Book Review: The Best Film You'Ve Never Seen by Robert K. Elder
Our very own Paul Shirey runs a fantastic column here at JoBlo.com called The Best Movie You Never Saw that examines films both old and new that deserve to be watched by a wider audience. As I read each new column, the question popped into my head as to what movies famous filmmakers would want fans to see. What movies do directors think warrant viewings from those who otherwise probably wouldn't ever consider watching. That is where Robert K. Elder's new book The Best Film You've Never Seen comes in.
Elder's book is a collection of interviews with 35 directors including Guillermo Del Toro, Kevin Smith, Bill Condon, John Woo, Danny Boyle, Rian Johnson, Edgar Wright, and many more who each share a movie that they want you to see and explain why. The results are short 3-5 page chapters that act as some of the best recommendations you will get. As I read through the book, I found that there were countless titles that I have seen before and others that I had never heard of. All of it makes for an enjoyable reading experience and also a vital insight into these different filmmakers.
Guillermo Del Toro's recommendation is the film ARCANE SORCERER. This 1996 Italian horror film is almost impossible to find outside of used PAL copies on Amazon but reading Del Toro's vivid description of the film made me want to see it. Similarly, 21 JUMP STREET director Phil Lord recommends a comedy titled THE BEAVER TRILOGY that stars Crispin Glover and Sean Penn. A cult film, I had never heard of it and yet it sounds intriguing to me. This book is full of these kinds of recommendations.
On the other hand, there are several choices by filmmakers collected here that seem less than obscure and yet still strangely compelling coming from who chose them. Kevin Smith is known for his comedies like CLERKS, DOGMA, and MALLRATS, but here he recommends the 1966 British period drama A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. To say this is a surprise would be an understatement. When you read why Smith recommends the movie you gain a new insight into Kevin Smtih as a man and a filmmaker that may have changed my view on him a bit.
I enjoyed this book so much, I won't tell you which filmmakers want you to see KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, JOE VERSUS THE VOLCANO, or BREAKING AWAY. I will just say that while there are countless books like this out there, like one by Leonard Maltin, Robert Elder's is a magnificent compilation of 35 unique directors who have given me a new checklist of films to watch.