Have You Seen...?: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films...

David Thomson

Have You Seen...?: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films...

Thomson set himself the near-foolhardy task of writing one page each on 1000 of the films that he has particularly liked - or in some cases, abhorred. Some half-million words of funny, vigorous, wayward prose later, we are all the happy beneficiaries of his deranged labour. Always unexpected, never repetitive, "Have You Seen...?" can be read consecutively - from "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" to "Zabriskie Point" - or dipped into over many years, and it is a masterclass in how to write about films and how to love them. Sometimes Thomson will be interested in the director, sometimes in the culture that made such a film possible at such a time, sometimes in the stars (always in the stars, to be honest), and sometimes even in the outrageous cynicism and corruption of most financial backers."Have You Seen...?" is crammed with great love stories, westerns, musicals, war stories, comedies, and dramas. It is as in awe of film noir as of silent farce, and adores Hollywood but also favours British, Japanese and European cinema: camp disasters, kitsch and pretention hold no fears. 4.3 out of 5 based on 8 reviews
Have You Seen...?: A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films...

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Music, Stage & Screen, Reference
Format Paperback
Pages 1024
RRP £22.00
Date of Publication September 2008
ISBN 978-1846141768
Publisher Allen Lane
 

Thomson set himself the near-foolhardy task of writing one page each on 1000 of the films that he has particularly liked - or in some cases, abhorred. Some half-million words of funny, vigorous, wayward prose later, we are all the happy beneficiaries of his deranged labour. Always unexpected, never repetitive, "Have You Seen...?" can be read consecutively - from "Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein" to "Zabriskie Point" - or dipped into over many years, and it is a masterclass in how to write about films and how to love them. Sometimes Thomson will be interested in the director, sometimes in the culture that made such a film possible at such a time, sometimes in the stars (always in the stars, to be honest), and sometimes even in the outrageous cynicism and corruption of most financial backers."Have You Seen...?" is crammed with great love stories, westerns, musicals, war stories, comedies, and dramas. It is as in awe of film noir as of silent farce, and adores Hollywood but also favours British, Japanese and European cinema: camp disasters, kitsch and pretention hold no fears.

Reviews

The Financial Times

Nigel Andrews

This book sets the bar. There isn’t a more intelligent, insightful and provocative guide to individual movies in the world.

29/09/2008

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The Guardian

Nicholas Lezard

What Thomson does not know or feel about films is not worth knowing or feeling. His love of the medium is coupled with a passionate intelligence; entirely jargon-free, his prose penetrates to the heart of a movie even when you find yourself disagreeing with him. This is not often. And there are plenty of films here that you will not have seen, and that you will, after reading Thomson, very much want to. This is another job of the critic: to be a culture's guardian. He does it brilliantly.

27/09/2008

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Time Magazine

Gilbert Cruz

Thomson, however, isn't afraid to tear down critical darlings (he hates Stanley Kubrick), isn't afraid of spoilers (there's a strong argument to be made for film criticism that can only be read after having seen the movie, not before), and reveals a cinematic knowledge of frightening depth. This all makes for a bracing, infuriating and ultimately illuminating work.

13/10/2008

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The Independent

John Walsh

How he makes you argue! I may have given the impression of disliking this book. On the contrary: it's hardly been out of my hands for two weeks, and it's a constant source of fascination and pleasure to see what Thomson says about Rear Window or Don't Look Now. It's like having the most film-literate pal you can imagine sitting beside you in a multiplex, showing off his knowledge, provoking you to agreement or (more likely) fury.

03/10/2008

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The Daily Telegraph

Jenny McCartney

You may strongly disagree with [Thompson's] views... but it is impossible not to engage with them, or to have some sneaking regard for the intensity of their expression. Each separate piece offers a multitude of diversions: a choice nugget of old movie gossip, a glittering phrase, a poignant reflection or a rousing opinion... This book will long bear re-reading, teasing readers to see films they have not yet seen, and making them reflect again on those they have.

21/10/2008

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The Sunday Times

Russel davies

You have to like a writer quite a lot to live with him this intensely, and fortunately there is a lot to like about Thomson. He is liberal and anti-obscure and, in spite of occasional trouncings (“Everything involving Senta Berger should have been cut”), rather kindly. Without making a point of it, he gives a nice sense of the other 20th-century arts growing up alongside the cinema — jazz in particular.

28/09/2008

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Time Out

David Fear (New York)

Thankfully, Thomson isn’t trying to be canonical here, which allows him to venture freely; he’s just as likely to discuss a Tom and Jerry cartoon as he is to delve into the backstories of the usual suspects (and The Usual Suspects). Plenty of established greats get the Thomson treatment for better or worse—he’s still genetically unable to compliment John Ford—but it’s often in the “lesser” films that his poetic sensibility blooms.

15/04/2009

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The Observer

Geoff Dyer

The result is thicker than a brick, so although we have to quibble about exclusions (where oh where is Where Eagles Dare?), there's plenty to infuriate and delight.

21/09/2008

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