Friday, June 13, 2008

The Film Club book review

Book review time here at CineRobot. I was intrigued by this film related memoir when I came across it on the new release shelf at a local bookstore. The premise is interesting in multiple ways—father lets 16 year old son Jesse drop out of high school if he agrees to a few conditions: no drugs and watch three films a week together.

As someone who hated school with a passion as a teenager who was obsessed with film related culture—I think this bit of parenting is not only daring, it’s downright genius! Granted, I have no kids so that might skew my opinion. My days in high school were a complete waste of time. I was a voracious reader outside of school and loved learning—just not within the restricting confines that was my small town Oklahoma high school so this kind of strategy might have worked for me.

Gilmour agonizes over his decision as his son seems to drift and drift—is he ruining his son’s future and causing him damage rather than inspiration? Gilmour also writes a lot about other things in his life—his turbulent work situation, his ex-wife, his current wife, his childhood and Jesse’s romantic life. All the subjects merge into one cohesive narrative that Gilmour intersects throughout the book.

Of course, any book called The Film Club is going to have a lot of film talk and that’s a major aspect of the book. Father and son watch all kinds of films—ranging from classics such as Citizen Kane to Basic Instinct. There’s a nice blend of film history (all the biggies are covered from French New Wave to Kurosawa) and immediate reaction from the viewers and it’s interesting to see just what films Jesse responds to and the ones he dislikes.

The Film Club is pretty thin. I read it on an airplane and in an airport very quickly. It’s also got a level of suspense in it regarding what is going to happen to Jesse—is he going to find something to be passionate about or just keep on drifting. While I’m not a big fan of memoirs—this one hooked me in due to Gilmour’s direct, honest, simple writing and the film angle.

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