I know I’m not alone here, especially among movie fan circles, but Roger Ebert is someone who had a big influence on my love and appreciation of movies. He is a critic whose reviews I usually go out of my way to watch or, later on, read. He was one of the few celebrities whose deaths I felt. So of course I was interested on a documentary revolving around him.
Ironically, while watching a documentary about a man who pushed for viewing films within the context that they were made, I couldn’t help but think about what I personally wanted from this documentary. Life Itself tells the tale of how Ebert shone early in his reporting career and pretty much told the story of his life. Some parts were interesting, others pretty cliche. But from the point of view of a movie fan, there wasn’t nearly enough about his views on films and film criticism, which to be blunt is really what I wanted to see.
But honestly there’s not a lot of film stuff in the movie. There’s some, which is good when its on. I liked the section which highlights how Ebert supported smaller films. I also liked getting a better glimpse into his relationship with Gene Siskel. And while what happened to him was quite tragic, how a man who was known for his voice on film suddenly lost his voice, I think they spent a little too much time in the hospital focusing on his downfall.
I’ll be honest, I’m not even close to being an expert on documentaries and I really haven’t figured out how to view and review them yet. I guess I just focus on whether or not I find the subject matter interesting enough. And based on that I’m not going to praise this documentary, but I did like many parts of it. I just wish it went deeper into his philosophy on film. But it definitely does succeed in capturing who Ebert was and his importance in many people’s lives.