Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Classic & El Legendario Roger Ebert

         In English and Spanish the passing of Roger Ebert was commemorated by Hoy and Red Eye at this corner of Rogers Park this past Friday, the day after his passing. Roger Ebert made being a film critic a cool and interesting profession to aspire to. Sneak Previews and At The Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert (shortened to Siskel and Ebert) set the bar for reviewing movies on television. Chicago was blessed to have the two greatest film critics of all time. Watching their old reviews of movies today is just as entertaining as the day they aired. These television shows formed the foundation of many people's knowledge of film and also gave them insight into how to watch, analyze and discuss movies. This writer remembers many nights watching the show with family and our own discussions of the movies and their reviews. 

4/9/13 Bloggers note, here is Roger's new site -

Please continue reading for more pictures and words

           Roger Ebert grew up in Urbana, Illinois and was also an alumnus of the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana, class of 1964. Not only was he a film critic but he also had written a screenplay for the movie called Beyond The  Valley Of The Dolls (1970). Lucky for us he discovered he was a better film critic than movie maker or screen writer. Roger Ebert also started the popular overlooked film festival down there at the Virginia theatre in his hometown. This year marks the fifteen year anniversary of this festival, Chaz Ebert his wife will host the event this year April 17th - 21st. The event known as Ebertfest will hold a surprise event this year, but too late for an official celebration of his life according to Nate Kohn the festival director.

Asked whether Mr. Ebert had selected movies for future festivals, Kohn said not specifically, but each year he and Mr. Ebert would come up with a list of 50 to 100 movies that they would want to show at that year's festival.
"Then we narrowed it down to 12," he said. "There are at least 500 to 1,000 films that Roger wanted to show at the festival. He's going to be programming the festival for a long time."

         Before his death Roger Ebert was in the process of trying to gather enough funds to found a film school in his native city of Champaign Urbana, Illinois. He  and his wife Chaz Ebert had already donated one million dollars to the cause. The last article written about it in 2010 by the News Gazette said they needed about five million more dollars to break ground. The Gene Siskel film center in downtown Chicago commemorates the other giant of film criticism. This film school in Ebert's name would be a perfect way to carry on his legacy to fight for better movie making. Roger Ebert was in ill health for much of the last decade and he finally succumbed to his illness this past Thursday. He was a huge influence on many people in the film industry and in media whether distributed hard copy or via internet and he will be sorely missed.

           Incidentally the newspaper boxes containing the young and old Roger Ebert were marred with graffiti. This writer took the liberty of using goof off to quickly restore them to their former glory, rather than wait for the city come by and turn them into a patchwork mess. While working on the newspaper boxes the proprietor of Eddy's Food Mart came out for a chat. He too was upset with the graffiti and noted that they had recently painted their dumpster from blue to green due to repeated attacks of graffiti. This is a unique intersection in Chicago as it is a six way intersection with a southwest northeast diagonal street with no traffic lights and just stop signs. The above picture is before and the bottom after.

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