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Not to be Missed: Fifty-four Favorites from a Lifetime of Film
     

Not to be Missed: Fifty-four Favorites from a Lifetime of Film

by Kenneth Turan
 

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The images and memories that matter most are those that are unshakeable, unforgettable. Kenneth Turan's fifty-four favorite films embrace a century of the world's most satisfying romances and funniest comedies, the most heart-stopping dramas and chilling thrillers.

Turan discovered film as a child left undisturbed to watch Million Dollar Movie on

Overview


The images and memories that matter most are those that are unshakeable, unforgettable. Kenneth Turan's fifty-four favorite films embrace a century of the world's most satisfying romances and funniest comedies, the most heart-stopping dramas and chilling thrillers.

Turan discovered film as a child left undisturbed to watch Million Dollar Movie on WOR-TV Channel 9 in New York, a daily showcase for older Hollywood features. It was then that he developed a love of cinema that never left him and honed his eye for the most acute details and the grandest of scenes.

Not to be Missed blends cultural criticism, historical anecdote, and inside-Hollywood controversy. Turan's selection of favorites ranges across all genres. From All About Eve to Seven Samurai to Sherlock Jr., these are all timeless films—classic and contemporary, familiar and obscure, with big budgets and small—each underscoring the truth of director Ingmar Bergman's observation that “no form of art goes beyond ordinary consciousness as film does, straight to our emotions, deep into the twilight room of the soul.”

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
04/14/2014
As a child, Los Angeles Times film critic Turan lost himself in the movies. Later, as a student at the Columbia School of Journalism, he took a seminar from Judith Crist, who told him that he could be watch films and write about them professionally. In this affectionate look at the movies that have meant the most to him, he chooses several films, beginning in 1913 with Louis Feuillade’s silent film Fantômas, and proceeds decade by decade up through Joseph Cedar’s Footnote (2011). He offers a brief introduction to the films of each intervening decade and then provides short and critically admiring analyses of his chosen films. The 1930s, he writes, were a “decade, as even the titles of the films like Bombshell and I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang indicated, that started with a ferocious burst of uncensored energy; the ability to speak filled the movies with a kind of dynamism that never went away.” Turan’s crisp and deft analysis of individual films offers fresh insights into them; of the length of Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai (nearly three and a half hours), Turan observes: “the passage of time has one final advantage: it shows us the entirety of the agricultural year, from planting to… final harvesting; that’s critical because the film’s final message is to reinforce the endurance of that kind of life.” Turan’s illuminating reflections do what the best essays on film always do: send us to watch the movie, whether for the first time or the 20th. (June)
From the Publisher

“We would be hard pressed to disagree with Turan's premise about what makes for a favorite movie, or to write more eloquently about the things we love.—San Francisco Chronicle

“Kenneth Turan…presents an enticing blend of Hollywood controversies, historical context, and crisp analysis in Not to be Missed…Cinephiles will find plenty to devour and to debate.”—Boston Globe

“[Turan] offers up tidbits of Hollywood history and behind-the-scenes drama, as well as his critical analysis of some of the world's greatest movies — some familiar, some obscure.”—NPR's Morning Edition

“The book's real value… may lie in the oddities that Turan has unearthed over a lifetime of viewing: connections between films and cultures that showcase influences and enhance reputations.”—Washington Post

"A collection full of surprises and Turan's great insight, Not to Be Missed is a treasure chest—essential reading for anyone who loves movies."—Susan Orlean, author of Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend and The Orchid Thief

“What makes this book stand out is how each film is put into context of the time period it was made and Turan's reasons why each one sticks out as memorable and deserving of watching more than once. This collection is a worthwhile companion to similar books of “the best in film,” e.g., Roger Ebert's The Great Movies and Gail Kinn and Jim Piazza's The Greatest Movies Ever. Recommended for the casual movie fan as well as the serious film student.”—Library Journal

“A veteran critic offers a decade-by-decade list of the films that have been like ‘friends who've enriched my life.' Film lovers will eagerly swoop in to see if their favorites are present, and there are certainly some surprises. [Not to Be Missed] will surely ignite debate, disdain and delight.”— Kirkus

“[Turan's] comments about the movies are always insightful…his writing is fluid and accessible. Richly deserving of shelf space alongside Ebert's The Great Movies (2002), Pauline Kael's For Keeps (1994), and Turan's own Never Coming to a Theater Near You (2004).”—Booklist

“Turan's thoughtful list will inspire readers to rent some of his all-time favorites, and they can have the utmost confidence in Turan's wise and enthusiastic recommendations.” —Shelf Awareness

Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-11
A veteran critic offers a decade-by-decade list of the films that have been like "friends who've enriched my life." Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition film critic Turan (Now in Theaters Everywhere: A Celebration of a Certain Kind of Blockbuster, 2006, etc.) confesses his discomfort with his own project: so many films. He was so uncomfortable, in fact, that at the end, he suggests two others for slot 55, then appends yet another list of 54 that he's loved. Film lovers will eagerly swoop in to see if their favorites are present, and there are certainly some surprises. Turan does not mention either Charlie Chaplin or Harold Lloyd. Citizen Kane does not make the first cut—though it does appear as a recommendation at the end of his discussion of Sweet Smell of Success; it also appears in the appended list (as do two other Welles films). Turan's tastes are eclectic: documentaries (Stranded), Westerns (The Unforgiven), an animated feature (Spirited Away), crime films (Kiss Me Deadly), musicals (Singin' in the Rain), films based on classic novels (Great Expectations), films everyone's heard of (Casablanca) and films that few beside the cognoscenti know (The Best of Youth). In each case, the author introduces each decade and discusses the directors and performers; in many instances, he summarizes the plots and/or gives some back story about the making of the films. Principally, however, he explores how each film affected him and how the filmmaker managed to do what he did (male filmmakers dominate here). Among the principal factors are cinematography, music, individual performances, the power of the plot, the settings, the ambiance, the effect of surprise and the styles of the directors. Although Turan discusses many Hollywood studio films, he also includes films from Japan, Italy, Denmark, Israel and elsewhere. Like most other "my-favorites" projects, this one will surely ignite debate, disdain and delight.
Library Journal
06/01/2014
Popular film critic Turan (Los Angeles Times; NPR; Free for All) lists here what he considers to be 54 of the world's most memorable films—an ambitious task. Each entry contains a short plot synopsis, a brief background on the filmmakers responsible for the end product, and even one or two recommended related movie titles for further viewing. All in all, this is a reliable representation of a wide range of cinematic masterpieces, and includes many well-known (Casablanca; The Godfather), as well as several less-familiar (Sherlock Jr.; The Dybbuk) titles. What makes this book stand out is how each film is put into context of the time period it was made and Turan's reasons why each one sticks out as memorable and deserving of watching more than once. VERDICT This collection is a worthwhile companion to similar books of "the best in film," e.g., Roger Ebert's The Great Movies and Gail Kinn and Jim Piazza's The Greatest Movies Ever. Recommended for the casual movie fan as well as the serious film student.—Richard Dickey, Washington DC

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586483968
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
06/03/2014
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
662,580
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author


Kenneth Turan is the film critic for the Los Angeles Times and NPR's Morning Edition, as well as the director of the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes. He has been a staff writer for the Washington Post and TV Guide, and served as the Times' book review editor. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism, he is the co-author of Call Me Anna: The Autobiography of Patty Duke. Turan teaches film reviewing and non-fiction writing at USC and is on the board of directors of the National Yiddish Book Center. His most recent books include Free for All: Joe Papp, The Public, and the Greatest Theater Story Ever Told and Never Coming To A Theater Near You. Turan lives in Los Angeles, CA. Follow him on Twitter @KennethTuran.

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