- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Pantheon; First Edition edition (February 6, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0375422536
- ISBN-13: 978-0375422539
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business First Edition Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Mamet's a veteran screenwriter and director (currently producing The Unit for CBS), but that doesn't mean he has any great love for the industry—his Hollywood is the stereotypically corrupt and cutthroat world where screenwriters willingly change their stories to accommodate every stupid suggestion from producers, who are blatantly lining their own pockets, while stars bicker over who has the bigger trailer. But his stories are entertaining even when they're unsurprising, and though loosely organized, a few broad themes emerge. He expounds at length, for example, upon his well-known penchant for straightforward storytelling, where drama boils down to "the creation and deferment of hope," and every scene should be able to answer three questions: "Who wants what from whom? What happens if they don't get it? Why now?" At other times, he's happy simply to explain why he thinks Laurence Olivier was a terrible film actor or to test out a theory that the early film industry owes its development to Eastern European Jews with Asperger's syndrome. As usual with Mamet, each word is precisely chosen for maximum effect, and nearly all hit their mark. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
By anyone's measure, Mamet is a prodigious writer, somehow finding time for the occasional essay amid his ever-expanding repertoire of plays, screenplays, and novels. His latest essay collection focuses on the movie industry, and his stance is that of someone who has seen Hollywood's facelift scars and whose advice to eager novices just off the bus can be summarized thusly: "Go back." This might appear self-serving, for a man who has found success in a cutthroat industry may want to discourage potential competition. But Mamet's cynicism comes off as genuinely hard-won. He outlines the Hollywood caste system with a precision that reflects the bitter experience of the person at the bottom--the screenwriter. Scorn, betrayal, and subjugation--this is the lot of the writer, who, according to Mamet, is resented by nearly everyone in the business. Miraculously, though, great drama is occasionally realized on the screen, and Mamet offers writers some guidelines on how to approach it. However, be warned that those seeking a screenwriting method will be greatly disappointed--but, then again, that is perhaps ideal training for the job. Jerry Eberle
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Also, I got my copy used, and was happy that someone had already underlined a bunch of passages. Saved me some work. ;-)
The above paragraph is an example of making a point through a reference to a movie scene. That's how this book is written. It's a real hoot for the true movie buff.
Mamet's latest literary project is his commentary on the current state of the movie industry: "Bambi vs. Godzilla - On the Nature, Purpose, and Practice of the Movie Business."
Steve Martin's blurb on the dust jacket of the book, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, sums up beautifully the impact that this book will have among Hollywood insiders: "David Mamet is supremely talented. He is a gifted writer and observer of society and its characters. I'm sure he will be able to find work somewhere, somehow, just no longer in the movie business."
Mamet takes the reader behind the scenes of how a movie gets written, shot, edited, marketed and distributed. He gives his unvarnished personal opinion about actors, directors, producers and films he has appreciated - and those he disdains. The book contains a wonderful Appendix that is a compendium of thumbnail descriptions of each of the movies he mentions in the body of the book.
In the course of commenting about the status of the movie industry as business and as art, he offers some illuminating insights into the state of our society:
"The absence of a historical and universally acknowledged authority to which one may pledge fealty and against which one may rebel creates factionalism: the right moves toward fascism, the left toward chaos. Democracy - in extremis - seems capable of devolving to either tyranny or civil war, and America, maddened by unimaginable prosperity and safety, incomprehensibly powerful, and bereft of threats, splits down the middle on the issue of definition.
Is the good person one who will not tolerate a president's lies about sex or one who will not tolerate a president's lies about war? (Pages 33-34)
Touché! Mamet does not pull his punches, and both ends of the political spectrum are fair game for his analysis. The same goes for his deconstruction of the movie business. I walked away from reading this book with a deeper appreciation for the best films and film makers - and a better understanding of what makes/made them so good. The fact that Mamet is - to employ a technical sociological term - a participant/observer in moviedom, adds weight, texture, immediacy and intrigue to his commentary about the industry that both feeds him and frustrates him.
We are blessed to have Mamet - still in his prime - and still shining the light of his observation and analysis upon dark corners of our world that need to be brought out of the shadows.