[WHAT IS CINEMA? screens Friday August 8th at 5:15 pm and Saturday August 9th at 9:15 pm at the Cleveland Cinematheque.]
Review by Bob Ignizio
Answering the question posed by the title of Chuck Workman's documentery WHAT IS CINEMA? proves no simple task. Workman shows us a wide range of answers to the question from a broad range of filmmakers. Some aver that telling stories is the main thing; others like Alfred Hitchcock speak from beyond the grave to inform us that it is style which matters above all else. Beyond establishing the fact that cinema is a series of movie images projected on a screen, just about everyone has a different definition and different priorities regarding what makes a movie, and what makes a movie great.
Workman has been editing together clip and interview segments for the Academy Awards broadcasts since 1988, and if you've seen any of those broadcasts you'll immediately recognize his style. Slick, memorable sound bites are interspersed with iconic scenes from classic (and not so classic) movies, making for a breezy, accessible viewing experience. It seems trite on the surface, but WHAT IS CINEMA? offers film fans plenty of food for thought. At the very least, the film ought to inspire anyone who watches it to think about what their personal definition of cinema is, and what aspects of the form matter most to them. And maybe if we start thinking about the movies a little bit more, we'll start demanding more more of them actually give us something to think about. 3 out of 4 stars.