An insider investigation into the ways in which Hollywood is changing that will certainly prove invaluable in the coming...

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THE $11 BILLION YEAR

FROM SUNDANCE TO THE OSCARS, AN INSIDE LOOK AT THE CHANGING HOLLYWOOD SYSTEM

A yearlong chronicle of 2012’s major films—from Sundance to Oscar night—highlighting the many challenges currently dogging the industry.

It might be self-evident to point out that the film industry has not remained immune to the stark changes presented by digital technology. In Thompson’s (Film Criticism/Univ. of Southern California) dissection of the film year, she provides an interesting case study for the future of the industry. After all, 2012 was a banner year for Hollywood, as her title suggests. However, the old model is being challenged by digital encroachment in a variety of ways. Therein lies the paradox of the new paradigm: Digitization is at once propelling the industry to untold revenues, while at the same time making it more difficult for the industry to stake out easy gains in a rapidly shifting and unpredictable landscape. More than ever, consumers have nearly limitless choices, further pressuring Hollywood to produce safe bets like gigantic, CGI-filled action flicks to pad out the bottom line. This type of stratification is not exclusive to Hollywood either, and a case could be made that Hollywood’s problem is really a symptom of the larger, systemic problems with our technology-crazed economy. In her examination, Thompson tracks films, from fledgling indies, like Beasts of the Southern Wild, vying for distribution contracts on the festival circuit to major “tent-pole” summer blockbusters—both the successes, like Marvel’s franchise juggernaut The Avengers, and flops, like Disney’s disastrous John Carter. While the author undoubtedly understands the prevailing industry trends and how they are changing, she remains a reporter at heart. Rich with anecdotes and gossip, Thompson presents Hollywood as a living, breathing community. From executive firings and hirings to the stories behind films that almost never made it to the screen, Thompson’s journalistic flair makes her analysis of the film industry a compelling and page-turning read.

An insider investigation into the ways in which Hollywood is changing that will certainly prove invaluable in the coming years.

Pub Date: March 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-221801-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Newmarket Press for It Books/Harpercollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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