Tilda Swinton, you guys. Is there anyone better? In between laying in boxes at the Museum of Modern Art and starring in David Bowie videos, she starts dance parties. Here she is at Roger Ebert’s Film Festival in Champaign, Illinois, encouraging the audience to get up outta their seats and dance to Barry White’s “You’re the First, the Last, My Everything.” Yup, it’s pretty clear: Nobody’s having more fun than Tilda. [Vimeo]
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When I was in middle school, I was required to create a diorama illustrating a hypothetical synagogue sanctuary (as you do, at Jewish day school). All I remember about my project is that I glued a picture of Gene Siskel to one of the walls. My teacher rightly called this out for being inappropriately idolatrous, but in the moment, I’d thought that I’d been paying appropriate reverence to an important man. After all, Siskel was Jewish, he had just recently passed away, and, until his death, I watched him and Roger Ebert weekly on television. I loved movies and knew I wanted to be a filmmaker, so I valued the words of Siskel and Ebert as highly as any of the words I was reading in school. These men cultivated my already-growing passion for cinema, and I’m certain that their enthusiasm was a contributing factor in my eventual interest in writing and film criticism.
In the years that followed, I’ve paid attention to Ebert’s ever-expanding body of work, and though I knew of his illness, I was shocked and saddened by his passing last week. I’ve now read plenty of articles praising him for his accomplishments and successes, and I can’t disagree with anything that’s been said. His writing was prolific, his persona was friendly, and he made the general public give a damn about film criticism. His absence will be felt by all who love movies.
“We were getting ready to go home today for hospice care, when he looked at us, smiled, and passed away. No struggle, no pain, just a quiet, dignified transition. … He fought a courageous fight. I’ve lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other.”
– Chaz Ebert, the widow of legendary film critic Roger Ebert, who passed away yesterday at the age of 70, reflects on his death and the life they shared together. Our condolences to her and their family. [People]
Very sad news to report: The Chicago Sun-Times has confirmed that legendary film critic Roger Ebert has passed away at the age of 70. Just two days ago, Ebert revealed that his cancer had come back and released what would be his final column for the paper, saying that he was taking “a leave of presence” and would be doing fewer reviews. “What in the world is a leave of presence?” he wrote. “It means I am not going away.” In many ways, even with his sudden passing, that remains true. Rest in peace. [Twitter; Chicago Sun-Times]
We like to tell people we were “introduced by Ann Landers,” which is technically true, although Eppie Lederer didn’t know her at the time. The night I took Eppie to an open AA meeting, we decided to go out to dinner together afterwards; this was the first and only time we ever had dinner for two. In the restaurant, Chaz was at a nearby table that included a couple of people I knew. I didn’t know her, but I’d seen her before and was attracted. I liked her looks, her voluptuous figure, and the way she presented herself. She took a lot of care with her appearance and her clothes never looked quickly thrown together. She seemed to be holding the attention of her table. You never get anywhere with a woman you can’t talk intelligently with.
Something possessed me to pull off one of the oldest tricks in the book. “I have a couple of friends over there I’d love for you to meet,” I told Eppie, and got up to take her across. As the introductions went around, Chaz was included. When we went back to our own table, I had her card. I studied the card and showed it to Eppie, who said, “You sly fox.”
–Movie critic Roger Ebert tells the story of his 20 year romance with wife Chaz in a moving column on the occasion of the couple’s 20th anniversary. It’s a two-hankie must-read. [Chicago Sun Times]
In 2001, film critic Roger Ebert was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer and over the years has gone through multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy to battle the illness, including having a significant portion of his jaw removed. As a result, he can no longer eat or drink (he’s fed through a feeding tube) and cannot speak. A few weeks ago, Ebert was photographed and interviewed by Esquire, his familiar face having changed so much that many considered the image to be shocking. Ebert appeared on “Oprah” today with his wife of 18 years, Chaz, and the interview was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Oprah asked the legend whether he remembers what the last words he spoke were, to which Ebert replied that he didn’t because he didn’t know at the time that they would be his last words. He said he hoped, however, that his last words were “I love you” to his wife, who Oprah credited with inspiring Ebert to go on living despite his very difficult circumstances. In the clip above, Ebert and Chaz hear, for the first time, a computerized voice (Ebert “speaks” by typing into a computer which says his words out loud) that has been created to match Ebert’s own voice, before his illness resulted in his loss of speech. Keep reading »