I saw Steve James‘ warm, amusing, candid and sometimes hilarious Life Itself (Magnolia, theatres/VOD/iTunes, 7.4) for the third…well, nearly the third time last night. It holds up. It will always hold up. They say “dying is easy but comedy is hard” but dying is pretty hard stuff. I was admitting to myself as I watched that I might not have the courage to face up to disease and difficulty the way Roger Ebert faced it, particularly when things got really tough during the last year or so of his life. The man was a bull, and I’m not sure I have even half of that strength. I nonetheless smirked, laughed, felt a little sadness, smiled, felt the fervor, etc. Life Itself is a journey through the realm of serious, devotional movie-worship over the last 45 years or so, and it’s quite a thing to let into your heart. A vital, necessary film for the HE crowd.

The invitational screening was held at the Arclight, and the after-party was held in a noisy, over-refrigeratored club just down the street. HE’s own Svetlana Cvetko (Red Army, Inside Job) was my date. James and Chaz Ebert were the hosts, of course. The great Werner Herzog sat behind me. Diablo Cody was there but I didn’t run into her. I spoke briefly with documentary director Ondi Timoner (We Live in Public, currently working on a Russell Brand concert film) and with her editor, whose name will some day be shared. The usual journalistic suspects (Pete Hammond, Jeff Sneider, James Rocchi, Todd McCarthy, Kirk Honeycutt) were standing around and munching mini-hors d’oeuvres.

I can do these parties for about 45 minutes or so but Svetlana and Ondi were into sipping those libations and giggling and closing the place down. This kind of thing is okay as far as it goes but I haven’t gone “wheeee! have another drink!” at a late-night club in over two years, and I sure as shit wasn’t about to do that last night. Later.

Chaz Ebert, Life Itself director Steve James.

Diablo Cody before last night’s screening began around 7:35 pm or so.

Cinematographer Svetlana Cvetko, James, documentary director Ondi Timoner (currently working on a Russell Brand doc about his Messiah Complex tour).
The party had one of those
old-fashioned photo booths upstairs.. Good quality, nice lighting, etc.