on 15 January 2013
Even though David Shipman's 'Good Film and Video Guide' was first published way back in the mid 1980's it still remains a relevant and provocative work. It's a guide that's written with a great deal of knowledge, wit, and insight. And one that I still constantly find myself returning to again and again.
Part of the guides success is due to Shipman's inexhaustible knowledge of World Cinema. The other major factor being his iconoclastic approach. Unlike many of his peers Shipman appeared to be totally immune from playing follow-my-leader, never shying away from what might be considered controversial.
David Shipman was a renowned film historian and critic who sadly died in 1996. He championed filmmakers such as Masaki Kobayashi, Ermanno Olmi, Satyajit Ray, and Rene Clair, along with more mainstream Hollywood directors like Billy Wilder, Frank Capra, Ernst Lubitsch, and Buster Keaton. Shipman seemed to have an unerring knack of bringing to light many little known films of exceptional quality long before other film guides and critics latched on to them (Mikio Naruse's Late Chrysanthemums and Floating Clouds, two cases in point). But reputation counts for little or nothing in this guide! And many of cinemas most sacred cows come in for sharp criticism (including Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen). As does any film that contains an over-supply of schmaltz or whimsy.
As with most movie guides, all films are rated from '4 Stars' (Essential viewing) to 'No Star' (If you have nothing else to do). The reviews - of which there are around 6,500 - are concise, sharply observed, and incredibly well researched. Of course you won't agree with all of the verdicts, and it will certainly leave some cineastes tearing their hair out! But out-of-date or not (for it contains no films post 1986), David Shipman's 'Good Film and Video Guide' is a delight. The only problem I have with it is its rather bland title!