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Hatchet Job: Love movies, hate critics


Hatchet Job: Love movies, hate critics

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    Available in PDF Format | Hatchet Job: Love movies, hate critics.pdf | English
    Mark Kermode(Author)

'The finest film critic in Britain at the absolute top of his form' Stephen Fry

For decades, the backbone of film criticism has been the hatchet job - the entertaining trashing of a film by professional reviewers, seen by many as cynical snobs. But with the arrival of the internet, have the critics finally fallen under the axe? With movie posters now just as likely to be adorned by Twitter quotes as fusty reviewer recommendations, has the rise of enthusiastic amateurism sounded the death knell of a profession? Are the democratic opportunities of the internet any more reliable than the old gripes and prejudices of the establishment? Can editing really be done by robots? And what kind of films would we have if we listened to what the audience thinks it wants?

Starting with the celebrated TV fight between film-maker Ken Russell and critic Alexander Walker (the former hit the latter with a rolled-up copy of his Evening Standard review on live television) and ending with his own admission to Steven Spielberg of a major error of judgement, Mark Kermode takes us on a journey across the modern cinematic landscape.

Like its predecessor, The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex, Hatchet Job blends historical analysis with trenchant opinion, bitter personal prejudices, autobiographical diversions and anecdotes, and laugh-out-loud acerbic humour. It's the perfect book for anyone who's ever expressed an opinion about a movie.

Really loved it (Stephen Fry)A wry, robust and developed defence of accountable critical voices (Total Film)Mark Kermode puts up a spirited argument for honesty, integrity and individuality. An opinionated, funny and meandering study of films and their critical reception, it reminds us of the importance of standing by your view (Daily Mail)Entertainingly incendiary stuff (Empire)Very accessible, entertaining and relevant . . . warmly recommended (Den of Geek)Engaging, informative and funny . . . a thoroughly enjoyable and accessible book . . . buy it now (Vada)Populist, entertaining . . . A very personal examination of the usefulness and value of film criticism . . . Will delight fans of Kermode's previous books, and offers a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain into the life of a professional film critic (Verité)A passionate history of his craft [from] Britain's premier film critic (Sp!ked)Mark Kermode, perhaps the UK's most prominent film critic and certainly one of its most respected, covers all the big issues involved in writing reviews: being honest and only saying things you actually believe, trying to get the facts right, writing well, being entertaining, and, sometimes, changing your mind . . . It's funny, moving and angry (Theaker's Quarterly)Insightful, erudite . . . relaxed and witty (HeyUGuys)Puts a populist, accessible front on concepts that lesser authors turn into psychobabble (Jonathan Clements, MangaUK)Entertaining . . . lively . . . valiant . . . he still reacts to cinema with the open-minded enthusiasm of someone who sees going to the pictures as a treat (New Statesman)Very good (Mark Cousins)His enthusiasm for film and film criticism is infectious (The List)Brilliantly puts the shifting sands of contemporary film criticism under the microscope (Digital Spy)A riveting read . . . essential for anyone who is even remotely interested in movies (I’m With Geek)Annoying, irritating (Will Self Guardian)

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Book details

  • PDF | 310 pages
  • Mark Kermode(Author)
  • Picador; 1st edition (10 Oct. 2013)
  • English
  • 2
  • Society, Politics & Philosophy

Review Text

  • By ukshaun on 27 February 2017

    I stumbled across Hatchet Job in our local Poundland, going for a snip at £1 (obviously) which was a result given the cover price states £16.99 ..and it’s hardcover.I’ve dedicated countless hours to watching films, far less so reading, which explains why it took me from Xmas to the end of February to read the book from cover to cover. All in all, I found the book entertaining, an insight at times into the world of a freelance film critic. The book also deals with issues such as the old days of print vs. the internet and the many online critics. Funny enough, as I read the book, I could picture Kermode’s voice.The following quote made me laugh:‘I once spent a mind-buggering ninety minutes at Southampton Airport Parkway listening to a machine telling an increasingly packed platform just how sorry it was their services had been disrupted.’ - MKI must make an effort to watch Jeremy (1973)I spotted the DVD here on Amazon going for a whopping £29I’ve since located the film on YouTube.

  • By Jim J-R on 5 April 2015

    This is the second of Mark Kermode's books I've read (though I am a regular listener to his podcast), which is unusual for me as I usually try to read them in order (but my copy of 'The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex' is off in a box somewhere so I skipped ahead). The first book was autobiographical, and I understand the second is about the current state of cinema - this time Kermode writes about film criticism itself.While the book gave ample opportunity for some of the author's frequent anecdotage, I found it had to pick out a real theme for the book and to understand what the journey was that it was trying to take me on. There didn't seem to be an overriding message to the manuscript and I found myself several times getting lost and having to back up a few pages to understand what point was trying to be made.Going in, I had expected something a bit more ranty - much of the focus of the comment I heard/read after the book was published was about sockpuppettery (posting of fake reviews - positive for one's own product or negative for a competitor's), however this was only a small fraction of the book.The book didn't really generate enough of an emotion in me to commit to a final statement - perhaps just that it was a bit bland?

  • By R. Darlington on 23 May 2014

    I really rate Mark Kermode as a professional film critic: I read his reviews in the "Observer" newspaper, I watch his reviews on BBC television, I follow him on Twitter, and I attended an event at his beloved Phoenix cinema in East Finchley where he spoke about this book. The work is not about films or even film criticism as such but essentially about the role of film critic and one in particular. He is absurdly self deprecating about his persona ("I have a stupid name and a stupid haircut") and overly defensive about his profession ("these days professional film critics are viewed as being on a par with child-molesters and pension-fund embezzlers in the popularity stakes").Kermode writes like he speaks - a tendency to long, breathless but perfectly-formed sentences full of wit and eudition, so this is an immensely readable work. The book lacks structure - the chapters could have been in any order - and the text has a habit of meandering (several times, he has to resort to a phrase like "anyway, back to ...") , but eventially we always come back to one central message: even in the age of the online, amateur film critic (like me), there is a role for the professional but all critics should identify themselves, the reviews that readers tend to remember are the bad ones, but in the end reviews make little difference to the box office."Hatchet Job" tells us something about the odd life of professional film critics. Twice a week, every week, they sit in a darkened room and watch movies that have not yet been released. Kermode reckons that he has averaged 10-12 films a week for the past 25 years, but laments "if you happen to see a couple of good films in any given week, you're doing pretty well". Nevertheless he believes that "watching movies for a living is an insanely privileged existence".In the course of the book, we learn some things about Kermode: "As a child, my only real friends were movies", as an adolescent his most memorable films were 'Silent Running' and something called simply 'Jememy', and he is "a former student Trot turned wishy-washy bleeding-heart liberal".Above all, we learn about the movies he loves and loathes respectively. On the affection side, he declares that "I (still) think 'The Exocist' is the greatest movie ever made", he shares the view that 'Casablanca' is "one of the greatest movies ever made", much more controversially he has declared "'The Devils' to be "one of the greatest films ever made", and he admits to being "an unabashed 'Twilight' movie fan". He insists that the assessments of critics and public are not so far apart and I have seen and admired five of his all-time top ten films including such wonderful work as 'Don't Look Now' and 'Pan's Labryinth'.On the hate side, he says that 'Heaven's Gate' was "catastrophic" and 'Eyes Wide Shut' "piss poor", he shares the view that 'The Straight Story' was "'Forrest Gump' on a tractor", he was savage about 'Transformers', 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' and 'Sex And The City', and he calls 'Zardoz' "the worst science-fiction movie ever made" and 'The Heretic' "the worst movie ever made" - both directed by John Boorman which leads him to the view that the auteur theory is "utter hooey".One of the most interesting chapters - which underlines how difficult it is to be right about a movie at first viewing - is the role of focus groups in viewing and commenting upon movies not yet released and possibly not yet finalised. He takes the reader through the evolution of 'Fatal Attraction' which has a very different ending from that intended by the writer or director as a result of audience research. He rightly argues that this kind of approach to film-making would have changed the ending of 'Casablanca' making it an utterly different and inferior film.In a sense, "Hatchet Job" is a cry of existential angst: "Isn't all criticism - good or bad - just white noise; waffle; static hiss; a distraction from the real business of making films?". He admits: "Whereas once I was stupidly certain about my opinions, age has withered that sense of single-mindednes to the point that I no longer trust myself when it comes to judging movies". At one point, he even pleads "What, in brief, is the blood point?"Yet, in the end, Kermode is optimistic about the future of professional film criticism: "Despite the culls sweeping through the profession in the twenty-first century, film criticism simply refuses to lie down and die" and "the web has proved a boon rather than a bugbear - despite my frequent moans to the contrary".

  • By The Happy Space Invader on 10 September 2015

    I like listening to Mark Kermode on the various radio and podcasts shows he appears in; but I also find him rather draining to listen to... he clearly has a lot to say, and often very little time in which to say it.... yet that lack of time doesn't stop him trying. Thus, he tends to speak in very long sentences, without pausing for breath, to prevent Simon Mayo coming in and taking up that valuable time.With a book, time is not an issue... yet Kermode's writing style is very much like his speaking style. You get the feeling there's a ticking clock in the background, and it's rather tiring to read at times. I would have expected a judicious editor to have scaled back the rambling somewhat. Maybe they did, and this is still what remains.Nevertheless, it is an entertaining read... who doesn't like to read about bad movies, elegantly trashed? Who doesn't like to read about snooty directors getting their comeuppance? And above all, Kermode is 100% right about everything he says... well, that's my view. ;-)

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