Life Itself is Steve James’s 2014 warts-and-all documentary about legendary film critic Roger Ebert. James began the doc before Ebert passed away in 2013 and finished it after his subject’s death. It’s a biography, and contains narration from Ebert’s memoir of the same name, as well as interviews with the critic’s friends (and frenemies) and footage from his life. But the film is much more than an honest take on the life of an important writer: It’s a defense of art and criticism, and the ways they generate empathy and awe.
”Death is a part of life — one that informs everything we do, on some level or another — and watching Ebert characterize whatever time he has left as ‘money in the bank,’ from what viewers know is his deathbed, is life-affirming and heartbreaking in equal measure.” Genevieve Koski, the Dissolve
Release date: July 4, 2014
Streaming on: Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu, Google Play
Metacritic score: 87 out of 100