September 8, 2005

Great Movies II

by Roger Ebert

In the next few months, some of us may have some extra time on our hands, waiting to go home. There's lots of work to be done, but not everybody can work, and nobody can work all the time. No doubt, a lot of movies will be watched. (Are they showing movies in the Astrodome?)

Roger Ebert's second volume of great movies is a wonderful idea. This isn't a compendium of old reviews or a silly list of the best movies. Instead, we have a chance to sit with a great and experienced critic as he revisits another 100 fine movies.

That doesn't mean 100 perfect movies: simply, 100 movies he'd hate not to see at least one more time. Ebert's got fascinating taste and broad interests, so we have a mix of eras and styles. He's willing to see a flawed movie (Birth of a Nation, West Side Story) and to enjoy its virtues without overlooking -- or having the experience ruined by -- the shortcomings. From Fellini to Saturday Night Fever (which was Gene Siskel's favorite movie -- who would have thought it?) to My Neighbor Totori, Ebert finds unexpected delights everywhere. He's interested in acting here, in direction there, in cinematography, in influence.

It's a wonderful mix.

Books like this are important, too, because they help us think about how we choose to spend our time. (A few years ago, Ebert came down with salivary cancer; perhaps these volumes, in part, are a response to the way that experience made him think about spending his own time) It's easy to say, "I really ought to see the 100 greatest movies." It's actually not too hard to do, now that movies are so easy to rent. But you've got to think about it, and you've got to set aside the time, and you've got to decide to do it.