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"Have You Seen . . . ?" [Kindle Edition]

David Thomson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $29.95
Kindle Price: $21.35
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In 1975, David Thomson published his Biographical Dictionary of Film, and few film books have enjoyed better press or such steady sales.

Now, thirty-three years later, we have the companion volume, a second book of more than 1,000 pages in one voice—that of our most provocative contemporary film critic and historian.

Juxtaposing the fanciful and the fabulous, the old favorites and the forgotten, this sweeping collection presents the films that Thomson offers in response to the question he gets asked most often—“What should I see?” This new book is a generous history of film and an enticing critical appraisal written with as much humor and passion as historical knowledge. Not content to choose his own top films (though they are here), Thomson has created a list that will surprise and delight you—and send you to your best movie rental service.

But he also probes the question: after one hundred years of film, which ones are the best, and why?

“Have You Seen . . . ?”
suggests a true canon of cinema and one that’s almost completely accessible now, thanks to DVDs. This book is a must for anyone who loves the silver screen: the perfect confection to dip into at any point for a taste of controversy, little-known facts, and ideas about what to see. This is a volume you’ll want to return to again and again, like a dear but argumentative friend in the dark at the movies.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, October 2008: Having already written (and twice revised) the greatest bathroom book of all time, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, David Thomson has refreshed his encyclopedic and idiosyncratic understanding of movie history to confect another giant slab of candy for anyone who loves movies or just likes to watch a great mind at work. "Have You Seen...?": A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films is no cobbled collection of old reviews: written fresh from start to finish, Thomson's page-long profiles often ignore plot to focus instead on the people behind the film or the slippery, personal question of what the movie is actually like to watch. And writing about a thousand films pushes him beyond his favorites into more interesting territory: flaws and failures are often his best subjects. You'll want to discover movies you've never heard of before, and rediscover others you thought you knew well. --Tom Nissley

From Publishers Weekly

Film critic Thomson (The New Biographical Dictionary of Film) gives cinephiles and film novices alike a comprehensive yet personal list of 1,000 must-see films. Arranged alphabetically—a chronological index is included—Thomson's tome opens with a slapstick American comedy (1948's Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein) and closes with a social critique from talented Italian director, Antonioni (Zabriskie Point from 1970). For Thomson, films are products of both their time and our own, and the act of watching (and re-watching) reminds us that film is a medium where the past perpetually enhances the present. It can't be a coincidence that the oldest entry (1895's L'Arrosseur Arrossé) and the newest (2007's No Country for Old Men) are both twists on the revenge epic helmed by innovative brothers (the Lumières and the Coens, respectively). As Thomson points out, Story is as long and twisty as a hose. It goes on forever. (Oct. 15)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2356 KB
  • Print Length: 1025 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001FA0KEK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #525,587 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
105 of 128 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bloody maddening December 8, 2008
Format:Hardcover
This series of thumbnail summaries of many many movies is erudite, funny, well-written and infuriating. Like Pauline Kael and Anthony Lane, Thomson is an intrusive critic; we're usually more aware of his own presence than those of the movies he evokes. And his presence is that of the worst sort of Englishman in Southern California, a virus that has infected theSanta Monica region since English directors, actors and technicians (and decades later, music industry folk) began flocking to these shores in the 1900's. They get rich and fat off our pop culture, love the weather, yet feel free to criticize us from their perspective as insider/outsiders who truly have Yanks' measure as no-one else does. Public school class snobbery drips off of these loyal social democrats more than any fox-hunting hyphenate I've ever met; they spend their entire life, when they're not getting drunk, playing hide-the-ball for the fact that they are involved, one way or another, in making mindless entertainment for midwestern american teenages for the benefit of american banks by heaping scorn on the institutions that fatten them.

Thomson is a gruesome offender here -- no matter how much he likes a movie, he's always somehow better than it. Individually, his reviews are terrific, but his flaw-spotting becomes noticable after a while, because it always comes down to the immaturity and infantalism of American audiences that the even the most gifted film-makers are in thrall to, even Kubrick, Altman, the Coppola of The Godfather.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For ALL lovers of film October 16, 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I just received this book and so have only spent a couple of hours with it. The book is very engaging, and stirs interest in seeing films that you might have never ever watched, much less heard of. He is good about telling why he likes or dislikes the films, and in some cases suggests that you don't even watch the whole film, but certain scenes, or portions that are not to be missed.
Overall a great reference.
He has most of the reviews from films from the 30's to the 50's. This is intentional on his part, but does a very nice job of covering many decades of movies and he even has a couple of films from 2008.
There is a chronological index in the back of the book, but strangely enough, the book has no Table of Contents, or alphabetical listing of the reviews. I think that the inclusion of an alphabetical listing, and maybe an additional listing by director would have made things more interesting, and the book easier to use as a reference.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Know what you're getting into before you buy it... January 28, 2012
Format:Paperback
I love books about film.

Specifically, I love books which have separate entries for hundreds or thousands of films. That way I can watch the film before rolling my wheely-chair over to the movies section of my bookshelf and look it up in my extensive library. When a new one of these books comes out, like "Have You Seen...", I'm all over it.

The weird thing is, unlike almost every other one of my books, David Thomson is not listing great movies, or moves which define a decade, or movies you must see before you die. David Thomson is, as the subtitle says, just giving you a personal "introduction" to 1000 films. Some of them he loves. More of them, it seems, he hates. So, the first you thing you need to know is that this is NOT a "great movies" book.

The second thing you need to know I alluded to in the previous paragraph: the author is very negative, in a way that feels snobbish. Maybe he's not actually snobbish, but it certainly feels that way. Thomson is much more similar to Armond White than he is to Roger Ebert. He doesn't project a love of film as much as he projects an air of solipsistic iconoclasm. He's right, and the rest of the world is misguided at best, criminal or stupid at worst. In short, be prepared for a lot of sentences like "Everything about Doctor Zhivago reeks of middlebrow compromise."

But controvery often makes for good reading, so I can still offer this book a mild recommendation. There's no denying he writes well, and he will certainly turn you on to some films you haven't seen and maybe make you reevaluate some that you have. I just wish he didn't sound so arrogant and confrontational in some of his write-ups.

Also, a final note: this book is fairly expensive, but there are no pictures or graphics. It's just text. Don't buy it if you're looking for a coffee table book.
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ". . . when it was easy to be in love with cinema" October 26, 2008
Format:Hardcover
I always used to recommend David Thomson's The New Biographical Dictionary of Film as the most important book on movies for anyone to have. Now I have to recommend two books--the Biographical Dictionary and this one, "Have You Seen . . . ?" A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films.

Like Thomson's Biographical Dictionary, "Have You Seen . . . ?" is as valuable to simply read and learn about movies from as it is as a reference book. I don't know of anyone who knows as much about the art and history of movies as David Thomson. (Another book by Thomson you should read is Suspects but that's for another time.)

These one thousand films certainly aren't all on Thomson's "Best of" list. On The Sound of Music: "[P]roducer-director Robert Wise and screenwriter Ernest Lehman . . . had killed West Side Story a few years earlier, which was a more serious crime than making The Sound of Music, because the latter had always been brain-dead."

Thomson's interest and knowledge is deepest concerning the 1930s through the 1970s. That's an amazing amount of knowledge, but he's spent his whole life studying film in the way lovers of 1960s "film culture" did--by watching good and/or interesting (not always the same thing) films over and over again.

Thomson is American now, but he grew up in England and he has the perspective of the outsider to shape his view of this country and its movies. On The Truman Show as a 1990s phenomenon:

"No other American film was clearer that the greatest threat to our existence was . . . above all our decision to be cheerful, amiable, and pleasant. . . . It was as if someone at last had realized that the most . . . frightening thing about America was not the menace, . . . but the bonhomie, the salesman oil . . .
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I was slightly disappointed to find out that this book covers not just...
I was slightly disappointed to find out that this book covers not just movies but television mini-series as well. In my opinion, a mini-series is not a true movie.
Published 23 days ago by Christopher Allen Brown
3.0 out of 5 stars Please rewind
David Thomson has seen more films (and written more about them) than most people alive, and this compendium serves best as a way to tag films you really ought to see but didn't... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jay Dickson
5.0 out of 5 stars review of David Thomson
David Thomson is a favorite of this friend. He has been hoping for a copy of his for years. The copy is a great condition.
Published 10 months ago by Kathleen C.
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but no cigar
As always, Thomson delivers - just barely. More interesting and better explicated reviews can be found in the works of Roger Ebert, Leonard Maltin, and just about anywhere...
Published 11 months ago by Sweet Spring Farmer
5.0 out of 5 stars I Love Movies!
David Thomson's "Have You Seen....?" gives this movie junkie his fill of movie information! Read more
Published 11 months ago by Rick Sherman
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Worthwhile
David Thomson writes intelligently and informatively about most of the great (and not-so-great) films. I don't always agree with him but I always want to know what he thinks. Read more
Published 22 months ago by GHD
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book for dawdling
I wouldn't read this book back-to-back and rather doubt I will end up reading all of it, but it's enormous fun to pick it up and dive into it randomly. Read more
Published on January 2, 2013 by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars GONE WITH THE WINDBAG
like most film critics, David Thomson can be a self-indulgent gasbag...this is offset by some interesting film choices and an occasional witty insight!!"Have You Seen . . . ? Read more
Published on November 22, 2012 by Thomas Gerke
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Whether or not you agree with his essays, they are all thought provoking. I have enjoyed working my way through the book and making notes of films I would like to see or see again... Read more
Published on December 14, 2011 by Kindle Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Good To Read
David Thomson's compilation of short reviews of many classic (and not so classic) films is, as the saying goes, a good read, and yet it drove me crazy for its glaring inaccuracies,... Read more
Published on November 5, 2011 by Chillerama
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