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Ray Pride

By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

From Roger Ebert's journal… a 2,500 word history of self-image

Ebert cracks wise over the bludgeoning banter between he and Gene Siskel through the years as a way of getting into his history of body image. Like many recent entries in his blog, there are zigs, zags and fruitful diversions, and the 2,500 words may be his most adventurous yet. 7eb2006-thumb-200x254.jpgThe tone and mood vary, but a taste: “I am so much a movie lover that I can imagine a certain (very small) pleasure in looking like the Phantom. It is better than looking like the Elephant Man. I would describe my condition as falling about 17% of the way along a graph line between the handsome devil I was at the ripe tender age of 27, and the thing that jumps out of that guy’s intestines in Alien… I resemble the Phantom, but only to myself. I wear a bandage wrapping the general area of the Phantom’s 1925 troubles, although good doctor David Reisberg and his colleague David Rotter of the University of Illinois at Chicago Hospital have just given me a test run of a handsome new prosthetic that will allow me to retire the Mummy look, and then Bob’s your uncle. So to return to my opening question, what does it feel like to resemble The Phantom of the Opera? Not like much of anything. I rather avoid mirrors. I do not dwell on my appearance. I have bigger fish to fry. Nor do I mope about fearing that my cancer might return. If it does, it does, and that’s what she wrote. At Pritikin they have a truism: “If you don’t die of anything else, sooner or later you will die of cancer.” We all nod thoughtfully.” [Rude jokes, video and myriad musings at the link; the self-portrait before Ebert’s surgery is from the entry.]

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“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes. It’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful. People don’t realize what goes into making a movie like that. It’s mind-blowing. It’s just insane, it’s hurting the business, it’s getting people to not see a movie. In Middle America it’s, ‘Oh, it’s a low Rotten Tomatoes score so I’m not going to go see it because it must suck.’ But that number is an aggregate and one that nobody can figure out exactly what it means, and it’s not always correct. I’ve seen some great movies with really abysmal Rotten Tomatoes scores. What’s sad is film criticism has disappeared. It’s really sad.”
~ Brett Ratner Has A Sad

“The loss of a local newspaper critic is a real loss. People who know the local audience and know the local cultural scene are very important resources. You can’t just substitute the stuff that comes in from nowhere through syndication or the wire. I think at the same time, some of the newer outlets have really beefed up and improved their coverage and made room for criticism. The real problem is in the more specialized art forms — fine arts, classical music, dance and jazz, say. There is a real slowing of critical voices, partly because those art forms have smaller audiences. Newspapers and magazines can say that doesn’t get enough traffic, so we don’t have room for that. To me, that’s especially worrisome. This is the opposite of what newspapers are supposed to do, which is not to try to figure out what people are already interested in and recite that back to them, but to hopefully guide them to something that they should be interested in, connecting potential audiences with more interesting work.

“Then again, not everyone needs a critic. People have been going to movies for more than 100 years now, and probably the vast majority of those people have not read movie reviews or cared what critics thought. But there has always been an important subset that wants to know more, that wants to think about what they’ve seen and what they’re going to see, and wants someone to think along with. I think critics are important, not just as dispensers of consumer advice — though that’s certainly part of it, too — but as trusted voices and companions for people to argue with in your head when you’re going to movies or afterwards.”
~ A. O. Scott