Roger Ebert On The Quintessence Of Dust

A quintessence of dust, a beautiful essay by Roger Ebert reflecting on existence, science, art, and the universe.

My curiosity leads me to science, my admiration for logic leads me to the Theory of Evolution, my pride rejects simplistic fables to describe the facts I observe. Where do I find my consolations? There are many ways to be consoled. Everyone deserves to find their own way, and find such peace as they can. I find my greatest consolations come from Art.

“Citizen Kane” – Wow

I’m not sure how it happened this way, but I recently watched Citizen Kane for the first time in about 5 years and was in awe of the whole damn thing. I was pretty much transfixed from the first frame to the last. Every 30 minutes or so I had to pause the DVD so I could turn to Jenny and say, “This is incredible!” She said, “I know, it’s awesome. We should be watching this all the time.” (Not an exact quote, but close enough.)

I could always appreciate it for its technical achievements — it’s difficult to find a movie even today that matches the innovation involved in just about every shot in Citizen Kane — but the story didn’t grab me. It grabs me now, though. And there’s not much I can say about it that hasn’t been said before, so I’ll just say, “Wow.” Citizen Kane is a powerhouse. What a great movie.

(The DVD also contains an audio commentary track by Roger Ebert, whose commentaries are exceptional, well-worth checking out.)

Ebert on Books

Roger Ebert is talking about books now, and brother can I relate.

I cannot throw out these books. Some are protected because I have personally turned all their pages and read every word; they’re like little shrines to my past hours. Perhaps half were new when they came to my life, but most are used, and I remember where I found every one. The set of Kipling at the Book Nook on Green Street in Champaign. The scandalous The English Governess in a shady book store on the Left Bank in 1965 (Obilisk Press, $2, today $91). The Shaw plays from Cranford’s on Long Street in Cape Town, where Irving Freeman claimed he had a million books; it may not have been a figure of speech. Like an alcoholic trying to walk past a bar, you should see me trying to walk past a used book store.

Movies Roger Ebert Hates

Ebert’s Most Hated:

From bad Elvis to Deuce Bigalow, these are excerpts from reviews of some of the worst movies he’s [Roger Ebert] ever seen…It’s not just their measly ratings — from zero to 1.5 stars — but what Ebert has to say about them that really conveys their true awfulness.

An excerpt:

I hated this [North] movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it.

I was pleasantly surprised to find his opinion of The Usual Suspects was similar to my own:

Once again, my comprehension began to slip, and finally I wrote down: “To the degree that I do understand, I don’t care.”


Roger Ebert Rates Porn

The X-rated Roger Ebert:

Roger Ebert used to review porn movies. No, this was not a third-string assignment, nor was he moonlighting for Hustler or Oui. He saw them in his capacity as esteemed first-string film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.

The article includes snippets of some of Ebert’s reviews, including Vixen (“…is not only a good skin-flick, but a merciless put-on of the whole genre”), The Devil in Miss Jones (“This is the first porno movie I’ve seen that actually seems to be about its leading character – instead of merely using her as the object of sexual variations”), and Emmanuelle (“…may be the first movie influenced by magazine centerfolds”).