The trailer for Life Itself, a documentary chronicling the life and work of film critic Roger Ebert is out and it looks incredibly promising.
The film delves into the life of the Pulitzer Prize-winning film writer, chronicling how he became one of the film world's most influential critics. Via Deadline:
Life Itself is the new documentary about the Pulitzer winner's career as a lover, defender and eviscerator of movies. The pic follows his career from scripting Russ Meyer's Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls and writing for the Chicago Sun-Times through his perfectly mismatched pairing with Gene Siskel and the illness he braved until the end. Oscar-nominated Hoop Dreams documentarian Steve James gets some boldfaced names to talk about Ebert, including Martin Scorsese, who gives the critic two thumbs up: "He made it possible for a bigger audience, a wider audience, to appreciate cinema as an art form."
Ebert, along with his former television partner, Gene Siskel, starred in At The Movies, a weekly syndicated film review program. For aspiring film buffs in an era where there was no Internet, no Google, and no Netflix, Siskel and Ebert provided a window into a world of films far removed from what mainstream Hollywood was offering at the time. (Think about the cornucopia of crap that pumped out of movie studios in the mid to late 80s and you see what they had to work with.)
For some people (like a certain Jezebel blogger who spent most of her teen and college years practically living in movie theaters), they provided a guiding light away from the mediocrity and into a world of independent, experimental foreign films. Sure, now we're inundated with those kinds of alternatives (and where "indie films" star major movie stars and make hundreds of millions of dollars) and all of that seems like NBD. But at the time, their show was like turning on a recording of the Boston Pops performing Ode to Joy to a person who has only ever listen to cassette tapes of old Raffi songs their whole life.
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As Deadline mentioned, the film was made Steve James, who directed the documentary Hoop Dreams (one of Ebert's favorite films of all time). Just as a side note, I used to intern for James about [REDACTED] years ago, logging tapes and having an all-around awesome time.
The film opens July 4.