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Thank you, Roger Ebert.



As a kid growing up, there were a few things I spend my time doing on Saturdays: getting up early to watch Saturday morning cartoons, going to the movies with my parents, playing outside with my roller-skates, and watching the latest edition of Siskel & Ebert on television. In fact, that was probably one of the moments of the day I was looking forward to. Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert didn't just debate about the latest movies that had just been released; they didn't just argue back and forth about why this movie worked or why it was awful. These men didn't just love movies, they lived, breathed the power of cinema as an art form. And I don't think no one person exemplified this kind of mad-hot passion for, well....anything better than Ebert himself. Even after Gene's death in February of 1999, the man still carried on and talked about his love of the movies, with other critics and cinemaphiles, from Lisa Scwartzburn of Entertainment Weekly, to Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News, to legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese. Richard Roper of the Chicago Sun-Times would eventually become his partner from 2000 up until 2006, when post-surgical complications with thyroid cancer left him unable to speak, but his love of the big screen wouldn't diminish. If anything, Ebert found a new voice in which to communicate his excitement for a movie, or his utter disgust for what had transpired on the screen through Twitter, and he still had his columns on his own personal website, and he still wrote reviews for the Chicago-Sun Times, and held film festivals. In short: his burning spirit wouldn't keep him from what he loved: the cinema. Ebert's place was in the balcony of a movie theater, and for one afternoon on a Saturday, I - along with everyone else who loved film as much as he did, or simply wanted to hear his thoughts - were allowed in to listen, argue, and debate the movies. The fact that tonight, we no longer have that voice with us, is a tragedy in of itself. Ebert is a big reason why I loved going to the movies: I wanted to capture the same passion for watching films as he clearly had, and is a continued inspiration for me as a amateur critic with a blog, and it's a continued hope of mine that it comes through with each review I write. For the days I spent sitting in the living room, watching him give the trademark "Thumbs Up," or "Thumbs Down" to eagerly seeking out his reviews on the latest movie to hit theaters, I say thank you Roger Ebert, for making me a lover of the cinema, and forevermore, the balcony will be closed.

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