Rating: 7.9/10 (10,199 votes) Director: Steve James Writer: N/A Stars: Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, Ava DuVernay, Ramin Bahrani Runtime: 120 min Rated: R Genre: Documentary, Biography Released: 04 Jul 2014
Plot: The life and career of the renowned film critic and social commentator, Roger Ebert.
If you’re a cinephile, then the Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself is required viewing. Based on Ebert’s memoir of the same name, the film began as a chronicle of Ebert’s life, career, and contribution to the world of film criticism, but as filming began Ebert faced severe health issues. As a result, director Steve James—who helmed the documentary masterpiece Hoop Dreams—juxtaposes footage focusing on Ebert’s life and career with present day-set footage of Ebert in the hospital, as the film critic giant continues to display a passion for films and filmmaking up through his final days. It’s a moving, ultimately hopeful documentary that’s also incredibly fascinating, as many friends, colleagues and filmmakers—from Martin Scorsese toAva DuVernay—weigh in on Ebert’s contribution to the medium. The film is also candid about Ebert’s somewhat prickly personality, with the segment on the animosity between Ebert and Gene Siskel particularly engaging. Again, if you call yourself a fan of movies, this documentary is a must-see. – Adam Chitwood