Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


THE BEST FILM YOU'VE NEVER SEEN: 25 Directors Champion the Forgotten or Critically Savaged Movies They Love. Robert K. Elder. Chicago Review Press; 2013.

Recently there have been a whole slew of "concept" books about movies -- say, the worst pictures ever made etc. --  as opposed to serious [or not so serious] film criticism. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Elder's concept isn't a bad one as he asks several directors to talk about a particular film that they love and which either got no attention or got especially negative reviews. [To be clear, they are not talking about their own movies, but someone else's.] Some of the directors picked movies which have actually won Oscars, which makes their choices a little ridiculous. Another problem is that most of the directors are comparatively obscure. The exceptions include Peter Bogdanovich discussing Trouble in Paradise, Arthur Hiller on The Iceman Cometh and a couple of others, but few are heavyweights. There are a couple of films from the golden age, but most are more recent. They include: The Swimmer, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, The Honeymoon Killers, Some Came Running, A Man for All Seasons, 10 Rillington Place, The Chase, Sweet Charity, and Can't Stop the Music, among others. Elder is hampered somewhat by the fact that some of his interviewees are kind of dizzy [for instance, Guy Maddin seems to think The Chase is full of homoerotic material simply because it was based on a novel by possibly closeted writer Cornell Woolrich]! Elder seems to be a good, prepared interviewer.

Verdict: Interesting idea, but not essential. Some interesting interviews mixed with a few that have no value. **1/2.

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