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Roger Ebert

Related: film criticism - mainstream film

Roger Ebert is a critic of mainstream cinema.

Horror: Why Movie Audiences Aren't Safe Anymore, 1981

Another key touchstone essay for Clover is the famous 1981 Roger Ebert diatribe against the subjective point-of-view killing mechanism of the slasher film which, he argued, placed viewers in the position of 'seeing as' and 'identifying with' the maniacal killers. Ebert then turns this into an anti-feminist backlash movement (although Ebert did give Halloween its due respect). But even Hitchcock disproved this simplistic association of subjective point of view shooting with audience identification by believing in point-of-view cutting as a stronger way of achieving audience identification with a character (i.e. cutting from a shot of the character, to a shot of what they are seeing, and back again). Clover turns the Ebert argument on its head by making horror films much more victim-identified (masochistic rather than sadistic). --Ebert, Roger. "Why Movie Audiences Aren't Safe Anymore." American Film (March 1981): 54-56. http://www.horschamp.qc.ca/new_offscreen/final_girl.html by Donato Totaro

On American Graffiti

Here's how critic Roger Ebert described the unique and lasting value of George Lucas's 1973 box-office hit, American Graffiti: "[It's] not only a great movie but a brilliant work of historical fiction; no sociological treatise could duplicate the movie's success in remembering exactly how it was to be alive at that cultural instant." The time to which Ebert and the film refers is the summer of 1962, and American Graffiti captures the look, feel, and sound of that era by chronicling one memorable night in the lives of several young Californians on the cusp of adulthood. (In essence, Lucas was making a semiautobiographical tribute to his own days as a hot-rod cruiser, and the film's phenomenal success paved the way for Star Wars.) The action is propelled by the music of Wolfman Jack's rock & roll radio show--a soundtrack of pop hits that would become as popular as the film itself. As Lucas develops several character subplots, American Graffiti becomes a flawless time capsule of meticulously re-created memory, as authentic as a documentary and vividly realized through innovative use of cinematography and sound. The once-in-a-lifetime ensemble cast members inhabit their roles so fully that they don't seem like actors at all, comprising a who's who of performers--some of whom went on to stellar careers--including Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips, Charles Martin Smith, Candy Clark, and Paul Le Mat. A true American classic, the film ranks No. 77 on the American Film Institute's list of all-time greatest American movies. --Jeff Shannon

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