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Tiny accomplishments

I've been a fan of Roger Ebert's writing (as opposed to his television presence) since I first ran across it on the web, which was probably not long after the Chicago Sun-Times starting publishing his film reviews online. Which was a long time ago. As much as his insightful criticism, it was droll, tossed-off observations like this one (from his new review of Happy Tears, emphasis mine) that won me over:

[Happy Tears] takes on an eerie resonance with the performance by Rip Torn as the aging father. He was recently in the news for being arrested, at age 78, for breaking into a bank while intoxicated and carrying a firearm.

To be sure, it was late at night, he had apparently forgotten he had the firearm, and after all, the bank looked a lot like his house. Nor is senility his problem. He is now in rehab and I wish him good fortune because he is a fine actor. Ann Landers used to write about the danger signals of alcoholism. His arrest in the bank surely would be one of them. Still, to stir up such a scandal at 78 is perhaps even a tiny accomplishment, when so many his age are no longer physically able to break into banks.  [full review]
This is all by way of recommending not just his reviews and his blog, not just his continuous championing of liberalism and rational free thought, but also the new Esquire profile of Ebert, "The Essential Man," written by Chris Jones. I knew about his battles with cancer and his various surgeries, but had no idea of their extent or aftermath. Read it, and read also Ebert's own generous thoughts on the article.

I can't think of many writers so well-rounded as people, and so unendingly prolific, and that he continues to be so in the face of his health problems is not just an inspiration. It's a more than tiny accomplishment.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 22nd, 2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
I think my favorite part of the Rip Torn "scandal" (which seems like an overblown way to put it), is that he took off his shoes and hat (or maybe it was his coat) when he got in the bank. Can you imagine him looking at the vault and trying to figure out how to get all the food out?
Feb. 22nd, 2010 07:49 pm (UTC)
Ha! You mean trying to figure out how to get all the booze out.
Feb. 22nd, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
You just know he peed into the ATM.
Feb. 22nd, 2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
There's gold in them thar bills!
Feb. 22nd, 2010 09:46 pm (UTC)
I am constantly in awe of Ebert.
Feb. 22nd, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
If there was one idol I wanted to meet upon moving to Chicago...
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


William Shunn

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