Andrew Collins Q+A

We caught up with film critic and broadcaster Andrew Collins ahead of his CBSO appearance presenting Classic FM's Movie Classics on 12 April...

As film critic for the Radio Times and a presenter on Classic FM, haven’t you got the best job in the world?

Yes. I’ve been writing for Radio Times for 20 years now - 19 of those as Film Editor - and broadcasting on Classic FM for four, and the two jobs dovetail. I find that I increasingly write about the impact of composers for the magazine, and often make a note of an interesting score when reviewing films with a view to including it in a future Saturday Night at the Movies, which I’m lucky enough to curate with my producer.

How many films do you have to watch a week?

I average a film a day, occasionally two at weekends. With the advent of Netflix and Prime, it’s easier to keep up on my laptop. I can tell you with a book-keeper’s confidence that I’ve seen 72 films for the first time in the first three months of 2019. (This includes Hitchcock’s Rebecca, which I thought I’d seen, but hadn’t - only extracts. I confidently can add it to my repertoire now.) I started to keep count when I was teenager, and haven’t been able to stop.

On average, what’s the percentage of good films to bad that you have to review? Will you watch a really bad film right to the end?

If it’s a really, really bad film, I have been known to fast-forward if it’s on my laptop or Sky box. But it’s rare. There’s usually something in every film that makes it a worthwhile experience, and as a critic, you can’t critique what you haven’t seen.

How important do you think the soundtrack is to a film?

It’s vital, and by that I mean the decision to use music or not. One of my all-time favourite scores, Zulu by John Barry, runs for about 20 minutes - it’s the silences that create the drama. There can be nothing more grating than a near-constant score. It’s also true that while great score can double a great film’s impact - think of Hans Zimmer’s work on Dunkirk, or Steve Jablonsky’s on Nightmare on Elm Street - but it can’t make an average film great. I listen out for a composer’s work, but it’s not a prerequisite, nor should it be. Much of the best scoring work goes unnoticed.

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Read Andrew's full-length Q+A in your concert programme for Classic FM's Movie Classics: