I have been going to either the Chicago Sun Times or Roger Ebert’s website every Friday for the last 15 years to read about movies. It was during a particularly rough part of my life when I decided to see as many of his Great Movies as I possibly could. I was lonely, in an unhealthy marriage, and surrounded by other people’s sickness. By watching those movies and reading his commentary on them, I learned about my self, the world, and felt not so alone. Those stories kept me going. I have always love movies. For me they have been the way sports are for some people. I wait for previews like the commercials for a game. Once, when I was younger, I even referred to the Academy Awards as my Super Bowl, though I have since then, for the most part, stopped watching, and even come to be embarrassed by that notion. I grew up watching Siskel and Ebert, and then At the Movies. When I thought about movies it was with Roger’s voice. He defended young filmmakers, story tellers, and made me feel I could be one too. Yesterday was Friday and I found myself going going to his site as I always did. I read only one review. It was of his life. I felt a strange emptiness. One of those people was gone. A person who had given. A huge cultural part of my life. Like Pauline Kael he has provided the world with new ways to look at how our world views stories. He was a result of being a newspaper man, a movie geek, and a kind person. He believed in kindness and said
” ‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs,” he wrote, at the end of his memoirs. “No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”(Roger Ebert.com, 4/5/13)
From now on Friday’s will take me to the New York Times. I will read those reviews the same way I did with Ebert. Though it won’t be the same. Not really. They are all great writers, but there was something about the way he wrote, no cynicism, just heart. He wrote with his full heart and was never ashamed of it.