The Critic of Our Time: Remembering a Legend

Ken Kutska, A&E Editor

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I learned with great sadness and near-shock that one of my greatest heroes and idols died recently. It’s a surreal feeling to think Roger Ebert won’t be on this earth to share his experience and insight to the movie world.

Ebert was one of the reasons I wanted to become a journalist and critic in my own right. Movies are one of the things I can always turn to, sigh and relax.

Critics are the kind of people who get to tell it like it is, revel in it and not sugar coat a movie. As a journalist I can’t play favorites in my reviews and neither did Ebert.

I remember every Sunday morning waking up back home in Chicago and watching Siskel and Ebert’s “At the Movies” or “Ebert and Roeper.” I was lucky to see this fantastic journalist up close and personal.

Mostly, I agreed with Ebert’s reviews, but there were times I disagreed. But that’s what a review is: an opinion. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything someone writes.

Ebert wrote with a style that welcomed criticism. He might have been quirky and a bit off the cuff, but I thought that was fantastic.

I also would tell the people who are dissing on Ebert’s legacy that he was one of those people who would go with the mainstream on some movies and swim against it with others. He would always take a movie at face value. His style was one that would be a tad bit quirky and maybe a bit weird, but it worked.

Reviews allow people to read them, go see the movie and come up with their own opinion. That’s what being a moviegoer is all about, and a lover of the movies is what Ebert was.

I know some people may not have liked some of the movies he gave a thumbs-up, or maybe liked films he gave a thumbs-down. Ebert loved blockbuster movies, but he loved award-winning films just as much.

Ebert was one of those people who loved his craft and the experience of the cinema. I think there was no greater pleasure for him than to go and see a movie. He wanted to get away and immerse himself and the audience in the movie experience.

Movies are created to allow directors, actors, critics and the public to escape into a completely different world of fantasy and creation. No one appreciated that more than Ebert.

Critics like Ebert are the people who take movies and turn the craft into something that can be understood in simple words.  Even though Ebert is gone, it’s up to writers, critics and film audiences alike to keep the spirit of movies alive for  him.

Ebert’s legacy will live forever and I will do my part to make sure his spirit of writing remains. As a critic, I will uphold the principles Ebert created, which are to be truthful, keep an open mind and love the movies.

That’s why I will always give Ebert two thumbs up. Way up.