After returning to the biz to attend his Ebertfest, as Kim Voynar posted about in April, Roger Ebert is finally writing up reviews again -- recent offerings including A Mighty Heart, La Vie en Rose and a great look at Brand Upon the Brain!In celebration of Roger Ebert's 65th birthday, and subsequent return to the movie-reviewing fold, Time Magazine has published a nice, long ode to the man who made thumbs synonymous with movies. Written by Richard Corliss*, the article is quite a praising study of the man, delving into his thumb shtick, writing, friendship and strength.

Now, Corliss isn't especially fond of the thumb shtick (or the reductive feel of his television show, for that matter): "I don't know how Roger feels about this, but it makes me uncomfortable to think that, of all the millions of words he has written and spoken, the one most associated with him is 'thumb.'" While I don't feel as adamantly about it as Corliss, he's got a point. Growing up, I never took Ebert seriously as a reviewer, because I only knew of his brief television chatter and the immensely reductive thumb. I mean, heck, if someone asks me my favorite movie, I first ask for clarification -- do you mean favorite or best? One little thumb doesn't offer a lot of support, although it is, coincidentally, a great way to express yourself when you're not able to speak. But as far as marketing tools go, has anything been as effective?

The article also includes talk of his compassionate negative reviews, and the times that he felt the need to be snarky, like telling Rob Schneider: "your movie sucks." Or, just how well Corliss knows Ebert himself -- something that's fairly obvious considering the amount of flattery in the piece. But why not? It's for his birthday, and in his long career, it isn't like all feedback for the man has been glowing. Whatever you think of him, the man's got guts, as Corliss closes his piece with just how much strength the man has shown in the face of cancer, pun intended: "I was told photos of me in this condition would attract the gossip papers. So what?" If for no other reason, it's worth it to check out to remember that there is a lot more behind the thumb.

*Edited to correct proper article attribution, thanks to Kurt. MB
categories Movies, Cinematical