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Life Itself Blu-ray Review

Life Itself Blu-ray

“Life Itself” is one of the 10 best films of 2014.

Filmed during the final months of Roger Ebert’s life, “Life Itself” is an emotional documentary film that chronicles his career, family, childhood, drinking issues, the Siskel and Ebert era (and his friendship with the late critic), his love of cinema, marriage, the “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” script, his books, the Pulitzer Prize, his many accomplishments, and his blog. The docu is comprised of archival footage, photos, stock footage, and interviews with filmmakers, critics, and colleagues such as Bruce Elliot and William Nack, Martin Scorsese, A.O. Scott, Richard Corliss, and Siskel’s wife Marlene Iglitzen. Since Ebert was unable to speak physically at the time of the recording due to surgeries for his cancer treatment (he was able to speak through a computer voice synthesizer though), actor Steven Stanton gives Ebert a voice by providing narration as the late critic throughout the film.

Directed by Steve James (who also helmed the critically acclaimed “Hoop Dreams”), “Life Itself” is a heartbreaking, inspiring, unflinching, and profoundly moving tribute to the legendary film critic Roger Ebert. More than that, however, it’s a downright honest and revealing piece of art. Whether you are watching funny behind the scenes footage of Ebert and Siskel griping at each other or seeing Roger spending time with his wife Chaz, viewers get an all-encompassing look at the late critic’s personal and private life.

The only quibble I have at all about “Life Itself” is the mysterious lack of Richard Roeper. Now, it’s possible he didn’t want to participate, but I did find it odd that he didn’t appear in an interview or that that portion of Ebert’s career was barely touched upon.

Video/Audio:

Audio Track: 1.78:1 1080p. How does it look? Like any documentary, the picture quality varies between the newly shot interviews and the archival clips, but overall, this is a very sharp looking documentary.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Crisp and clear.

Extras:
* Magnolia trailers and a “Life Itself” trailer.
* AX TV featurette.
* 15 deleted scenes involving Chaz and Roger’s first date, Rob Schneider, Ebertfest, and more.
* A 10 ½ minute interview with director Steve James.
* “Sundance Tribute”- A near 7 minute video tribute to Roger Ebert.

Overall Thoughts: Considering how much time Ebert devoted to cinema, it simply feels fitting that his life was made into a movie. A must see.

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February 11, 2015 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , ,

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