Published on November 27th, 2014 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Jim Gordon of CTV and The Travel Guys
Jim Gordon has been the weekly film critic at CTV Vancouver since 1998, and has Co-hosted/Co-Produced the weekly show, The Travel Guys since 2003. He also writes for several online magazines.
We spoke with Jim Gordon about his love of film and his experience in entertainment.
How did you become interested in the entertainment industry and what steps did you take to get involved?
I became interested at a very young age, developing a love of movies thanks to my wonderful mother. When I was a kid, it was sports, movies and wanting to be a radio DJ. I got a TV/film review column in the local newspaper by the time I was 17 and also got involved in TV and radio, and DJ’ing in bars. I studied Film at the University of Waterloo, and along with my cousin, made a movie that was broadcast locally. That led to a 4 movie deal with a small movie company in Toronto after university. It was a great first break, and I loved it, but I kept doing film reviews as well.
How would you sum up what you do as a film critic and television personality? What’s a typical work day like for you?
As a film critic on CTV, my job is to convey my thoughts and opinions as quickly and succinctly as possible. I try to cover a wide variety of films/DVDs each week so there’s hopefully something for everyone. With our TV show, The Travel Guys, our approach over the last 11 years has been very similar in that we cover a destination with insight, information, and humour, hopefully giving the viewer a sense of what it’s like. As for a typical day, it varies, depending on what “hat” I’m wearing that day.
What’s the biggest misconception about film critics?
I’m not sure, maybe that we don’t like mainstream movies, which is not the case.
How would you sum up the films of 2014 so far?
I think it’s been pretty good overall. There have been some wonderful films this year from the Hollywood, as well as documentaries, independent and foreign films. I loved Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, and Philip Seymour Hoffman reminded me of all the great performances we’ll never see in one of his last films, the old school spy thriller A Most Wanted Man. The Lunchbox from India is certainly worth seeing, and though I’m so tired of anything with a vampire, Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston were superb in Only Lovers Left Alive. I’ve also enjoyed Birdman with Michael Keaton, Foxcatcher with Steve Carell and The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch.
In your opinion, what are three elements that every film needs to be effective?
A well-written story, interesting characters, and solid acting.
What are your favourite movies?
My favourite movie is The Americanization of Emily (1964), with James Garner and Julie Andrews. It’s an anti-war, romantic drama set during the days leading up to D-Day. It was brilliantly written by the master, Paddy Chayefsky, who also wrote Marty (1955) and the prophetic film about the decline of TV called Network (1976). I also love Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita (1960), and The Counterfeit Traitor (1962) which stars my all-time favourite actor, William Holden.
How about some memorable moments in your career so far?
As a film critic I’ve been very fortunate to have interviewed some well-known people in the business, Helen Mirren and Clint Eastwood rank up there. And Jeff Bridges was such a nice guy, really cool, the dude. But I’ll never forget the time years ago when and I saw Marcello Mastroianni in a Toronto hotel lobby, it took all my nerve to go over and shake his hand but I’m glad I did. He was the epitome of elegance and grace.
Co-hosting a travel show, there have been a number of highlights, but watching locals in Northern Malaysia bet on coconut-plucking, tree monkeys would rank up there.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a film critic?
See a wide variety of film. Read other critics (Time Magazine’s Richard Corliss is among my favourites). Write what you see and post it.
What books have been influential to you in becoming a film critic?
I’ve read so many great books on directors, writers and actors, but those which come to mind are screenwriting books by Syd Field, Hitchcock: The Definitive Study – Francois Truffaut’s book of conversations with Alfred Hitchcock, David Mamet’s Writing in Restaurants, and not too long ago I read the 2001 bio on film/theatre critic, Kenneth Tynan, and Todd McCartney’s 1997 bio on director Howard Hawks.
Where can we find out more about you and keep up with your current and future projects?