Oct 7, 2015

Book Review--Keepers: The Greatest Films--and Personal Favorites--of a Moviegoing Lifetime

Keepers: The Greatest Films--and Personal Favorites--of a Moviegoing Lifetime
Richard Schickel
2015, Alfred A. Knopf

I hadn't intended on reviewing Richard Schickel's recent book, in which he reminisces about favorite movies he's seen over the years. However, by the time I'd read a few chapters, I knew I had to write about it. It's such a marvelous love letter to cinema, sharp-eyed, intelligent and not overly sentimental.

Longtime Time magazine film critic and documentarian Schickel shares a bit about his professional life, and the filmmakers he has met throughout his career, but for the most part he simply writes about the movies that have meant the most to him. His true love is popular cinema, but he appreciates and adores a wide range of genres and cultures when it comes to film. From mainstream Hollywood to Europe and Asia, he simply adores movies. His love of his profession is palpable.

Schickel knows a lot about film, as he should after writing about them for decades. Still, though he has strong opinions about what he has seen, he has a beautifully humble way of sharing his views. He doesn't always go with popular opinion. In fact, he often goes against it, but it's never just to be contrary. This critic hasn't just seen a lot of films, he's thought a lot about why he loves what he loves, and what has gone wrong with the flicks that don't impress him.

It's this dedication to going beyond basic critical opinion to determine his deep feelings about movies that makes Schickel's book such an enjoyable read. You've got to be original if you're going to write about Casablanca (1942) or the films of Alfred Hitchcock. As much as we've heard about titles like these, he makes fresh observations that help you to see them anew.

Though it falls short of 300 pages, I found myself taking a long time to read this book. Schickel has so much to say and I didn't want to miss a point. Even when I didn't agree with him, which was often, I applauded the way he expressed himself.

A great read for anyone in love with the movies.

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