Friday, January 28, 2011

Ebert and Roeper Version 4.0

Ebert at the movies was cancelled but Roger Ebert made the wise decision that with the right backing, there's no reason why the show couldn't work. I agree: The audience of people wanting to read and delve into film criticism is much greater now than it was decades ago when Ebert and Siskel started. I have a hunch that even if the blogosphere existed when Ebert and Siskel first came on the air, there would be a lot fewer film blogs. The idea of caring what film critics had to say was novel back then.

Seeking to resurrect his program, Roger Ebert hand-picked his successors: Christy Lemire from the Associated Press and the world's luckiest internet film critic in 24-year old Ignatiy Vishnevetsky who was plucked from obscurity.

A little background on Ignatiy: He immigrated to the USA from Russia at the age of 9. Went to film school and dropped out after two semesters to watch three movies a day, so he could learn everything there was to learn about film. Aside from doing some translation work, he blogs on two or three websites and co-manages a video store in Chicago which charges one dollar per film which isn't exactly a powerhouse.

It's a safe bet that he would have had a career indistinguishable from every other film blogger if Roger Ebert hadn't actively looked for a new and different voice. For that, both Ebert and Vishnevtsky are now cult heroes as far as I'm concerned.

Lest you think that Vishnevtsky has no social life because he watches movies all day, he's very well-connected to people in his field in Chicago, he's very charming and articulate, and he recently proposed marriage to his girlfriend and then impulsively got married two days before the first show aired.

So I tuned into this show very excited at what was being awaited. Everything worked very well. Both hosts are photogenic (read: easy on the eyes), knowledgable and able to compress their opinions into informative one-minute discussions.

There was just one little glitch to the first episode: The way they voted.
Vishnevtsky and Lemire both voted the exact same way every time. He liked absolutely everything. Lemire absolutely disliked everything. Thumbs up thumbs down to eveyrhting.

They shouldn't have been dishonest but they should have at least picked a film where someone had a change of opinion. It looks like one's a softy and one's a massive cynic so far, and they would have been better served by picking a film where they meet in the middle. Hope, it changes next week.

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