Gene and me in the 1980s. Looking at this photograph by Chicago's Victor Skrebneski, Gene said, "Even our mothers don't think we look that good." (Photo by Victor Skrebneski)
I was surprised how depressed I felt all day on July 21, when Richard and I announced we were leaving the "Ebert and Roeper" program. To be sure, our departures were voluntary. We hadn't been fired. And because of my health troubles, I hadn't appeared on the show for two years. But I advised on co-hosts, suggested movies, stayed in close communication with Don DuPree, our beloved producer-director. The show remained in my life. Now, after 33 years, it was gone--taken in a "new direction." And I was fully realizing what a large empty space it left behind.
I had in mind to write about something else this week, but our new software platform for the blog was acting up (as you might have noticed), and in the meantime I received an intriguing communication from a reader, the art critic Daniel Quiles, about Werner Herzog. Yes, there has been a lot about Herzog on the site recently, but in my mind there can never be too much. He and a few other directors keep the movies vibrating for me. Not every movie needs to vibrate, but unless a few do, the thrill is gone.
I saw a movie recently in which an 80ish women has an unlikely photograph on her wall. It shows Anita Ekberg in the famous scene where she wades in the Trevi Fountain in Fellini's "La Dolce Vita." She tells her elderly boyfriend: "I looked exactly like her when I was young." Maybe she did and maybe she didn't, but the photograph struck a chord. I saw Fellini's "La Dolce Vita" for the first time in London on the summer of 1962, in a little cinema on Piccadilly Square. I taught it a shot at a time at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1972, and again in 1982, 1992 and 2002, give or take a year. I've seen it countless other times, but those ten-yearly screenings have helped me measure the inexorable progress of time.
The blog entry "In Search of Redemption" inspired an outpouring of reader comments remarkable not only for their number but for their intelligence and thought. It became obvious that many of us go to the movies seeking some sort of release or healing. Many of you mentioned titles that especially affected you; two of my most-admired films, "Hoop Dreams" and "Grave of the Fireflies," were frequently listed. You all had your reasons. Now Ali Arikan, a longtime contributor to this site, has written me about why he was so affected by a relatively unlikely title, "The Out-Of-Towners" (1999). His reasons were personal; he can post them below if he chooses to. But in connection with his explanation, he quoted the first paragraph of one of my reviews.