Ebert was one of those who found his calling early in life. By the time he was 15, he was publishing and distributing his own newspaper. He later went to work for the local newspaper. By the end of the 1960s, Ebert had been appointed as movie critic at the Chicago Sun-Times.
The movie spends a lot of time chronicling Ebert’s stormy relationship with fellow film critic and “professional nemesis” Gene Siskel. Siskel worked for the Chicago Tribune, a rival to Ebert’s Chicago Sun-Times. The two collaborated on a PBS television show, in which they reviewed movies. The two were professional rivals, and on mostly civil terms, but often disagreed vehemently on movies; neither was shy about stating his respective opinion. This made for interesting television. By the time Siskel died in 1999 from complications from brain cancer, the two seemed to have developed mutual respect, even if they differed in their views.
Ebert was one of the most popular American film critics. He preferred a relativistic reviewing style, grouping movie reviews by looking at the audience they were made for. Highbrow movies (read “Oscar bait”) were compared to other highbrow movies; popular movies would be compared other popular movies. This view gave a better indication of whether a viewer would like a particular movie or not.
The film can be hard to watch. Ebert lost most of his lower jaw and throat to cancer and had to be fed through a tube inserted into a hole in what was left of his trachea. Still, losing his jaw and his speaking voice did not silence him. He embraced blogging, posting movie reviews right up to his death in 2013.
Essential viewing if you love movies.
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