Mark Kermode (City Screen York, 24th February 2010)
I engage with Dr Mark Kermode’s work rather a lot. I listen to the Radio 5 podcast and watch his appearances on The Culture Show. I also dip into his blogs and read some of his DVD reviews in The Observer. This is why it was great to see him in the flesh on his tour.
At the City Screen in York, Dr K told stories from his book It’s Only a Movie. Listening to the stories that I had just read in his book (an E version on Kindle by the way), brought the stories alive. The book is funny and I could hear Dr K’s voice in the background as I read, but seeing and hearing the stories being performed made them hilarious. The reason for this is that Kermode is able to send himself up and doesn’t take himself too seriously. On the evening, I saw him on tour, he told the story of how he was hand-bagged by Helen Mirren and how he blagged his way onto a radio show to discuss videos. These stores were told to great effect with both actions and in different voices.
What was clear from reading his book, and hearing him talk about his life, is that Kermode has grabbed opportunities when they have come along. He doesn’t sit mopping around, but through his career he has taken chances which have often paid off, such as ringing up Linda Blair’s agent and asking for an interview. I felt that this must be inspirational for young people who really want to follow a particular path in life. I asked Kermode in the Q and A what was the thing he was most proud off and he told the story of finding the cuts from Ken Russell’s The Devils.
Kermode is passionate about what he does and this clearly comes across. He is also an expert in the subject of films. Kermode’s approach is that he sees himself as the man in the street, commenting honestly on the films he sees. As he said, this has meant that he has made negative comments to film makers about their films. The audience in York were clearly on his side and enjoyed the evening.
I never used to like Kermode but he’s really grown on me – he has a new book which I really want, he’s great on the Culture Show and I agree with about 80% of what he says. At least he’s not TRYING to look like he’s interested in his subject – he actually is!
P.S. They need to bring back the Screening Room on Culture Show, right?