On Scene: New old voices on the film page

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— As far as I'm concerned, there is only one film critic who can legitimately say that it's completely acceptable for a 65-year-old Harrison Ford to reclaim his archaeological hero role as Indiana Jones.

That critic is Roger Ebert.

Now, this might be (definitely is) a supremely dorky sentiment to bother sharing, but I am so happy Ebert is back to writing movie reviews. It's unfortunate that return is due at least in part to an illness that took a viable television presence away, but I like to think one of movie criticism's defining voices is happy to be back in his best medium.

Movie reviews are a tricky thing. Even the most knowledgeable writers can tend to over-summarize or over-analyze. Some cave to the inexplicable need to mention everything a film's director has laid his hands on prior to the new release, and some bash movies that just don't deserve it, no matter how "bad" they are.

Ebert doesn't do any of that, which makes him good.

Instead, he gives an honest, understandable perspective of what a movie is supposed to accomplish. Even with minimal plot description, little artistic criticism and a bevy of numbered (1) explanations, Ebert gives a clearer impression of understanding what a movie is about than just about anyone else - which makes him great.

In his review of "Sex and the City," which opens at Chief Plaza 4 today, Ebert casts himself as a clueless schlub who just doesn't understand why anyone would want to watch that movie. His point of view won't do much for fans of the HBO series, but it will ring true for most everyone else.

And that's probably Ebert's greatest strength - he tells you what he thought the movie would be (in this case, very bad), and he tells you what it turned out to be (in this case, still very bad).

It's a personable approach to criticism that you don't see often enough. But it's also one of the only ways to make passing judgment on someone else's art palatable.

Look for gems of Ebert movie wisdom on page 11 for the foreseeable future, in reviews of new releases and what's playing on Steamboat screens.

- Margaret Hair, 4 Points

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