Siskel and Ebert

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Vickie_M, Sep 10, 2002.

  1. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

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    Man I loved those two! I just have to say that. I know that much can be said about Siskel the man; the family man, the Tribune reviewer, the film lover, the Saturday Night Fever fanatic, the Bulls fan, but I mainly knew him as a partner of Ebert, and I miss him.
    I had (sometimes still have) a REALLY BAD HABIT of popping tapes in the VCR and recording things, but not marking what was on the tapes. This is terrible to admit, but I have *hundreds* of these things, dating back to the mid-80s. I have hundreds more that *are* marked, which doesn't help me a bit with the unmarked ones.
    Every now and then I'll need new tapes to tape something so I'll grab some unmarked tapes and fast forward through them to make sure there's nothing important on them before I dub over them. I've done this several times over the last few months and have come across some wonderful, surprising things. I'm watching a tape now that sees Siskel and Ebert arguing over Selena (Ebert loved it, Siskel didn't care for it, though they both agreed that Jennifer Lopez was magnificent), and Crash (Ebert liked it for its daring, Siskel didn't, it left him cold).
    I could cry, because a show, probably from the week before, didn't tape right and I only know what all they reviewed from the ending section where they say "thumbs up, thumbs down" to the films. Based on that, here's what I missed: Private Parts (thumbs up from both), Hard Eight ([​IMG] !!) (thumbs up from both), Donnie Brasco (thumbs up from both), Smilla's Sense of Snow (thumbs up from both), Booty Call (thumbs up from both!! though they both seemed a tad embarrassed), and their Video Pick of the week was Bound, which they both loved and thought that Howard Stern should go rent posthaste. That was a rare week when they both liked all of the films!
    Siskel & Ebert got me into so many great films, ranging from Say Amen, Somebody to Louie Bluie to Sling Blade. I disagreed with them (one or the other or both) about movies they didn't like, several times, sometimes violently (I never forgave them for trashing the exquisite Return To Oz), but I always trusted them when they liked something.
    What a great team they were. May they never be forgotten.
     
  2. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I think that the pair did a first-rate job in bringing film criticism to a wide audience. Slick, well-thought out format, and one that allowed for considerable discussion about films, both when the agreed and disagreed.

    And as you observe, they brought some films to my attention, that I might otherwise have missed or dismissed.

    For me, I thought that Ebert was by far the stronger critic. In contrast to you, I never felt that Siskel really loved movies, whereas Ebert appeared to me to be a real buff (in fact my one problem with Roger is that he likes films so much that I sometimes think he raves about non-deserving ones). Not being from Chicago, my knowledge was limited to their on-the-air persona (except that I have read some of Ebert’s books), so my perspective is limited.
     
  3. Ian Garton

    Ian Garton Extra

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    The interaction between Siskel and Ebert was excellent and I felt that they both kept each other on their toes. Their discussions were quick, witty, and intelligent. There could be some pretty funny moments on the show too. [​IMG]
    Seeing them together again on the new Pulp Fiction CE and Jackie Brown CE was a real pleasure and brought back a lot of memories.
     
  4. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

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    Could be, could be, but I like how he judges each movie in context of the situation. It's a B-movie summer popcorn flick, but is it a *good* B-movie summer popcorn flick? If he thinks so, he'll say so, and probably give it 3 stars.
    I said I trusted them when they like something, but I have to admit I have still not seen Speed II: Cruise Control just because he likes it. It's always been on my "one of these decades, maybe" list. I'll watch anything he gives 3 1/2 and 4 stars to, but otherwise, I check other sources. (this IS the man who gave Raising Arizona, one of my favorite comedies, 1 1/2 stars!!!)
     
  5. Vickie_M

    Vickie_M Producer

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  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    There truly was something about the chemistry between those two. But I must say I never thought of Siskel as anything less than an all-out lover and student of film. His presence helped rein in Ebert's earlier tendencies to over-praise undeserving films. Those two were good for each other professionally in much the same way Lennon and McCarntey benefited from each other's presence.

    I sorely miss Gene Siskel. Great guy.
     
  7. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Thanks for the link, Vickie. Lots of interesting choices, for example I was surprised that Siskel picked Babe at four in 1995, while elevating the not-quite-as-good (IMO, of course), sequel. Of course one could make the case that 1995 was a banner year, compared to 1998.

    And I loved the fact that Siskel placed The Last Temptation of Christ first in 1988, in the midst of the controversy surrounding the picture (and Ebert gave his number one spot to Mississippi Burning, another very fine choice.

    I could go on, but there are too many picks about which to comment.
     
  8. Jon_Are

    Jon_Are Cinematographer

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    I had been watching - and enjoying - S&E since the early days of "At the Movies" on public television. I recall with fondness their shared enthusiasm over Criterion LDs, widescreen presentation, and various documentaries. Some of my favorite movies I would have not seen had I not been steered toward them by Gene and Rog: Say Amen, Somebody, Jean de Florette / Manon of the Spring, Cinema Paradiso, Hoop Dreams, My Dinner with Andre.
    Funny you should mention the videotapes, Vickie. I used to tape their show every week. I must have had 25 tapes at one time, labeled and sorted. I think I've taped over most of them. [​IMG]
    Those were the days.
    Jon
     
  9. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

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  10. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    More than their opinions on particular films, it was simply their rapport with one another that made them so wonderful to watch. I really loved that show.
    Vickie, I've had similar things happen with videotapes. I once found a Seinfeld episode that we didn't have taped from early on (like first 10 shows or so). It was just on at the end of something else.
    My two favorite extras on DVDs so far are excerpts from Siskel/Ebert and episodes of Charlie Rose shows (my favorite interview show by far). Pulp and Jackie are great sets to me obviously. [​IMG]
     
  11. Stephen_L

    Stephen_L Supporting Actor

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    I watched Siskel and Ebert from their earliest days on Public Television and followed all their reincarnations over the years. Both were fine reviewers and introduced me to dozens of films I might never have seen or sought out. I even loved some of their guilty pleasures (Ebert loves cheesy Japanese monster movies, Siskel Saturday Night Fever)The key was that they respected each other even in disagreement. Maybe I'm just nostalgic but I don't see Roeper's opinions matching Ebert's in authority.

    I often did not agree with their choices, but if they both liked a film, it was usually a solid winner.
     
  12. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Anyone see Amazon Women On the Moon? There's a scene where a guy is watching two critics on TV review his own life. At the end, they complain about his boring death which takes place as he actually dies. It was hilarious!

    I haven't seen it in a while, but I'm pretty sure the critics were actually Siskel & Ebert.
     
  13. Dick

    Dick Lead Actor
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    I, too, caught Siskel and Ebert when they were on PBS. The show then, of course, had no commercials so the sound-bitish reviews were at least a little more in-depth. When they went to syndication, their number of reviews each week stayed at the 3-5 level, but commercials were added in, removing almost a full third of the show's actual time, and reducing the reviews to ridiculous tidbits that made both reviewers seem shallow - and still do (Ebert's web site tells a different story as it offers full-length reviews. He's still no Pauline Kael, but he'd be the first to admit that). I had always wished they'd get a 60-minute time slot, or else only review two films a week, so that they could truly educate the public about more esoteric fare. As far as Siskel was concerned, I found him annoying (not least because of the way he shuffled and repositioned himself at the end of his every review - just my silly reaction to a physical habit) and did not consider his reviews very legitimate. Then I saw him in an episode of LARRY SANDERS and saw a more human side to the man (even if fictitious) and began to warm up to him on the review shows. Then again, I found Ebert quite arrogant, and only my reading of his more in-depth reviews and seeing him on talk shows has led me to believe that, no matter how egotistical the man is, he does love movies and is an effective champion of lesser-known titles. I now go to Ebert's web site often - but avoid the Ebert-Roeper site and t.v. show like the plague. Roeper who?
     
  14. Dan Lindley

    Dan Lindley Second Unit

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    I don't mean to critique the critique of 'Roeper who?', but it is interesting to think how critics get their start...

    What was Ebert's trajectory? How did the 'authorities' become the authorities? How has the web changed this? How have some of our favorite web sites (HTF, Bits, etc), changed or added to this dynamic?

    What makes a great critic? That is open ended, but I have often looked at Ebert's site for buys, and various lists for more buys, so what makes an authority from whom to trust a recommendation?

    Dan
     
  15. Brian W.

    Brian W. Screenwriter

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    Thanks for the link to their 10 best lists, Vickie. It's interesting to see that they actually agreed on their top pick of the year nine times out of 30 years:

    Z, The Godfather, Nashville, The Right Stuff, Do the Right Thing, Goodfellas, Schindler's List, Hoop Dreams, Fargo.

    Also interesting that Godfather Part II didn't make either of their lists at all, since many critics consider it to be even better than the first film.
     
  16. Guy Martin

    Guy Martin Second Unit

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    Interestingly enough, Chicago Reader critic and Ebert friend Jonathan Rosenbaum also felt that Siskel's interest in film was purely professional. In his recent book Movie Wars Rosenbaum writes:
     
  17. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    I remember seeing the episode where they both voted The Right Stuff as the best film of 1983....god bless em.
     

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