Monday, March 16, 2009

Book Review - A YEAR AT THE MOVIES by Kevin Murphy

2002, 362 pages

I love this book. I bought it back in 2002, just before a trip, and it's one of those books that I go back and read every year or so, because it makes me love movies again. I was a manager at a local theater for a few years, and there were aspects of that job that I will forever look back on fondly, from the days in the projection booth assembling the films, to late night screenings, to exploring the odd little booths and machinery in the place. Apart from the slovenly customers and dozen 16 year olds I was in charge of, it was a job that I could have done for the rest of my life. There can be something magical about the world of movies, beyond the flicks themselves, and spending that much time around them helps drive that home.

Kevin Murphy was one of the founding members of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and made a pledge for this book to watch a movie every day for a year. Naturally, rather than hitting his local multiplex every day, he traveled the globe, watching films in festivals, igloos, sheets tied between trees, anywhere he could. Along the way, he ruminates about why we love the movies, both the films and the experience. He works in a theater, brings his own film for exhibitions, smuggles in a full Thanksgiving dinner, and sees the same crappy blockbuster movies over and over.... for SCIENCE! I love his writing, he seems both cynical and jaded and madly in love with cinema at the same time, and has perfect justification for both. His mission started on January 1st, 2001 and as I re-read the book, it was kind of a kick to read about which movies he saw and remember how many middling flicks came out in 2001. Corky Romano, Pearl Harbor, What Women Want, Scary Movie 2, Cat & Dogs, Tomb Raider, Pootie Tang..... What a collection! I absolutely loved that he went out of his way to visit independent single screen theaters, and found mini theaters in bars, and still gave the giant IMAX and multiplexes an equal billing, experiencing all aspects of the biz.

A Year At The Movies always makes me want to rush off immediately and work for a theater again, to feel the frames slide through my white cotton gloves as I look for the spliced section, and watch the flickering screen through the little window in the projection booth, see people react as one, in a giant wave of laughter or fear. Excellent.


Now Reading - Chillwater Cove by Thomas Lakeman

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