Book Review – The Movie Doctors

the-movie-doctors-bookThis is the first book these authors have done as a collaboration, but they are well-known for their film review show on 5-Live. And they are both “doctors,” Kermode having earned his the old-fashioned way, while Mayo’s is an honorary doctorate.

It’s basically a guide where they talk about films as a cure for your ills, and also try to diagnose the many sicknesses plaguing the film world. For example, the film they pick for insomnia is The Piano, which both admit to falling asleep during. Throughout the book they tout film cures for various problems. It’s a fun, easy read, like most of Kermode’s books. The collaboration works well, although Kermode says: “The short way of dividing it is that anything that’s nice and funny and genial and friendly and all the rest of it is him. Anything that’s grindy and miserably and whingy and probably quite dull is me.”

One chapter covers films that are uppers (Sullivans Travels and Groundhog Day, for example) and downers (The Mist). More sections cover films to address phobias, and so on.

Can over-praise be damaging is another “medical” question asked, using examples like Michael Cimino and Heaven’s Gate (I’m certainly in the camp that thinks Heaven’s Gate is masterpiece, which Kermode would disagree with.) The section on how Mayo has never seen The Exorcist is also quite amusing which Of course, Kermode believes to be the greatest film ever made but he is wrong because Brazil is which is also featured in the book as well. Kermode is a serious fan of horror films, having written and broadcasted on that topic extensively and his doctorate is even in Horror fiction. So there’s an obligatory bit on whether sick films can make you sick (which is obviously not the case), in which he discusses films like Caligula and The Evil Dead.

One of the best bits is called “Prescription Medication,” which about films that are great to watch when you’re sick in bed, ranging from Lord of the Rings (for reasons of length, of course) to The Road (after which you won’t be feeling so sick). The authors have gone on a nationwide speaking tour to back up the book release.

The book is obviously aimed at people who are fans of the show, but it’s also not a bad film guide—the choices and analyses are pretty good. And there is a lot of truth in the idea that films can have healing power (it’s even been the subject of research.) To sum up, the book is an easy, fun read yet informative, and a written version of bickering-like-a-married-couple humour that you can get from their show every Friday afternoon. Definitely a good choice for the film buffs on your Christmas list.

Ian Schultz

Canongate Books | English | ISBN-10: 1782116621 | ISBN-13: 978-1782116622 | Buy:The Movie Doctors

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About Ian Schultz

I'm the guy who normally covers stuff released by Masters of Cinema and Arrow Video along with a sprinkling of other stuff. I love a wide range of films from European art house films to silly action films. My top 10 films are Brazil, Blue Velvet, Donnie Darko, Fight Club, Jackie Brown, Seconds, Pan's Labyrinth, Badlands, Blade Runner, The Night of the Hunter.

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