FILMS AND FRIENDS: Starting and Maintaining a Movie Group

Maryanne Vandervelde, Author . St. Martin's/Dunne $12.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-312-32079-9

The rich past of film clubs is evident in the famed film societies of William K. Everson and Rudolf Arnheim, countless college 16mm series, cineastes with their own basement movie theaters and such secret cinemas as Joe's Place, once at a hidden 42nd Street location. Unaware of this history, psychotherapist and human resources executive Vandervelde (The Changing Life of the Corporate Wife ; Retirement for Two ; etc.) claims knowledge of only 12 other film groups (including eight she helped start). In 1996, Vandervelde and her friends formed a movie discussion group patterned after a book club, and she offers tips and guidelines on how to run a similar club, with much emphasis on group dynamics and social interactions triggered by discussions: "Our members believe that the interpersonal aspects of a movie group are just as important as the film focus," she writes. She regales readers with tales of her group of 12 to 14; at first they gathered monthly at a theater on a Saturday, saw a film and then went to the host's house for an open discussion. Members brought food, and rotating hosts chose movies and provided coffee and dessert. After a few months, however, the group found no reason to attend the film together, so now everyone sees it at their leisure and then assembles for the discussion. Vandervelde spends about a third of the book on her club's brief, one-dimensional summaries of the 58 movies they saw in seven years. Despite the obvious—if solid—suggestions and film-related cartoons from the New Yorker 's Cartoonbank.com, this is a fairly uninspired guide. Agent, Ellen Geiger. (Jan. 21)

Reviewed on: 10/27/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
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