Steve James‘ Life Itself, a doc about the late Roger Ebert, “could have settled for well-meaning hagiography or a feature-length pitch for sainthood. Many of Ebert’s far-flung fans and admirers…may have preferred it that way. It’s a relief to report Life Itself is better than that. It’s a clear-eyed portrait of a complicated, Falstaffian figure. The film is a little soft, and tactful to a fault. Yet it’s a work of taste and generosity, in keeping with its subject, and James ensures that it avoids the hometown-hero “attaboy!” attitude some feared might come of such a project. [At the end of the day this] is a big-hearted, absorbing documentary about a writer who kept on writing until very near the end. Anyone who cared about Ebert will find it necessary viewing.” — from a 1.23.14 review by the Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips.