End of an Era

Just taking a quick break from writing to mark the end of an era, the official end of Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper’s participation in At the Movies with Ebert & Roeper after Disney decided to take the show in a “new direction.” Over the thirty-odd years of its existence, the show has had various names and appeared on various networks, including PBS, evolving as the contexts and the hosts themselves did. And while I do think the show stumbled a bit after Gene Siskel, Ebert’s longtime reviewing partner passed away, it was also one of the first to demonstrate to me that movies were worth analyzing, debating, and discussing, when I first started discovering movies as a kid in the 1980s.

David Poland has a statement from Roger Ebert suggesting that Ebert plans to continue to produce a review show in another format, so hopefully we’ll be able to rejoin Ebert in a couple of aisle seats on the balcony soon.

Update: A discussion on a Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog connects up the end of Ebert’s show, David Edelstein’s negative review of The Dark Knight, and the whole end of the newspaper critic debate (via Right Cinema).


  1. K Said,

    July 22, 2008 @ 12:38 am

    I don’t really understand why Roger Ebert has such a good reputation. I find his criticism to be inane and badly written. He basically just wines and does not have a solid grasp on film history. Maybe he makes talking about film seem accessible to people who don’t know much about it.

  2. Chuck Said,

    July 22, 2008 @ 7:32 am

    In some contexts–at Ebertfest and in a couple of director’s commentary tracks–I’ve seen Ebert display a very solid knowledge of film history, but it may be that he simplifies that history for other occasions.

    In terms of his criticism, I came to appreciate his approach, which always seemed marked by at least some level of curiosity, a willingness to take a film on its terms. That may not have always happened, but I often felt that he saw things that I didn’t that were visually interesting.

    He probably did make talking about film seem accessible to me when I was younger, and there was likely something vaguely populist–in the more noble sense of that term–to much of his writing and TV commentary that appealed to me when I was younger.

  3. K Said,

    July 22, 2008 @ 6:41 pm

    I may be thinking more of his responses to less mainstream films, where he is definitely less capable (though I still do not concede that he is incapable in talking about any film in an interesting, educated way as far as I’m concerned). I don’t think he really had a sense of the issues in and methods of avant-garde films or art films (I’m not really sure which name is better). I always found that he would miss the point entirely and complain about something irrelevant. But in this way, as we’ve been saying, he may value what less specialized people value in film, and so he may come away from art films as alienated as his usual readers do.

  4. Chuck Said,

    July 22, 2008 @ 9:20 pm

    For the most part he is writing for a less specialized audience, so it’s probably natural that he isn’t always going to champion the most cutting-edge films. I do find his aversion to critical theory frustrating, as well, but as a conversation starter on mainstream and indie, I feel like he does have something to say.

    I think my comments were meant to point out that his model of attentive movie watching was something I was able to learn from when I was younger. It may also be that realizing his show is over thirty years old made me feel old.

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