I came to the sudden realization a while back that my favorite movie title was probably Riding in Cars with Boys. Upon further pondering, I lengthened the list to fifteen. Sort of.
All About Lily Chou Chou Crazy/Beautiful Detour Eight Diagram Pole Fighter Electra Glide in Blue Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom Last Life in the Universe Late Spring Lost Highway The Man Who Wasn't There Once Upon a Time in the West Record of a Living Being Riding in Cars with Boys Shark Skin Man & Peach Hip Girl Snake of June
Also, most Giallo titles, but there are too many to narrow down.
At the tail end of 1998, Roger Ebert declared Dark City the best film of the year.
Dark City had been released that past February 27 and I had seen the show where Siskel and Ebert gave it two thumbs up. That was enough of a joy for someone who felt like the film was a secret discovery of all that was good in cinema. But I was shocked during that that fateful Best of 1998 show, where Siskel even admitted he did not even remember the film but would give it another watch due to his cohort's high accolades.
I had only become consciously in love with cinema a year before on May 9, the opening day ofThe 5th Element. Dark City was the next in line for my obsession. Witnessing a legend like Ebert mirror my own thoughts instilled in me a slight sense of legitimacy. Maybe there's a possibility that I might know what I'm taking about when it comes to the world of film.
I'm not sure I did then, looking back, but it sure felt like it.
As time went on, Ebert slowly became the only film reviewer I would read on a regular basis. Not that I took his advice - we disagreed on a large number of works because he had his weaknesses and I have mine - but the very best of his writing flowed like short stories. I've never read any other reviewer like that.
Also as time went on, Werner Herzog slowly became my favorite filmmaker. Naturally I wandered more into the writings of Ebert, as the pair were quite close. Ebert greatly admired Herzog's work for the same reasons I do, and again the validation was appreciated. Herzog even dedicated Encounters to the End of the World to Ebert, and in return Ebert wrote the most perfect thank you letter. I imagine them to have had the most delightful of friendships, the best of all in the film world.
Ebert once declared Errol Morris' Gates of Heavenas one of the ten greatest films ever made.
He was right.
On November 5, 2008, Ebert wrote a review for Synecdoche, New York. He declared it the best movie of the year, and then the best movie of the decade. When I first viewed it at the Uptown Theatre I found it to be ambitiously muddled and uneven. I did not read Ebert's review then, and I do not remember how I came across it years later. But his writing of it is beyond beautiful. I returned to the film and found it to be crushing and miraculous. I am unsure that there is a movie more attuned to how life works out. As I get older, perhaps I will find one. For now, there is not.
But the review. It may be best to not even attempt to put it into words. Because of that review, I look at life now differently than I looked at life before. This is a rare power that does not come along too often. Over all of my years I have been fundamentally changed by rare few movies. By rare few books. But only one article.