Mark begins with one of the most popular genres of all. They are sometimes sneered at by critics, but from the 1930s to the present day, many of our most beloved movies have been romantic comedies. From Bringing Up Baby and The Lady Eve by way of Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally and Pretty Woman to Love, Actually (a particular Kermode favourite) - as well as recent hits such as The Big Sick and La La Land - Mark examines the cinematic tricks and techniques involved in creating a classic romcom. Mark celebrates old favourites, reveals hidden treasures and springs plenty of surprises. Examining films from Hollywood to Bollywood via other gems of world cinema, he reminds us how, much like love itself, the art of the romantic comedy is international.
Federico Fellini coined the term "paparazzi". The curse of celebrities, the bane of existence of the indiscreet, do photographers like Ron Galella contribute to our understanding of the lives of the famous or are they voyeurs? And do they influence and create art? Is there a paparazzi aesthetic?
This time it is the turn of the heist movie, with its unique combination of suspense and action. Whether it is the big bank job or netting a fortune in diamonds, why, asks Mark, do otherwise law-abiding audiences find themselves rooting for robbers and even killers? More than any other genre, the heist movie plays with our sympathies, encouraging us to identify with characters we would run a mile from in real life. From The Asphalt Jungle to Ocean's Eleven by way of The Italian Job and even The Wrong Trousers, Mark shows how recurring character types, such as the mastermind, and sequences like the planning scene and the getaway, draw us into the big score. And he demonstrates how recent hits like Inception, The Wolf of Wall Street and Baby Driver have pushed the conventions of the heist in thrilling new directions. At the box office, at least, crime really does pay.
Pablo Picasso is one of the greatest artists of all time. But where did this all begin? What made Picasso in the first place? Young Picasso visits Malaga, Barcelona and Paris, and explores their influence on Picasso, focusing on specific artworks from these early years - up to the ground-breaking and hugely significant Les Demoiselles d'Avignon. How did he rise to such great heights?
This time Mark explores the genre that captures the joy and pain of growing up - the coming-of-age movie. It is the most universal of all genres, the one we can all relate to from our own experience, yet it can also be the most autobiographical and personal. Film-makers across the world repeatedly return to core themes such as first love, breaking away from small-town life and grown-ups who don't understand. And wherever and whenever they are set, these stories are vividly brought to life using techniques such as casting non-professional actors, camerawork that captures a child's-eye view and nostalgic pop soundtracks. From Rebel without a Cause to Lady Bird by way of Kes, Boyz n the Hood and This Is England, Mark shows how recurring sequences like the makeover and the group singalong, and characters like the gang and mentor figure, have helped create some of the most moving and resonant films in cinema.