I just learned (with sadness) that film critic Roger Ebert has passed on. In this post, I would like to highlight my favorite movie reviews that he did. I cannot access his page, so I will write on the basis of what I remember.
UPDATE: The site of Ebert's reviews is now back up. It appears that I misremembered some of the reviews that I read. For example, Ebert did not teach in an inner-city school, but in a black area in Cape Town, South Africa. On his Walk to Remember
review, he says that Mandy Moore's performance is not typical of a lot
of teenage dramas, but he doesn't explicitly praise her for playing a
(1991): Mimi Rogers plays a swinger and a lonely telephone operator who
converts to Christianity, only to later leave the faith later in the
movie. Roger Ebert said that her character learned what many people
learn: that the world is not fair. Roger Ebert's reviews were often
honest and thoughtful about faith, both when he was praising
faith-affirming films, and also when he was praising films that offended
a lot of conservative Christians.
Dangerous Minds (1995): I vaguely recall reading in Robert Ebert's review of this movie that he once taught in an inner-city school.
(2001): Jim Carrey plays a man who loses his memory during the
McCarthyite era. He defends the Constitution before the House Committee
on Un-American activities. Roger Ebert said that the film had an
important lesson, in a time when the government might seek to undermine
our civil liberties. This was during the aftermath of 9/11.
Star Wars II: Attack of the Cones (2001):
I laughed when Roger Ebert mocked the wooden dialogue on this
particular Star Wars movie, especially the part where Anakin says to
Padme that she is not like sand because sand is course and rough,
whereas she is soft and smooth.
A Walk to Remember
(2002): Mandy Moore plays the devout daughter of a preacher. She is
marginalized at her school, yet the popular bad boy falls in love with
her. But she is dying of leukemia. Roger Ebert praised Mandy Moore for
choosing to play a devout Christian in a movie, an unlikely move for
many actresses seeking popularity.
The Passion of the Christ (2004): Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ
was an extremely controversial movie, as some praised the film as an
affirmation of the Christian faith, whereas others contended that it was
anti-Semitic and excessively violent. Roger Ebert tactfully
acknowledged that those who criticized the film had valid concerns, yet
he thoughtfully disagreed with them. Ebert gave the film four stars.
Lady in the Water
(2006): Ebert ripped this film to shreds! But he still acknowledged
that it had a moment of thoughtfulness: when one of the character's was
trying to hear from God by looking at cereal boxes.
(2008): Viola Davis was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in
this movie, even though she was not in the movie for that long. But,
Ebert noted, Viola did hold her own before the most widely-renowned
actress of this decade (Meryl Streep). (Or maybe Ebert said it was
longer than a decade!)
Ebert. I'll miss your thoughtful movie reviews, and your humble and
insightful reflections on life, politics, and faith.