roger ebert

It is an interesting law of romance that a truly strong woman will choose a strong man who disagrees with her over a weak one who goes along. Strength demands intelligence, intelligence demands stimulation, and weakness is boring. It is better to find a partner you can contend with for a lifetime than one who accommodates you because he doesn’t really care.
—  Roger Ebert
I told Miyazaki I love the “gratuitous motion” in his films; instead of every movement being dictated by the story, sometimes people will just sit for a moment, or they will sigh, or look in a running stream, or do something extra, not to advance the story but only to give the sense of time and place and who they are.
“We have a word for that in Japanese,” he said. “It’s called ma. Emptiness. It’s there intentionally.”
Is that like the “pillow words” that separate phrases in Japanese poetry?
“I don’t think it’s like the pillow word.” He clapped his hands three or four times. “The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just busyness, But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.
—  Rogert Ebert, on Hayao Miyazaki

The wisdom in “Eternal Sunshine” is how it illuminates the way memory interacts with love. We more readily recall pleasure than pain. From the hospital I remember laughing nurses and not sleepless nights. A drunk remembers the good times better than the hangovers. A failed political candidate remembers the applause. An unsuccessful romantic lover remembers the times when it worked. What Joel and Clementine cling to are those perfect moments when lives seem blessed by heaven, and sunshine will fall upon it forever. - Roger Ebert

It is an interesting law of romance that a truly strong [person] will choose [another] strong [person] who disagrees with [them] over a weak one who goes along. Strength demands intelligence, intelligence demands stimulation, and weakness is boring. It is better to find a partner you can contend with for a lifetime than one who accommodates you because he doesn’t really care.
—  Roger Ebert

“Film noir is …

1. A French term meaning "black film,” or film of the night, inspired by the Series Noir, a line of cheap paperbacks that translated hard-boiled American crime authors and found a popular audience in France.

2. A movie which at no time misleads you into thinking there is going to be a happy ending.

3. Locations that reek of the night, of shadows, of alleys, of the back doors of fancy places, of apartment buildings with a high turnover rate, of taxi drivers and bartenders who have seen it all.

4. Cigarettes. Everybody in film noir is always smoking, as if to say, “On top of everything else, I’ve been assigned to get through three packs today.” The best smoking movie of all time is “Out of the Past,” in which Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas smoke furiously at each other. At one point, Mitchum enters a room, Douglas extends a pack and says, “Cigarette?” and Mitchum, holding up his hand, says, “Smoking.”

5. Women who would just as soon kill you as love you, and vice versa.

6. For women: low necklines, floppy hats, mascara, lipstick, dressing rooms, boudoirs, calling the doorman by his first name, high heels, red dresses, elbowlength gloves, mixing drinks, having gangsters as boyfriends, having soft spots for alcoholic private eyes, wanting a lot of someone else’s women, sprawling dead on the floor with every limb meticulously arranged and every hair in place.

7. For men: fedoras, suits and ties, shabby residential hotels with a neon sign blinking through the window, buying yourself a drink out of the office bottle, cars with running boards, all-night diners, protecting kids who shouldn’t be playing with the big guys, being on first-name terms with homicide cops, knowing a lot of people whose descriptions end in “ies,” such as bookies, newsies, junkies, alkys, jockeys and cabbies.

8. Movies either shot in black and white, or feeling like they were.

9. Relationships in which love is only the final flop card in the poker game of death.

10. The most American film genre, because no society could have created a world so filled with doom, fate, fear and betrayal, unless it were essentially naive and optimistic.“

—Roger Ebert, A Guide to Film Noir

There is only one confirmed instance of an animal giving a movie review. When a Parrot with a vocabulary of over 560 words watched “Speed Racer” (2008) it said “Fast pretty color” as the credits rolled. The same parrot arguably also reviewed Lars Van Trier’s “Dancer In The Dark” (2000) as upon completing the film, it shat itself and dropped dead in agony.

Confirming the bird had an advanced taste in cinema, Roger Ebert had an identical reaction to the same film.


“Terrence Malick’s new film is a form of prayer. It created within me a spiritual awareness, and made me more alert to the awe of existence. It functions to pull us back from the distractions of the moment, and focus us on mystery and gratitude.”

-Roger Ebert

Elijah Wood and Scarlett Johansson on the set of “North” approximately 20 years ago. 

How did film critic Roger Ebert feel about the film?

“I hated this movie. Hated, hated, hated, hated, hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it,” he said.

When we go to the movies, we identify with the characters we see. That’s why we go to the movies; we have a voyeuristic experience; we have an out of the body experience. The screen is more real than our thoughts are at the moment we are looking at the film and we place ourselves in the place of the people on the screen, and when they behave nobly, it makes us feel noble, when they are sad and when they have lost love, we feel sad; we can identify with that.
—  Roger Ebert on why we go to the movies
From Roger Ebert’s original review of The Karate Kid in 1984: 

I didn’t want to see this movie. I took one look at the title and figured it was either (a) a sequel to Toenails of Vengeance, or (b) an adventure pitting Ricky Schroder against the Megaloth Man. I was completely wrong. “The Karate Kid” was one of the nice surprises of 1984 – an exciting, sweet-tempered, heart-warming story with one of the most interesting friendships in a long time.


“We all are born with a certain package. We are who we are: where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We’re kind of stuck inside that person, and the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people. And for me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.” – Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert and “Life Itself” | the diary of a film history fanatic

For him, movies were not just about movies, they were really about the empathy machine of standing in someone else’s shoes, allowing you to be a person of another race, of another gender, living in a different country. He said that when you went into the movies and if it was a good movie or something really important, that it really did help transform you as a human being. He said that when you went into a movie, in those two hours, if the movie was really working its job on you properly, that you left being a truer version of who you were.

Chaz on Roger Ebert and the movies.

I couldn’t agree more, and I’d apply this theory of the empathy machine to books as well.

I miss Roger :(