Ever-indefatigable film critic Roger Ebert has announced he’ll be taking a “leave of presence”—similar to a leave of absence, only just like the last 11 years since first being diagnosed with cancer, Ebert isn’t going anywhere. However, he will be forced to cut back on his workload some, a slowdown sadly necessitated by the return of the disease that’s already cost him his ability to speak. Ebert recently suffered what he initially thought was a “painful fracture” in his hip that’s now been revealed to be cancer, meaning he must undergo radiation treatment that makes it impossible to keep up a pace that saw him review a career high of 306 movies last year.
But with bad news comes some good: Ebert remains committed to keeping busy, devoting himself to the April 9 redesign of RogerEbert.com, devising a Kickstarter campaign to relaunch At The Movies, considering a movie-based video game app that would allow users to “engage me in debate on whether you think it is art,” collaborating on Martin Scorsese's documentary about his life, prepping another edition of Great Movies, and overall, continuing to write, both for the Sun-Times and for himself. “At this point in my life, in addition to writing about movies, I may write about what it's like to cope with health challenges and the limitations they can force upon you,” Ebert says. “On bad days I may write about the vulnerability that accompanies illness. On good days, I may wax ecstatic about a movie so good it transports me beyond illness.”
Another silver lining, Ebert says, is that he’ll “be able at last to do what I've always fantasized about doing: reviewing only the movies I want to review.” So on the upside, no one’s going to force him to watch something like The Host again.