13 October 2011

Book Review: The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex by Mark Kermode

Title: The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex
Subtitle: What's Wrong With Modern Movies?
Author: Mark Kermode
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 978-1-84-794603-4
Format: Paperback
328 pages
Genre: Non-fiction
Source: Publisher

The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex is Mark Kermode's second book (the first was It's Only a Movie: Reel Life Adventures of a Film Obsessive) about movies.

In this book, the renowned English film critic asks 'What's Wrong With Modern Movies? - and how can we make it right?' Mark Kermode presents an astute analysis of how multiplex cinemas work and rants about why the standard movie-going experience tends to be so disappointing.

Do you always enjoy going to the cinema? Or do you get irritated when some members of the audience (inevitably) behave badly? What about the movie? Have you ever noticed it doesn't look and/or sound right but you weren't sure what was wrong?

Mark Kermode devotes his attention to all these questions and more as he points out the problems associated with the growing trend for films to be shown in a multiplex cinema chain. He bemoans how the great anticipated cinematic experience "...has been replaced by an automated drone of electronic information that requires no supervision..." (thus no need for projectionists) and that the audience have to endure bad behavior because there are no ushers.

The author explains how the movie industry works and the complex reasons why blockbusters make money no matter how bad they are. I was amazed to learn the logic behind this depressing fact. And as he points out, if that's true then what are film critics for?

He also goes into great detail about the history of 3D movies and explains why he dislikes them. And even though Hollywood studios keep trying to foist them onto the public, Mark Kermode insists 3D movies have never been the future of cinema and that it's just another way for movie studios to try and make more money. Indeed, he uses persuasive arguments to make his case.

The chapter called "The British Aren't Coming...Or Going" is very informative. I found it to be a real eye-opener regarding how the Academy Awards (the 'Oscars') work. The author points out that one American movie mogul in particular, is connected to many Oscar winners. He also points out the simple reason why American movies are almost always the Oscar winners.

Mark Kermode presents his (very strong!) views in a witty, conversational style and includes lots of very funny stories. He shares his knowledge about movies with pithy remarks about why some movies are so bad, and despairs of how cinema-goers are so willing to tolerate - and pay to watch - truly awful movies.

This a fun and informative book for any real movie buff and I'm grateful to the publisher, Random House Books, for sending me a copy. I learned a lot about the movie business and also to appreciate the work involved in being a film critic.

If you love movies, you must read The Good, The Bad and The Mulitplex.

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