The First Movie

Tuesday 13 December 2011, 10:10

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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People are always asking me for ideas of what to give a cinema lover for Christmas. Normally it's a difficult question to this answer but this year I have a really good suggestion...

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    Comment number 1.

    It sounds like a great little film, but am I the only person who can't pinpoint the moment I fell in love with cinema?

    Everybody always talks about one movie or one moment that made them realise how much they loved film, and I always feel slightly left out because I don't have one. For me it was just a gradual thing.

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    Comment number 2.

    I'll be sure to check First Movie out, if no-one follows your recommendation and buys it me for Christmas.

    I wondered, Dr K, what you made of Mark Cousin's History of Cinema? Or did you avoid it because it was on TV?

    I have to confess I found it fascinating to start with - I am a sucker for early movies and there was a lot about early world cinema that I was entirely unaware of and that might inspire me to hunt down more old films - but, increasingly, I found it less interesting as the series progressed. There seemed to less useful analysis, more interviews with directors and actors who (whilst they might make great films) were pretty dull interviewees and a tendency to hold up portentous art-house films and ignore mainstream cinema, even if innovative. Any thoughts?

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    Comment number 3.

    You could do worse, I know people who still confuse you with Lamarr.

    I saw Mark Cousins introduce and Q&A this at our local Picturehouse. The screening I went to in the day time was meant for a school group, but hadn't been advertised as such, so I was almost the only adult there. One of the other adults runs a program to get kids in the UK to make their own films in school. This made his Q&A even more apt.

    The film is great, and his work here is spot on. It is achievement particularly because of the conditions and logistical nightmares he had doing the project in Iraq.

    On other occasions I've found Cousins to be between precious and annoying, although I respect his opinions and depth of knowledge. I was so taken with the film I didn't ask Cousins whether he was responsible for the review in Time Out that led me to Jan Švankmajer's Faust, the most tediously repetitive slice of avant garde surrealism anyone has ever had to suffer through.

    I'm hoping the DVD has more of the stuff shot by the kids. Both Cousins film, and those of his brat pack within the film, are gentle lyrical and poetic. Perhaps I prefer his film-making to his criticism.

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    Comment number 4.

    I would love to own "The First Movie", but unfortunately it's not available in the U.S. And Mark, your book isn't available in the U.S either, which is really disappointing, it looks like a great read.

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    Comment number 5.

    I was lucky enough to see "The First Movie" at last year's Shetland film festival and for me it was the best film of the festival, which is saying something because Linda and Mark had picked a marvellous programme of films for us. What stood out for me, as well as the images (which are beautiful), is the sound of Mark Cousins voice doing the narration over the documentary. It's like poetry. Never mind buying a copy for a friend as a present: buy yourself a copy - you won't be disappointed.


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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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