I was excited when the little cardboard box from Amazon came in the mail the other day and I finally got my copy of the new collected film writings of one-time Chicago Reader film critic and now blogger and New York TImes columnist Dave Kehr - "When Movies Mattered".
His great title says it all, and expresses in three simple words that quality of something ineffable lost that many of us have been feeling for a while, and that I have touched on in this blog from time to time.
The cover image of the master at work in an intimate production still from one of his greatest films is exciting and certainly an example of when movies mattered most, but also a little misleading.
Most of the reviews collected here are from the seminal decade of the '70's and spilling into the early 80's when it seemed like on any given week you could crack open the Reader's film guide and catch new releases like Luis Bunuel's "That Obscure Object of Desire" or Wim Wender's "The American Friend" or "Orson Welles' "F is for Fake" or Don Siegel's "Escape from Alcatraz" or Walter Hill's "The Driver" just to name a few of the titles included here that Kehr wrote about and helped us understand and appreciate in a deeper way.
I was personally tickled to see a reprint of Dave's review of the revival premiere of Michael Powell's beautifully perverse "Peeping Tom", which we had programmed when we were operating the Sandburg Theatre back in those halcyon days.
"The film has been the victim of a de facto ban for the last 20 years, and holds no reputation beyond the small circle of hardcore cineastes. This is revivial programming of a much riskier sort than shuffling out the old Marx Brothers - Humphrey Bogart festivals, and I hope Chicago's filmgoers will, for once, honor the Sandburg's initiative with their attendance."
Dave was always a great supporter of the Sandburg and our eclectic mix of programming, and it was just like him to give a shout out to his flock from his bully pulpit at the Reader.
Here's a shout out back - when movies mattered, Dave's writing about movies mattered most to all of us, provoking argument or agreement, but always discussion, and moving us to see things in new ways, and to see films we would not otherwise have ever had the foraging instinct to discover on our own.
His dvd reviews and film appreciation in the TImes and on his website still inform and illuminate, and for all of us with a life-long passion for great movies, still matter.