex Pistols with the title WHO KILLED BAMBI?

6. PAULINE KAEL: the famed NEW YORKER film critic (mostly between 1968-1991) was a friend and champion of Ebert.  And, like Ebert, she would engage in the practice of being friendly with  directors and not recusing from reviewing their films (Kael being known for being pals with Robert Altman and Sam Peckinpah).

If you'd like a "Best Of Roger Ebert" compilation book, try this:

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