Friday, September 10, 2010

The Return of the Ebert

This shouldn't come as a surprise to those following along on Roger Ebert's wonderful blog (and if you don't read it please, 99% of the time he's amazing). But he is coming BACK to TV... sort of.

Watch the details here:

So yeah. Come January we have not only Ebert, but other good critics, one of them Elvis Mitchell (who is the kind of critic I've only read in part- he left the NY Times right as I was just getting into reading serious film criticism- but who does GREAT interviews, especially on his NPR show). While there was nothing too wrong with AO Scott and Michael Phillips, it was a format that was kind of getting stale...

Actually, that's not totally true. The format is basic and hard to replicate, and in a way Ebert is doing just that on his revised show. But the reputation was kind of withered away over time thanks to the "Two Bens" who took over the show after Richard Roeper left (which was some time after Ebert himself left due to cancer surgery).

But it should be something to look forward to, and considering that it's Ebert's return to TV after 4 1/2 years, I hope for the best. Certainly his reputation as someone who made people sit up and notice film criticism- if only, sadly, on TV- precedes him. It's a show I anticipate with enthusiasm.

ADDENDUM: I just watched the video now for the new show. It looks promising, however it's hard to gauge how it will be when it's a shortened pilot episode (one of the facets of At the Movies that is so appealing is seeing the two lead reviewers have at it - here it's like getting only a nibble of a prime rib).

A part of me liked seeing Ebert review something again on camera, though it probably works best that it is as brief a bit as it is. It's good to see him being enthusiastic, and it shows (how long it takes for him to have that finger move is a little bizarre), but it comes clear that he'll only be doing his picks. A morbid part of me wants to see him pan something and see how he looks - since, frankly, he looks kind of happy all the time. Thankfully the thumb is still in tact.

Very lastly, I realized a few minutes after writing this post that I actually have never really watched a full review from the "two Bens" (Lyons and Mankiewicz) who had the job as critics for a couple of years. So I checked out a review for a movie that almost ALL critics panned, Paul Blart Mall Cop... and it was kind of disappointing (the review, not the movie, though it probably is for all I know). I don't sense any real connection between the two, the vibe feels forced, and their opinions are fairly shallow. Some slack could be given to Lyons as he does those TCM intros, but Mankieiwicz wasn't even a critic! Maybe they are spot on about the movie appealing to James' fans (apparently by the box-office it did), but I didn't feel compelled either way by their assessment, which ended with just "See It". Guess the thumbs are reserved, at least for the "good" critics.

Some classics:

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