Roger Ebert went to his boss at the Tribune and pitched a biweekly series of columns about Great Movies. I can't imagine how he got the Tribune to agree, but it makes a lovely book. Freed from the need to guide consumers away from dull garbage, and freed from rehearsing plots and actors, Ebert can sit down and talk about what matters in movies.

Even with a broad canvas -- the volume comprises the first 100 columns in the series -- Ebert makes tough choices. The best Hitchcock, the best Chaplin, the best Woody Allen. That alone is an interesting exercise; as any baseball fan can tell you, making lists sharpens the critical faculties.

I'm tempted to approach this book systematically and to endeavour, with the help of DVD and Netflix, to see all these films. It's a modest project; most of the films in this book are film's you'd be embarassed not to have seen. I've got some terrible holes to fill. (Potemkin, for example. Ouch) But, even watching one movie every Thursday, that's a two-year project. Hmmmm.