9781578590414 / 1578590418

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About the book:

As short a time ago as 1994, Leonard Maltin's movie guide could boast of "more than 19,000 entries, with 300 new titles!" But with 500-plus movies jostling into theaters every year, the pocket-size, curl-up-with-it film guide has become a relic. Nowadays, film books are faintly scholarly word-hoards with three OED-style columns, a trade-size format, and a heft that calls for your sitting pants. Videohound's 1,700-page edition sasses the new millennium ("Covering 1,000 years of Movie Making Magic!" the cover says), but its girth heralds the day when all such guides will be swallowed up by some vast digital database. Until then, there's this bright book, with its uncalculated number (a hasty guess would be 26,000) of reviews of movies on video, Laserdisc, DVD, and TV, and its massive cross-listings by star, director, writer, and cinematographer (cinematographer!). Retailing itself as an irreverent tour for movie lovers, the book has surprising range, with an equal appetite for difficult, small, and foreign films and Hollywood fare. Some inconsistencies? Yep, and that's what makes guides like this fun. Kurosawa's Seven Samurai is hailed as a "masterpiece" and rewarded an admiring four bones (out of four), while the superbly Heideggerian Wings of Desire, also a "masterpiece," is equivocated to three and a half. The woof-worthy The Wedding Singer gets the same two and a half bones that they give Wes Anderson's estimably giggly debut, Bottle Rocket. Terry Zwigoff's lovely Crumb is M.I.A., and there's a tendency to eschew analysis for plot summary, but Videohound has encyclopedic breadth and does the undeclared job it sets out to accomplish: entertain, inform, and give readers a giant list of movies to watch next year. --Lyall Bush

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