Why Isn't This A Film? - It's Only A Movie

What have we got here then?

It's Only A Movie: Reel Life Adventures Of A Film Obsessive is the memoir of, arguably, the UK's top film critic, Mark Kermode. It was published just a few months ago during a spell which has seen Kermode's stock continue to rise, in part due to his partnership with Simon Mayo on the 5Live film show.

OK fine. What’s it about?

The book is mainly compiled of feature-length stories of import, loosely related to films (a trip through Russia and the Ukraine whilst trying to find the set of a low budget horror film) and of small anecdotes Kermode has picked up during his years as a critic (his first meeting with Linda Blair).

Interesting. Is there something more?

Erm... not a huge amount no, the above pretty neatly sums up the two categories that everything in the book can be filed under. There is some loose tongue-in-cheek humour about who would play Kermode and his associates in a film of his life but seeing as we're using that to justify the books inclusion here, we better save any extended wonderings on that for later in this article.

Save me the trouble then – is it any good?

If you're a fan of Kermode then yes, it'll certainly be an enjoyable read. It gives a good insight into life as a film critic and establishes how he made his name in the business for those more interested in the autobiographical detail.


The anecdotes are hit and miss. I found the Linda Blair one to be enchanting but others (such as the altercation with Helen Mirren) have been told before and when placed onto the bare page seem less dramatic than Kermode presents them in speech. The same is true of the longer stories. The journey through Russia is entertaining (if not compelling) but anyone familiar with Kermode's work will probably already know about the Werner Herzog shooting incident which has been covered on YouTube and on his own BBC video blog.

What are its chances of being made as a film?

Erm... well, to be honest, slim to none. And we're actually betting on 'none'. I suppose, in fifty years time, some of the stories on display here could be manipulated into a retrospective jaunt around the British Isles and Europe but even that's a long shot. It's interesting and dramatic in places but it's hardly feature film material.

But who'd star in it?

Well (and bearing in mind the above, we're speaking purely hypothetically here), during the course of the book Kermode casts Jason Isaacs as himself (the two were at school together and have become friends in later life), the late Charles Hawtrey as Simon Mayo, The Queen as Helen Mirren, Julianne Moore as Kermode's wife Linda and Udo Kier as the mad Ukrainian driver 'Mr Nyet', which is a difficult cast to beat.

What Kermode is missing though is a younger version of himself. Step forward none other than Christopher Mintz-Plasse, a gentleman who most certainly could resemble a young Kermode and who would almost certainly rock-out an Elvis like quiff. Thank us later Mr. Kermode, thank us later.

Will it be any good?

On the grounds of the above two questions we should really refuse to answer this one this time but for prosperity's sake, we're going with no, it would not be very good.

Anything else I should know about it?

This blog has pointed readers the way of Kermode and Mayo's brilliant podcast before but, for one final time (we promise), it is available on itunes (we believe worldwide) by searching 'Kermode and Mayo'. Alternatively, more information, the latest episode, a link to Kermode's video blog and a direct itunes link can be found on their BBC page.

Why Isn't This A Film? is a regular Film Intel feature which takes a book (you know... one of those things with pages in, doesn't project on to a screen, makes small rustling noises), comic, video game or graphic novel and assesses its adaptation prospects. One day this feature will get something right and we will win something major and valuable. Possibly.

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