I may not go often anymore, but I love the movies. Once upon a time, I harbored the dream of going to film school. Not because I wanted to make them, although playing with fake blood would be a pretty good job description, but I wanted to be a film critic. And not just any critic. I wanted to be the female Roger Ebert. Growing up in Chicago, Roger Ebert was as much a part of my movie going experience as an oversized soda and bucket of popcorn the size of which rivaled a bathtub. Today I mourn the loss of a man who influenced me and millions of others with his belief that going to the movies should be fun.
Forgive my scattershot thoughts. I am not the eloquent writer Ebert was. I cannot knock out a beautifully written an d thoughtful essay in five minutes – which is all the time I have before the kids wake up. If you doubt his eloquence, get one of his wonderful essay books stat. You won’t be disappointed unless you are some type of insane person who cannot appreciate wit, joy, and precisely chosen words. Don’t judge his writing by watching “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” the Russ Meyer film he scripted. Or go ahead. Indulge and don’t feel guilty about it. Ebert didn’t.
I will miss Ebert’s passion the most. The man loved movies. Plain and simple. His paring with the more classically trained movie critic Gene Siskel proved golden. I loved them on “Sneak Previews” and continued following when the show morphed into” At the Movies.” I loved how they argued, even when they ultimately agreed. I loved that two people could look at the same thing, have completely different experiences, and yet often agree the movie earned two thumbs up or two thumbs down.
When I think about my personal Golden Age of going to the movies, that post movie breakdown was as integral to the movie experience as greasy popcorn butter. Whether I went with to the movies with Mike, Amanda, Mom, Dad, Gabe, Marci, Eric, Genna, or a host of others, the post-film pow-wow and breakdown of what worked and what didn’t was part of the experience. My husband doesn’t think of going to the movies as a particularly social experience. I’ve been working with him and he’s improving, but he also didn’t grow up watching Siskel and Ebert.
For teaching me how to watch, enjoy, and discuss not just the movies, but the arts and more, I give Roger Ebert two thumbs up. Thanks for the inspiration and I’ll see you “At the Movies.”