THE SCREENING OF AMERICA: Movies and Values from ""Rocky"" to ""Rain Man by Tom O'Brien

THE SCREENING OF AMERICA: Movies and Values from ""Rocky"" to ""Rain Man

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Exercise in populist film culture. What is populist film culture? As O'Brien himself states: ""This book is not intended for film critics, cineastes, or film historians. . .My judgments in this book are based on my politics and aesthetics. . .The book is intended for the common reader . . .for people who go see movies for fun, escape, or enlightenment, and possibly more."" But what he gives is an essay series on film categories that have emerged in the past 10 to 15 years. And what we hear is much the same drone that dullishly ponders genre film lists in Sunday newspaper entertainment sections. Recent trends that O'Brien spots include the death of the love story, such as Doctor Zhivago or Love Story, and the rise of the story with obligatory ""love interest"" and a lovemaking scene; and he notes that the glamorous outlaw is banished, replaced by legions of law-and-order ""avengers."" He groups his trends and subtrends under such headings as ""Teaching"" (Stand and Deliver, Dead Poets Society); ""Cultural Literacy"" and the death of the historical movie (Ben-Hur, Spartacus), as well as the rise of movies historically interested in movies (Red River being admired by folks at The Last Picture Show) and of movies about barbarian cultures (the Schwarzenegger sword epics); ""Work"" (Tucker, Wall Street); ""Sports"" (Bull Durham, Raging Bull); ""Home"" (On Golden Pond, Peggy Sue Got Married); ""Environment"" (Silkwood, Gorillas in the Mist); and so on. These lists, often of quite minor films, leave the reader in a wooze, as if sentenced to a marathon weekend on The Common Filmgoer's HBO Diet, with no Siskell & Ebert Spice. Cineaste, pass by.

Pub Date: Aug. 16th, 1990
Publisher: Continuum