by tt stern-enzi
at 09:42 AM | Permalink
What can I say about a man I never met, but who had been part of my life for decades? I, seemingly like a whole generation of film fans, watched Siskel and Ebert back in the 1980s, and then graduated to reading his reviews in the Chicago Sun-Times during my college years. Every Friday morning, I made my sojourn to the Annenberg School of Communications library and collected the Sun-Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Village Voice, and Variety so that I could prepare for the weekend’s new releases. I didn’t always go to the movies, but I wanted to know what the critics thought, which meant I wanted to know, first and foremost, what Ebert thought. I didn’t always agree with him – many times, in fact, I was flummoxed by his wrongheadedness – but reading his take was a necessary and very personal prequel to the filmgoing experience.I’ve been a working critic now for almost 13 years, and for the last seven I’ve also taught film review and feature writing classes at the University of Cincinnati. I never imagined I would be working in the same field as Ebert, even while I was taking undergraduate level class that examined film as text. I simply loved movies. Always have and always will. I know that last part will be the case thanks to Ebert. His love of the movies evolved as the form and critical analysis experienced their own growing pains. He made us all critics, by opening up an exchange that now, thanks to the Internet, has a global forum. What has been most inspiring about his work and approach over the last decade is his willingness to embrace technology as a means of broadcasting that very singular voice of his, overflowing with knowledge, but also immediately accessible. His sense of the need for accessibility is the greatest and most lasting impact he will have on criticism. It is what can and should continue to guide the would-be critics to come – the next generation of bloggers, tweeters, and those adherents to whatever is to come.More established critics and writers have stories about meeting Ebert, spending time in his presence, what have you. My remembrance of the man is different. I’m one of those Johnny-come-lately types who “knew” him from afar. I’ve attended the Toronto International Film Festival for the last four or five years, and I recall, my first Ebert-sighting, about three year back. He and his wife were ahead of me on the escalator at the downtown multiplex space that serves as the main screening hub. They were engaged with others, talking very likely about the upcoming screening or maybe he was thinking about the Twitter event he was scheduled to host. Whatever was the case, there he was, despite all those years of globetrotting and a dizzying collection of screenings, still so full of life and joy for the festival experience. I didn’t need to speak with him or even be near him. Just to know he was there, doing his thing, seeing movies, helping us to engage with them by any means necessary, was more than enough. I looked for him each year after that and was always glad when I spotted him. I’ll likely do the same thing this year and I won’t be surprised if my mind plays a little trick on me and I convince myself that I’ve seen him again, roaming about Toronto somewhere.He’ll be there, somewhere in the dark, like always.This story was originally published on tt stern-enzi's blog, here.
0 Comments · Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Cincinnati is home to my body and my
head. After almost 13 years, I’m grounded here thanks to a strong
network of friends and family. But, my heart, well, let’s just say it’s
holding out. Home, for my heart, is all about those extra-special
intangibles, which in part come down to movie memories.
0 Comments · Wednesday, March 6, 2013
ReelAbilities: Cincinnati Disabilities Film Festival (March
9-16, 2013), in its second year of programming, continues to offer
alternative stories featuring performers and characters with
disabilities actively and artfully engaged with mainstream society.
0 Comments · Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Consider this a mission or statement of
purpose for next year’s film coverage. The seed of the idea began at
this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, where I decided to go,
as I stated, where the frames took me.
0 Comments · Tuesday, December 4, 2012
As a judge for this year’s Black Reel
Awards, I am screening the shorts and features up for
consideration, and at the conclusion of each new film I catch myself
swelling with real pride because, through these independently produced
films, I feel like the reflection I’ve been seeking sharpens as the
frames settle into place.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 7, 2012
With all the movements to instill a local and/or regional
focus on our consumer urges counter-balanced by the narrowing of our
reach, thanks to technology, what is the difference between local and global? What would 19th century hipsters think of the accessibility present in today’s world?
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 26, 2012
This year’s seventh annual Downtown Dayton LGBT Film Festival lineup definitely addresses a new honest reality, this striving for a sense of urgent
authenticity, both through the films and the celebratory events.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 26, 2012
My drive back from the Toronto International Film
Festival cracked open the protective cinema dome, and it did so with a vengeance. NPR rudely
awakened me to the news of the attacks on the Libyan embassy that
resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 12, 2012
This year marks my fourth sojourn to the
Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and I
have been able to add a few extra days to my usual long weekend mad dash
through an impossibly overbooked itinerary that leaves me feeling like a
camera-toting tourist snapping pictures of all the officially
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Take This Waltz focuses on Margot (Michelle Williams), a freelance writer
married to a cookbook author (Seth Rogen) but who develops feelings for
a neighbor (Luke Kirby), an artist and rickshaw driver. Waltz feels like an avant-garde
performance devoted to women on the verge. What happens to women who long for
more than life has given them but then encounter an
opportunity to grab hold of something more?