Some of the Cohen Collection films have now made there way on to Curzon home cinema collection. One of these films is Chuck Workman’s WHAT IS CINEMA. Workman is known for his film documentaries and won an academy award for his 1986 film Precious Images. A film that contained hundreds of films, literally. Now Workman brings us WHAT IS CINEMA. Well he did in 2013 and we have a chance to see it on Curzon. Now the viewers of Curzon probably could answer that question with their eyes closed and their various books on the subject closed. However Workman endevours to get the gist from the horses mouth, so to speak. He quotes from the greats. Bresson, Hitchcock, Tarantino. He talks to others who have astute insights from directors like David Lynch and Abbas Kirostami or Chantel Akerman to film critics et al. He intercuts films of significance within this. We get PSYCHO, Godard’s WEEKEND, Vigo, I AM CUBA. A from cinephiles and film explorers everywhere. We get LORD OF THE RINGS and TWILIGHT.  Workman has passion. No doubt. He also has an eye and an ear for film. The flow is infectious and invigorating. From the use of CABIRIA and that inspiring set (which yes, Griffith obviously coveted and is credited with creating.) To his use of TOUCH OF EVIL and its famous opening scene. Its content cant be faulted for being expansive and expressive.

This said. It is no shock that a film fan, film maker and film historian can choose a selection of films. Workman has form and has made these sort of films before. Amalgamating film and theory into a narrative is not new for him. Which is where you feel let down. I preferred his Orson Welles film. That offered a target and a tension lacking here. It also asked a question that had a singular. An answer. You leave the film thinking…What did it tell me I didn’t already know? What have I gained that I didn’t before? I would certainly say watch it, if only for the chance to see an new series of films to watch ideas. But I ask it this, can it stand up to Mark Cousins adventures in film? Can it, like his work does, bring us something new to explore and attain from cinema? The answer for me is sadly no…


Available from Curzon Home Cinema



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