I don’t remember the first time I watched Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel review movies on their groundbreaking PBS series “Sneak Previews,” but I must have been an early fan. Upon hearing Thursday’s news of Ebert’s untimely death at age 70 from cancer, a family friend reminded me on Facebook that in 1975, the year the show went on the air, I told her that when I grew up, I wanted to review movies just like Siskel and Ebert.
In 1975, I was eight years old.
It’s no exaggeration, then, to say that Roger Ebert’s work has colored my entire life. Say what you will about Ebert and Siskel watering down the art of film criticism for a mass audience, or reducing opinions to the “thumbs up/thumbs down” binary, he took a rarefied profession and put it in front of me as a child, letting me know that watching movies and telling...