Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Review: 'Not to be Missed' by Kenneth Turan

Kenneth Turan's love for cinema is on exquisite display in "Not to Be Missed: Fifty-Four Favorites from a Lifetime of Film." Turan, a film critic for the Los Angeles Times, has sifted through movies released during the twentieth century to come up with what he admits is an idiosyncratic list. Turan writes an essay about each selection in which he points out what makes this particular work worth seeing again and again. He says that he gives high marks to movies that "take me out of this world and return me to it not only entertained, but if I am fortunate, with my emotions and my understanding enlarged."

Inevitably, readers will not agree with all of his choices. For example: Why do so few comedies and musicals make the cut? Why does Turan choose a scant two movies from the seventies? Do the foreign films, documentaries, gangster movies, and westerns that are included deserve such elevated status? The author undoubtedly knows that some of his picks may not be the average moviegoer's cup of tea. Nonetheless, he remains true to himself, making his case based on years of sitting through countless screenings, interviewing people in the film business, and writing reviews.

Turan's writing is a thing of beauty; he expresses his thoughts articulately, entertainingly, and intelligently. Without spoiling the chosen films for us by revealing too much of their plots, he briefly discusses essentials points concerning each movie's direction, script, performances, cinematography, and other elements that contribute to its excellence. He also provides informative tidbits gleaned from a variety of sources that add an extra dimension to each essay. Throughout, Turan maintains his enthusiasm, an insider's savvy, and a passion for what makes film such a special medium.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right

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