Roger Ebert became film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967. He is the only film critic with a star on Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame and was named honorary life member of the Directors' Guild of America. He won the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Screenwriters' Guild, and honorary degrees from the American Film Institute and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Since 1989 he has hosted Ebertfest, a film festival at the Virginia Theater in Champaign-Urbana. From 1975 until 2006 he, Gene Siskel and Richard Roeper co-hosted a weekly movie review program on national TV. He was Lecturer on Film for the University of Chicago extension program from 1970 until 2006, and recorded shot-by-shot commentaries for the DVDs of "Citizen Kane," "Casablanca," "Floating Weeds" and "Dark City," and has written over 20 books.
"So what was it like working with Paul Newman?"
Q. In your review of "Lilo and Stitch," you were moaning that people would ignore this film in favor of "Scooby Doo." Well, "Lilo and Stitch" is on track to almost tie as the number one box office draw this weekend, with the second biggest opening ever for a traditional animated feature. And "Scooby-Doo" suffered a 57% drop of box office revenue. (Kenneth Chisholm, London ON)
After seeing Steven Spielberg's "Minority Report," my mind was churning with amazement and curiosity. Talking to Spielberg and his star, Tom Cruise, I found myself not an interviewer but simply a moviegoer, talking the way you do when you walk out of a movie that blindsides you with its brilliance.
Q. The neo-Nazi terrorists in the film version of the "The Sum of All Fears" were radical Muslim terrorists in Tom Clancy's book, but as you noted in your review, the change was made in order to avoid offending people. What's your take on all this? Has the Muslim terrorist in movies gone the way of the Indian marauder? (Stephen Athanson, Blue Ridge VA)
Q. In your review of "Enough", you wrote "The day when the evil husband is black and the self-defense instructor is white will not arrive in our lifetimes." "Enough" was certainly reprehensible on most levels, and I am not defending its honor--but would you not have reacted even more negatively towards it if the husband was black and those two characters were white (and the screenplay remained the same)? Wouldn't you have said that the movie reinforces a stereotype that black men are violent and the white heroine has to seek help from other whites to escape him? Wouldn't a movie like that be even more racist? (Michael Lynderery, Toronto ON)
The funniest movie title of all time is "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies."
Q. Everyone in Hollywood thinks CGI is the end-all of special effects. The way it is being used in some movies is a big step back. I heard how much it cost to make "Spider-Man," but I felt like I was watching a cartoon half the time. The "effect" is spoiled when I can effortlessly tell when it's a real person and when it's a computer image. This is why I hated Jar Jar Binks in "Star Wars." I didn't for one second think there was something physically there. In the old "Star Wars," you could tell there was a real being there. In "Blade II," I'm watching a great fight sequence, then suddenly two flimsy cartoon creatures jump around. The last great movie I saw that used it right was "The Matrix". (John Dingess, Nashville TN)
After seeing the new "Star Wars" movie projected on film, I wrote that the images had "a certain fuzziness, an indistinctness that seemed to undermine their potential power." But I knew the film had been shot on digital video, and that George Lucas believed that it should preferably be seen, not on film, but projected digitally. Sunday I was able to see the digital version, and Lucas is right: "Star Wars: Episode II--Attack of the Clones" is sharper, crisper, brighter and punchier on digital than on film.
Q. As I was watching the credits at the end of "Panic Room," I noticed that three people were listed as "puppeteers." I can't for the life of me imagine a single scene in which puppeteers could possibly have been used in this movie. (Phil Brown, San Francisco)
This man directs such gentle films to be an artist from the evil axis.