Saturday, February 23, 2013

Leonard Maltin's 151 Best Movies You've Never Seen (2010)

I absolutely love books and discussions that revolve around great (or even good) films you've never seen or films that few people seem to know about. Film critic and historian Leonard Maltin's book of 151 titles covers many mainstream films that bombed, as well as indie, foreign and just plain odd films. I don't see that many films a year, so I wasn't surprised that I had only seen 9 of the ones presented here.  But with a book like this, it's all about discovery, right?

Maltin's reviews (or synopses) are quite short, usually only slightly over a page. Some of that space is devoted to why the film got slighted or didn't get much exposure, so in some cases, there's not much to go on to recommend it other than Maltin's frequent "Trust me on this one" pleas.

Films are listed alphabetically, with Maltin supplying the title, release date, director, screenwriter(s), original source material, and main actors. I wish he had also supplied each film's running time. A thumbnail of the poster or DVD art would've been nice as well, but I understand that probably wasn't feasible. 

For reasons I can't quite explain, Maltin has never been one of my favorite reviewers. I think he often has some good things to say and I appreciate the fact that he champions films that haven't received enough attention, but even in this collection, you can see Maltin's personal tastes and admiration come through for certain directors and screenwriters. (He even mentions this at times, so there's really no foul. And what do critics get paid for, anyway? Their opinions.) Maltin avoids spoilers, which I appreciate it. In this case, I'm glad he's told me less instead of more. 

I found myself at least mildly interested in many of these films, at least half of them. I plan to actively seek out at least 25 of them. Most of these films were released in the period of 1997 to 2008, but you'll find a smattering of older films as well. Definitely worth a look. 4/5

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