Beloved film critic Roger Ebert passed away last year, but work on Life Itself — the documentary about his life and influence– was under way well before that happened. Which is why in the trailer for the movie some people refer to Roger in the present tense.
If you were familiar with Ebert, you know he was sick for over a decade before his passing, as he had cancer (of the thyroid and salivary glands), and that took his jaw, so this film was meant to celebrate his work as he was getting closer to death. This is why Werner Herzog suggests he’s currently in awe of the man. The documentary also features Martin Scorsese and many others who talk about the work and the influence of the most famous film critic to have ever lived. Here’s that trailer:
The film played at Sundance, so we’ve heard that it’s excellent, but also that — because the interviews were conducted while Ebert was sick or dead — no one goes for blood, so it turns into a hagiography, even if it hints at the real conflict between Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Ebert was a fascinating character who flirted with working for Hollywood, and went through some rough patches as a womanizer and a drunk, so there’s a story to tell. We’ll see how much of that gets on the big and small screen when the film hits theaters and VOD on July 4.
Are you a fan of Roger Ebert?