The Good, the Bad and the Multiplex

Posted: January 28, 2014 in Book reviews
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(What’s Wrong with Modern Movies?) by Mark Kermode.

The second book by the UK’s most trusted film critic*, a man known for ranting about films, for bemoaning dumb Hollywood blockbusters, for hating 3D and basically being a curmudgeonly so and so. In this book he rants about films, bemoans dumb Hollywood blockbusters, goes into how much he hates 3D, and basically is a bit of a curmudgeon.

But would we want it any other way?

It is a little strange to be writing a book review about a book written by a man known for writing film reviews. Can you critique a critic? Well obviously of course you can, it just seems odd because he’s a far more experienced critic than I’m ever likely to be. He also has a much bigger quiff and looks a lot more like Richard Nixon than I do, but that’s by the by.

Effectively the book is a series of loosely connected missives each discussing a particular subject he feels strongly about; so there’s the discussion about the loss of projectionists, and the homogenisation of cinema via digitally controlled multiplexes. There’s a section detailing how difficult it is for a blockbuster movie with a huge budget and an A-list star to actually flop, which poses the question; if people will go see it anyway, why not at least try to make it intelligent?

There’s an interesting section where he turns his critical eye inward to examine what critics are for, and whether they actually affect whether a film’s successful or not, and he also offers forthright views on the state of the British film industry, Hollywood remaking foreign films, and of course how much he hates 3D…

If you’re a fan of Kermode via his weekly radio show/podcast with Simon Mayo, much of what’s on offer here is familiar, but on the page Kermode has room to expand upon his arguments, throwing a multitude of interesting film facts and autobiographical titbits into the mix, making it a good companion piece for the discerning podcast fan and an interesting read for anyone who love movies.

Kermode is erudite and his writing is punchy and engaging, meaning this was a book I found hard to put down, and even if you don’t agree with his views on Sex and the City 2, Pearl Harbour or the Pirates of the Caribbean films (and personally I think he’s overly harsh on Titanic) there’s usually something appealing about the way he makes his case that means you don’t mind.

* This is true, it’s in the book although Mark Kermode is self-deprecating enough to point out that only 3% of people interviewed trusted him, so it isn’t actually as impressive as it sounds!

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