When reviewing a film, I am always aware that I have the potential to make a new friend or enemy, depending on my final opinion of the movie. Thankfully, I have had no angry rants directed at me yet and have managed to meet a number of people who may not be actual friends, but who certainly were friendly and well worth meeting. When reviewing a film by a fellow movie enthusiast/critic such as Mark Cousins . . . . . . that potential seems amplified to extremes.
I like Mark Cousins. I have passed him on numerous occasions as he goes around Edinburgh and I have eavesdropped in on a number of his conversations during past film festivals. He’s a lovely guy and he’s genuinely passionate about cinema, a passion that always springs forth from every frame of anything he creates.
Unfortunately, he’s also (in his documentary work) prone to sweeping statements of hyperbole, a lot of pretentious babbling and the repetition of certain key phrases (I’m starting to suspect that he sees something done in a “documentary-style” in almost every movie that he watched).
These flaws were evident in the fantastic The Story Of Film: An Odyssey and they are even more evident here, perhaps due to the runtime being only 104 minutes as opposed to the length of a full series, as his previous cinematic exploration was.
The springboard for discussion and exploration this time around is, of course, children. Cousins filmed his niece (Laura) and nephew (Ben) at play and then decided to use that footage to show the different facets of children used in film throughout the years, whether it’s the initial wariness, the ability to strop, the ability to perform, the destructive moments or a number of other different qualities.
The clips that Cousins uses to illustrate his points come from a variety of countries and time periods. They include, but are not limited to, The Night Of The Hunter, The Red Balloon, Children In The Wind, An Angel At My Table, Kes and The 400 Blows as well as many lesser-known, but equally worthy, choices.
If you liked The Story Of Film: An Odyssey then you will like this. I have to reiterate, despite the many things I dislike about his approach, Cousins has an undeniable love and enthusiasm for cinema that he tries to put across to everyone watching and listening. He’s a fine ambassador for the medium and a fine explorer of the rarer and almost-forgotten pieces of cinema that deserve rediscovery. I just have the barefaced cheek to not really like him as much when he’s being a critic.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: MARK COUSINS
STARS: LAURA MORETON, BEN MORETON
RUNTIME: 104 MINS APPROX