Steve James

Life Itself Review

Life Itself (2014)

Dir: Steve James

Roger Ebert – that towering personality who dominated popular film criticism for pretty much the entirety of its television heyday and beyond that into the early 21st century – gets the documentary treatment from fellow mid-Westerner Steve James in Life Itself.  Friends, colleagues, filmmakers and family, along with Ebert himself, look back upon his life and legacy in this comprehensive, poignant and frequently funny film.

Adapted from Ebert’s autobiography of the same name, Life Itself traces Ebert’s life from childhood to his death in 2013.  Every American Icon needs a worthy origin story, and Life Itself ably provides.  A precocious child with a passion for the written word, Ebert’s gifts were encouraged by his immigrant parents who foresaw a better life for their son. Fun anecdotes from Ebert’s time as editor of his college newspaper, The Illini, foreshadowed his passion for journalism and eventual career path.  His quick rise to Chicago Sun Times film critic in 1967 is crosscut with ribald tales of his drinking and carousing (more…)