“I don’t know how long the new Ben-and-Ben version of At The Movies will last,” eFilmCritic’s Eric Childress wrote three days ago. “Maybe it’s still a work-in-progress that will get smoother each week, but I highly doubt it. Missing Roger and Gene and even what Roeper and Phillips and guest hosts like A.O. Scott brought to the table is only part of it. A large part, but still only part. Those shows, even up to the very end of their run, provoked discussion, encouraged banter and unforced witticism.
“Are we really going to count on Ben & Ben to introduce us to the next One False Move or Hoop Dreams? Are we ever going to see such passion and excitement again on classics like GoodFellas, Schindler’s List and Fargo? How about the serious and challenging disagreements offered on Blue Velvet, Barfly or The Silence of the Lambs? Reevaluations of director’s cuts like The Abyss and Blade Runner?
“If Gene Siskel could guarantee he wouldn’t see better films than Crumb and Fargo so early in the year, then I feel safe in guaranteeing that not one conversation between the Bens will be as interesting as Siskel & Ebert off camera — a variation if you will on Gene’s ‘Is the movie that I am watching as interesting as a documentary of the same actors having lunch together?'”