Friday, October 31, 2014

Roger Ebert's 4 Star Movie Guide and Serendipity

In the late 1980's BASF had a package of videotapes that included a book of movie reviews by RogerEbert. The guide had the same dimensions as a videotape.

What I like about Ebert reviews, actually more than like - but am amazed by, is how in a relatively short review there is meaningful insight. Sometimes the insight is into the movie or an actor but sometimes it is about life, the world, or humanity.

Found books have always interested me. The serendipity of books beguiles me. How many people have been influenced or changed by a found book?

Numerous people bought these tapes wanting the book. But then others were exposed to the book because they just wanted some blank videotapes.

Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, was one of the people that found and was influenced by the book. Excerpt from his article Learning From Ebert - In the nineteen-eighties, when I was in high school, my parents bought a VHS player, and, with it, an Ebert video guide, in which various of his Chicago Sun-Times reviews were collected. Through that book, I found dozens of my favorite films. 

I also think of the book-less homes that ended up with a book because the 4 package set of videotapes was a good deal. I wonder how many kids, teenagers, or adults, who like Alex Ross, found this book and discovered bigger worlds because of what they read. The movies that were seen/rented that never would have been seen had this book not fallen into their lives.

The chaos theory butterfly flapped its wings, a page was turned, and the world ended up a little different because of a book falling into odd corners of America.

I ran into a copy on a thrift store shelf a few years ago. I bought that copy because I remembered seeing the VHS/book set in the video store when video stores were a thing. Thanks to Amazon and the Internet, if you had any interest in getting a copy, one can now be easily found.

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