When you ask a friend if Hellboy is any good, you’re not asking if it’s any good compared to Mystic River, you’re asking if it’s any good compared to The Punisher. And my answer would be, on a scale of one to four, if Superman is four, then Hellboy is three and The Punisher is two. In the same way, if American Beauty gets four stars, then The United States of Leland clocks in at about two.
Last week, journalist and movie critic Roger Ebert passed away. He joined the staff of the Chicago Sun Times in 1967 and worked there until his death. In 1975, he was the first film critic to win the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. He hosted a weekly film review show for nearly thirty years and taught film classes at the University of Chicago as a guest lecturer.
I didn’t always agree with Ebert’s reviews (who did?), but I loved his writing style. The man could turn a phrase like no other. I think Ebert was at his best when maligning the worst of films – my favorite is his review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a movie he called “a horrible experience of unbearable length.” He had three collections of his amazing one-star reviews, in fact.
As Ebert’s health deteriorated and he lost the ability to speak, his blog became his primary means of communication. He started writing about more than movies – his family, politics, whatever moved him that day. His final book, a memoir, spun out of the honesty he found about his life in the blog.
I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.
(Ebert also wrote a book about his love of rice cookers)