A Powerful Documentary About Cinema That Also Manages To Be About 'Life Itself'
Normally, I don't watch or review documentaries. But, I figured that for my first documentary that is the subject for this review, I would discuss one on a person that I have always followed before I even started my own film reviewing blog: Roger Ebert. Life Itself may focus on the hardships of his life, but manages to put so much effort into what he accomplished to film culture.
Since it is a documentary and there isn't really any story or plot, I'm just going to go right into the ups. I'll start off by saying that I loved how they focused on Ebert's relationships with different filmmakers. Normally, the way I personally see it, a lot of film critics don't seem to share great bonds with actors because some critics tend to be harsh on certain films or actors. But Ebert managed to have a good relationship with the likes of Werner Herzog and Martin Scorsese. Not only them, but we even see directors being interviewed that Ebert recognized before they became more established and how through his highly publicized television series, he would discuss smaller scale films that many audiences aren't familiar with. I remember when I watched Ebert and Roeper every Saturday morning, they would talk about films I wasn't familiar with and had unknown talents. Nowadays, whenever I hear about a smaller scale film, past or present, I always tend to think of reviewing it so that hopefully more people will become familiar with it. When that occurs, I always think of Roger Ebert and how he would do the same thing on his show.
Not only did they show his relationship between him and Siskel, but we surprisingly see how they had a very turbulent one. They came from very different walks of life, and they had such a difficult time getting along. But eventually, when Ebert almost left the show, Siskel became distraught. Siskel even said about Ebert, "he may be an asshole, but he's my asshole." So, at that point, even though they still didn't really become full-on buddies, they still grew to respect each other.
Even though the scenes of Ebert at the hospital and at home were quite disheartening because they showed him in his awful condition, they still were slightly uplifting because of how Ebert would still be typing and still doing what he loves. While I was watching the film and those scenes, what I took away from it was that because I want to write and critique films, as long as I am able to write, no matter what I may be physically hit with, keep writing and doing what I love like what Ebert was able to do despite going through plenty of surgeries.
Now, this isn't necessarily something I didn't like, but I was a little surprised that they didn't include Ebert's relationship with Richard Roeper. But, I'm guessing that maybe Roeper didn't want to be involved or couldn't because of personal or work reasons. Other than that, there aren't any issues I have.
Overall, Life Itself is a powerful yet strangely inspiring look at one of the greatest film icons who is greatly missed. Much like Ebert, I have always loved films since I was a kid, and watching this film may motivate me, and hopefully any other film buff that watches this, to become something of a Roger Ebert ourselves.
Would I Recommend It?:
Absolutely. If you love movies and if you especially want to review them one day, run to Redbox or rent it on Netflix if it is available.