Tuesday, December 22, 2015

1943: Mrs. Miniver

If you read my write up of Rebecca, you may recall that I was not looking forward to 1941-1943. Rebecca ended up being a pleasant surprise. How Green Was My Valley ended up being what I expected. So Mrs. Miniver was the tie-breaker.

I saw a brief summary stating that it was about the beginning of World War II in England. And for a movie to win the award well over a year before D-Day, perhaps it would give an interesting perspective on the war. Was there a chance that I could be wrong again? Is there a chance that Mrs. Miniver could win me over?


NEXT WEEK: 1944 - Casablanca

Oscar Project Rankings:

  1. It Happened One Night (1935)
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1931)
  3. Rebecca (1941)
  4. Mutiny on the Bounty (1936)
  5. You Can't Take It With You (1939) 
  6. Gone With the Wind (1940)
  7. The Life of Emile Zola (1938)
  8. Grand Hotel (1933)
  9. Cimarron (1932)
  10. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
  11. Broadway Melody (1930)
  12. How Green Was My Valley
  13. Wings (1929)
  14. Mrs. Miniver
  15. Cavalcade (1934)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

1942: How Green Was My Valley

I'm not sure how much I have to say about How Green Was My Valley. It's the story of a family. The family has a few different stories. Any one of those stories could have been fleshed out into interesting stories. Instead, we smaller, less interesting stories that are all tied together.

In summary, it's not my kind of movie.

So this is one of those years in which you have to take a look at the competition. The 1942 awards are viewed much like the 1999 awards. The wrong movie won. Looking back, Saving Private Ryan absolutely should have won the award instead of Shakespeare in Love. Looking back, Citizen Kane absolutely should have won the award instead of How Green Was My Valley.

I guess I'll throw a quick shout out to my favorite part of the movie. When young Roddy McDowell goes to school, he needs a boxer to teach him to fight. They call on Dai Bando to teach him. It's probably just my favorite part because this week is leading up to The Force Awakens. Dai Bando sounds like an old Jedi Master name.

Unlike the pleasant surprise of Rebecca last week, I doubt I'll return to this valley.

NEXT WEEK: 1943 - Mrs. Miniver

Oscar Project Rankings:

  1. It Happened One Night (1935)
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1931)
  3. Rebecca (1941)
  4. Mutiny on the Bounty (1936)
  5. You Can't Take It With You (1939) 
  6. Gone With the Wind (1940)
  7. The Life of Emile Zola (1938)
  8. Grand Hotel (1933)
  9. Cimarron (1932)
  10. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
  11. Broadway Melody (1930)
  12. How Green Was My Valley
  13. Wings (1929)
  14. Cavalcade (1934)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

1941: Rebecca

"Are you fond of dancing?"
"I love it, but I'm not very good at it."
"Do you Rhumba?"
"I've never tried."
"You must teach me."

That particular exchange is part of a very nicely written dinner conversation that I rather enjoyed in Rebecca. It was the first thing that I really liked about the movie. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen until almost 45 minutes into the movie. 

Rebecca is the first in a stretch of three movies that I really wasn't looking forward to when I started the project. I noticed that Gone With the Wind was right before them, and they looked like movies that would be in a similar to that. For me, at least GWTW has its history tie in. But all three felt very Wuthering Heights-like to me - classics, but definitely not meant for me.

I must admit that I knew very little other than the title. It's about a woman named Rebecca. OK.  I also had seen the poster, which is shown above. Apparently this Rebecca woman is in love with Sir Laurence Olivier. So... boring?

Speaking of Olivier, I also wasn't too familiar with him. I have certainly heard of him. If I met him, I would know to ask him about a camera. I also knew he was well known for his legendary Shakespearean acting. In fact, I'll see his Hamlet as it was the 1949 Oscar winner. The only think I had actually seen of him was his role as Zeus in Clash of the Titans. I learned from him to find and fulfill my destiny. But it's a relatively small role.

There was one thing, however, that stood out about Rebecca. With overwhelming evidence pointing me toward not enjoying the movie, there was one hint that I could be wrong. There is another name on that poster that I recognize. The director. Alfred Hitchcock. That has to be worth something, right?

Right at the beginning of the movie, we get a could hints of Hitchcock. We walk through a spooky gate toward a spooky, dilapidated mansion. And in the next scene, Olivier is looking down a cliff in a shot that has an immediate sense of suspense. The shot also visually foreshadows Vertigo.

But then the movie slowed down. It felt mostly as simple as a whirlwind romance in the French Riviera can. Great for those involved, but not so exciting to watch. Since Gone with the Wind, was the previous movie on the list, I had just skimmed my write up that. It was bringing up memories of that. I'm not sure if I made it clear or not in that writeup, , but GWTW is SO DAMNED LONG. I was worried that this was going to feel like a repeat.

I did get to learn early on that the woman in the poster isn't Rebecca. Rebecca is the dead wife of Olivier's Maxim de Winter. So I guess that's actually her in the lower left. The woman played by Joan Fontaine is the new Mrs. de Winter. And I call her that because that's the only name given to her in the movie. This decision is clearly to emphasize that the movie is about the new Mrs. de Winter trying to live up to former and deceased Mrs. de Winter. Other than the exchange that I started with, I didn't love too much about that particular idea. Luckily for me, that's only what the first half of the movie is about.

In my write up of Grand Hotel, I noted that I wanted to avoid spoilers. It seems silly that I needed to do so for a movie that is 83 years old. With Rebecca now 75 years old, I wonder if I need to do the same. If so, if you're planning to watch it yourself, you should probably skip the rest of it. Just note that I really, really liked the rest of the movie, and it made everything about the first half work. Even though I'm not going to spoil exactly what happens, just know the basic idea of the second half ahead of time could make it less interesting.

That was your warning. Rebecca is actually a thriller. What really happened to Rebecca? How did she really die? Who was responsible? Who knew? What did they know? What did they think they knew? The costume ball scene looks like it's going to take you even further in the direction you thought you were going in. It looks like the comparison and competition between the new and old Mrs. de Winter will come to a head. It instead leads us to the heart of the mystery. You discover that the suspense has been building the whole time, but not to what you thought it would. 

This is truly laying the foundation for later Hitchcock films. I already mentioned Vertigo, and you will also get a feel for Norman Bates in Psycho whenever the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, is on the screen. And that goes double for her final scene. Watching Rebecca didn't just remind me to watch more Oscar winning movies. It reminded me to watch more Hitchcock.

If you want to appreciate the beauty of black and white movies, look at the interior scenes. The exterior scenes often look like bad green screen, as the backgrounds are not often lit as well as they could. But the interiors are great. I watched this in a rip from a DVD. I would like to watch the remastered Blu Ray version for my next viewing. I think more sharpness and clarity than what I already saw would be beautiful.

And yes, I'll watch it again. I would like to rewatch the first half with the second half in mind. I want to be able to pay more attention to the dialogue. I want to look more carefully at the early scenes to see what hints of the second half I can find. I have a feeling that many of them will be in the acting of Laurence Olivier. So if you kept reading this far and spoiled a bit of the movie for yourself, don't feel too bad.

NEXT WEEK: 1942 - How Green Was My Valley

Oscar Project Rankings:

  1. It Happened One Night (1935)
  2. All Quiet on the Western Front (1931)
  3. Rebecca (1941)
  4. Mutiny on the Bounty (1936)
  5. You Can't Take It With You (1939) 
  6. Gone With the Wind (1940)
  7. The Life of Emile Zola (1938)
  8. Grand Hotel (1933)
  9. Cimarron (1932)
  10. The Great Ziegfeld (1936)
  11. Broadway Melody (1930)
  12. Wings (1929)
  13. Cavalcade (1934)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

2015 Summer USA Road Trip Spectacular

The "rough" outline
Tomorrow morning, I'm on my way. The car is packed with everything I won't need tonight. It should take me about 15 minutes to get ready in the morning, then I'm out of here.

The main idea of the trip is to get as far east as I can as quickly as I can. I'm going to hit a couple places in Texas that I haven't been to before, enjoy New Orleans once again, then Universal in Orlando. Next I'll head down to Miami for the week long cruise, my vacation from the vacation.

After that, I'll make my way up the east coast, returning to Orlando for that other theme park. Continuing north, I'll hit a bunch of locations that would have been great to see while I was still teaching the eighth grade curriculum. I'll hit a few Civil War sites, some new and some repeat spots. 

I'll head back west in Pennsylvania, then take a detour up into Michigan to visit family and over Lake Michigan before starting the sprint back home on I-80. The whole thing is 41 or 42 days, depending on whether I stop the last night or barrel through. Streets and Trips has the mileage at just over 9,000 miles. I imagine that with detours and side trip that I'll go over 10,000, or at least get really close to it.I'll be in 23 states (though I probably won't actually step foot in neither Mississippi nor South Carolina), Washington, D.C., and four ports in the Caribbean. I'll get to four baseball parks, three new and one old favorite.

The biggest problem I'll face with the recent surgery is on the first day. I'm driving almost 850 miles in one shot. That was planned before my body tried to kill me. And really, it would be tough even if I were healthy. Sitting for long periods is still a test. And to put this as nicely as I can, my bladder requires more immediate attention than normal (though it's been much better the past week). I'm expecting to have to stop more than I normally would, and I'll certainly be ready to stop for the night.
A few days later, I'll test my walking. I'm probably walking at about 80 percent speed right now, but not for long distances. For me right now, a long distance is my car to the back of Safeway. New Orleans is a walking city, so I'm a bit worried about that. A few days later I'll be at Universal Studios in Orlando. That's going to be a lot of walking, and it will also be roller coasters and rides. I have no idea what that will be like.

But other than all that, I'm excited for the trip. I'm going to a lot of really cool places, some new, some old. I hope to post something on here every few days, but not a daily update. Most importantly, I won't have WiFi access everywhere I go. Motel 6 is great and cheap, but they still charge for WiFi. I might play with the blogger app and text-to-speech to post a few things while I drive.

So I'll get some pictures up here, some descriptions and maybe stories, and some dash-cam video from any places that look cool. I hope you enjoy!

Monday, June 8, 2015

2015 Summer Contest Spectacular

Way back in 2004, I took a road trip across the US of A and back again. I held a contest. People guessed a few different parts of the trip. So for my upcoming 2015 road trip, I will hold the simplified, updated version. Welcome to the 2015 Summer Contest Spectacular.

The rules are simple. Take a look at the map (click to embiggen). This is a basic, simplified version of the full plan. It does not include day trips. It does not include detours. It does not include going to dinner, to and from hotels, or any other driving.

So here's the question: What will the total mileage be on my car from driveway to driveway? Your guess should, then, include detours, day trips, and everything else. I will use click tare the mileage int the driveway and go from there.

Closest guess received a souvenir from my trip. All guesses must be in a comment on this blog (I'll post those I have received elsewhere on here before I depart. Deadline for entries - Friday, June 19, noon. I leave Sunday the 21st and return July 31ish. Good luck!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Edmund Randolph

Number 1 - Whiplash

If you've heard me tell this story, just skip to the end.

We begin in the fall of 1994 in San Diego, CA. I was in my first semester at San Diego State University as a double Music and Social Science major. Here's some quick background as to why I was a double major.

Once I had finished the transfer process from DVC and been accepted into the music program at SDSU, I learned something about the program that hadn't been advertised. The program was designed to take four years. For everyone. Even if you transferred from somewhere else, you were going to spend four years working on the degree.

The did this by combining most music classes together into one simple system of eight semester long classes that had to be taken sequentially. So you couldn't stack up theory or history or genre classes to take simultaneously. Pardon the pun, bu you could in theory test out of part of the sequence. But in reality, that never happened.

So as I was looking toward the next four years in the program, I had to consider that I had already taken all of my lower division general ed courses at DVC. My schedule for those four years would be light. It was recommended that I use that time to take another degree. More importantly that filling the time, I would stand a much better chance of finding a teaching job that wasn't music.

But still, I was looking at another four years of college. I had planned and worked hard at DVC to get out of there in exactly two years. Why? Because I wanted college to be a total of four, the way it's "supposed" to be done. So I was facing another four years. I guess I accepted it, but that was my first big problem with the music degree.

I was never a really great musician. I excelled much more at learning a variety of instruments quickly instead of specializing in one. Still, I was good enough, and the music program required you to specialize in one. Today, I can still play pretty well. I can sightread if the key isn't too odd. But I'm never going to be a professional trombone player.

That was never my goal. I wanted to teach. In the two years I had spent working with students, both high school and middle school, I had liked that much more than I even liked playing. I liked conducting the band much more than I liked playing. But in college, they wanted you to be really good. That was my second real problem with the music degree (though in this case I openly admit and accept that it's more of a problem that the music degree had with me).

So now we enter the actual turn of events which will also finally bring us closer to something that resembles talking about a movie.

At the end of each semester, each student went through juries. In your jury, you played a prepared piece before a panel of judges, made up of music department faculty. It's supposed to be a really big deal. Even though each class has its own final exam, this is the one that's even bigger than all of those combined. So of course, I prepared. I asked questions of what it would be like of at least a half a dozen people, including two faculty members. That last sentence will become important.

Leading up to it, I also went through an entire debacle involving my piano accompanist for the piece, but that's a different story.

So the day of the juries. I was as nervous as any other student. I knew the piece pretty well, but it was tough. This thing even jumped back and forth between bass and tenor clef (no, I don't mean treble). Trombone players barely read bass clef, right?

The room we were in was a large classroom. For the other teachers, it's probably about twice as big as your average middle school/high school classroom. The piano and music stand are at one end, where I would play. The three judges were all the way at the other end sitting at tables. They spent most of their time looking down and writing. They rarely ever looked up, and I think I will indicate the only times they did. There were lights on me. The rest of the room was dark. 

So I made it through the piece. There were a couple rough spots where I didn't nail some runs as well as I could have. There were a couple weak notes. It wasn't the greatest thing the jury had ever heard. But I knew I had passed the jury as soon as I finished.

They all wrote a few notes for a few seconds. They put their heads together and made some quick comments. Then one of them spoke up.

"Ok. The scales." They all looked at me.

I looked back. "Excuse me?"

"Go ahead with the scales."

I didn't know there would be scales.

They looked at me in a way that told me that they understood that I didn't know there would be scales.

"I didn't know there would be scales."

You remember the part above when I asked several people, including faculty members? Yeah. None of them told me about the scales.

Starting with an audible, forced sigh, one of them explained to me that in each round of juries, I would be required to play through a set of scales. The first semester was the twelve major scales. The rest would be different variations of minors and whatever. They, of course, concluded explaining it to me a little something like this:

"This is something you should have known. As a student in this college, it's your responsibility to find out things like this. We wish you had taken the time to find out what was going to happen."


They continued to stare at me waiting for a response.

While I wish I had answered with, "I did. I asked several people, including two faculty members, and nobody told me about the scales."  I'm sure I answered with, "OK."

Luckily, playing through the twelve major scales was no problem. I knew them well then. I'm 99% confident that I could still play through them quickly with 95% accuracy. Give me five minutes and I can raise that to 100% accuracy.

I played through them.

After I was finished, one of them said, "That was fine, but you don't need to rush through them. Take your time and hit each note exactly where it should be on the slide."

This is where I'm sure I answered with, "OK." I wish I had answered with, "Is there anything else everyone neglected to tell me about? Any more hoops to jump through?"

But that was it. They told me it was finished and that I passed. I would receive comments through my instructor later.

Later on outside, I remember talking with a few people. Some of them were some of the people I had previously asked about the juries. "Oh yeah," they said. "It's just major scales," they said. 

While that moment sucked, it's not the final moment that I knew my music major career was over at SDSU. Over the next few months, there were several events that made it clear that this program wasn't for me. One in particular was the week that I busted my ass practicing more than ever before only to be met with the "It's time you start thinking about actually practicing" speech. That one sucked, but it wasn't it.

So several things continued to mount up. But let's see if you can spot the moment when it became clear to me.

Jump ahead to the end of my second semester. Time for juries again. Same three judges. They would evaluate me on what I played and progress.

The piece I played was tough once again, but I had it down. There was a section that I remember well in six-eight with some rather fast triple tonging.  I knew that would be trouble. I'm pretty sure it wasn't perfect, but it was fine.

More than that, of course, I was ready for my scales. Natural minors. I knew them, literally, backwards and forwards. When I finished playing the piece, I announced, "And now my scales."

They nodded in my direction. I began to play through my scales at a deliberate pace. As I completed my Bb and started on the Eb, one of them put up his hand. I stopped.

Please take a moment to remember that you're reading this as a story I'm telling. You know there's a reason I'm telling you this. So you probably know what's coming. But I didn't know at the time that I was a character. I wasn't the writer of this story. If I had been, I would have gotten rid of this line because it sounds too ridiculous. But here it is.

"Can you play through faster?"

You knew that was coming. I didn't.

He even game me a "move along" twirl with his fingers.

In case you didn't recognize it, that was the moment.

I started playing through even faster that I had played the majors five months earlier. He nodded.I finished in record time.

"Thank you." That was their only comment. I left.

I can't recall the specific timeframe of the next few months, but by the beginning of the next semester, I was a full time Social Science major with a music minor. And now I teach history.

So what does that have to do with Whiplash? We were both music students in college. That's about it. The main character actually has talent. That's different.

But watching it brought back a lot of what I just wrote about. That's the main reason it was pushed to the top of my list.

But without that, I could still easily see it being in the top three. It's a great movie. J.K. Simmons is absolutely perfect and should win the Best Supporting Actor award this year.

I mentioned when writing about my number seven film about the reactions of audiences and how they can elevate the movie. There were scenes in which none of us in the audience made a sound. There was no talking. There was no popcorn crunching. There was barely any breathing. I noticed it because once those scenes moved on, there was popcorn crunching again.

There are a couple ridiculous things that happen, especially a car crash scene. But I ignored it. To me, it was no more ridiculous than being told to play faster.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

William Bradford

Number 2 - Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Partway down in this writeup, I'm going to suggest that if you haven't seen the movie that you stop reading there. It's not plot spoilers but movie style spoilers. It's a movie best discovered one scene, one frame at a time. You have been warned.

This was the best movie of the year. It deserves to win the Oscar for all the right reasons. Yeah, I have one I liked a bit more, but Birdman was the best.

It's a movie about acting and its incredibly well acted. All of the acting Oscar noms were well earned. I've heard the Ed Norton, who plays an asshole, is just playing himself. If that's the case, he does incredibly well. Emma Stone has always seemed to be talented, and her role here just proves it. And Michael Keaton would be a shoo in for the win most years. I think it's a great group of actors this year for so many different reasons, so it could go to any of the five.

But Keaton has the whole package here. He has monologues that feel real. He works with the other actors is ways that make all of them look good. He has monologues that are scenes with himself... He does it all both on screen and on stage.

Beyond that, there are many fantastic things to love about Birdman. This is the point in which if you haven't seen it yet, stop here. Go watch it. If you haven't watched it, I hope that's because you just haven't been to the theater in the past few months and not because you chose to watch Ouiji or The Boy Next Door or other such dreck. Stop supporting turds and.

I'm now assuming you've seen the movie. The scene transitions are absolutely brilliant. I always love a long take when its done well. Think Henry Hill going into the Copacabana in Goodfellas or the hallway fight scene from Oldboy. A recent excellent example that comes to mind is from True Detective.

After watching Birdman, it's such a "duh" realization that each act in a play is one long take. So the most obvious way to portray a play in a movie is to use long takes. Duh.

There's a moment a few minutes in to the first scene in which I started to ask myself if there had been any edits yet or if it was a long take. Michael Keaton was also acting this a boss in the scene, as he did through the whole movie. And then the location changed. It because obvious that they weren't just doing a single scene as a long take. That's when I really started to love the movie. It was in that moment of discovery that it all clicked into place. If you didn't see the movie but decided to read on, I just ruined that for you. Next time pay attention, asshole.

That brings me to two points before I finish. First, the soundtrack is fantastic. Yep, it's a drummer. Drumming. That's pretty much it. I absolutely loved how he was worked into the long takes. I absolutely remember him showing up at least once, but I'm vaguely thinking he showed up a couple more times. I might be making that up, and I think it would be even more special if it had been just once. For the feel of the movie, the percussion soundtrack was perfect.

Second, how isn't this movie nominated for Best Film Editing? I can't think of a another movie EVER that I've walked out of and thought, "That movie deserves the Oscar for editing." This is the only one ever. And it probably will be. Ridiculous.

I shouldn't have to tell you to go see it because you already saw it if you're reading this. You're probably still an asshole.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Charles Lee

Number 3 - Guardians of the Galaxy

This was on my radar since they first announced it a Comic-Con in 2012. The main reason? Rocket Raccoon. I remember the character from his four-issue mini series very soon after I started reading comics. What could make more of an impression on an eleven year old than a bad-ass, gun-toting raccoon?

As Lancey Kisses has mentioned, and it's in his blog post about Guardians of the Galaxy, a lot of how the general public would perceive the whole movie rested on Rocket. He couldn't be silly. He couldn't be Howard the Duck or Jar Jar Binks. He's funny, but as a smart-ass instead of a clown.

I knew about Rocket, but I wasn't as familiar with the other characters. My personal trepidation was with Bautista as Drax. When I think wrestler in a comic book movie, the Bane of Batman and Robin immediately comes to mind. That's not an image anyone should have in their minds. But as it turns out, he's perfect, and he delivers some of the best lines of the movie.

In addition to introducing the characters of the Guardians, they need to introduce the entire universe that exists outside of the other Marvel movies. There are plenty of cool new worlds and characters out there who could easily become part of the Avengers movies or would work well on their own. There are also plenty of other Guardians to look forward to in the sequels. I think Vance Astro/Major Victory would look pretty spectacular on the screen and also create the perfect visual tie-in to the Avengers.

But after all of that, the movie won me over in the first five minutes. I'm listening to Redbone's Come and Get Your Love as I write this paragraph. The opening scene will always be zapped into my head when I hear that song. Chris Pratt is pretty damned good throughout the movie, but his dancing to this song is a magic moment in the movie. He spins, he stomps, he plays in puddles, he uses an alien as a microphone, and it's all a brilliant introduction to a character that I look forward to seeing in the sequels and probably another movie or two.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Levi Lincoln, Sr.

Number 4 - The Imitation Game

The poster to the left features a quote at the top that summarizes it for me. "Benedict Cumberbatch is outstanding." Yeah. He is. And he's different from so many other roles he's played. This isn't Sherlock Holmes with a stutter. This isn't nice Khan. This isn't Smaug as a gay genius. Cumberbatch becomes Alan Turing in this movie.

There were some pretty amazing performances this year, and I look forward to the Best Actor noms coming out later this week. Even through Steve Carell, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eddie Redmayne, and David Oyelowo were all amazing (and those should be your five nominations), I think this is the better movie.

If I have one complaint about The Imitation Game for me it's that I would have liked to have seen more of the Enigma cracking. I wanted a crack at the puzzle. Most of that work is done on unseen papers and other gadgets. But I might be too nerdy for the general audiences.

There are a lot of war movies, obviously. But I don't think there have been quite enough war movies that don't really feature much of the fighting. This movie does have some great scenes showing the Blitz, but those are more plot points. While a lot of these movies feature some really brave and memorable men and women and special effects fighting, this movie shows who really won the war.

But just like modern day vets, Turing wasn't treated like much of a hero. That leads to the heart wrenching ending of the movie. This guy who helped win World War II and pretty much invented the computer got a pretty crappy deal. There have been several attempts over the past few years to place Turing in his rightful place in history, especially now that we know about his success in breaking Enigma. I think The Imitation Game is another huge step in putting his name up where it should be in the world's lexicon.

John Breckinridge

Number 5 - Life Itself

There's something a bit meta about writing about a movie about a guy who wrote about movies. Life Itself received a really high Rotten Tomatoes score. It's sitting at 97%, with 100% of the top critics giving it a fresh rating. I had to wonder before seeing it if the reviews were an homage to the movie or to Roger Ebert himself. It's both.

I learned quite a bit about the life of Roger Evert from Life Itself that I didn't know previously. It does a fine job of laying it all out, the good and the bad, and from an early age, too.

It's the scenes from then end of his life that will fascinate the most, however. Ebert and his wife were extremely open and candid toward the filmmakers as he sat in the hospital with a big part of his face missing, to be blunt. And the movie doesn't hold back from it either. So often we try to hide away the end of people's lives. We want to remember them a certain way, and the time soon before death in a well lived life isn't the image we want to remember. But it's such an important part of him and what we'll take from his life.

Perhaps its because he continued to write up until the end. Even if he didn't look like "The Fat One" from At the Movies anymore, his wit was still there. In many years that I wrote this list, I would read Ebert's reviews before writing about it myself. If I didn't like a movie that he did, I knew I would at least understand it better. I don't get that with any critics today.

And, for those who don't know, he wrote about quite a bit more than movies in his blog. He's the writer, not NdGT or BNtheSG, who gave me a clearer understanding of evolution. I miss his writing quite a bit, and this movie helped me to miss him as well.

As great as the rest of the movie is, the star scenes in this movie have to be the classic Siskel and Ebert clips. Life Itself discusses their love/hate relationship as it shows some of their absolute best, and often cut, clips. Watch this for those alone.