Choose A Film, a book that can help you decide

Choose A Film, a book that can help you decide

Choose A Film 2015, Edizioni San Paolo, Milan (price €19.50, 278 pages).

One need not be an expert or a fanatic to realise the sheer number of films we are bombarded with every year in the cinemas. And as you know, the greater the capacity for choice, the harder it is to choose.

We must therefore ask ourselves what the criteria are for choosing a film. Which films really are quality, and which have been successful only because, without actually having any value, they have been supported by a well-oiled publicity machine?

In response to these questions, a project to produce a series of volumes with film reviews was born in 2004. Choose A Film is edited by Armando Fumagalli – Professor of Semiotics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and Director of the University’s Master's Degree in Writing and Production for Fiction and the Cinema – and Raffaele Chiarulli – Doctor of research in Culture of Press Communications at the same University of Milan – alongside numerous industry experts and critics. Despite a change of publisher to San Paolo, the series has constantly maintained its identity and function.

In the book you’ll find reviews of all the main films that have been in the cinemas in the past year.

Alongside the title, director, names of the main actors and the plot, reviewers provide keys to evaluate the film from narrative and anthropological points of view. They also outline any problematic aspects of the film’s overall vision, as well as indicating the film’s best audience (adults, teenagers, children, etc).

Films are awarded stars by the reviewers (from 1 to 5) to provide a quick and easy indicator of the film’s value.

As the old maxim goes, de gustibus non est disputandum, it is not possible to be right or wrong when talking about creative works of art. With that in mind, tastes can be shared, changed and educated.

In fact, some might think that shared criteria for categorising a film as ‘quality’ do not exist, or that, if they did exist, personal tastes would influence the review. We all have our own sensibilities, our favourite characters, our preferred plotlines.

It is clear that a film, just like any work of art, touches each of us in a unique way, and it is therefore natural that a degree of subjectivity will creep in. It is also clear that there aren’t ‘laws’ for those who write the reviews; nor are there any mathematical equations to facilitate a ‘correct’ answer. On the other hand, in every sphere there exist certain parameters that allow us to distinguish almost ‘objectively’ those products that are truly worthy from those that are simply commercial and the result of passing fads.

The authors in question have of course given a little of their own personal tastes in their reviews, but what unites them, next to their professionalism and experience in the media world (from screen writing, story editing and research in the field), is their Christian anthropological vision of man.

Without taking away the importance of personal judgement, Choose A Film, presents a particularly interesting and useful contribution to those of us who would like to trust a team of ‘experts’, who have a better understanding of the world of film and television, to decide which films they should dedicate their time to, and which are not worth the effort.