Since the start of the year, I’ve mentioned Mark Kermode a lot on this here blog. I know I’m a little late to the party in terms of becoming a fan of both him, and his and Simon Mayo’s 5 Live film show, but frankly, I’m enamoured. I really think he’s my favourite film critic; our opinions seem to line up fairly frequently, and though I don’t always agree with him, I do enjoy hearing what he thinks about films.
When I realised that he had written a number of books, I knew that I had to read them. I already finished his book on The Shawshank Redemption last month, and last weekend I read It’s Only a Movie. I didn’t really know what to expect; I knew it wasn’t an autobiography as such, more an account of his life as a movie critic, and how he got to be where he is today.
Mark Kermode is the sort of person who has a thousand anecdotes that he likes to tell on multiple occasions, so because I am going back through the Wittertainment archive and listening to old podcasts, I have heard some of his stories before. The time when he was with Werner Herzog when the German director was shot, for example, is a fantastic story that I’ve heard mentioned at least twice. But there is plenty in there that I didn’t know about; Helen Mirren taking him to task at the Baftas made me laugh out loud, and his first foray in radio broadcasting was also worth a giggle.
My favourite chapter was the one where he described his working relationship with Simon Mayo, simply because I’m such a big fan of their radio show. It was really sweet to hear Kermode worrying that their partnership would be coming to an end if the show was to move to Manchester, and his relief when he realised that Simon Mayo’s future plans might just include him was just lovely.
I’ve given this book a four-star rating on Goodreads, because I really did enjoy it so much (even if I did think the chapter on his adventures in Russia and Belarus was slightly on the long side). But I honestly don’t know if anyone who isn’t a huge Kermode fan would enjoy it as much as I did. There’s not much here on his life outside of his love for cinema, which some people might have preferred. But I’m happy to read about how he came to love films, and how much he clearly loves Simon Mayo. It makes me happy to think that, for all the bickering, they love each other really.
Four down, six to go on number two of 32 Before 32 – read ten non-fiction books.