Saturday, July 5, 2014

Life Itself review

By Nico Beland (At the Blog!)
Movie Review: A+ (4 stars)
Chicago Sun-Times film critic, Roger Ebert in Life Itself

            My first review of a documentary film, granted I don’t find documentaries boring and slow, there are plenty of films in this genre that I enjoyed such as 2007’s The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, 2012’s Searching for Sugar Man, and 1999’s Trekkies. Now, I think I may have discovered my favorite documentary of all time, Life Itself, based on the 2011 memoir of the same name, written by the late film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert.
            The film adaptation is incredibly well handled and is filled with detailed interviews and narrations by Ebert, his wife, Chaz Ebert, Marlene Iglitzen, the wife of Ebert’s late partner on television and Chicago Tribune critic, Gene Siskel, and even film director, Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas, Hugo, The Wolf of Wall Street).
            Many of the events that happened in Ebert’s life were shown in the film, like Ebert’s time as a newspaper writer, screenplay writer for 20th Century Fox’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, his collaboration with Gene Siskel on the TV series, Opening Soon at a Theater Near You/At the Movies with Siskel & Ebert, and his long battle against thyroid cancer until his death in April 2013.
            There were various clips from Siskel and Ebert’s appearances on television in the film, most notably, some of the memorable moments from the Siskel & Ebert series reviews of films such as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Apocalypse Now, and Scarface.
            Overflowing with details, informative facts, and many things that I did not know about Roger Ebert or Gene Siskel before seeing this film, and we get to a very powerful and emotional ending of his life that would be impossible not to get teary eyed from.
            Overall, Life Itself may be the best film currently out in theaters, aside from all those summer blockbusters with explosions. It was a very important film for me to see, because Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were part of my inspiration to create the blog you are reading right now.
            I learned a lot about Siskel and Ebert’s lives from this film, along with some more helpful ideas for any of my future blog posts.
            If you have an “Unlimited Passion” of film, whether it’s filmmaking or film reviewing, this is a very important and gripping film for you all to see. I was truly moved by the film and would love to learn even more about Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.
            However, this isn’t really an issue I had with the film, but I noticed that there weren’t any interviews by Ebert’s other companion on television, Richard Roeper, not even a mention. I’m sure he would have a lot to say about Ebert and the role he played in his life.
            But aside from that, this may be a perfect film that I’m certain that Siskel and Ebert would have loved if they were still here with us. It’s up there with The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and Trekkies as one of my favorite documentaries of all time, if not my most.
            If you’re looking for a film to see over the summer and don’t want to destroy your brain with an explosion-filled summer blockbuster, give Life Itself a shot and enjoy a powerful tribute to Roger Ebert.
            First we had Roger Ebert’s tribute to Gene Siskel, after his death in 1999, then a wonderful tribute to both Siskel and Ebert by the Nostalgia Critic, along with a follow-up farewell to Ebert a few days after his death, and now we have this wonderful, informative, and entertaining film about one of the greatest men in the history of film.
            Hopefully this will lead to more documentary film reviews for my blog, perhaps a review of a particular documentary I will be seeing Tuesday night.

            See you at the movies!

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