Hammerman Ikon

Hammerman Ikon Film Guide

Life Itself
Director: Steve James

A moving documentary about Roger Ebert (1942-2013), a Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. The film is framed around the last few months of his life after his lower jaw had been surgically removed due to cancer. We learn how Ebert grows up and becomes the celebrated film writer, how he meets his wife Chaz, and how he turns into a household name with the TV show At the Movies, that he co-hosted with his fellow critic/favourite nemesis Gene Siskel (1946-1999). Very often documentaries about great artists reduce their subjects to a string of platitudes (for example, Lemmy and Altman). However, Steve James' warts and all film is a character portrait rather than a life and career overview. Ebert comes across as a resilient man who never loses his sense of humour.