Michael Koresky's Films of Endearment

Michael Koresky will introduce The Color Purple and discuss his book Films of Endearment at the Paris Theater on May 30. 

A beloved fixture in the New York film world, Michael Koresky is as prolific as he is endearing, seemingly consumed by movies, but always open and engaging, belying the stereotype of the cinephile as a tortured introvert. Maddeningly productive, Koresky has excelled in key editorial positions at the Criterion Collection, Lincoln Center, Metrograph, and Museum of the Moving Image, while co-founding the invaluable film journal Reverse Shot, writing a book about Terence Davies, and writing and co-directing the inventive independent film Feast of the Epiphany. As accomplised as he is, he is also generous and self-effacing.

With his wit and impassioned views, Koresky is hardly a shrinking violet. But perhaps because he is always so fascinated by the objects of his interest and affection, he has never asked for the spotlight. Yet his new book, Films of Endearment: A Mother, a Son and the ‘80s Films That Defined Us takes us on a revealing personal journey. Koresky delves deeply into the surprising source of his movie love, revisiting the movies that he watched growing up with his New England mother. Incredibly well-read, and a lover of movies who took full advantage of the advent of the VCR, all while raising two sons, caring for an ailing husband, and holding down a wide assortment of jobs, Koresky's mom, Leslie, emerges as a heroine every bit as memorable and impressive as the main characters of the movies they watched together, women-centered films such as 9 to 5, Terms of Endearment, and The Color Purple.

Working effortlessly on many levels, Films of Endearment is a portrait of and love letter to Koresky’s mother, and it is also a deeply insightful study of a group of films that may have been commercially successful (though it also includes such unsung indie gems as Country and Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean) but were often dismissed as “women’s pictures.” It is also a sociocultural study of a decade that has too often been viewed simplistically through the prism of Ronald Reagan’s Norman Rockwell vision. Koresky’s book is a great lesson in how to take pop culture seriously, to see how mainstream entertainment can reveal complex social tensions and conflicts.

But the most affecting element of Koresky’s elegantly structured book (which devotes one chapter to each year of the decade, focusing on a film selected by Koresky to re-watch with his mother) is the intimate and revealing self-portrait it offers. Koresky realized that he could only write about his mother by writing about himself. Movies are often talked about as means of escape, a way to sit in the dark and enter another world. But in Koresky’s view, movies are an integral part of our private lives. We learn a lot about Michael Koresky in Films of Endearment, but we also learn vividly how films can teach us about our relations to our loved ones, and to ourselves.

Read about Films of Endearment in this wonderful interview by the Montreal writer Durga Chew-Bose. CLICK HERE TO READ.