Saturday, November 10, 2018

Amazon Review: "Watching Movies, Watching Stories"

My Amazon review of my friend Troy Kinney's new book Watching Movies, Watching Stories: An Interactive Guide for Engaging Culture Through Film.

November 10, 2018
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

This is a fun and exciting book which repays huge dividends for its relatively 
small size (about 150 pages). Here are a few items to consider:

1. It is truly interactive. The judicious use of QR codes throughout the book to give 
examples from actual film clips is innovative. When Troy Kinney writes about 
the various elements of film (lighting, sound, camera, editing, etc.) he then provides
 a number of examples through the use of the QR codes. It's like having an expert 
film reviewer show you the elements of film in actual time. I found this use of QR 
codes to be effective and infectious--I kept turning the page wanting to see "just
a few more" snippets!

2. Troy Kinney ably works through the basic grammar of film-making. His 
discussions of camera angle, focus, and movement was educational. Again,
 through the effective use of QR codes the reader is able to not only read 
about these elements but to experience them. I particularly enjoyed the 
discussion about the use of the camera in "Rocky" during the famous ascent
 up the steps. There are actually two scenes in the movie with Rocky running
 up the steps and the placement of the camera tells its own story...but you'll 
have to read the book to get the full story!

3. Troy Kinney is always looking for integration in at least two areas. First, 
although he analyzes the individual elements of film he is keen to keep his
 eye (and our eye) on the final product--the whole story of any individual film.
 The importance of editing is discussed as well as the flow of the whole story. 
Troy Kinney guides the reader in understanding the major kinds of allusions 
found in many films and gives helpful counsel on how to watch for this element.
 Second, Troy Kinney is a Christian and he seeks to provide an integrated Christian
 worldview when watching films. From this perspective, he leads the reader into
 discussions of "messianic" themes in various movies. Troy Kinney is able to 
educate and inform so that Christian film-watchers can be confident in their 
abilities to analyze films correctly and confidently. There is no need for the 
fear that paralyzes much of contemporary Christianity when it comes to culture
 and Troy Kinney is an able guide to movie-watching in this regard.