Why this website?
www.stevenkohn.net/desertedislandmusic and Books
www.stevenkohn.net/desertedislandbooks/ lists, it's to share what
Simple as that. I don't
make any money if you go online to rent or buy the movie. This
site is a labor of love, and that's it.
Growing up in the 1950s we didn't have a television in the
house. I'm not sure if it's because we were poor (we were) or
because my father was wise (he was) and knew it better for his
children to not have one. Our first TV was a used black & white
in 1964, just before I was to graduate high school, so I still
whether it was poverty or wisdom. My parents passed away before I thought to ask.
I couldn't wait for summer. Saturday
our Pennsylvania town would see most of us children, like zombies,
drawn to our downtown theater. The long line outside would
reappear inside as we'd trade our precious coins for candy (ah, Raisinets)
or popcorn before settling in for the week's entertainment: about
15 cartoons; one or
two short episodes of a serial where the hero or heroine face
death and destruction in the last seconds; sometimes even a live
performer on stage honing his magic act on us kids before he
went on to bigger things in Vegas.
Afterwards we'd lurch home,
blinded by the sun, sated until the
next Saturday when we'd do it all over again.
Going to a theater was part of my dating life, of course, but then,
after marrying at 23, I pretty much stopped going to the movies.
that I didn't like them. Maybe that I liked them too much,
unable to enjoy them in a distracting theater. Maybe I kept my
nose to the grindstone (too much), working to support a family leaving little time for
past few years, though, have brought me back to movies. Not to
movie theaters, though; I haven't been to one in over twenty years. I
wonder why anyone goes.
large HDTVs and home
audio systems rival the experience in the theater.
- Streaming and DVDs bring us a much greater variety than our local theaters.
(I've come to love foreign films, for example.)
DVD is often better than the same movie at the theater. Not just the occasional director's cut, but frequently with bonus features
-- a running commentary by the film's writers and actors, or some
background on the movie -- that helps us better appreciate it.
The children have flown the nest.
Work is no longer a priority. I'm
now able to dim the lights, sit back and relax
without interruption or guilt.
I'm making up for lost time, watching three or four movies
a week, often joined by my dear (and first, and only) wife.
started my film education with the "classics," which
too often for me weren't.
for example, be more
stilted dialogue and painfully bad acting than James Dean in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE? A more profoundly misguided plot than in John Wayne's THE
One of the worst films
I've ever seen is Frank Capra's 1938 YOU CAN'T TAKE IT WITH
YOU. Then I learned it won the Academy Award for best picture
and best director.
Compare, for example, the
1954 SABRINA to its 1995 remake. While the original film had an
incandescent Audrey Hepburn, its character development and
dialogue (and, of course, cinematography) suffered in comparison
to the remake. (This Amazon review expresses it well.)
Sure, THE THIRD MAN, ALL
ABOUT EVE, most of Lubitsch, Hitchcock and Wilder were wonderful,
but were they exceptions that proved
Lately (these words are
written in April 2016), my feeling toward old movies
that too many of the classics rest on their reputation -
has mellowed. I guess the final straws were HEAVEN CAN WAIT
(1943) and HOBSON'S CHOICE (1954), charmers from start to end, but the drama ACE IN
THE HOLE (1951) also impressed me. TROUBLE IN PARADISE
(1932) and MAKE WAY FOR TOMORROW (1937) finally opened my eyes to how good the old classics could
Three Chaplin films -- THE GREAT DICTATOR (1940), MONSIEUR
VERDOUX (1947)," and LIMELIGHT (1952) -- also convinced me I was
too harsh. "Dictator" and "Limelight" will be enjoyed as
long as film is still watched.
I now better see that while movies
made before the 1960s weren't as realistic, they had their
own qualities for us to admire and enjoy.
That's my opinion, anyway, and that's what this website is, just
Interestingly, when I saw THE DREAMERS (2003) I thought
it an exploitive waste of craftsmanship. Then, at Rotten Tomatoes
I found the top critics evenly divided on the
movie, with 20 liking it, 19 not. So if experts can't agree, we
amateurs shouldn't feel hesitant to have and voice our own
At right is another
example of divided opinion, the 2012 movie MELANCHOLIA.
This time it's from the perspective of non-professional movie
fans. (Had I written a review, the 1-star number would be one
higher.) Remarkable, isn't it, for a movie to be almost perfectly
divided into those loving it and those hating it.
blather. (You're still reading?) Please go
here for my favorite movies.
If some are new to you, I'm delighted to be the one to have introduced them to you.