THE BALCONY IS CLOSED: The Chicago Sun-Times just reported that Roger Ebert has passed way. Cancer fucking sucks.
I don't quite know where to begin -- he and Pauline Kael were both absolutely formative for me in becoming a film buff, in learning how to appreciate both the entertainments I already enjoyed but to seek out and find new stuff -- it was Siskel and Ebert's hosannas that made me sure to see Hoop Dreams on the last day it played at the Ritz in Philadelphia. When he ranked House of Games as his favorite film of 1987, I knew I had to see it. His enthusiasm was real; it was not doled out promiscuously. And it mattered. I've got a pile of books compiling his reviews at home, a relic of the days before online -- the Great Movies, the yearbooks, the Hated Hated Hated compilations, all of it.
And then there's how he lived his life, with candor and clarity about the alcoholism which once gripped him, and the horrible diseases which took away his physical voice and then, ultimately, his life today. They didn't stop him. He just found other outlets, and used them with great enthusiasm.
He once wrote that "No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough." Well, no good life is too long, either, and it's a goddamn shame he didn't get to enjoy more of it. What a loss.