My Life of Movie-Watching… and Reading

It seems natural to begin with Life Itself, the book by and movie about Roger Ebert, because that was where my interest in movies began. Some accused his long-running TV show, Siskel and Ebert, of dumbing down film, but for me as a twelve-year-old it meant that film criticism was something that was accessible, and I was exposed to movies that otherwise I never would have known anything about. This led to me first getting a copy of Cinemania, a CD-ROM that was the precursor to the Internet Movie Database, with an index of titles, casts, descriptions, awards and reviews: not only all of Ebert’s but those of Pauline Kael’s as well, and through that I learned about film on a deeper level, and saw that it could be written about in a personal and subjective way. The titles of her first book says it all: I Lost it at the Movies. “I go into the movie, I watch it, and I ask myself what happened to me,” Ebert quotes her as saying in Life Itself, and he writes about feeling a similar sense of wonder when watching, especially in the days when going to the movies was an experience in an old-fashioned theatre with balconies, curtains and live performers.

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