Elster's World

Thursday, May 22, 2008

An Open Letter To My Friend, Roger Ebert

Dear Ebert (and yes, even though we have never met, never spoken or conversed in any way, I feel comfortable enough calling you simply by your last name, the way I have referred to you countless times over the years):

I just wanted you to know you are the only film reviewer I have ever trusted. You are the only person whose opinions on movies I actually care about. You are the only person who, when I'm on the fence, you can sway me spend the 10 bucks or wait until it hits On Demand.

Sure, this may not seem like such a big deal. Movies are, after all, just movies. Silly flights of fancy to eat up 2 or so hours every once in a while. But to me, movies have been about more than simple escapism. They have have been one of the great ingredients that have fueled my imagination.

So yes, perhaps Deep Blue Sea isn't exactly On The Waterfront, but still the image of those terrifying sharks means more to me than "Rosebud" does. And while it may not be for all, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was captured by Peter Jackson so well, it was almost like he made the movie using the images from my head.

And you, Roger, understand that perfectly. Movies serve not one pompous purpose, but two totally distinct purposes. Yes, some movies shoot for greatness, for the level of "art". But others simply want to entertain you. Roger, you always seem to understand that. It's why you gave Aliens (my favorite action/alien shooter movie of all time) three and a half out of four starts which probably had poor Janet Maslin rolling in her bed (she isn't dead yet so no grave rolling allowed). It's why your fantastic, 4-star review of Pan's Labyrinth made me grab if from Blockbuster (I no longer go there, fear not) despite my hatred of all films foreign.

You saved my marriage by giving such a favorable review to Juno, that I allowed myself to make it my "one movie in the movie theater every six months or so" when I had great concerns that it was a total girl movie. But hey, if Ebert said it was good, that was good enough for me. (It goes without saying that it was great, we both loved it, and Ebert was right).

On a whim we watched Superbad. It was hilarious. After the fact I read your review, assuming you would have disliked this sophomoric tale of two high school seniors trying to get laid. Nope, three and a half stars. You found it as funny as I did. Why should I be surprised Roger? You and I are always of like mind. You want movies to amaze you, to thrill you and show you art - but sometimes you are simply happy with a movie that lets you have fun.

The thing I like about you is that you write it like you see it. You don't have to impress me with your intelligence, instead you let your intelligence come out in the down to earth review that makes sense. AO Scott bludgeons me over the head with fancy text and allegory, and when I finish reading the review I have no idea whether or not he liked the freaking movie!

But I always understand you and I trust you. When you gave Son of Rambow three and a half stars, I was excited. But when I read that the film disappointed you, I put it on the back burner. Hey, we will eventually get to it on Fios.

I just read your review of the latest Indiana Jones flick. Some early reports leaked that it was terrible. But you have restored my faith in humanity. Thanks.

I know you have had a lot of health problems recently. it's gotten so that you cannot even speak anymore. I cannot even imagine what that must be like. But just know that hundreds of thousands (millions) of people still hear you each week. We listen to you and we trust you. You shape our movie plans.

And we hope you continue to do so for many many years.

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