The 10 Best Quotes from Roger Ebert’s “Times Talks” Appearance


We’ve made no secret of the fact that we’re giant Roger Ebert fans here at Flavorwire, so we certainly weren’t going to miss his rare trip from his home turf to ours, for Tuesday night’s installment of The New York Times’ ongoing lecture/interview series, Times Talks” — “or, in my case, Times Types,” as Ebert mused, via his computerized voice “Alex.” The program allowed the critic to answer A.O. Scott’’s questions via his laptop, and as “Alex” said his words, Ebert would frequently act out his answers, accompanying the robot-voiced words with his own gestures, nods, shrugs, and mugs (frequently calling to mind the great silent clown Harpo Marx — “the most articulate” of the Marx Brothers, according to Mr. Ebert).

Because his responses were literally written, the conversation was more quotable than most. After the jump, we’ve assembled our ten favorite Ebert-isms of the night.

1. On the limits of the form: “Movies can be about anything. So can our reviews.”

2. On his longevity: “I had no idea you could be a movie critic for this long. But I guess you can. My love for movies has only grown over the years.”

3. On his impressive number of Twitter followers: “Not up there with Justin Bieber.”

4. When Scott brought up 3-D and said that, for some films, it was “a disaster,” Ebert had a more concise descriptor: “An abomination.” And more: “Obviously (it’s) the waste of a perfectly good dimension… once you’ve seen one 3-D movie, you’ve seen them all.”

5. On his competition with Gene Siskel: “We would settle arguments by flipping a coin, and then we would argue over who won the toss.”

6. On being a televised film critic: “It has to be first person. It has to be subjective. You have to talk about how a movie makes you feel. Abstract ideas don’t travel well on television.”

7. On social media: “I no longer have the social life I used to… the social networks are no substitute for real life. But they’re helpful to me.” On why he pays such close attention to the comments on his blog: “I didn’t want any trolls on my blog telling me I sucked.”

8. On making lists: “I’ve given up making lists. Editors are always asking you to do ‘The best Halloween movies,’ ‘the best Thanksgiving movies,’ The moment you publish such a list, everyone’s unhappy because you left off this film or that film. You can’t win!”

9. On the future: “I think we’re in a new Golden Age of film criticism, because of the Internet… There are undoubtedly great online film critics in this room.”

10. On the here and now: “I’m not angry that I got cancer. I’m happy that I’m able to function in my work. I’m happy that I’m here today.” And after the thunderous applause that followed that statement tapered off, A.O. Scott agreed: “We are too.”