Roger Ebert himself left a mark on exploitation cinema by penning "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," a masterpiece of what-the-fuck cinema that is everything but predictable. Ebert had the kind of talent and power to make you continue reading his work, even if you disagreed with what he had to say. Hell, he gave my favorite movie all time Zero Stars, but had such a skill with words that even when you disagreed with him, you could still understand his own reasoning for liking or disliking something. Not only that, but his absolute loathing of a movie provided some of the funniest (intentionally so) movie reviews of all time. Read his articles on "Caligula," "Mad Dog Time," or "North" and you'll see what I mean. He had such passion in his writing, that for someone like me, it made me curious to seek out the movie just out of pure curiosity.
I'm going to see a movie tonight for the site, and from here on out I'm always going to wonder what Roger would have thought of the film. Sometimes though, it may not be too hard to figure out what his opinion might be. The Scorsese movie may get 4 stars, same with the Tarantino film, and the Rob Schneider movie will most likely go over about as well as "Deuce Bigalow: Eurpoean Gigolo" did. Hey, that's another movie he gave Zero Stars to, and I'm pretty sure that's the only reason I watched it. Not because I thought "hey, Roger hated it, it must be good." That's hardly the case. Zero Star ratings were very rare for Ebert, and were only given to the films he found to be the lowest of the low. That's what made me curious to see them. I just had to see how bad something was to cause him to hate it so. More often than not, he was very much correct in movies he had that much contempt for. I remember calling my girlfriend at the time and saying "ok, I wasn't planning on seeing this, but we have to check out 'Freddy Got Fingered.' I have to know how bad it is." It was bad.
I did disagreed with Roger Ebert on a lot of things though, some of which, such as his stance on many exploitation film, I felt he was just flat out wrong about. There were also times he took things too far, such as his protests of "I Spit on Your Grave," or calling out the producers of "Silent Night, Deadly Night." But I always respected the man, and that's what kept me reading all of those years. I wouldn't have known enough about him to make fun of him if I didn't know a hell of a lot about his work. And I'm not kidding when I say I was an avid reader. My friends and I used to have contests where there would try to stump me on how many stars Ebert gave to any random movie. I had that shit down. Hell, I probably still do. "The Wizard," 1 star; "Reservoir Dogs," 2 and a half stars; "Die Hard 2," 3 and a half stars; "Fever Pitch," the Ryan O'Neal one Zero Stars, the Jimmy Fallon one 3 and half stars.
Roger may be gone, but his work and contributions to film criticism will always be there. I'll still go back and read his work until the day I die. Whenever I catch a movie for the first time, I'll still look through the archives to read Ebert's review, and odds are I've already read it before, but now I can read it as someone who has seen the movie. Roger Ebert was a film critic. I'm just some guy on the internet who likes talking about movies. We should all strive to make as big of a dent on the field as Roger Ebert did, because there's not many like him left.