It might seem a little 'meta' to review a live book tour about a book that critiques the process of film criticism, but I would feel bad If I were not to legitimise the enjoyment I had of the evening by committing a few words to (digital) paper.
For those who do not know Mark Kermode, he is the recently promoted chief film critic of The Observer, as well as being the important half (sorry Simon!) of the Kermode & Mayo Radio 5 Film Review Show.
I love Mr. Kermode for many reasons:
- He lives in Brockenhurst (where I grew up)
- He has an unashamed love for films that are not aimed at his demographic (Twilight, to pick an obvious example...but there are plenty others)
- He loves horror
- He's in a skiffle band and he loves Larmer Tree Festival
I could go on but won't. He is also very good at discussing films.
I must admit at this point that I haven't actually read his latest book yet (I think Santa might deliver it...) But I did read It's Only A Movie, a cinematic autobiography, and The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex, an analysis of the economic and semiotic problems with blockbusters and digital cinemas. Both were very funny, but also wonderfully celebratory of the magic of cinema - allowing the same passionate geekism towards Werner Herzog instead of Zak Snyder, Chris Nolan and other comic book films that have captured modern geek culture.
Mark spent the evening reminiscing about pithy bad reviews ("Hatchet Jobs") from critics past, as well as expanding on the central idea revolving about the powerful viral appeal of negativity as opposed to thoughtful reflection on good cinema. He managed to walk the line between cinematic stand-up and cultural theorist, without committing to either position. It was easy to see why he has such a strong following - he makes you feel like he is chatting to you one-to-one, and he loves a good in-joke.
He also had some excellent answers in the Q&A. I asked him about how to gain more invites to press screenings and he immediately launched into an interesting reflection on how times have changed for film critics... And when he finished he asked me if it had been helpful. Lovely bloke.
His book Hatchet Job is available now and would make a very good christmas present