SEEING THROUGH MOVIES by Mark Crispin--Ed. Miller


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Six essays in media criticism weigh today's moviemaking to see how the Golden Age of Movies turned into the Age of Hyperblastiferousness, or Hype, with empty stories and endless happy endings. The essays have their dull spots--thanks to some overfamiliar stuff--but occasionally they snap to life to make revealing points about our movie-watching and the larger arguments raging through the industry. In some ways this book is an encyclopedia of bad movies that we now accept as entertainment, but the compensation is that the writers here (editor Miller, Todd Gitlin, Douglas Gomery, Pat Aufderheide, Peter Biskind, and Stuart Klawans) are serious, thoughtful analysts of our culture. As they see them, today's movies are hip special-effects that sell innocence, happy endings, and bright ads for Coke, Mercedes Benz, and a landscape of consumer products. Miller gives us an overview of how McLuhan's ""the medium is the message"" has been absorbed into the movie is the message, and how content has become technique, with craft and technology replacing natural human emotions as subject matter, and with only a rare TV or movie film, such as Dennis Potter's The Singing Detective or Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors, seeking literacy. Gomery studies viewing conditions at the mall and on the VCR, with the shrinking returns on scope, texture, and sound. Aufderheide shows how our dozens of Vietnam movies are out to let us forgive ourselves at the expense of truly understanding the war and the Vietnamese. Biskind warns of what we have lost in the blockbuster, while Klawans points out that we have not lost a single Film through colorization: only videotape gets colorized, while pristine new prints of old films are struck, thus preserving our inheritance. A dose of salts into the Hollywood bowels and their product.

Pub Date: July 15th, 1990
Publisher: Pantheon