Review: LIFE ITSELF

By Darin Skaggs

     Life Itself is a documentary about one of the most famous film critics, Roger Ebert.  The film is directed by Steve James, who also directed Hoops Dreams, a film that Ebert adored.  So that makes the life story of this respected film critic a little more personal.  This explains all the time spent in the hospital near the end of his life.

The film takes a look at Ebert’s whole life exploring his childhood, career advancements, his big heart and his big head.  Even though the documentary feels personal like a friend is making it; it does not shy away from the negative part of Ebert.  In his early years he was an alcoholic and later when he became a film critic he was very stubborn and cocky.  And of course it explores what makes him so smart.  They say he could write an article with the snap of a finger, fairly young he won a Pulitzer Prize and always tried to stay up to date with what the public was using technology wise.  The film takes a look at a man we all know and adds information that others might not know and explores what we do know.

One of the problems that could be put onto the movie is that it might not be for people who are not passionate for the art of film.  Throughout the film stories are told about how Ebert inspired young filmmakers and film fans.  A couple of directors tell how Ebert came to their small film at a festival and gave it a rave, yet honest review.  Martin Scorsese is interviewed and tells a story on how early in his career Ebert loved him as a director and a couple decades later The Color of Money came out and Ebert, and Siskel who is his TV coworker, hate on the film.  This showed that all Ebert wanted to do is name good and bad about films he watched.

The film is about this man’s whole life and the moments that are hard to watch are the ones in the hospital.  These moments are tonally different in the film but needed to make you really feel for this normal human with a heightened job.  The film is very good, but film fans may be bias.  Others might not be interested.  There are some basic human moments everyone can relate to but the majority of the film is about movies and the passion they can bring.

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