Books Every year, for well over a decade, I've been given the latest copy of the Time Out Film Guide for Christmas. It's one of the rituals I look forward to each 25th December, turning the pages searching for films which have been released that year and seeking their verdict and seeing what other parts of film history have been added in the interim thanks to London repertory and the need to fill the weekly magazine.
Other film guides are available, but none of them seem to quite have the same authority as Time Out with its mission statement to treat films on their own terms within their own genre, not always necessarily asking if it's a great film, but if it is a great surfing film, or teen film or horror film and how does it compare to other examples?
The sarcastic ditching on Ferris Bueller has always been an issue, but the editors were good enough to add an opinion of Sixteen Candles when I sent them a letter noting its absence (not the opinion I enclosed for inclusion but you can't have everything). Their introductory lists have also proved invaluable, especially when I was planning my MA applications and wanting to know which key films to watch.
Last night I realised I hadn't seen the 2012 edition in the shops and an Amazon search confirmed that it hadn't been published in its usual September slot. So I emailed Time Out and asked. I've had a reply and oh, horror of horrors:
Dear Stuart,I have of course emailed back and asked why and will post a response if I get one.
Thanks for your email. I'm afraid we aren't publishing a Film Guide this year, and it's unlikely that we will publish another one in the future.
Time Out Person.
Perhaps last year's edition didn't sell in huge numbers. Time Out's website contains all of the reviews anyway (and no longer behind a registration window) so the target audience have probably been using that as their source, especially with the prevalence of mobile technology). They're also linked from LOVEFiLM and show up easily in Google searches.
But it's not the same as having a giant volume in your lap and the serendipity of glancing down the columns at dozens of films most of which look at least a bit interesting even if they're not available. Or marvelling at the attention to detail which has led to the Harry Potter films are in series order despite its violation the otherwise strictly observed alphabetical sequencing of the rest of the reviews.
Now the Deathly Hallows will never be added.
Updated 8/11/11 I've had a reply:
Hi Stuart,Two decades worth of publishing gone. Welcome to the internet age.
I’m afraid it wasn’t considered a viable print product so it was cancelled. All the reviews are available on our website – www.timeout.com/film.
Time Out Person.