32 Before 32 ~ Hatchet Job by Mark Kermode

 

It’s been over three weeks since I read Hatchet Job, and I have somehow completely neglected to write a post about it. As I’m writing a post for each and every book I read as part of my non-fiction goal, I have to do it, but as it’s been so long, please forgive how vague it may turn out to be!

Hatchet Job was the final Mark Kermode book that I had to read. I am obsessive about reading everything by someone I love, but I can’t read what he has written on The Exorcist, because I am yet to see the film. I have enjoyed everything of his that I have read thus far – I understand that he has a particular way of writing that mirrors his way of broadcasting; he tends not to stick to the point and rambles off on a tangent at every given opportunity. But that’s one of the reasons that I love him, so there’s no way that would put me off.

His previous books, It’s Only a Movie and The Good, The Bad and the Multiplex have been about his own movie-watching life and all that’s wrong with modern cinema, respectively. This one tackles movie reviewing, and the place that film journalists have in an internet age, where everyone (myself included, up to a point) can be a movie reviewer. Although, of course, being Mark Kermode, he digresses all the time, so much of the book is made up of stories and anecdotes that, if you consider yourself a Wittertainee, you’ve probably heard before.

One of the things that I hear and read about Mark Kermode most is that people don’t always agree with what he has to say, but they respect him nonetheless. Sometimes I find myself saying something about a particular film, and I think “That’s not my opinion, that’s what Mark says.” It’s almost completely unintentional; he’s just so passionate about what he thinks that it seeps into your brain and you regurgitate it without really knowing. Then there are the times when I hear him espouse a particular opinion and I think “No. You’re wrong.” One of his favourite sayings is “Other opinions are available” and he doesn’t even always follow that with “Even if they are wrong.”

Perhaps the most irritating thing about the book is how often he slips in a self-deprecating comment, but I understand it’s a difficult position to straddle. To even suggest that you agree with the general consensus (in my head anyway) that he’s one of the best and most respected critics in the country comes across as arrogant, yet to constantly suggest that you don’t think you’re worth anything compared to other critics seems to suggest a faux modesty. Maybe just a little less self-deprecation would have satisfied me.

Seven down, three to go on number two of 32 Before 32 – read ten non-fiction books.

 

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