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Film criticism and Mark Kermode

In France film reviewing is taken very seriously.

The film review magazine Cahiers du Cinema – literally translated as “Exercise books of Cinema” – spawned a fine generation of Auteurs like Jean Luc Goddard, Francois Truffaut and Alain Resnais.

In the UK film reviewing can be done by celebrities like Jonathan Ross or self-styled wits like Deborah Ross. The mechanics of film making from financing to editing are rarely considered.

One English reviewer who is popular is Mark Kermode.

I find him smug, over opinionated and vain.

However a knowledgeable friend of mine advised me strongly to have a look at a series he is doing on film genres.

I watched the Heist movie version.

Kermode pulled it apart to its various segments – the planning, the protagonists, the execution, the disintegration of the gang – through a review from the early 50s classic The Asphalt Jungle to the present day.

My personal favourite is Le Rififi, the Jules Dassin classic, with its famous 28 minute sequence of the heist itself with no word spoken but just the odd sound.

I found the modern heists too violent.

Another interesting element of the heist its crossover to comedy.

The Ealing Comedies include within their canon The Lavender Hill Mob and League of Gentlemen but perhaps the one that has lasted the best is The Italian Job which glorifies England just after we won the World Cup in 1966 with a sparkling cast of Michael Caine, Noel Coward and Benny Hill.

Here is a link to Mark Kermode’s programme – The Heist

The paradox of such films is we want the villain to triumph, as in Dog Day Afternoon with Al Pacino playing a hapless bank robber, but in the old days there was the Hays Code that crime must not pay.

About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts

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