A link to an interview with retiring film critic Philip French

philip french portrait

After 50 years of reviewing movies for the London-based newspaper The Observer, critic Philip French is hanging up his notepad at the age of 80. Film fans and filmmakers (including Mike Leigh and Ken Loach) paid tribute to French by sending him questions for this Q&A interview in The Guardian. 

The interview finds French discussing everything from his affection for George Lazenby’s Bond to his distaste for popcorn to his views on the current state of cinema. Here’s a snippet:

….I don’t think that criticism will ever have influence in the same way again. Indeed, many newspapers in America now think they can get along perfectly well without them. But of course, most of them manage to get along without decent writing too.

And here’s French talking about his penchant for playful puns.

I do like making puns. A lot of people with speech impediments [French has a lifelong stammer] find themselves making puns, because if you get words and letters mixed up in your head you can make a joke of it.

Back in 1978, in my very first column that I wrote as the full-time Observer critic, my main review was of the film 1900 by Bertolucci. My predecessor, Russell Davies, had done a review the previous week of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. There was a scene in 1900 in which an Italian fascist played by Donald Sutherland is pelted with horse shit by communist peasants, and I referred to this as “a close encounter of the turd kind”.

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