Sunday, November 16, 2014

Off The Balcony

Life Itself is a pretty good biographical documentary about Roger Ebert, taking us back to the days when he and Gene Siskel led the pack in introducing us to what's coming to our local cinema.  The format continued after Siskel died, but when Roger left, it was essentially over.

The final iteration of the show featured critics Christy Lemire and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.  If you haven't heard of them that's probably why the show didn't last long.  But now Igantiy, who writes at the A.V. Club, discusses what it was like, and why the program died.

There was a strict learning curve.  Writing for print and for TV are two different things, and talking naturally but compellingly on camera is not, generally, a talent you're born with.  As Vishnevetsky notes, Siskel and Ebert had years to perfect the process before going national.

But, and I agree with Ignatiy again, the real problem was the format. In the 80s, having a couple guys clue you in to what's happening at the movies was fun, even exciting. You felt like an insider. In the age of the internet, a weekly show on what's available out there will always be one week behind.

Perhaps the format could still work with two truly compelling figures, but it could never command the field as it once did.


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