Let's cut to the chase and enumerate the things we like about this volume of essays on the movies by Ann Hornaday, chief film critic for The Washington Post.
First, she begins with "The Screenplay" which she sees as "the sounding document of every film." The six she lists under "Recommended Viewing" at the end of this chapter are
The Godfather (1972)
Annie Hall (1977)
Groundhog Day (1993)
Manchester by the Sea (2016)
Second, Hornaday really appreciates acting performers. She mentions Brad Pitt in Babel "playing a man whose wife has just been critically injured in a faraway country" who "phones his children at home in America. His attempts to hold back his tears while his son tells him about his day are devastating, precisely because he doesn't allow his emotions to take over."
Third, we liked most of the questions about film that she likes to ask, such as:
- Is this how you see the world?
- Did the music help tie the whole movie together?
- Were the physical settings clearly delineated?
And, last but not least: "The best movies, the ones 'worth doing,' exist in that middle ground where audiences are invited to grapple with tough questions, reflect on their own most cherished ideals, experience the world from another point of view, and perhaps experience the singular joy that comes from authentic human connection."