Local heroes

Rendleman on Ebert on film

Todd Rendleman teaches film at Seattle Pacific University, a few blocks down Queen Anne Hill from us, and also happens to be a personal friend of ours. He has a book coming out next week, Rule of Thumb: Ebert at the Movies. Its subject is his fellow Urbana-Champaign hometown boy, film critic Roger Ebert. We recommend it, both to those who admire Ebert's work and those who don't all that much; this is no whitewash job, but a ... well, here's the blurb I wrote for the back cover:

Todd Rendleman's book on Roger Ebert is a remarkable achievement—biography, cultural history, astute appreciation and analysis of the critic's methods and values, and on top of all that, a lovely read. Occasionally the author's tracking of an Ebert review takes on the narrative excitement and impulsion of close-reading a movie. Rendleman's point-by-point comparisons of Ebert's critical persona and tone of mind with those of two other major voices, Pauline Kael and John Simon, yield fascinating working portraits of the strengths and limitations of all three. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the book is its gentle assertion of a uniquely Illinoisan perspective on life and art, enhanced by the author's uninsistent marking of key moments in his own personal and cinematic itinerary as they sometimes parallel, sometimes intersect with Ebert's. It's a journey delightful to join. —Richard T. Jameson

The publisher's website is http://www.continuumbooks.com/books/detail.aspx?BookId=166384&SubjectId=952&Subject2Id=1625; you can order it from there, or at a reduced price from http://www.amazon.com/Rule-Thumb-Ebert-at-Movies/dp/1441192212/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334443313&sr=1-7. Or for the good of your soul and local film culture, visit that noble U District institution Cinema Books,4753 Roosevelt Way N.E. (206 547-7667).

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