Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert died just over a year ago and is still sorely missed — by movie insiders as well as regular folks who looked to Ebert and longtime partner Gene Siskel for no-nonsense reviews laced with humor and humanity.
And now the man who brought film criticism to the masses is himself the subject of a new film. "Life Itself," a film adaptation of Ebert's 2011 memoir, hits theaters July 4. A new two-minute trailer reminds us that Ebert's résumé is enormous. Not only did he write about film for half the time that film as a medium had even existed, but he wrote a novel, a dozen non-fiction books, and most infamously, the screenplay for "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls."
Fans loved Ebert as much for his sauciness too, as the film shows when including a famous clip of Siskel and Ebert arguing while filming promos for "Siskel and Ebert and the Movies."
"(Siskel and Ebert) almost didn't care what anyone else thought, as long as they could try to persuade the other," says Ebert's widow Chaz.
Ebert was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, and by the end of his life, had lost the ability to speak and eat normally. His battle was waged publicly and with bravery, and he's seen in the preview joking with the documentary's director (Steve James, of "Hoop Dreams") using his computer-generated voice.
"He made it possible for a bigger audience, a wider audience, to appreciate cinema as an art form, because he really loved film," legendary film director Martin Scorsese says in a clip from the film.
When the film was shown at the Cannes Film Festival Tuesday, the projector broke, and the screen went black. According to New York magazine, Chaz Ebert says she thought to herself, "What would Roger do?" and enlisted director James in an impromptu question-and-answer sequence until the film was running again.
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