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Further Afield - A film critic with great wit
luke cameron

When someone is really good at something, it creates interest. An example is Tiger Woods, who was so good at golf that a lot of people who previously had no interest in golf became interested in him and his sport. A lot of people had that one teacher who was so good at making the material relatable to students that they loved the class — even if they did not love the subject.

When it came to writing about movies, the late film critic Roger Ebert was talented. He was so good at writing about movies that books containing his reviews of bad movies became best-sellers. The dry humor contained within those collections could be a salve to someone having a bad day, or a bad life, and in need of a good chuckle.

Take these gems.

In his review of the film "Levity" starring Morgan Freeman and directed by Ed Solomon, Ebert wrote, “In this district a preacher named Miles Evans (Freeman) runs a storefront youth center, portrayed so unconvincingly that we suspect Solomon has never seen a store, a front, a youth, or a center.”

In the middle of describing the plot of the film "Serendipity," he wrote, “Years pass — two or three in the movie, more in the theater.”

Of "Stealth" he wrote, “This story doesn’t merely defy logic, but strips logic bare, cremates it, and scatters its ashes.”

Of "Pearl Harbor:" “Pearl Harbor is a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours.”

Of "Thunderbirds:" “A movie like this is harmless, I suppose, except for the celluloid that was killed in the process of its manufacture.”

After Ebert watched "Domestic Disturbance" and found the movie wanting, the studio called to say the Chicago film critics had seen the incorrect last reel. The critics were given the opportunity to see the correct last reel. As Ebert wrote, “I agreed eagerly, expecting revised footage — but, no, the only problem was the earlier reel was lacking the final music mix. Music is the last thing wrong with that reel.”

Even when he was not at the moment filleting the film in question, Ebert’s wry observations could hit the funny bone.

"The Sweetest Thing:" “The movie’s romance involves [Cameron] Diaz meeting Thomas Jane in a dance club; the chemistry is right but he doesn’t quite accurately convey that the wedding he is attending on the weekend is his own.”

"Sweet November:" “It is a convention of movies like this that all sexy women have gay friends who materialize on demand to perform nursing and hygiene chores. 

Advice to gay friend in the next remake: "Insist," “Unless I get two good scenes of my own, I’ve emptied my last bedpan.”

What is all this to say? A thing of beauty is a real joy. Also, humor and success sometimes can be found in unlikely places.

Standard reporter Luke Cameron can be reached at 473-2191.