A critical discussion with modern filmmakers about the brilliant but obscure films they loveIn this book, 35 directors champion their favorite overlooked or critically savaged gems. Among these guilty pleasures, almost-masterpieces, and undeniable classics in need of revival are unsung noirs (Murder by Contract), famous flops (Can’t Stop the Music, Joe Versus the Volcano), art films (L’ange), theatrical adaptations (The Iceman Cometh), B-movies (Killer Klowns from Outer Space), and even a few Oscar-winners (Some Came Running). In these conversations, the filmmakers defend their choices. These films, they argue, deserve a larger audience and for their place in movie history to be reconsidered. But the conversations’ tangents, diversions, and side trips provide as much insight into the directors’ own approach to moviemaking as into the film they’re discussing. The filmmakers are the perfect hosts, often setting the tone, managing expectations, and giving advice about how you should watch each movie. They’re often brutally honest about a film’s shortcomings or the reasons why it was lost in the first place. The Best Film You’ve Never Seen is not only a guide to some badly overlooked movies but a bold attempt to rewrite film history.
Reviews“How necessary this book is! And how well judged and written! Some of the best films ever made, as Robert K. Elder proves, are lamentably all but unknown.” —Roger Ebert, author and film critic
“I hate Robert Elder. While the rest of us struggle to come up with compelling content, he follows The Film That Changed My Life with another must-read for the novice and hard-core cinephile alike. Anyone who is passionate about art must be prepared to abandon the comfort of conventional wisdom to defend the denigrated and the dismissed; Elder and his impressive cast of commentators inspire us to continue battling for our beloved personal treasures.” —Adam Kempenaar, critic/host, Filmspotting
“Sometimes it can be more of a pleasure to hear someone discuss a movie with love than it is to see the movie itself. The thoughts and enthusiasms of Richard Linklater, Guy Maddin, John Waters, and others are alone worth the price of admission—and Steve James describing a movie I already love is no less instructive.” —Jonathan Rosenbaum, author and film critic
“It’s always fascinating to learn which films filmmakers themselves admire, and even more so to read about movies they regard as underrated or virtually lost. Robert K. Elder has managed to coax absorbing, candid comments from directors as elusive as John Dahl, Steve James, and Alex Proyas.” — Peter Cowie, author and film historian
"Anyone who loves movies should find fascinating stuff here."—Hollywood & Mine, movie blog for The Boston Herald
"For a movie lover who enjoys discoveries and challenges, its 260-ish pages combine into something resembling sheer joy. Is it too early to ask for a sequel?"—Oaklahoma Gazette
"Elder is successful in pulling thoughtful, stimulating commentary from an impressive group, which makes for an illuminating look at eight decades of cinema across a variety of genres including musicals, comedies, thrillers, and theatrical adaptations.Verdict: A well-written, lively read for pop culture fans and cinephiles alike. Film buffs especially will enjoy this foray into the fascinating world of cinematic shadows."—Library Journal's Xpress Reviews
"It's a fascinating read...You can read it in easy chunks, or, as I did, devour it because you can't stop checking out what one more director had to say."—Omaha World Herald
Author BiographyRobert K. Elder is the author of The Film That Changed My Life, It Was Love When . . ., It Was Over When . . ., and Last Words of the Executed and the editor of John Woo: Interviews. He is a journalist and teacher and has contributed articles to the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Onion AV Club, and many other publications.