Saturday, 10 July 2010

The Argento Syndrome

Dario Argento. 2010.
By James Gracey.
Kamera Books.
ISBN: 9781842433188

Wow. I really wasn’t expecting to give this book a good review. James Gracey’s new book on one of my favourite directors was for me a lot like having an extended sense of deja vu.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about movies before where the reviewer seems to be totally in synch with my own views on a given subject. And not just “in synch”... this is the scary bit... if I didn’t know I didn’t just write this book myself and was making money off it... I could have sworn it was written by me. The writing style employed by Mr. Gracey, the opinions and views expressed... well it could have been me. Right down to the way he phrases things. I can literally pluck sentences out of his book and compare them to some of the sentences in my earlier Giallo Fever article and they are practically identical.

Since I know there’s no way Mr. Gracey could have, in any way, seen my Giallo Fever article before he wrote this book... all I can say is it’s nice to know there is actually somebody out there who thinks like me.

While this isn’t as enjoyable an analysis as earlier books on Argento... the two standout ones for me are Broken Mirrors, Broken Minds by Maitland McDonagh (which I believe has just been reissued again) and Alan Jones’ Profondo Argento... this is still an excellent read. And since it so echos my own feelings about the director I can only recommend it to as many people as possible.

If I had any grumbles... and I feel I must try to find something to grumble about in this otherwise excellent book... it would be one of two things.

Thing Number 1: Although he does mention early on the influence of the late, great Mario Bava, by the time he gets to writing about Suspiria I feel that Mr. Gracey should have left no uncertainty as to the very great debt in the lighting style of his films that Mr. Argento owes to Mr. Bava.

Thing Number 2: It’s a very formulaic selection of review hitting the same, highlighted common factors for each film/TV episode reviewed so it gets a bit kiddie-ish. I lay the probable blame for that one in the design requirements of the Kamera Books series rather than at the hands of the author. I suspect they are very much trying to appeal to a dumbed down, less cineliterate (and I might be so moved to suggest what I mean is just plain old “less literate”) audience and so in some ways it is very lazily written (see... just like my stuff ;-). The particular casualty to this kind of imposed structure is that there is no actual summing up or conclusion to give the selection of reviews a sense of closure. It just stops after the last review.

Still, an especially good book to read if you are one of the dying number of Argento novices in the world... so much to recommend.

No comments:

Post a Comment