The film critic Joel Siegel died on Friday. Roger Ebert has a valiant tribute to him, pointing out how Siegel persevered as a critic for ten years despite being diagnosed with colon cancer and that he was a better writer than his television appearances gave him credit for. One of the last times Siegel made it into the headlines was when he walked out of a screening of Clerks II, causing the filmmaker Kevin Smith to don him “a dick with a mustache” and go into over-the-top histrionics on a radio show, cutting Siegel no slack whatsoever. Smith’s most recent entry on his blog has him urging you to see Live Free or Die Hard. But there is no mention of Siegel’s passing.
I always felt Siegel to be far more effusive about mediocre movies than he needed to be. But given the choice between a film critic who maintained his cool when a hypersensitive filmmaker tried to sandbag him on a radio show and that same hypersensitive filmmaker urging his audience to fill up Hollywood’s coffers, I’ll choose the former, if only because Siegel kept mostly silent about his personal hangups and had no personal stake in what he did other than expressing his enthusiasm.
[UPDATE: This afternoon, Smith has updated his blog, where he calls out one “George Prager,” who left multiple comments on this Hollywood Elsewhere thread, and writes the following: “More than that, I don’t know what was expected of me: Joel and I had a blow-up, it went away, a year later, he died. No reason to write a blog about it, really; I tend to eulogize relatives only.”]