4 out of 5
Created by: Mark Kermode
A surprisingly broad sweep of films in different genres, analyzed for their shared themes – and pitched as unlocking the “secret” to successful adaptations of each genre – critic Mark Kermode takes a five-episode, hour-per-ep look at new, old, indie and foreign cinema.
Even without knowing the dude’s reviewerly credentials, his passion for film is evident, from the personal stories relating when he saw which film, to the little admissions of favorites or non-faves, not to mention the general scope of flicks he covers within each scene, which is wide, wide, wide. And this works really well for subgenres that have three-actish breakdowns, like RomComs, Heist flicks, and Coming of Age, but the last two episodes’ focuses – SciFi and Horror – are deserving of their own miniseries, even truer on the latter, which Kermode says to be his favorite but struggles (not on screen – he’s a smooth, informed-seeming presenter) to box it’s many different facets into 60 minutes of TV.
Despite this, what makes this series more than worthwhile and more than a clip show is that Mark digs a bit beneath pointing out trends and highlighting examples, he also discusses shooting style, editing style, music, lighting, etc.; so, indeed, Secrets of Cinema is just a dash more “technical” than the norm, which does give it that flair like you’re learning something that you can drop in later conversation to sound all smart. And even if that’s not your bag, I can almost guarantee any single viewer won’t have seen every film on display here, and Mark gives us enough context for each offering to likely add at least one or two or forty new films to our queues. (An unfortunately serious number – I pretty much want to watch or rewatch everything he highlighted.)
And if you did want a show digging deeper into horror, might I suggest The Core?