Roger Ebert

Those who can’t, criticize 4/4/13

In Asian numerology, this is a bad sign. In Chinese, the number four is a homophone of die, words that sound the same but spelled differently. Well you ain’t spellin’ in Chinese, but those two characters sound eerily alike. So Asians tend to think da numbah foh is bad ruck. And at the same time, they love the number eight because it sounds like prosperity and fortune. So when house hunting, we slanty eye folks tend not to buy a home with a number four in the address.

Now, of course, if I wrote the date as 4/4/2013, then there’s really no importance to that date except a death of an icon, Robert Ebert.

I’ve been a fan of Siskel and Ebert since my childhood days. And I’ve always been a huge fan of movies. As a storyteller, I’ve always read critiques from people who I’ve grown to trust. Mick LaSalle is one. His use of the little man in a chair is sorta like the four star rating that Ebert used.

Little Man

Little Man

But a lot has been written about Ebert, his genius, giving, and kind nature. For me to add to it since I’ve never met the man would be useless. However, finding critics of anything in your field of art is always a good idea.

Two thumbs up to Jimmy Ng and this site

Two thumbs up to Jimmy Ng and this site

There were reviews of Ebert’s that I totally agreed with, both good and bad films. Then there were ones that I completely and vehemently disagreed with. His assertion that KICK ASS was just too violent and ludicrous I thought missed the point of the movie. And his four star review of PROMETHIUS was missing the issue of the vast plot holes it presented. Even if the plot holes were on purpose to make a statement, it was a bad statement lost in the sea of holes.

Open yoh mind, be fohmless, shapeless like watah...

Open yoh mind, be fohmless, shapeless like watah...

So what’s the importance of reading critical reviews, especially if I’ve expressed in other articles not to listen to reviews good or bad because they can blind you to your works’ truth? Reading others’ view of a story outside of our own works, for example, can open your eyes to different aspects and opinions on storytelling.

In his review of PROMETHIUS, he talks a lot about the strong women in the movie and that made me think about the women in my books. Are they strong? Or do I move them into the position of supporting wife, daughter, background fodder?

My point: Well written reviews can open your minds. On slow days at work (ahem), I often find myself reading Ebert’s reviews, including old ones, and the Suntimes.com has done an incredible job of importing reviews from the days before the Internet. My quest was often to learn and expand my definition of what a good story was—is, a never-ending journey.

And that leads us to his legacy. His reviews will remain in the blogosphere, and his ability to open minds will be far reaching.