PERFORMING ARTS

The Essentials Vol. 2: 52 More Must-See Movies and Why They Matter

Running Pr.: Perseus. (Turner Classic Movies). Oct. 2020. 312p. ISBN 9780762469390. pap. $25.99. FILM
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Film historian and author Arnold (Christmas in the Movies) returns for a second bite at the classics apple with this delightful sequel to 2016’s The Essentials: 52 Must-See Movies and Why They Matter. Both volumes follow Turner Classic Movies’ cinephile staple, The Essentials, a weekly program that has been hosted by a bevy of directors, critics, movie and TV personalities, and TCM presenters since its 2001 debut. Starting with the 1927 silent film Sunrise and proceeding chronologically to 1989’s Field of Dreams, the art-heavy chapters feature a credits box, “Why It’s Essential,” commentary from the hosts and guest hosts of the program, and a fun feature, “What To Look For,” which newcomers to the classics and repeat viewers of the films will enjoy. Those who mourn the passing of TCM host Robert Osbourne and actress/writer Carrie Fisher will delight in reading their comments; more recent guest hosts, such as directors Ava DuVernay and Brad Bird, add fresh voices to the mix.
VERDICT Arnold’s knowledge is vast, and the joyful tone of his sprightly writing is infectious. With a foreword by current TCM host Ben Mankiewicz, an index and an extensive bibliography, and a list of all the films screened on The Essentials, this book will please film buffs of all ages and levels of cinema knowledge.

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