An enjoyably deep dive into the interaction between cinema and psyche.


Celebrated movie critic and film studies teacher Thomson (Moments that Made the Movies, 2013, etc.) implores viewers to scrutinize themselves as closely as what’s playing on the silver screen—or YouTube.

Whether reclining in a darkened movie theater or on your couch at home, there’s a lot more happening on our collective screens than the fantastic images might suggest—and it appears as if the author has considered them all, including the screens themselves. Readers will need to possess a storehouse of cinematic knowledge that stretches all the way back to D.W. Griffith and Fritz Lang to fully appreciate the rich and robust dissertation Thomson undertakes with ease. Those lacking that price of admission should probably slip out and at least prime themselves on Citizen Kane, Personaand Psycho to try and catch up. But once they do, they’ll see that Thomson not only closely mines those legendary films, but also the likes of Pretty WomanHeatand The Godfather as well. The author’s encyclopedic knowledge of cinema history makes for some truly fascinating associations—often in the space of a single poetic phrase. Reams have already been written about Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935), but how many other authors or critics could careen so effortlessly between that infamous work of Nazi propaganda and a Gatorade commercial featuring Yankees great Derek Jeter? Or the heretofore-unknown relationship between Persona and recent DirectTV spots starring actor Rob Lowe? In probing these uncanny parallels, along with other cinematic information, including story, editing, and sound, Thomson assuredly seeks to expose the magician’s many secrets—but only so we can all access a better appreciation of the wonder of film. “If you really want to watch a film,” he writes, “you must be ready to recognize your own life slipping away.”

An enjoyably deep dive into the interaction between cinema and psyche.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-101-87539-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?


Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

Did you like this book?