“The thumbs will return.”

July 25, 2008

What would be a confusing declamation uttered by anyone else becomes perfectly clear when uttered from the likes of Roger Ebert: film criticism is here to stay, even though its future looks in store to receive a makeover deeming it barely recognizable.

A CNN report this week took the announcement of Richard Roeper’s departure from “At the Movies” as a sign that the last vestiges of classic-form movie reviewing are going the way of VHS: that is to say, existing in another format, yet still so obsolete in one sense.

Roeper took over for the late Gene Siskel after Siskel’s death in 1999 ended the longtime on-air chemistry he shared with Ebert. Their “At the Movies” invented the format of taking the one-sided film review off the printed page and introducing it into a debate between two knowledgeable film historians with great rapport yet differing personalities.

But Roeper’s departure from the show, from which Ebert has been absent due to illness, may bring an end, at least for some duration, to the generation of film critics we’ve come to know and love.

Can celluloid critique weather the changes in media today? Will it go the gossipy route? Will it become one big digital festoon of amateur Internet reviewers? Or can it remain faithful to its film school/journalistic roots?

The story can be found here: http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/TV/07/25/tv.film.critics.ap/index.html


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