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Ebert

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Odds are that if you’re reading this post, you’ve already heard about the passing of Roger Ebert. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a shock, considering the myriad of health troubles he has been having lately and through the years. But it is. You can’t fully prepare for something like this.

Ebert was instrumental in shaping the way I approach movies. Living in Sweden, I never saw his and Siskel’s TV show as I grew up. My only knowledge of Ebert at the time was just of the very shallow “he reviews movies” variety. Once I started getting into movies big time 5 years ago, this would change. I wanted to gain better understanding of films – not just how they work, but how I as a viewer could approach them. I started looking for critics online through who I could learn, and it of course didn’t take long until I found Ebert and his vast collection of reviews and essays.

I did not always agree with him on what movies are good or bad, but this never mattered. What I liked about his writing was how well he could articulate his thoughts and explain why he felt this or that worked, or why this or that didn’t. Later on, I would read his memoirs “Life Itself”, and find out that his wonderful way with words wasn’t exclusive to the world of film.

One of the main things I took from Ebert was his respect for actors. Rarely would you see him slam an actor in one of his reviews. He understood that an actor is but a small part in a big machine, that acting is a two man job shared by the actor and the director, and that so much of how a character comes across on the screen is out of the actor’s hands. Even when he was underwhelmed by a movie, he wouldn’t place the blame on the actors. But he would praise them whenever he felt it was warranted. This might sound dumb, but I always felt a kinship with Ebert because of how he was one of few critics who shared my admiration for Nicolas Cage. Ebert always called Cage one of the greatest actors of his generation, something I will always agree with no matter how much shit the actor tends to receive.

Not only has Ebert been instrumental in shaping me as a movie-watcher, but he is also one of the main reasons why I blog about films. Even that doesn’t fully cover everything. I have been in awe of how the man has just kep persevering and fighting on in spite of his health troubles and losing his voice. He transformed himself, no longer reviewing on TV but writing more than ever, always with a positive outlook. He fully embraced social media and made his voice heard through it. If there was someone in the world I would say was my role model, it was Roger Ebert.

Words fail me now. Even though I never met the man, I know I will miss him regardless. I end this post with two things. The first is a link to a post I wrote over a year ago, where I briefly talked about Ebert and then shared a number of my favorite quotes of his.

The second is my deepest condolences, which go out to the friends and family of Roger Ebert.

 
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Posted by on 4 April, 2013 in Misc., News

 

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Money, money, money!

Today, the designs for the new Swedish money were revealed. Cinephiles might recognize the faces that adorn two of the bills.

Yeah, that’s right: we’re getting money with Greta Garbo and Ingmar Bergman on it! This is a real thing that’s happening! Granted, it’s still off in the future; I believe the new money won’t start being printed until 2015 or so. Still, this is pretty cool, no? I’m looking forward to walking around with these in my wallet.

 
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Posted by on 24 April, 2012 in News, Pictures

 

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The Academy trims the fat in the Best Picture race

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences just announced some changes for the coming Oscars season. Chief amongst these is naturally the continued tinkering with the Best Picture category. No longer will there be a fixed amount of nominees. Instead, any number between 5 and 10 can get in. The qualification factor is that a movie needs at least 5% of the first place votes in order to score a nomination.

After switching things up two years ago and going with a field of 10 nominees for Best Picture, reactions were mixed. The main arguement from those who were against it seemed to be that it devalued the category. Too many movies would be able to call themselves BP nominees, making the distinction less… well, distinct. The Academy seems to have listened to these complaints as the new rules seem designed to ensure that nominees will have to earn their spots. No more filler nominees to round out the field.

 

"According to my math, I'd have been snubbed."

 

What would this have meant had it been implemented during the last two years? We can only speculate since the Academy never provides any figures about their votings (which isalso why predicting the BP nominees come January will be an absolute nightmare now). For the 2009 season, it did seem quite odd that A Serious Man and The Blind Side were up for Best Picture despite failing to get nominated in every other category but one each (Original Screenplay for the former, Best Actress for the latter), so those two would probably have missed out with this new system. An Education would have been in danger as well. Possibly little sci-fi flick District 9 too as it was a bit of a surprise to see it nominated at all, though it’s possible it would have the small-but-devoted fanbase necessary to score the 5% of the first place votes. A similar case could be made for indie darling Winter’s Bone most recently. 127 Hours could have had a hard time getting traction too.

I liked the 10 nominee field. The good outweighed the bad in my mind as it helped bring more attention and awareness to smaller but deserving films like Winter’s Bone and An Education, films that would have had no hope in hell of getting nominated in years of 5 nominees. But at the same time, the mere fact that mediocre The Blind Side got nominated shows that it wasn’t an optimal solution. So this new change might be a step in the right direction. Rather than going with an arbitrary number that can either exclude the worthy or include the filler, it’s now more flexible. If a movie gets in, it’s because enough people loved it. Not because enough people loved it more than another movie to beat the cut-off mark.

So call me optimistic about the new rules for now. I’m sure I’ll be cursing them enough once the Oscars season kicks in gear and I’m trying to figure out which movies will beat the 5% line, though.

 
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Posted by on 15 June, 2011 in News, Oscars