Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Author Interview: Kurt Loder on 'The Good, the Bad and the Godawful: 21st Century Movie Reviews'

Kurt Loder
Just over two years ago, longtime MTV news anchor Kurt Loder published a book-length collection of film criticism entitled The Good, the Bad and the Godawful: 21st-Century Movie Reviews (St. Martin's Griffin, 2011).

Shortly after it was released, I interviewed Loder at a book party hosted by Reason magazine in Washington. We only had a short time available for our conversation, so I challenged the author to describe his book in 30 seconds or less -- basically, give the elevator pitch.

In reply, Loder said the book is "a collection of more than 200 movie reviews that I’ve done for MTV.com and Reason.com (my current employer) over the last seven years."

There are, he said, "a lot of the usual blockbusters and stuff but there are a lot of movies that people may have missed, like Exit Through the Gift Shop and The Fall."

While there are "so many good movies that come out," he said, "if [audiences] don’t make it the first week, they disappear. So there are a lot of them in there, [but] there are a lot of movies that are really dreadful,” as well.

The book, he added, “covers a lot of movies that you may have forgotten or never seen.”

His hope is that the reader might find “a lot of movies in there that [he] might be inspired to go see.”

Loder said that he has “always loved movies” and that one of the earliest motion pictures he remembers seeing was The Thing, when he was six years old, in 1951. His love of the movies is what motivates him to write about them.

He writes his reviews, he explained, from the perspective of a fan.

“I’m not a film critic,” he pointed out.

“I think 'film critics' are like Pauline Kael and David Thomson and people like that who spent their entire lives in dark rooms. I haven’t done that.”

Still, he said, “I try to keep up. I see a lot of movies but I have a disorganized knowledge.”

When writing about movies, Loder explained, he decides whether he likes a film or not and then he tries to be entertaining in his review.

Asked if popular culture has a significant impact on politics or vice versa, Loder paused before answering.

“Politics has an impact on all of us -- a malign one, quite often.”

While he found the question interesting, he said, he did not know how popular culture had an impact on politics.

Loder then suggested that, “when you see people in Congress playing games on their laptops" while they are in session, then "that’s sort of an impact.”

Although – or perhaps because – he “loves movies,” Loder demurred when asked to name his favorite film.

“Ah, there’s no such thing!” he exclaimed.

He did, however, name the “best movie” he saw in 2011, Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, which stars Brad Pitt.

“It’s a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant movie. It’s really, really good. Everybody should go see it.”

Loder mentioned two other recent films before the interview came to a close: Jason Reitman’s Young Adult, featuring Charlize Theron, “which was really good,” and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Gary Oldman, which he “didn’t like very much.”

However, he said, “there have actually been a lot of good movies at the end of the year, as there always are.”

Adapted from an earlier article on Examiner.com.

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