14 June 2010

Book Review: The Film Club

Title:  The Film Club
Author: David Gilmour

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

The premise of this book really got me going: With his son hating and failing school, David makes a deal - drop out of school but watch 3 movies with me per week.  I loved the idea of this unusual education and looked forward to learning about the films they watched, seeing how David turned this into an education, and finding out how Jesse fared in the world after his unschooling.

Unfortunately, the book itself was more about father-son relationships and teenage love/angst.  Not to say the book wasn't good - it read well and the themes are important.  It just wasn't what I was expecting.  Being neither a father, nor a son, a giant chunk of the thematic beauty of this book may have been lost on me. I found myself, from time to time, wanting less "I love my son" and more "I love this movie".

The majority of the book was spent on Jesse's love life - how a father deals with a heartbroken son, how a man can struggle to get over a woman, etc.  Jesse was rather obsessed with two different women through the course of the story, and his anguish over these relationships felt out of place when there seemed to be so much more he should be concerned about: like his drug use and his lack of schooling.  Perhaps I am just too removed from these characters.  A straight-A, school-loving female, I couldn't place myself in Jesse's shoes.

I'm not sure what my ultimate recommendation on this book should be.  If you are looking for a book focused on education through movies, this is not for you.  If you are looking for a father-son relationship book, then I'd say pick it up.

Other Reviews
If I've missed yours, let me know!

Lesa's Book Critiques; Letters on Pages; Lotus Reads;

Question: Are there any good books out there about using movies to educate?
Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, Hogwarts Reading Challenge, Non-Fiction Five,


  1. I find that there are so few good books about father-son relationships. I really want to give this one a try!

  2. Did you see Eva's post abt The Hollywood Librarian? http://astripedarmchair.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/the-hollywood-librarian-and-smoke-signals-thoughts/
    which sort of came to mind when I read your post...

  3. Expectations can be killers, eh? Sorry this wasn't quite what you were looking for, Trisha. It still sounds good, though.

  4. Hmm...I just don't know what to think of this idea of watching the movies in lieu of school.

  5. Hmmm...nope can't think of a single book about using movies to educate, although I'm not against the idea. I taught Art for a while and used Miyazaki's anime films as examples during a unit of the same theme. But I think they could be used for other subjects as well (Schindler's List..?) Good question!

  6. Huh. Great review. I like feeling like I know exactly what to expect!

  7. My sons remember more when I teach them along with a dvd. Like Native American history...

  8. This does beg the question....is education through movies possible? By education I mean the equivalent of what one would learn by actively spending time in class. (Most classes would include movies, of course.)

    I'm not going to propose an answer, myself. Maybe someone else will take up the topic.

  9. Brizmus - I think this is a great father-son book.

    Care - Thanks for the link!

    Ana - I'm never sure how the reading experience would have been different without the expectations...

    Jenners - I'm definitely against the idea as I'm a proponent of attending schools, but I was really intrigued by the whole thing.

    Samantha - I love to use films as aids to teaching, so I was hoping to get some ideas!

    Marie - :) I prefer going in blind so my expectations don't affect the reading; that may have been a chunk of the difficulty here.

    Empress - Visuals help so much! And really movies are just entertaining which also helps with education.

    C.B. - In my opinion, absolutely not, but I really wanted to see how it could possibly be done.

  10. I was fascinated with this book from an unschooler's perspective, but there were really just snippets of how one might weave an education around movies. And like you, I found the father's concerns were different from what mine would be. Obviously I'm fine with kids not attending school -- since mine don't *LOL* -- but the way he was dealing with the drug use and depression scared me.

    Several people have wondered whether watching movies can really replace a traditional education. Obviously it isn't the same thing at all, but to me, that's not the point. I saw a kid who wasn't getting anything out of formal education anyway -- you really can't *force* somebody to learn. By letting him drop out and do "the film club" instead of school, this dad kept the lines of communication open between them and kept a spark of interest in learning alive.

    And as an unschooling type myself, I've seen that kids glean a LOT from informal conversations that develop when they are doing fun things with their parents, often more than from textbooks or lectures. And eventually the son did return to school, when he was ready, taking college courses. I found that reassuring. ;-)

  11. This does sound like a really good premise, but since it doesn't seem to have lived up to it, I'll probably pass. Too bad.

  12. Stephanie - Exactly! I was really hoping for some awesome ideas on how to use films to educate. And I agree that school was doing nothing for him.

    J.T. - It really was too bad; but like I said, it's probably a great father-son book if people are looking for that. The "elevator pitch" is misleading.

  13. The book looks like a wasted opportunity. I have to agree that being concerned about drug use should trump love life troubles.


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