It wasn’t an easy decision. Last year, I read the Song of Fire and Ice series and loved each of the books and it was tempting to pick the entire series as my favourite reads. I also had a bit of a Pratchett re-read in October when I wasn’t very well but picking a re-read felt like a bit of a cheat. After all, I already knew what I was going to get.
In the end, I picked The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex by Mark Kermode because it is not often that I feel somebody has read my mind quite so clearly or quite so often as when I was reading this book.
I was already a big fan of Kermode and he is one of the few film critics that I would take any notice of. Compared to Claudia Winkleman and her ilk, Kermode is a serious reviewer, giving film as a medium, the consideration it deserves. His knowledge of film history is second to none. In short, he knows his stuff.
It isn’t just knowledge that comes across in The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex although there is certainly plenty of it. There is also a clear love of the movies and also a disappointment with the whole modern movie-going experience. This is where the mind reading feeling came in. My husband and I stopped going to multiplexes years ago, preferring the intimate surroundings of the Showroom in Sheffield to the huge and unfriendly Odeon. I don’t know if it is to do with being of a certain generation when going to the cinema meant going to a two screen (or if you were really lucky four screen) building that had probably once been a theatre.
The Odeon in Newcastle had this amazing sweeping staircase that gave you a real sense of occasion when you visited. That is all gone now. There is a similar nostalgia to some of the writing here.
Kermode is at his best when he gets irate And luckily for the reader (although not for what it suggests about the state of the film industry today) that is quite often. Near the beginning of the book, he recounts a visit to the local mulitplex where every step of his journey from trying to book tickets online to seeing the movie shown in the wrong ratio, is a complete nightmare. It is both hilarious and depressing in just about equal measure.
This is an intelligent book about the decline of certain aspects of the film industry. He is not trying to suggest that there are no good modern films. That would be stupid. It is more that this book mourns the passing of certain elements of the film industry and the viewing experience that we are undoubtedly worse off without.