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Ebert's Bigger Little Movie Glossary: A Greatly Expanded and Much Improved Compendium of Movie Clichés, Stereotypes, Obligatory Scenes, Hackneyed ... Shopworn Conventions, and Outdated Archetypes
Roger Ebert is the Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic from the Chicago Sun-Times. His reviews are syndicated to more than 200 newspapers in the United States and Canada. The American Film Institute and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago have awarded him honorary degrees and the Online Film Critics Society named his Web site (rogerebert.com) the best online movie review site
You will really appreciate this book after you've read through it two or three times. After that, you'll find yourself watching a movie and yelling out, "fruit cart!" or "antiques of death!" thereby cracking yourself up, and irritating those around you who haven't been blessed with this book. :) The best thing to do is this: buy it, make your friends buy it, and spend some time reading your favorites out loud to each other. Then the more movies you watch, the more cliches you'll start spotting, and even bad movies will be more entertaining.
A very funny book, compiled by critic Ebert with the help of fans, this is the definitive list of movie cliches, everything from "Ali McGraw Disease" (the one where the actress is perfectly coifed and made up for her touching deathbed scene to the famous: "FRUIT CART!" -- an expletive used by knowledgeable film buffs during any chase scene involving a foreign or ethnic locale, reflecting their certainty that a fruit cart will be overturned during the chase, and an angry peddler will run into the middle of the street to shake his fist at the hero's departing vehicle. My favorite is the description of the inevitable scene where the bad guy stops in the middle of his elaborate plan to kill the good guy to explain helpfully his even more elaborate plans to rule the world. Lots of fun, and you'll never look at a movie -- or a fruit cart -- the same way again.
If you work as a filmmaker or in television, whether as a hobby, your profession or your obssession, YOU NEED THIS BOOK. Screenwriters for both film and TV especially need this, since it deals largely with storytelling cliches, but it also lists visual ones in cinematography, in angles, in casting and in general mise-en-scene that it is absolutely crucial for the director to avoid. This book will make you a better filmmaker just on virtue of being aware of what's been done to death.It's also useful across the board. While it usually rips into the more standardized genres (like slasher flicks or action movies), it also chainsaws such common cliches as "The Pet Homosexual" ("he can talk endlessly about sex, provided he never has any himself", most recent offender: "The Next Best Thing" and "Will and Grace"), "Baked Potato People" (the gentle lunatics in the asylum that show the outside world is crazy; most recent offender: "K-PAX"), and more subtle ones like the Fat Guy rule; if a group of men are planning an escape, the fat one usually can't be trusted.This is a very funny book, but it's also very true, and if we made everybody currently making movies sit down and read the damn thing, we'd have better movies, or at least different cliches. Fun for the armchair film freak, but absolutely crucial for the filmmaker.
Granted, some of the ideas are funny, but most of the book is a waste. Only around a third of the entries cite more than one example. Some don't cite any. I would like to know where these particular cliches are found, especially if I don't recognize them. I felt as if the publishers were trying to fill up space. The font is rather large, and there is quite a bit of space between entries. Plus, some strange, irrelevant pictures scattered here and there. And (in more than a few cases), the EXACT SAME IDEA is repeated under different titles. It's almost as if the publishers downloaded their text from the Internet, didn't bother to edit for content, then slapped Roger Ebert's name on the cover. The whole thing has a very unprofessional feel to it. It reminded me very much of those glossy #3.50-type books one finds in supermarkets.
It's not a glossary so much as a joke book ... a compilation of both Mr. Ebert's own list of cinematic cliches and those submitted by his readership. It's a great browser's book, something you can just open up to any page and start reading. I've taken to leaving my copy by the couch, so I can flip through it during commercials and see how many points the film's racked up since the last commercial.The only real problem with the book is the inherent flaw in having a book that features submissions ... quality is uneven, and a few cliches appear multiple times submitted by different people. This is balanced out by some very clever observations, patterns that I hadn't noticed before and which informed by later movie watching.It's not quite as good as "I Hated, Hated, Hated, HATED This Movie," but it's still a seriously funny book for anyone who's fed up with seeing the same movie made over and over again with different titles.
This is a very amusing book of film cliches, some which will make you smile wryly, others make you laugh out loud. Robert Ebert is my favourite film critic, which is why I bought this book and I found it to be a worthwhile buy. I keep it by my bed to dip into when I can't sleep and it always makes me smile. Would also make an ideal present for a film buff ...