Book Review: Dear Movies

Book Cover - Dear MoviesIn Dear Movies, Fr Peter Malone writes letters to 102 movies, starting with his introduction to the cinema: Anna Karenina in 1948. The letter device works well, each one approximately 1,000 words. This is an interesting work coming from a movie reviewer who has seen over 6,000 movies and written reviews and books about movies.


Dear Movies starts twenty years earlier than his first film review, with his introduction to the cinema: Anna Karenina in 1948. What follows is not only a letter to 102 films, but the whole volume is a love-letter to the cinema as a window on the world.

The letter device works well, each one approximately 1,000 words. It is not a book recommending films that Christians should watch. There are some titles here that some people would baulk at: Bad Lieutenant; Salo; Django Unchained; Life of Brian; Godfather; and The Devils; while there other films we might expect a priest reviewer to include: Jesus; The Nun’s Story; The Mission; Of Gods and Men; Babette’s Feast; Bruce Almighty; Jesus of Montreal; Priest; Calvary; and Sister Act. The rest of the films are as individual and idiosyncratic as any personal selection is going to be. The choice has been made because of what they have evoked in Peter, meant to him at the time, or how they charted a shift in his take on the world.

I have seen 55 of the films Peter presents in Dear Movies. While he often fills in enough of the details of the films I had not seen for me to enjoy his engagement with them, I wonder if a very short synopsis of each film would have enhanced the work even more. Even so, the capsules are easy to read, insightful and engaging. Appropriate for the device, the tone is conversational. I read the work from cover to cover, but it is also a book one can dip into and out of or one could refer to it time and again.

On a deeper level this work establishes a dialogue between faith and culture in an increasingly secular world. Dear Movies is a bridge between implicit and profound faith, and the work of visual artists over the last 72 years.

Dear Movies is available from Coventry Press.

 

Fr Peter Malone MSC

 

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