April 24, 2007
Roger Ebert is unstoppable
"I ain’t a pretty boy no more," Roger Ebert says about his current appearance. Yeah, he was never much of a looker, but he's right. He's been through multiple surgeries over the past several months for cancer in his salivary gland and jaw, and other complications resulting from the surgeries have put him out of commission since last summer. But his 9th annual Overlooked Film Festival starts tomorrow at the University of Illinois at Urbana, and by golly, he's gonna be there.
The column he wrote about his determination to get back to work and out into the world again is fantastic. A few excerpts:
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. As a journalist I can take it as well as dish it out.
For the time being, I cannot speak. I make do with written notes and a lot of hand waving and eye-rolling. The doctors now plan an approach that does not involve the risk of unplanned bleeding. If all goes well, my speech will be restored.
So when I turn up in Urbana, I will be wearing a gauze bandage around my neck, and my mouth will be seen to droop. So it goes.
I was told photos of me in this condition would attract the gossip papers. So what? I have been very sick, am getting better and this is how it looks. I still have my brain and my typing fingers.
Why do I want to go? Above all, to see the movies. Then to meet old friends and great directors and personally thank all the loyal audience members who continue to support the festival.
At least, not being able to speak, I am spared the need to explain why every film is “overlooked,” or why I wrote Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.
Ha! You tell 'em, Roger Ebert.
Some of the movies featured at the Festival include Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, which I had zero interest in seeing until I found out it was directed by Tom Tykwer, who also did Run Lola Run; Gattaca, which is awesome; and Holes, which I only heard of last week in connection to rising megastar Shia LaBeouf. And it closes with Ebert-scripted X-rated classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, a nice touch.
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