A New Generation offers no earthshattering conclusions. There is no pretense of covering everything, just a chance to swim in Cousins erudite passion for film and answer his call to keep the faith.
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What is invigorating about The Story of Film is that each new clip, each new comment, is an exercise in back to basics, an exercise in looking, and looking again and looking harder – something that’s even more difficult when it feels like we’re drowning in content.
There’s room for infinite points of view behind the camera, as well as among those who do the watching. Offering the tools for unpacking potentially challenging movies, Cousins teaches people how to be better spectators — not by telling them the right way to watch, but by encouraging them to engage more deeply with what they see.
What sets it soaring is the discerning guide at its helm, one whose curatorial exultation and rigor are also calming, reassuring — a welcome voice in cacophonous times.
"The Story of Film" is long (though not by Cousins’ standards), it’s infuriating at times (entirely by design) and it overstates its case with defiant glee (again, it meant to do that), but you can’t love movies and not love a good chunk of what Cousins puts on the screen.
Cousins is insightful, thorough in his technical comparisons, and well-read in the library of cinema, yet never quite connects his work to a larger tapestry that extends the form.