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The Film Snob*s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Filmological Knowledge Paperback – February 21, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A witty, often devastatingly funny, ultra-sophisticated guide for the uninitiated, the would-be cinephile’s equivalent to decrypting the Rosetta Stone. Even I had no idea that Clint Howard was a cult figure.” —Bruce Goldstein, Repertory Program Director, Film Forum (New York) and founder, Rialto Pictures

About the Author

DAVID KAMP is a longtime writer for Vanity Fair, where short versions of The Film Snob*s Dictionary and the The Rock Snob*s Dictionary first appeared, and also contributes regularly to GQ. LAWRENCE LEVI has written about films and film culture for The New York Times, The Nation, and many other publications, and was a colleague of Kamp’s at Spy, the much-missed satirical magazine. Both Kamp and Levi live in New York.

ROSS MacDONALD’s illustrations have graced many major periodicals, including The New Yorker and Rolling Stone. He lives in Connecticut.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (February 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767918762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767918763
  • Product Dimensions: 4.9 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #121,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Over the last 20 years, David Kamp has carved out a dual career in "proper" journalism and humor writing: like Calvin Trillin's, only far less respected and lucrative. He is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair magazine and the author of national bestseller "The United States of Arugula: The Sun-Dried, Cold-Pressed, Dark-Roasted Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution" (selected as one of the New York Times's Notable Books of 2006), as well as the "Snob's Dictionary" series of humorous lexicons: "The Rock Snob's Dictionary," "The Film Snob's Dictionary," "The Food Snob's Dictionary," and "The Wine Snob's Dictionary."

Kamp got his start at Spy magazine, the seminal satirical New York monthly, while still in college in 1987. He was later an editor and writer for GQ magazine, and, since 1996, has been writing full-time, with his work appearing in Vanity Fair, GQ, and the New York Times, among other publications. His interests include food (the subject of "The United States of Arugula"), pro football (he has profiled Tom Brady, Troy Polamalu, and Tony Romo for GQ, but, alas, none of his beloved New York Giants), and, especially, music (he profiled the reclusive Sly Stone for Vanity Fair and also wrote of Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash's moving late-in-life friendship for that magazine). Above all, Kamp is uncomfortable writing self-aggrandizing words about himself in the third person.

Kamp, who is currently at work on another sweeping work of nonfiction, lives in Greenwich Village and rural Connecticut with his wife, two children, and dog. His author site, which is occasionally actually updated with fun stuff, is at davidkamp.com

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Aaron on April 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Oh yes, I'm one of those "insufferable" chaps this book takes great aim at. And I enjoyed every moment of it. This is a very amusing little book that manages to serve as a surprisingly decent introduction into the names, faces and works that your basic so called "film snob" holds sacred. At the same time, it's also a painfully funny jab at the admittedly elitist world the "film snob" inhabits. The book was so damn accurate that it sometimes hit too close to home.

If you've ever found yourself driving for over two hours to catch that acclaimed film everyone at Cannes was raving about. If the words "The Criterion Collection" causes your pulse to race with excitement. If you've suddenly found yourself friendless because your buddies got sick and tired of you raving about the latest and greatest Cronenberg film. Or if you find yourself in online arguments about why 'French Connection II' is the better film than the original, then this book is for you.

If you have a friend who is all of the above and who forces you to sit "in the third row" on the left when he drags you to a film, this book is the perfect tool that you can use to keep up with him. Or bring him back down to Earth! A nifty little book.

Oh, and by the way Messers Kamp and Levi, you guys are correct. 'Office Space' really does suck!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dora Chance on April 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you've ever watched Meshes of the Afternoon at Anthology Film Archives on an August day when the air conditioning was broken...or laughed knowingly at Joan Crawford's and Mercedes McCambridge's performances in Johnny Guitar...or refrained from laughing when Annie Lennox inexplicably began warbling "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" during that awful Derek Jarman movie, well, this book is for you. Or maybe it's not-it might hit a little too close to home.

But for everyone else it's really, really funny. Highly recommended. I especially like the guide to determining whether you're watching a "movie" or a "film."

And yes, I do know that the phrase "awful Derek Jarman movie" is oxymoronic.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Tait on April 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
A true snob, of course, will crack the spine with an eager eye for chinks in the armor. But quit hatin' and start congratulatin' -- this Dictionary is too well-crafted, funny, and steeped in film culture to be dismissed.

Its real significance, though, is the new breed of snob that it represents -- one that can name-drop Cahiers du Cinema and then laugh at its own pretense; one that's at ease with Wire Fu and Bergman both; one that's comfortable enough with its gut reaction to say "Dude, Tarkovsky's kinda boring." Which means you'll get a heavy dose of the canon, along with some serious arcana about the marginalized weirdness that'll wind up in the canon, one day, if these guys have their way.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Handel on April 30, 2006
Format: Paperback
It's funny 'cause it's true. Tom Servo owns two copies in case one gets lost. If you were born before 1970, I need only say, This Was Written By Two Guys From Spy Magazine. What are you waiting for? Also includes helpful tips on matters such as distinguishing Sydney Pollack from Sidney Lumet, which used to be a problem for me, but no more!
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Green on May 5, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While the Rock Snob book was both an interesting encyclopedia and a witty critique of a sub-culture, this just seems like the employees' manual from a slightly above-average video store. It doesn't seem to get the cineastes, the gorehounds, or the fan-boys in it's scope. It just seems a MEDITATION ON the slightly off-beat with a nod toward the classic.

It's probably this year's gift of choice for people you don't want to drop $30 on a Criterion DVD for. But they won't find it amusing.
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Format: Paperback
If you like classical cinema, get this funny and intelligent book...
Theoretical definitions are hillarious (Apparatus), biographical entries are clever and sometimes brilliant, the view of "film culture" very insightful (film circles with 19-year olds who have already seen every film, fans with penile defficiencies who like violent films...).

This is a good present for the coming holidays if you have a film buff for a friend or relative (AND it's not expensive...).
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Format: Paperback
This compact book is quite amusing for anyone who wants to fancy oneself a cinema aficionado. It takes a certain obsessive nature to collect the inconsequential facts and nurture the exclusionary opinions necessary to be a genuine Film Snob, and Vanity Fair writer David Kamp (author of The United States of Arugula: How We Became a Gourmet Nation), along with fellow culture maven Lawrence Levi, do a nifty job within the eminently readable format of a 114-page glossary. They show off a particular gift for smarmy but funny and observant blurbs, for example, in their brief description of 1950's actress-turned-director Ida Lupino, they summarize, "A rare female godhead for the generally estrophobic Snob community". The Criterion Collection is aptly described as an "achingly tasteful video-reissue company that...has found success by recycling old movies as lavish, extras-laden packages for deep-pocketed connoisseurs."

The co-authors also provide guidance on how best to convey the patronizing tone essential to fortify your standing as a Film Snob, for instance, you can explain to your less cinematically evolved friends that "deep focus" is the "fetishized cinematographic technique that enables all the action in a shot, from the foreground to the deep background, to remain sharply focused. Hou Hsiao-Hsien's graceful use of deep focus recalls the work of Yasujiro Ozu, non?
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The Film Snob*s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Filmological Knowledge
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