REVIEW: Talking Pictures, Ann Hornaday

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Whether we are trying to impress a date after an art-house film screening or discussing Oscar nominations with friends, we all need ways to watch and talk about movies. But with so much variety between an Alfred Hitchcock thriller and a Nora Ephron romantic comedy, how can everyday viewers determine what makes a good movie? In Talking Pictures, veteran film critic Ann Hornaday walks us through the production of a typical movie—from writing the script and casting to the final sound edit—and explains how to evaluate each piece of the process. How do we know if a film is well-written, above and beyond snappy dialogue? What constitutes a great screen performance? What goes into praiseworthy cinematography, editing, and sound design? And what does a director really do? Full of engaging anecdotes and interviews with actors and filmmakers, Talking Pictures will help us see movies in a whole new light—not just as fans, but as film critics in our own right.

Ann Hornaday’s Talking Pictures is its reader’s first-step towards watching films like a world-renowned movie-critic. Throughout the book, she accessibly breaks down the common errors that are made when it comes to film-making and alternatively, what constitutes a truly fantastic film. The book is fascinating and revelatory, but still easy-to-read without its reader needing to have watched every single film in existence to understand the topics in which the author is discussing.
Because, by breaking down films into their seven major components (acting, production design, scriptwriting, cinematography, editing, sound/music and directing), Hornaday throughly examines each aspect of the movie-making process and shows how, even the slightest margin of error in any of them, can make or break a film.
It is a book that will certainly enhance its readers’ film-watching experiences (it certainly enhanced mine!) and each chapter even ends with a list of required viewing; one which illustrates the very best in each film-component, in accordance with Hornaday’s vast experience.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Head on over to for this book, as well as all of the others featured in my reviews, complete with the added bonuses of free worldwide shipping and bringing a little joy to my life.

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