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Ain't It Cool?: Hollywood's Redheaded Stepchild Speaks Out Hardcover – March 5, 2002

2.8 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The creator of the studio-scooping Web site aintitcoolnews.com delivers a rollicking memoir, a passionate analysis of film industry flaws and an infectious appreciation of "the last bastion of true democracy in America" movies. The child of an alcoholic Texas heiress and a Young-Republican-turned-hippie, Knowles split his childhood between the family compound of his mother's violent relatives and trips to Mexico and Central America, where he and his father would collect native art to resell. After an accident left him bedridden, Knowles launched his Web site, a "Geek Forum" that follows movies from script development to release. His muckraking approach rattles studios, which became clear when Sony served Knowles with a restraining order in 1997 for posting a scoop about the computer animation in Starship Troopers, or when Knowles's early pans of Batman & Robin were widely blamed for the movie's failure. More Winchell- than Ebert-like in approach, Knowles presents himself as a hard-boiled, scrappy underdog working on behalf of the public; largely this works, particularly in his expos‚ of the National Research Group's test marketing of movies. The book is also valuable as a record of the Web's early entrepreneur-driven years, and for its rare insight into Knowles's former employer, Matt Drudge. Film lovers, however, will probably most appreciate Knowles's exuberant, knowledgeable paeans to his celluloid favorites. They include a tribute to 1930s comedy star Lee Tracy, an analysis of how nascent Leo-mania launched Titanic, an explanation of the life lessons of Flashdance and more. (Mar. 5)Forecast: With Knowles's enthusiastic Web following, expect this to surface on some regional and college-oriented bestseller lists and, of course, on every desk in Hollywood.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-Knowles is a movie "geek," which he defines as someone with an "almost hyperactive enthusiasm toward his highly proprietary subject matter." His Web site, "Ain't It Cool," is dedicated to movie news, from the sale of a script to a film's release. Knowles's opinions are pervasive and have frequently brought him into conflict with the Hollywood powers that be. He describes fights with Sony, the National Research Group, Matt Drudge, and others in a light, highly opinionated style, and casts himself as David fighting Goliaths. The narrative is filled with history, trivia, commentary about the ethics of today's journalists, and stories behind the stories. Knowles rounds out his tale with a list of his favorite and least-favorite films, and those he would like to see made. Movie buffs will enjoy this inside look at an outsider who has made a big impact on the film industry.
Jane S. Drabkin, Chinn Park Regional Library, Woodbridge, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; First Printing edition (March 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446525979
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446525978
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,534,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have always found Knowles to be an intriguing personality. Here's a guy who, with little more than a home PC and a handful of industry contacts, is able to successfully maintain a website that attracts hundreds of thousands-if not millions-of viewers every week, with virtually no overhead costs. Companies routinely invest obscene sums of money trying to acquire that kind of viewership. For a while he was a hot item in the press, an overnight folk hero of sorts, heralded as an ordinary guy simply pursuing his passion and attracting the world's attention for it. Thus, I was looking forward to reading this book to find out what Knowles had to say about the intriguing turns his life has taken.
"Ain't it Cool?: Hollywood's Redheaded Stepchild Speaks Out" starts out promisingly enough. The opening chapter explores Knowles' turbulent formative years coming of age in a severely troubled family environment. Raised by hippie parents who peddled vintage movie memorabilia for a living, Knowles' adolescence was thrown into chaos when his mother without warning abandoned her brood to move back in with her own family in rural Texas. Knowles was soon forced to join her there, amidst the company of relatives that, as Knowles describes it, were "the closest I've personally come to consummate evil". His mother eventually succumbed to chronic alcoholism and passed away under tragic circumstances. By then Knowles, now in his late teens, had returned to Austin to live with his father, whom he lovingly describes as his "best friend". Over the next several years Knowles helped his father run his memorabilia business until, one fateful day, an accident he suffered working at a collectors' fair left him immobilized for six months.
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Format: Hardcover
You can say what you want about the man, he's done what so few of his critics has: he has created something unique. Maybe that's why so many people constantly tear him down. On paper, every film geek should love Harry Knowles. He's a personable S.O.B. who loves films with an intense passion, and he's gone from his parents basement to the upper echelon of Hollywood, acheiving the ultimate geek dream. In reality, Aint It Cool News attracts more detractors than fans these days, a litany of negative, cynical film geeks who once looked to Harry as "The King of the Geeks", sort of like Anthony Michael Hall in Sixteen Candles. Now they look at him with scorn and disdain. It always happens to underground icons who achieve mainstream success. They are loved as minor celebrities, and loathed as major ones.
So it is with little doubt in my mind that Harry's first book "Ain't It Cool? Hollywood's Redheaded Stepchild Speaks Out" will be met with both loving and loathing. Harry's fans will love the book regardless, Harry's detractors will hate it. Anyone unfamiliar with Mr. Knowles should well stay away from this poorly written tome.
Much like his site, Harry's book focuses way to much on his perception of things. Mind you, it is his book, and he can do whatever he pleases, but this autobiographical/film philosophy hodge podge comes across as little more than a self serving, self congratulatory ode to himself.
Note to Harry: When other people call you "revolutionary", it's creates the perception of truth. When you call yourself "revolutionary", well that's just kind of sad.
This book could have been so much more. Knowles has forgotten the fundamentals that made him popular in the first place.
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Format: Hardcover
If you were to read this guy's writing out loud, you'd sound like seven year old kid just leaving the movie theater. I'm torn about his website because I love the information, but hate the writing style. That should have clued me in as to how bad this book is.
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Format: Hardcover
I was looking forward to reading this book when it was first announced as I was a frequent visitor to Knowles' 'Aint It Cool News' website at the time and wanted to find out more about the development and history behind the site. Once I had purchased the book, any enthusiasm I had quickly evaporated upon reading it. And I had stopped visiting AICN regularly by the time I finished it.
There's a wearying sense of self-importance throughout the book. For example, Harry recounts the story of having conversations with 'Batman And Robin' director Joel Schumacher after the film bombed, and suggesting to Schumacher that he take on more personal projects. Harry is quick to point out that he's not taking credit for Schumachers subsequent career turnaround, but it sure reads like he is as he portrays himself as Yoda to the directors Luke Skywalker. That's just one example of Knowles painting a picture of himself as someone whose opinions are highly valued and acted upon by Hollywood players.
And then there's Harry as journalist. He justifies using the label by reeling off a list of films about newspapers and reporters he's seen. I actually laughed out loud when I read Harrys attempts to portray himself as a real journalist. He then goes on to destroy any credibility he may have had by admitting to posting positive reviews for 'Gods And Monsters' under false names at his site in order to get folks to see the film. If a real journalist did something that dishonest, they'd be out of a job real quick. However, Harry is his own boss. And as long as traffic remains high at his site and he keeps getting interviewed by the mainstream media and offered film cameos, I'm sure he's not too concerned about any criticism that may come his way. It's also worth asking the question...
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