7.8/10
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Life Itself (2014)

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2:13 | Trailer
The life and career of the renowned film critic and social commentator, Roger Ebert.

Director:

Steve James
25 wins & 32 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Werner Herzog ... Himself
Martin Scorsese ... Himself
Ava DuVernay ... Herself
Errol Morris ... Himself
Roger Ebert ... Himself
Stephen Stanton ... Roger Ebert (voice)
Ramin Bahrani ... Himself
Steve James ... Himself
Gene Siskel ... Himself (archive footage)
Gregory Nava ... Himself
Chaz Ebert ... Herself
Donna La Pietra Donna La Pietra ... Herself (as Donna LaPietra)
Marlene Siskel Marlene Siskel ... Herself (as Marlene Iglitzen)
Nancy De Los Santos Nancy De Los Santos ... Herself (as Nancy De Los Santos-Reza)
William Nack ... Himself
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Storyline

'Life Itself' recounts the surprising and entertaining life of world-renowned film critic and social commentator Roger Ebert - a story that's by turns personal, wistful, funny, painful, and transcendent. The film explores the impact and legacy of Roger Ebert's life: from his Pulitzer Prize-winning film criticism and his nearly quarter-century run with Gene Siskel on their review show, to becoming one of the country's most influential cultural voices, and finally to Roger's inspiring battles with cancer and the resulting physical disability - how he literally and symbolically put a new face on the disease and continued to be a cultural force despite it. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The only thing Roger loved more than movies


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for brief sexual images/nudity and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 July 2014 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Life Itself See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$153,875 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$131,411, 6 July 2014

Gross USA:

$810,454

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$815,645
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original plan for the film was to document the active schedule Roger Ebert maintained despite his illness, including attending screenings, writing reviews and for his blog, and hosting dinner parties with his wife. However, before filming began Ebert suffered a hip fracture that required months of rehabilitation, and he was later diagnosed with a new cancer, meaning the documentary instead became (in part) a chronicle of his final days. See more »

Quotes

Rick Kogan: I don't know Pauline Kael. I never knew Pauline Kael, but fuck Pauline Kael. Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel were the most powerful critics of all-time in any realm.
See more »

Connections

References Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Roger's Theme
by Joshua Abrams
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The Critic Gets the Last Laugh
18 July 2014 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Life Itself (2014)

**** (out of 4)

I first discovered Siskel and Ebert by accidentally waking up early one morning and turning the television on to see two guys getting into a heated debate over a movie called DEAD AGAIN. It's funny but it's a moment in my life that I'll never forget because it opened my eyes to other movie lovers and the show would also introduce me to all sorts of movies that weren't playing at my small town theater. LIFE ITSELF, based on the book of the same name, covers the life and career of film critic Roger Ebert who is of course best known for his television show with Gene Siskel. The book was a wonderful read and especially for fans of Ebert but director Steve James does an extremely good job at bringing it to the screen even if we really don't see anything here that we didn't read in the book.

With that said, there's no question that the film is highly entertaining and especially when it deals with the rather love-hate relationship between Ebert and Siskel. There's no doubt that these moments are the highlight of the film as we get to see some classic clips of the two on their show but also some memorable outtakes as well as their appearances on talk shows, including an intense one on Carson where Ebert rips Chevy Chase who is sitting right there. The film also covers Ebert's personal life where we get interviews with the likes of his wife as well as Siskel's widow. Filmmakers Werner Herzog and Martin Scorsese are also on hand and discuss their relationship with Ebert. Of course, the hardest part to watch about this film are the scenes involving Ebert in the hospital where we see how much pain he was in towards the end of his life. These scenes really are hard to watch but at the same time it leaves you in amazement that he was able to continue writing on his blog at such a high level.

LIFE ITSELF has some flaws including the structure of the story but I doubt any fans of the critic are going to be disappointed. I think the 115-minute running time was fine for a general release but it seems like there's probably a lot more that could have been included.


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