‘That Movie Book’ by Marc Fennell Review


I’m a movie geek. Have been for years. Over those years I’ve bought multiple books about movies and, being a geek, many of these books come in some form of list format. I don’t read these books per se, I just open them to random pages and read the sections that catch my eye. What I never do is sit down and read every entry cover to cover.

Until now.

There’s a few reasons why Fennell’s book is more engaging than the range of movie books and lists on the market. Firstly, it is genuinely funny to read – the type of funny where you read passages out to your ever patient loved ones. Secondly it’s packed with good suggestions. Many of these books are simply ‘best of’ lists focusing on different genres or whatnot whilst this book throws out a larger net. Thirdly – and most importantly – Fennell is a passionate geek. He loves the movies he discusses and wants to share them with you. Every movie in the book is discussed with the passion of a cinephile not a dull academic looking to see his name in print.

This guys a geek? I don't buy it...

The concept of this book addresses a problem that every person who loves movies has faced. You’re in the local video library and you have absolutely no idea what to rent. You know that somewhere, buried deep in your subconscious (or written on a scrap of paper being used as a coaster), is a list of movies you want to watch but right now they have escaped from your brain and fled. You end up grabbing something with Nic Cage from the Thriller section and forget to watch it. Hell, sometimes I get that lost feeling picking out something from my own collection. That Movie Book solves that problem. Every chapter is based on a theme, sub-genre, trend, director or actor with a weekends worth of titles to watch. Find a chapter that suits your mood – whether it be evil movie schools, walking and talking with Aaron Sorkin, suburban shame or time-travel – and head to the movie store with your new ‘to-watch’ list. I’m taking the whole book with me from now on.

For those who don’t live in Australia, Marc Fennell is a local film critic who’s made his mark on Triple J radio and television’s Hungry Beast, and his radio reviews (and his film school segment I WANT BACK because it helps me teach my movie classes) are insightful and funny. His style translates nicely to the written word as it maintains his conversational tone with comments about WALL-E making you want to hug a rubbish bin. Of course this means that I read the entire book with his voice in my head, but I can deal with that.

Non-Australian residents may be a bit thrown by the culturally specific references to things like Mr. Squiggle (be thankful for avoiding that nightmare) but they should find a copy anyway (like here) and read it, compile a list and start watching.

In summary – he loves movies, we love movies. Buy it. Hopefully we’ll get a sequel in the near future!

Side note – I really, really hope the book on grammar that Schuftan bought Fennell was ‘Eat, Shoots and Leaves’.