Life itself

Saw and loved Life Itself Saturday night, introducing Older Daughter to someone she needs to know as she prepares to head up to Illinois and commence her own film studies.

I used to watch Siskel and Ebert every Sunday night on PBS in St. Louis in the late ’70s, right before Monty Python. They had as much influence on my education as anyone, and Ebert continues to educate me. He was a philosopher of happiness, and a humanist. (Siskel was good too, a philosophy major we learn.)

“A machine for generating empathy” was Roger’s idea of what a movie could be. Hard not to empathize with him, not to marvel at the astounding and tenacious love of life that had him clinging to it with thumbs up long after most of us would have folded. Letting us see him struggle, very publicly, with a devastating cancer. And finally, acknowledging death’s inevitability and accepting its necessity. Gently letting go.

What a beautiful spirit he achieved, this exceptionally talented man who in rotund self-indulgent health had been (like many of us) “nice, but not that nice.” The film and the memoir it’s based on make clear that he didn’t do it alone.

Another inspiring life. Can’t collect too many of them.

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