David Thomson’s alternately witty and rambling “Have You Seen…?” A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films is a fantastic primer covering cinema history. From early classics like Jean Renoir’s Rules of the Game and Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush to modern blockbusters like Titanic and The Lord of the Rings, Have You Seen…? devotes a single page to each film.
Thomson’s style is conversational, with each entry mixing facts about the film with reminisces and analysis. For example, Thomson’s spoiler-free discussion of Mick Jagger and Anita Pallenberg’s impossible-to-pigeonhole Performance tantalizes with “It’s a fairy story, poised between the godheads of Aleister Crowley and Jorge Luis Borges,” and “It’s part of the chronic English addiction to noir.” Or the stylistic connection between Jean Renoir and Kenji Mizoguchi in his introduction to Mizoguchi’s Sansho the Bailiff?
Putting the films in alphabetical order as opposed to chronological order highlights neat juxtapositions. For instance, Ed Wood and 8½ share recto and verso space. One is about a director having more enthusiasm and drive than skill, while the other is about a director’s ennui and creative block. Or the freewheeling shaggy-dog comedy Shampoo being a tonal flip from the extraordinarily earnest Shane. Above all, each entry acts as a teaser – a thousand mini trailers waiting to pique one’s interest. Check it out from us today!