"Dave Kehr is one of the most gifted film critics in America."
"Dave Kehr belongs in the pantheon of film critics who have been associated in one way or another with the city of Chicago—in fact, he's one of the best writers on film the country as a whole has ever produced. This collection of his work for the Chicago Reader constitutes an important act of cultural recovery, which provides insights into a crucial period of transition in the film industry. Not only a critic but also a public intellectual, Kehr teaches us about film style, calls attention to pictures that have received too little attention, and makes us care more about an art form. When Movies Mattered is a great pleasure."
(James O. Naremore, author of More Than Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts)
"Kehr writes in a way that merges an enthusiasm for innovation with an exhaustive knowledge of film history. And it seems he's never lacked for bold opinions. . . . He might be right—which makes this collection all the more essential."
"Most people now know Kehr as writer of the weekly DVD column in the New York Times, a gig he's turned into an ongoing tutorial on film history. But that may change somewhat now that the University of Chicago (his alma mater) has anthologized 53 of his long reviews from the Reader (and one ringer from Film Comment) in the book When Movies Mattered: Reviews From a Transformative Decade. No one familiar with Kehr's writing will be surprised to learn that the pieces are informed, insightful, and eloquent. Having inherited his job at the paper, though, I probably value the book more than most people, not only for its content but for its example. If you have any interest in the embattled art of film criticism, this collection (by a writer who, incredibly, was still in his 20s or early 30s) offers many lessons quite apart from his examination of the films themselves."
(J. R. Jones Chicago Reader
"When Movies Mattered is long overdue. . . . Kehr's enviable strength in his chosen mold is his exceptional attention to detail and evocative power of description."—Andrew Tracy, Cinema Scope
(Andrew Tracy Cinema Scope
"This collection of criticism and lore deserves a place on every self-respecting cineaste's bookshelf."—Powells.com
"This is a cause for celebration, although the resulting party would drive other critics to drink out of jealousy rather than selflessness. [Kehr's] prose is patient and lucid, laying bare stylistic and thematic mechanisms with the graceful invisible style of one of his favored Hollywood auteurs."
(MovieMorlocks.com (the official blog for TCM)
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About the Author
Dave Kehr moved to the Chicago Tribune after leaving the Chicago Reader in 1986, and he was its principal film critic until late 1992, when he moved to New York. His work has appeared regularly in Film Comment, and he is a member of the National Society of Film Critics. He blogs at www.davekehr.com.