'Life Itself' recounts the surprising and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert - a story that's by turns personal, wistful, funny, painful, and transcendent. The film explores the impact and legacy of Roger Ebert's life: from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism and his nearly quarter-century run with Gene Siskel on their review show, to becoming one of the country's most influential cultural voices, and finally to Roger's inspiring battles with cancer and the resulting physical disability - how he literally and symbolically put a new face on the disease and continued to be a cultural force despite it. Written by
I was born in Chicago and raised in the suburbs outside of the city. Although my parents got the Chicago Tribune, I would always go to Roger Ebert's website to see what he thought of the latest movies. I still do if the film was released before his death in 2013. I may not always agree with him, but I respect his opinion. You can tell that he loved the movies from his writings.
It seems right that Roger Ebert should become the subject of a documentary. He's been reviewing movies since the 1960s and has left his mark in cinema. Steve James' documentary "Life Itself" takes its title from Ebert's memoir. Sometimes the documentary feels like an adaptation of the book, just brought into film form. We get to hear Ebert as he recounts his own life tales and loves.
"Life Itself" is a great way to learn about who Ebert was and what he did for the world of cinema. You really get the essence of who Ebert was and what he stood for. There was a lot of love and respect put into this documentary and you can really feel it thanks to James' direction.
We get to see Ebert as a kid to his life in 2012 and 2013 where his operations left him without his voice. We see the love of his life Chaz Ebert, his old friends, filmmakers he inspired, his argumentative relationship with Gene Siskel, and the legacy of his work. We see who he was at his best and all his little flaws. I don't want to give too much away here, because I think it's better to watch this than to be told all this by me.
"Life Itself" is a great documentary about one of the best film critics. I may be biased, because I like Ebert, but I was very moved by this documentary. If you grew up with his reviews or his show with Siskel, I think you'll enjoy this documentary and will walk away learning something new about Ebert. If you don't know who Ebert was, you'll still be able to enjoy this documentary. It's funny and tear jerking and feels very complete. It's an ode to the man so many of have come to admire and love.
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