Book Review: The Best Film You’ve Never Seen: 35 Directors Champion the Forgotten or Critically Savaged Movies They Love
Reviewed by Karen Mitchell
Did you know that Guillermo Del Toro’s grandmother performed two exorcisms on him because of his love for scary stories? Discussing films that range from guilty pleasures to outright flops, The Best Film You’ve Never Seen is a collection of interviews with 35 top filmmakers. Del Toro, Danny Boyle, Edgar Wright, John Waters and 31 other directors talk to author Robert Elder about their favorite films that have been overlooked, criticized, or just plain forgotten by viewers and critics alike.
What I thought was most interesting about the book wasn’t necessarily the information about the chosen movies, but the thought processes and insight into the directors themselves that we learn reading their interviews. Anyone who reads this book will learn as much about the filmmaker as the films they have directed or their favorite overlooked film. That being said, after reading the book, I now have a new list of movies to watch with perhaps a more appreciative eye for the movies as a whole and what went into making them, and not just the story the movie is telling.
One of the discussions Elder had with Del Toro was regarding the question of why we like scary movies, why we seek out things that scare us? He opined that unlike other mammals, we do not experience fight-or-flight and territorial battles, so we do it through movies. The movie he chose was Arcane Sorcerer, which he found a DVD copy of online. It is very interesting to read his praises for this movie based upon his profession as a filmmaker. I chose this book to mention because although this type of movie is definitely not my cup of tea, seeing the art of it through Del Toro’s eyes makes me want to see it. His comments regarding the crafting of the movie; the art direction, staging, design, etc., definitely gives one a new appreciation or greater appreciation for the craft of film making.
The book took eight years for Elder to write, and the research, time, and attention to detail he put into it shows he made very good use of those eight years. His knowledge of filmmakers and the movies being discussed is detailed, and the book is well-written.
With reviews of movies ranging from Killer Klowns from Outer Space to the Oscar-winner Breaking Away, I guarantee you will add some movies to your must-see movie list, and at the same time learn about what 35 incredibly talented filmmakers look for in a movie, what influences them, and what movies have greatly influenced their own productions. You might start out like I did, skipping around and reading about movies you’ve heard of or your favorite directors, but you will more than likely end up reading all 35 interviews. Whether you are really into movies or a casual film watcher, this book is for you. Oh, and Mr. Del Toro’s two exorcisms? Well, he says they definitely didn’t take!
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