Thursday, May 29, 2008

Movie Wars (2000)

I recently plucked Jonathan Rosenbaum's Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Movies We Can See (2000) off of the Dr. M shelf for a random non-fiction read. Rosenbaum was reportedly not happy with the subtitle, which the publishers added, and while it does reduce his argument a bit, I don't think it misrepresents the ultimate thrust of the book.

In this book, Rosenbaum examines the often-heard explanation that the reason Hollywood movies are so dumb is because that is what the people want to see. Through a series of previously published essays (with new content in the introduction and conclusion), he suggests that the real reason Hollywood movies are so dumb is because it is easier for the film industry to make and sell them and easier for reviewers to write about them. Plus it makes them feel better for not seeking out foreign, arty, or difficult films themselves -- if we all know that the mass audience will never watch this movie, then why should we write about it?

Occasionally Rosenbaum gets a little repetitive (particularly in his dislike of certain film critics and Harvey Weinstein), his constant pointing to France is a little tiring, and I don't always agree with his views on certain films or directors. Still, this book is fun in its polemicism, and worth reading just to be able to shake your fist along with Rosenbaum at those creepy advertising dudes and dumb film writers who don't even like films.

[And if you are interested in more discussion of this book, check out this lengthy and interesting review of the book that was published in Senses of Cinema.]

1 comment:

Jennifer LaSuprema said...

Here's a fairly decent rant by David Mamet re: how all the crap scripts get made: http://arts.guardian.co.uk/fridayreview/story/0,,899295,00.html