As far as I’m concerned, hipping adventurous film goers to undiscovered gems is the most admirable thing a movie writer can do. Robert K. Elder takes an interesting tack in his new book The Best Film You’ve Never Seen by letting filmmakers chuck in their two cents. Their choices are as diverse as the directors Elder chose to interview. Kevin Smith, that maker of talky low-fi character comedies, discusses Fred Zinnemann’s historical epic A Man for All Seasons. John Waters gabs about Tennessee Williams while explaining why he digs Boom!, Joseph Losey’s critically and commercially disastrous adaptation of The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore. Contemporary cult director Edgar Wright makes his case for the B-crime picture Super Cops. These were among my favorite entries in the book, not because of my feelings about these particular films—I actually haven’t seen any of them—but because these are some of the more articulate, well-informed, and fan-boy enthusiastic contributors. A few of my own favorite underappreciated and/or wrongly derided movies are discussed on these pages, but I’m not sure if Jay Duplass deepened my appreciation of Joe Versus the Volcano much and I’m sure that John Dahl was off base by instructing viewers to fast forward through the first twenty minutes of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Even when I felt that the interview subjects weren’t pulling their weight, Elder had so clearly done his homework on each film before conducting his interviews that he never failed to salvage each discussion with his own insights and trivial tidbits, making The Best Films You’ve Never Seen a consistently worthwhile read.
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