Great documentary

I saw a coach hustle out of the dugout after a recent well-played inning by the softball team on defense in the half-inning. His only word was, “Boom!” to express his delight at the crisp fielding.

After seeing “Life Itself,” I had the same emotion. Usually the comparison for a great film is a comment such as, “The director hit it out of the park.”

I’d like to echo the coaches’ word: “Boom!” It short, punchy, cheeky, argumentative and not quite what is expected.

That’s the work of director Steve James and Roger Ebert in this documentary. Both understand films. Both wanted to make a film that told the truth. I think the pair did that.

My attention never flagged, and the film moved me deeply in several parts. I got a good sense of who Ebert was as a person, not too white-washed, not quite idolized.

I wish I could have seen this work shortly after its release in a movie palace and been able to join the audience with a thumbs up, but with the coming of personalized entertainment, I was able to see it at home on computer screen, although much later than I would have wanted.  That will have to do, and, since Ebert was an enthusiast for the democratizing of film criticism, I can console myself that seeing it at home was acceptable.

Roger’s dream of seeing more film criticism is well under way. There are at least three blogs I follow of writers who seek out films not shown in popular places, so my enthusiasm for films is in no danger of thinning.

If you love film, see “Life Itself.”

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