Talking Pictures: How to Watch Movies

Ann Hornaday. Basic, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-465-09423-3
Washington Post film critic Hornaday’s new book gives the reader tools for watching films more intentionally and with more discerning taste. Breaking down a film into separate components—screenplay, acting, production design, cinematography, editing, sound and music, and direction—she emphasizes the importance of taking a critical perspective. In each section she poses several key questions for readers to ask themselves: in the screenplay section, “Did the story ‘want’ to be a movie?”, and under production design, “Are the colors helping to tell the story, or are they providing quote marks around emotions and information that are already perfectly clear?” For direction, “Whose eyes did we see the world through?” Together these highlight both the project’s value and its chief flaw: systematically evaluating films requires a toolset like the one Hornaday provides, but also a level of active engagement many viewers are not accustomed to. Further emphasis could have been placed on this challenge, though Hornaday does state, “The days of passive viewing are over.” Her philosophy is that nothing happens in filmmaking by accident, and so “the least the rest of us can do is notice.” Agent: Rafe Sagalyn, ICM/Sagalyn. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2017
Release date: 06/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-465-09424-0
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