It's no big stretch to say that my love of movies was greatly expanded by watching Siskel & Ebert's weekly review show. I remember watching their program when I was as young as eleven years old, learning about all kinds of obscure movies I'd never have known existed. Siskel & Ebert often lamented the fact that their 'two thumbs up' gimmick and handing out star ratings in their reviews kind of obscured proper criticism behind a mere ranking game --- there are obviously different levels of four-star films, for instance. Yet it was enjoyable how the two of them could be entertained by a "three-star" popcorn movie just as much as they could by a "four-star" cinematic masterpiece.
Ebert's written reviews were in the same vein. If you read a Roger Ebert rave, man, did that ever fire you up to go see that movie. Even if you didn't always agree with his assessment (remember, this is a guy who championed 'Crash' as the best movie of 2005), you could at least see his point and appreciate the logic behind his admiration of a picture. Or, conversely, why he disliked a picture. Or, why he hated a picture, and few things are funnier than Ebert shitting all over a movie he disliked. He even published two full books of his pans, called "I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie" and "Your Movie Sucks." What a boss.
Aside from actually watching the films themselves, no source taught me more about cinema than Roger Ebert. I credit him with my becoming a film major in university and why I so often delve into film criticism here on this blog…so if you want someone to blame for my way-too-long Markademy Awards posts, I guess you can blame Ebert.
RIP to this iconic figure, the greatest film critic of this age and to one of my writing heroes. Thumbs up on a great life.