FILM REVIEWS
With John J McGowan

“See you in the back stalls! “

Happy (Special) Birthday, John McGowan!

For the past six years, John McGowan has become a familiar voice on Learning Works, signing-off his movie reviews with the phrase: “I’ll see you in the back stalls.”

John backs his movie critiques and other cimena commentary with a vast range of experience in closely-related media and a lifelong love of the movies. He began writing reviews of movies and television programs over forty years ago and, in the years between, he has himself, worked in most areas of television production. He has been a writer, producer, director, actor and news presenter in a long career as a journalist and educator.

He cut his teeth in television as a journalist at Adelaide’s Channel Nine and later trained as a teacher before embarking on a second career as an educational broadcaster with ABC radio and television. After sixteen years with the ABC, he set up his own production company as a commercial video producer.

However, his fascination with motion pictures has always been his abiding passion. One outcome of this was the publication, in 2005, of his biography of South Australian-born Hollywood pioneer actor-director John Paterson McGowan.

“He was the famous John McGowan,” as John likes to say.

The book, published in the United States and sold globally via the internet, was the result of many years of painstaking research. It is the first biography of the prolific J.P.McGowan and has been welcomed with acclaim by film historians internationally.

Despite John’s impressive knowledge of the movies, he says he still likes to be just another anonymous face in the stalls when he settles down to be entertained in a picture theatre. His reviews reflect his own response to the movies he sees and he likes to believe that his assessments are formulated independently of media releases and other promotional influences. He makes careful choices about which movies he will see and review and says he is grateful for the freedom granted him by Learning Works to arrive at his own judgements.

He believes that a good movie review should provide the listener with enough information to enable them to decide whether or not they want to spend their time and money to go and see the movie. He has great disdain for “lazy” reviewers who spoil the surprise of the movie by divulging too many details about the plot.

“Even if I don’t like a movie I won’t tell you the story,” John says.

His favourite movie? “Lawrence of Arabia is in a class of its own,” John says. “No computer-generated special effects, but it’s a perfect blend of sure-handed storytelling of an engrossing, epic-scale life-and-death drama set in a breathtaking real-life desert landscape. It’s a magic carpet ride and, for those of us sitting in the stalls, that’s what the movies should be all about.”

“They don’t make movies like Lawrence anymore - and they never will – because the lure of the computer is too seductive,” he says.

FILM REVIEWS
With John J McGowan

Since early 2005, Learning Works’s John J McGowan has reviewed a number of recently released movies, many of which are now coming out on DVD.

This alphabetical listing includes a rating for each film, together with links to the relevant month of broadcast in the Learning Works archives. Scroll down to the broadcast date to access most of the scripts (in pdf format) and most of the audiofiles (in mp3 format).

We trust that this will be a useful resource for Learning Works listeners in either checking out a current movie, or a recently released DVD.

Films

Date

Rating

A Good Year

04 Dec 06

A History of Violence

17 Apr 06

A Prairie Home Companion

30 Oct 06

Babel

12 Feb 07

5 stars

Batman Begins

01 Jul 05

Being Julia

15 Apr 05

Brokeback Mountain

13 Mar 06

Capote

13 Mar 06

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

23 Sep 05

Da Vinci Code

19 Jun 06

Give it a miss!

Eight Below

19 Jun 06

Flags of our Fathers

04 Dec 06

Flashed Away

12 Feb 07

3 stars

Good Night and Good Luck

13 Mar 06

Into The Blue

28 Oct 05

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

15 Nov 05

Night at the Museum

12 Feb 07

3 stars

Robots

15 Apr 05

Snakes on a Plane

11 Sep 06

The Departed

04 Dec 06

The Devil Wears Prada

30 Oct 06

The Holiday

12 Feb 07

The Queen

12 Feb 07

3 stars

The World’s Fastest Indian

19 Jun 06

Tristram Shandy

31 Jul 06

War of the Worlds

05 Aug 05

 

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