Roger Ebert relaunches film review show
Thereâs nothing more important than finding your voice as a writer. Or so weâre told. Roger Ebert, one of the most prolific writers working today, lost his voice four years ago after a battle with thyroid cancer.
Ebert has been writing more than ever, and has shown no signs of slowing down, even through all the difficult times he has endured. So, itâs no surprise that he has also relaunched his television program, now called Ebert Presents: At the Movies.
In this modernized edition, the focus is still on reviews of films currently in theatrical release, with hosts Christy Lemire of The Associated Press and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of Mubi.com.Â The original series dates back to over a quarter of a century ago, when Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert first took their seats in the balcony.
The chemistry between Siskel and Ebert was always palpable and the world was introduced to two sharp, intellectual critics who brought respectful film reviews to their audience. The humorous arguments and often dissimilar viewpoints between the hosts was nothing less than entertaining. The series was an immediate success.
The program, however, endured difficult times when Gene Siskel was hospitalized for a brain tumor in 1998, and eventually passed away in 1999. There were numerous guest hosts, until Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times took over the empty seat.
The series was plagued with continuous bad luck as Roger Ebert was eventually diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had sections of his jaw removed. The program struggled from there on, never finding a balance with its frequent guest hosts, and quickly went from an intellectual discussion with respectable critics to brief introductions with questionable reviewers.
Ebertâs plan has long been to return to the roots of the original program. Thatâs essentially the structure we have with the new series, along with an opening sequence thatâs heartwarming and nostalgic. The sequence begins with old photographs of Siskel and Ebert, two irreplaceable hosts, and moves into the present day.
Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky opened the series reviewing films such Â as No Strings Attached and The Company Men. The episode was filled with opposing viewpoints, with Lemire giving a thumbs down on every film, and Vishnevetsky giving a thumbs up.
There are several surprise additions in this updated version, including special segments on classic films, along with two contributing film critics, Kim Morgan and Omar Moore. Thereâs also a segment called âRogerâs Officeâ in which Ebert himself will review hidden gems and overlooked films, using the assistance of his computer generated voice. In the first episode, Roger Ebert reviewed the animated film My Dog Tulip, whereas Kim Morgan introduced audiences to the classic film noir, The Third Man.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, who is only 24-years-old, clearly knows his cinema history, but tries to justify his opinions when reviewing mediocre films. Thereâs a clear passion and drive in his speech, but his thumbs up rating of Season of the Witch, for instance, is unquestionably alarming. Christy Lemire, on the other hand, is much more experienced and judgmental, reminding us of what constitutes a good film critic.
Ebert Presents at the Movies cannot compete the original, and nobody can ever replace the two film critics we fell in love with. The series, however, is a fresh and innovative approach, and is much better than the mess it was several years ago. The discussions between the young critics are lively and entertaining, even if they will never replace Siskel and Ebert.
Roger Ebert is still speaking to his audience, and heâs willing to do so with or without a voice.