Victor F. Perkins: Film Critic. Author. Educator

 
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Victor F. Perkins

 Victor F. Perkins is a British film critic, educator and renowned author of Film as Film (1972). His essays have been published in numerous publications, including monographs in BFI Film Classics series on, The Magnificent Ambersons (1999) and La Règle du jeu (2012). Perkins was also the founding editor of MOVIE magazine (1962-2000) and a current editor of Movie: A journal of Film Criticism (2010). He has lectured on film studies at Warwick University in the United Kingdom since 1978.

The first time I read a passage from V.F. Perkins’ essay, The Magnificent Ambersons, I was captivated by his descriptive and masterly crafted array of meticulous words. Perkins, not only describes the narrative unfolding, he heightens the character’s gestures, movements and motions. Andrew Klevan’s essay titled Description, depicts Perkins as being, ‘attuned to the nuance of performance and its importance to a fiction film’s meaning, structure and effect.’ Perkins focuses his analysis on what would appear to be the most insignificant of mise-en-scene or character motion. He not only interprets the scene, he then gives an alternate view of the same events that transpired. Followed by the alternative effect any minute change in character action would have on the film.

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Hitchcock Presents….

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L-R: Jean Douchet and Robin Wood.

Academics and film critics have been analyzing Alfred Hitchcock’s film, Psycho since its release in 1960. Film critics, Robin Wood and Jean Douchet have both published extensively on the works of Hitchcock.

Wood’s essay, Psycho (1989) and Douchet’s, Hitch and His Public (1986) will be analyzed in terms of critical methods and procedures employed. Both critics discuss the importance of audience participation in the film and the distinct juxtaposition of elements that have become synonymous in Hitchcock’s films.

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The Scorsese-De Niro Oeuvre that began in Mean Streets

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I thought I would bring together one of my favourite Directors, Martin Scorsese and actor, Robert De Niro to discuss the performance and collaboration between director and actor in a film.

Mean Streets (1973) represents the first of eight films (soon to be nine) that have become the Scorsese-De Niro oeuvre.

Scorsese and De Niro met through Brian De Palma, who is a college friend of Scorsese’s. De Palma directed Scarface (1983), The Untouchables (1987) and numerous other films. Scorsese and Di Nero both grew up in the same neighborhood and new of each other from mutual acquaintances. In many references to their relationship, both on and off the screen, they are said to share a dynamic connection with one another and are known as having a shorthand way of conversing, where with limited words, the other could interpret and complete the sentence.

Scorsese offered Di Nero any role in Mean Streets excluding that of the lead role that was given to Harvey Keitel. When Di Nero turned up for the auditions wearing a hat, Scorsese immediately knew that he should play the role of Johnny Boy. Di Nero wears that very same hat in the film.[1]

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Welcome to Willy Wonka’s ‘Deceitful Sweat’ Shop

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Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971), is a timeless classic and possibly the most enjoyed film for a family night in. Even with the 2005 release of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (after the book of the same name by Roald Dahl) was intended to re-introduce a new generation to the tale, the original version still appears as the favourite among children.

Nevertheless, adults are certainly not left out in this film. ” Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker” is one, of the many comical yet mature lines delivered through the film. However, as I watched the film again for what seems like the 100th time with my two young boys the inevitable statement always follows….

“Mum, when I grow up, I want to be just like Willy Wonka and have my own chocolate factory with Oompa Loompa’s too.”

“How wonderful”, is my usual reply. However, for some reason, I said nothing and started thinking of the character of Willy Wonka.

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Detention: Mummy Dearest, where are you?

JK_POSTER1_v1 Detention (2011) combines multiple genres of ‘slasher’ horror and comedy with the teen-high school theme that is reiterated in so many teen films in recent years. Writer and director, Joseph Khan, seems to have incorporated his previous works of music videos into this film. The hyperkinetic style in Detention has the feel that we are watching a film, music video and computer game all mashed up into one. Fast paced editing, onscreen captions and loud rock music to match introduces the nature of this film within the opening sequences.  Possibly, the Director’s intent is to capture or reflect on the intended audience’s scattered attention span. Nonetheless, Kahn has made a film that is in tune with the world around us whilst exploring, what could be the next stage of pop filmmaking. The narrative employed in the opening scene subjects the audience to the melodramatic outbursts and incomprehensible self-centered antics of a teenager’s attempt to prepare for school. Taylor, played by Alison Woods, addresses the camera directly and boasts of her awesome life and how to achieve it. With the aid of onscreen text, we learn the steps of Taylor’s ‘Guide to not being a total reject.

Taylor’s ‘Guide to not being a total reject.’

Taylor’s ‘Guide to not being a total reject.’

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What does film criticism mean to you?

ImageHave you ever had to endure family dinners of endless mundane conversations of who’s been to the latest hip place, what renovations they’re working on and of course, who’s making the most money. The tension grows, as the next topic is sure to be politics. I sit in silence observing my family members and wondering where the line of genealogy got so mashed up.

Until… the conversation shifts to common ground as my all so observant nephew notices my recluse state and asks, “Have you seen any good films lately?”

Now we’re talking… talking films.

In my family when we talk films there’s an air of excitement, passion and heaps of discussion.  Even if someone hasn’t seen the movie, they listen in as though they are watching a movie trailer. There are no spoilers as we have this subliminal ritual to keep our audience in anticipation. We talk about the actors, characters, direction and effects. We compare the Director and actors to their previous works and when we delve into subtext and metaphors we open up to interpretation and varied opinions.

When we talk films we unite to form the family of wannabe film critics.

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