Life Itself

Director: Steve James
Year Released: 2014
Rating: 3.0

Touching cinematic eulogy for legendary film critic Roger Ebert shows him battling cancer (which led to losing his lower jaw and ability to drink or eat) and touches on many of the highlights of his career, from winning the Pulitzer, to being a proud husband (Chaz is a great lady) to working with (and arguing with!) Gene Siskel on their famous TV movie review program. As a fan of Mr. Ebert's body of work, it's impossible for me to be impartial on this one (the scenes of him suffering in a hospital bed, disfigured, are heartbreaking and difficult to watch), but James does an admirable job covering a lot of ground in a reasonable amount of time, even including nuggets of information I never knew before (I had no idea Ebert struggled with alcoholism or that Mr. Siskel used to party with Hefner). Largely hagiography - with even someone who disparaged TV Criticism (Richard Corliss) backing down in the end - but this is Rog we're dealing with: he loved the movies, he loved writing about movies and he encouraged people to see movies they'd never bother with in the first place. May you be partying with Fellini in the Cosmos, good sir....