I was a fan of Roger Ebert for about 15 years, read a few of his books (including his memoir) and followed his blog, so there isn’t much about him in Life Itself that I didn’t know already, apart from some very touching, candid scenes of him during the last four months of his life. But that’s okay.
Dir. Steve James
(2011, Not Rated, 125 min)
It has long been a cliché that violence is a disease. The Interrupters, by Steve James (Hoop Dreams), uses that as a framework through which to examine the lives of young, mostly black boys and girls in the crime-ridden South Side of Chicago, and it proves to be more apt than just a metaphor or platitude. These children have a lower life expectancy. They expect to die as the result of street violence in a way someone might expect to die of cancer if he has a similar family history. It is passed down from generation to generation, but this is nurture, not nature. You’re trained from the day you’re born, if not by parents then by peers or by tragic experience, to expect violence and to employ it, sometimes preemptively, in your own defense. Pardon me an unlikely quote; in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Eowyn said: “… those who do not live by the sword can still die upon them.” So in a world where an honor student may fall as easily as a gangbanger, it’s understandable to want to make someone else a victim rather than to become one yourself.