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The Film Club: A Memoir

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  5,412 ratings  ·  795 reviews
At the start of this brilliantly unconventional family memoir, David Gilmour is an unemployed movie critic trying to convince his fifteen-year-old son Jesse to do his homework. When he realizes Jesse is beginning to view learning as a loathsome chore, he offers his son an unconventional deal: Jesse could drop out of school, not work, not pay rent - but he must watch three ...more
Paperback, 225 pages
Published June 1st 2009 by Twelve (first published September 13th 2007)
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Average rating 3.19  · 
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 ·  5,412 ratings  ·  795 reviews

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Apr 30, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, dnf
I quit. I cannot stand to read any more. I had been looking forward to reading this and was very much hoping to include it in the library's blog, but I can't do it. I kept pushing and reached the half-way mark, but no more.

A father allows his teenage son to drop out of school on the condition they together watch three movies (of his dad's choice) a week -- no job required, no pretense of schooling. The movies themselves are only cursorily discussed, which seems one of the biggest flaws both with
May 18, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kris by:
I don't think I've read a more self-serving, craptastic piece of writing--it barely touches on how they felt about the films they watched together. Instead he pompously tells his son to watch for things in the films (things that HE likes or notices, but he doesn't seem to ask his son what his SON liked), then gives a 4 sentence wrap up at the end. Most of the book is the authors pointless (to the story) search for a job and how he lectures his drug abusing drinking son about how he'll "get over" ...more
May 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents, film buffs
Recommended to Jen by: John Nettles
Shelves: non-fiction
There is a limit to what you can force your child to do, especially once they've reached the age of 16 and are taller than you. David Gilmour recognized that fact and (bravely) let his son Jesse drop out of school on the condition that, together, they watch and discuss three movies each week. A former film critic for the CBC, Gilmour makes his movie selections with the intention of teaching his son as much as he can in the time they have left together.

Being neither a father nor a son myself, I m
Mar 28, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As far as I'm concerned I'm fairly easy to please. I am a snob in most every way; however I tend to put forward that facade more so than is actually true as opposed to apparent. That said....

This book is God awful. David Gilmore is easily one of the most self-righteous and self-absorded authors I've ever read (with particular concern and attention being paid to the fact that his painfully obvious solipsism is without any romantic suggestion to the likes of Updike, Mailer, Hemingway, etc.) He is
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-memoir
I like the father and son exchange regarding movies and life in this little memoir from Gilmour. THE FILM CLUB is a nice, light read.
May 13, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was a bit skeptical when I first heard about this book. There are so many writers out there who are now writing memoirs about their experiments in living. I am not so sure that they aren't conducting the experiment just to get material for a book. David Gilmour, an out of work television host/film writer, decides to let his teenage son drop out of school on the condition that he watch 3 movies with his father a week. He doesn't have to get a job, do anything to help his struggling (divorced) p ...more
Nov 30, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of those books that I picked up on a bit of a whim at the library that was deliciously light weekend fare that could be read in a couple of quick sittings. The premise of this one is rather remarkable - a Canadian father offers to let his son drop out of school if he watches three movies a week. There are quite a few things in this book that really disturb, not the least of which is the fact that the son is hard to like. He drinks a lot, is an aspiring rapper, and it is hard to tell whether ...more
Bon Tom
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Why is this book so low rated is beyond me. It's pure 5 stars for me not for pathetic attempt to level up the field (which my lone and small opinion couldn't do anyway), but because I just couldn't go any lower even if I wanted. No reason for deducting the points from perfect work, that is biographical at the same time. Btw, when we rate autobiographies, what it is that we do, actually? Are we expressing a verdict on a person's life and choices? Pretty stupid and self-absorbed thing to do even i ...more
Jan 08, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars
Jun 14, 2009 rated it did not like it
Awhile back I read a touching memoir called Life, Death & Bialys about a father-son pair who take a baking class together and discover new and wonderful things about their complicated relationship. I was hoping that The Film Club would give me an equally warm-hearted feeling. This is the story of a 16-year boy who just isn't quite cutting it in school. He is bored in class and does not seem motivated to do any of this work. His film loving father decides that maybe letting him drop out of school ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
No, not the David Gilmour.

Having clarified that, “The Film Club” is about a father and his son watching films together over a particular period of time. The reason for reading this are the cineastic comments: The unadulterated admiration for Spielberg’s “Duel” is contagious, just as it was a delight to see how differently we perceived “The Shining” or “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.

Still, this memoir is neither about film-making nor about film-viewing per se, and that is felt every step of the way. Us
Dec 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
46 pages into this book, and I had to put it down. I like challenging books, but I don't like the challenge to be having enough self-control not to throw the book across the room.

To be fair, memoirs are probably a pretty indulgent genre. Written by people about themselves, it's no wonder that when they go wrong, they go horribly wrong as with The Film Club by David Gilmour. I don't necessarily take issue with this story of parents who let their son drop out of high school. Gilmour makes a convi
Peter Derk
What? I read a book that isn't a comic book? Has the world gone mad?

Well, sometimes I like to get away from my regular, capital-L literature featuring metallic men and men who fly around in jet suits and metallic men who have the metal in their skeletons instead of using it as skin.

The Film Club. Recommended to me by a friend a really long time ago, I got around to it on a trip and read most of it in two plane rides.

Welllllllll that's not entirely true. There was also a 3-hour airport delay wher
Nov 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs-bios
Here's what I've learned about David Gilmour: He's a talented film critic, a mediocre writer, and a ridiculously irresponsible human being. I was going to say irresponsible father, since I think his approach to parenting is horrendous and naive, but I have to back up and say no, his whole personal and professional life that he brings to light through this memoir is despicable, hypocritical, and undignified. He's an alcoholic, he spends his money irresponsibly and stupidly, his current wife is to ...more
Kressel Housman
I may be the most permissive mother in Monsey, but compared to the father who wrote this book, I am in control. The book opens when the son, Jesse, age 16, is failing out of school. The father, writer David Gilmour, makes the staggering suggestion of letting him drop out of school under two conditions: 1) no drugs (alcohol and nicotine ARE allowed, though) and 2) he must watch three movies per week with David. Since David did a stint as a film critic for a while, he gets to choose all the movies ...more
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not sure where to begin. When I read a review of this book I was intrigued, it turned out not to be what I was hoping. To me this book was more about a father and mother (divorced) and a step mother making a decision to roll the dice on their sons future by letting him lead them around by the nose. At every turn the father agonizes over his sons relationships with his girlfriends (the kid is 15 when this experiment begins). At 15 the son is smoking, drinking with his parents as his father reward ...more
Sep 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone with children
Recommended to Todd by: My wife
Lets get this out of the way...this is not written by the guitar player from Pink Floyd.
This was a remarkable book. It is usually not the genre that I read, however, it combines two of my favorite things...parenthood and movies. Gilmore does a fantastic job of identifying many of the fears of parenting, adulthood and the overall human experience. If it sounds sappy, it was not. It is a story to which any parent can relate.
It is about watching your child grow, providing guidance even though you h
Oct 21, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't get through this one. The first thing that bugged me was the language. It was one of those "hey! I can swear!" books that was just for shock value. But that doesn't surprise me coming from this author who does seem to want to be "hip". Gilmour said that he wasn't trying to be cool, but actions speak louder than words. If you are letting your teenager drop out of school, have sex, smoke, and top it off by requiring him to watch rated R movies, then sorry, but I think you're trying to b ...more
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who has gone through the experience of raising an adolescent boy
What do you do if you're a 15 year old boy, wrenched with exploding hormones, bored by the mere thought of a classroom and aroused only by relevance to your personal NOW? That's Jessie Gilmour. Worse, what do you do if you are his parent? Canadian novelist and film critic David Gilmour shares an extraordinary three years of empathy, anxiety, despair and joy in this brief memoir.

Jessie is musically gifted, sensitive, eager to appear as the adult his lank body suggests, but painfully vulnerable t
Apr 25, 2012 rated it it was ok
This guy is a jackass. I'm pretty sure he wanted to be praised for his cool guy solution for his son who wanted to drop out of high school. He says no problem, just watch three movies every week with me. You want to drink? Sure. Drugs? Okay. Sex here in the house? No problem. Sleep until 5? Yes! Just watch movies with me! Idiot. And when your book is titled "The Film Club" you should probably talk about films instead of just naming a few you watched. What a waste of time. ...more
Marija Andreeva
I really liked this one. Don't let the stars fool you. I really loved the way this book was constructed. It is a moving story about the relationship between a father and a son, through their joined engagement in watching movies. Along with the interesting references about movies, I really liked the gentle perspective of a father who worries if he is really raising his son in the right direction. Great book, I highly recommend!
For me, it’s difficult to like a book if I don’t like any of the characters. I was really excited to read The Film Club, about a 16-year-old boy who wishes to quit high school and does so, with his father’s blessing, with the caveat that he must watch three movies a week (all chosen by the father). The result, according to the book jacket, is high-quality father-son bonding, the likes of which rarely happen after a boy has reached his teen years.

While I did read about conversations Jesse had wit
Christian Hamaker
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'm seeing plenty of 3- and 2-star reviews for this one, and I don't get it. As a film buff, I was drawn to the book because of its title and premise, but I understood that I wasn't going to get deep film analysis. Rather, this was obviously going to be a father-and-son story, with the film club as a framework, or even a McGuffin. Therefore, the undercooked film analysis wasn't a barrier for me.

What too few of the reviews I've seen mention is the quality of the writing. This might not be prize-
Jun 08, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The memoir of a fellow who allowed his son to drop out of high school if he would agree to watch three movies (of his father's choosing) a week... With his father.

It was a pretty entertaining book, and an interesting concept. Especially to someone like myself, who has little feeling for school (especially high school, which I didn't bother attending) and very strong feelings for film.

But it was a very quick read. I had hoped that it would have been more about the movie watching aspect, but ther
Eva van Loon
Most unaffected writing style I've come across for a long time. As engaging as Gilmour himself. At once a painless course in film studies and a fresh and honest depiction of the ties between fathers and sons. ...more
▫️Ron S
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nicole A
Sep 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book annoyed me to no end. Congratulations, your privileged white son managed to be a success in life despite being an unlikable slacker. As a parent, I can somewhat get behind the ideas of homeschooling or "unschooling" but that is not the situation here. I get having to compromise and put up with certain teenage inevitabilities in order to keep your kid talking to you, but this father seems to completely indulge his son in smoking, drinking and fucking around (don't do drugs! But here, ha ...more
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the kind of memoir I would usually hate—the father makes atrocious parenting (and life) decisions, uses crass language, and yet his writing is so good, I felt carried along, caring what happened to him and his son.
The Good: David Gilmour lets his son 16 year old son Jesse drop out of school. The catch to this agreement is Jesse has to watch three movies a week with his dad. But Jesse doesn't get to pick the movies. This is what intrigued me on the book jacket because I love movies. It doesn't hurt that Gilmour was CBC's tv movie critic through most of the 90s. I was also drawn to the fact this was a memoir about a father and son relationship. That aspect of life has always seemed strange and mysterious co ...more
Jun 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first heard about Film Club on NPR I was intrigued. When David Gilmour’s son, Jesse, begins to have trouble with school, David swaps houses with his ex to live with Jesse. It soon becomes apparent that Jesse is miserable in school and Gilmour fears he may lose his son.

“I also knew in that instant – knew it in my blood – that I was going to lose him over this stuff, that one of these days he was going to stand up across the table and say, “Where are my notes? I’ll tell you where my notes a
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David Gilmour is a novelist who has earned critical praise from literary figures as diverse as William Burroughs and Northrop Frye, and from publications as different as the New York Times to People magazine. The author of six novels, he also hosted the award-winning Gilmour

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