When it was announced that Simon Mayo was leaving Five Live to take over the Drivetime slot on Radio 2, I turned into a five year old – stuck my bottom lip out and sulked. A few minutes later, I found out that he would stay with Five Live for the Friday afternoon film reviews with Mark Kermode and it would now be a whole two hours long. Perfect, I thought. Just a few weeks later, I find out that not only to I get an extra long helping of wittertainment each week, I now get to read a book by the good doctor too! And, what a great read it was.
If you’re a fan of Mark Kermode and his style of reviewing, you’ll love this book. You’ll understand how, where and why he came to love films, you’ll get the full story behind some of his anecdotes, and you’ll get the lowdown on why Mamma Mia! is so bad, it’s brilliant.
This is a memoir rather than autobiography, and it focuses solely on the importance film has had on Dr Ks life. To add a nice thread to run through the book and tie it all together, he imagines that he’s retelling his story as if it was being made into a film with all the different actors who would be playing the various roles (Hello to Jason Isaacs).
The good thing about the book is that it is obviously written by Kermode, as his distinctive style runs throughout, it’s very funny, covers a wide variety of films, and is full of name dropping anecdotes about some big names and some more obscure ones too.
The bad thing is that it’s obviously written by Kermode, with plenty of in-jokes for listeners to the show (Hello to Fairport Convention, Stephen Fry, David Morrissey, Michael Sheen and David Tennant) which I loved but I’m not sure that it makes it accessible to film fans who don’t listen to him. I guess the intended audience is his listeners anyway so maybe that isn’t such a negative.
I laughed out loud, I nodded knowingly, I chuckled to myself, I cringed and I giggled, and I know I will go back and read it again at some point. I would definitely recommend it to fans of wittertainment. If, however, you haven’t come across Mark Kermode but love films and wondered if you should read this, I would suggest you download an episode of the weekly podcast first to see if you like his style, because if you don’t I suspect you might find the book annoying.