Directed By: Steve James
Often times, documentaries about a person who has just passed end up as love letters to the person. You never really know how rose colored the lens on which the film was shot. With Life Itself, as an aspiring film critic, I don’t give a shit if I’m watching the film through actual rose petals. It is a tribute to a man who inspired me to do what I am doing today. I meant to see this film in theatres, but it didn’t make its way to me. I noticed it was in my Netflix Streaming, and I immediately clicked on it. I didn’t plan to see it later, I didn’t wait. I just jumped on it.
Watching a film about your idol it is a very eye opening experience. Watching Roger Ebert, struggling in the hospital, is heartbreaking. That’s not the way I would have wanted to remember Roger Ebert. The Roger Ebert I remember hosted a TV show where he reviewed films. The Roger Ebert who inspired me found a way to speak about films he loved in a passionate way, never speaking too far above his readers level. He could have approached it with his nose turned up, and the world beneath him, but that’s not the type of person he was.
Life Itself is an incredible tribute to a man who influenced so many writers, and so many budding filmmakers. He truly loved film, not in an artsy fartsy way, but as a true lover of film. He didn’t just bash films, or be snarky for snarks sake, he really believed that he could steer the ship forward. If you’re a lover of film, or a budding critic, Life Itself should be a mandatory viewing.
FINAL GRADE: A