Ebert Tributes x 2

There are too many fine Ebert tributes out there to try and track even a fraction of them, and I won’t try. Here are a couple great ones, though, from a former rockcritics contributor and a former rockcritics subject.

Along with Leonard Maltin’s Home Video Guide, [Ebert’s] Movie Home Companion kept me occupied when I should’ve been studying or doing my homework. Being severely visually impaired, I shouldn’t have been reading for long stretches at a time, but I did. (I remember when I discovered the Talking Book Program for the Blind had Ebert’s A Kiss is Still a Kiss on tape. I must’ve listened to it dozens of times, especially his interviews with Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin, William Hurt, Nastassja Kinski, and Robert Mitchum, and his level-headed defense of Bob Woodward’s Wired.) Ebert’s introductions to each subsequent edition were like yearly dispatches from an old friend. He would end each intro with a list of recommended readings including Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, James Agee, Otis Ferguson, Stanley Kaufmann and other esteemed critics. He wasn’t insecure about having people leave him to discover other voices. He encouraged it. I devoured Kael and Sarris and Molly Haskell. I also read some John Simon. (I’m still debating if that was a good idea.)
Remembering Roger Ebert (1942-2013) (Aaron Aradillas)

Like a lot of people unfortunate enough to have never lived in Chicago — where he began as the Sun-Times‘s bumptious young film reviewer way back in 1967, and what I envy him most is that he knew Bill Mauldin — I first became aware of Ebert as the co-host with Gene Siskel of “At The Movies” in the ’80s. And like a lot of my fellow Village Voice-ey snots, I then thought of the popular television show—thumbs up, thumbs down, and so on—as some sort of death knell for intelligent criticism.

That was an especially dumb and revealing mistake for someone who believes in pop outreach. It took me a long time to grasp that “At The Movies” — or “Siskel And Ebert,” as it’s more commonly known — was the last, most expressive flowering of that lovely era when movies seemed like they were worth arguing about until the cows came home. To the end of his days, Ebert believed equally and passionately in movies and the value of argument, and his website is proof that he never pulled rank with readers who tangled with him. If they cared enough about film to contest his opinion, then they were kindred spirits, not enemies.
Roger Ebert, the People’s Movie Critic (Tom Carson)

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