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For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism

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For the Love of MoviesProof that film critics ought refrain from dabbling in film-making. Gerald Peary does engage with some subjects of historical interest, with current debates and anxieties. The propositional content is all well and good, pitched at just the right level for a novice critic or a student of film, but too elementary for an audience largely composed of professionals, and students of criticism. Since I fall into the former category, there were some nuggets of interest and names to pursue. And a comforting sense that I knew most of it anyway. So what is there to it, apart from a reading list?

This is a terrible documentary. It presents a series of interview questions, as put to the contributing critics. In text, on screen. In an ugly font. With nauseatingly hammy light jazz, or (bizarrely) hackneyed 80s retro-futurist beats. Don’t get me started on the narrators, whose mispronunciations and patronisingly spacious delivery set skin crawling. The film plays like a low-budget straight-to-streaming polemic. But beyond stylistic considerations, there is a real laziness to the structure of the material that betrays a lack of time and imagination. Which is absurd given the intelligence behind its line of questioning and the calibre of its subjects: a wasted opportunity, really.


For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism, Dir. & Writ. Gerald Peary, AG Films, USA, 2009


Written by James P. Campbell

23/06/2009 at 17:10

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