Roger Ebert is my hero.
If my massive collection of Italian neo realism wasn’t the first clue, or the fact that The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg is my favorite film the second clue, I am kind of almost a big a movie geek as my Dylan and Waits obsessed music collection will let me be. I watch way too many movies, a massive achievement when you realize how much TV I watch in a week ( less surprising when you realize I sleep for four hours a night because I’m re-watching some Hitchcock film on TCM for the trillionth time- usually Strangers On A Train). Ebert brought me to many films I never would have considered watching based on my first instinct, simply because as good as my instinct is, his is better. I have hated the movies he’s hated 99% of the time, and loved the ones he loves about 75% of the time ( the rest are mutually respectful WTF moments).
Ebert has won a Pulitzer for film criticism. I don’t know if film critics regularly win Pulitzers. I will never win a Pulitzer, and my writing doesn’t suck. Even if I were as great as Ebert with the turn of a phrase, I’d still be writing five line reviews for some cheap ass weekly somewhere. Why? Because I have an inability to keep my mouth shut about extraneous matters, and therefore, I ramble. Ebert doesn’t ramble. He’s precise. I love him because I envy that very thing.
Last week, Ebert deigned to post a review of a film called Tru Loved. The film automatically gets a point knocked off from my scale simply because I hate cutesy titles like that. So it currently sits at a A review, because I haven’t seen it.
Ebert saw it. Sorta.
He saw about eight minutes. Then he walked out.
He posted his review, which was pretty scathing. Then he dropped the news of his departure and apparently created a bit of a firestorm. The pro and anti Ebert factions came out in droves, but there were valid points mixed in between the arguments, Namely- if you are paid to review something, isn’t walking out poor taste and actually fraud?
Fraud may be taking it too far, but I see the point. If I’m paid to review a movie, I should sit through it or not write the review if I don’t make it, for whatever reason.
On the other hand, I’m against wasting my time. I’m against wasting other peoples time. If I think an album is so bad it should never be heard by the ears of humans, I’d say so, and I’d tell them exactly why, and where I stopped listening before I shoved the pencils in my ears. And I listen to the Butthole Surfers religiously, so you know it’d have to be heinous for me to refuse to even finish listening.
In the end, reading his review, I came to the conclusion that in fact, he was actually brave to do what he did. His trepidations and other thoughts can be found on his blog,
but I encourage to read the comments as well. He responds on ocassion, and they are so worth the read.
I’ve only once in my life refused to finish listening to an album. It was an album by The Clash, shockingly enough, and it was called Cut The Crap. I cried for an hour after the first track because I wanted to know what the hell happened to my favorite band.