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Beyond Popcorn: A Critic's Guide to Looking at Film

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0910055703
ISBN-10: 091005570X
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Spokane-based critic and teacher Glatzer targets uninitiated but curious moviegoers who want to assess films intelligently and place them in context. He discusses film acting and camera placement; the jobs of cinematographer, editor, art director, composer, casting director, grip, and assistant director; foreign films; and truly great directors (a debatable selection, naturally). In addition, there are thumbnail sketches of 143 must-see movies, and the ubiquitous director "Alan Smithee" is defined. Glatzer is best when analyzing Buster Keaton's comedy and identifying stories unworthy of their supposed significance. And his "Ten Minute Movie Maven" epilog could stand on its own as a magazine article. On the negative side, seasoned moviegoers will take issue with Glatzer's views that the only leading ladies who aren't "drop-dead gorgeous" are Renee Zellweger and Minnie Driver, that Arnold Schwarzenegger never played a heroic role until Terminator 2 (ignoring Conan, Predator, Total Recall, and Kindergarten Cop), and that director Robert Wise (The Set-Up, The Day the Earth Stood Still, I Want To Live!, West Side Story) is a "hack." All the same, his opinionated book is recommended for public libraries. Kim Holston, American Inst. for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters, Malvern, PA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

In his engaging book Beyond Popcorn: A Critic's Guide to Looking at Films, Robert Glatzer offers a detailed and insightful look behind the scenes of filmmaking. Written for any movie lover, in a witty and knowledgeable style, this is a basic guide to understanding film. Glatzer deals with movies as an art form, not just as entertainment, and gives the reader valuable insights into just what makes one film better than another.

The book has chapters on how a director directs, on styles of comedy, on musicals, and even what all the credits mean. Glatzer analyzes a number of important films, helping readers understand the key elements of writing, directing and acting. This book will make readers into better critics of the films they see. There's even a list and description of what he calls "all the films you have to see before you die".

A partial list of chapters:

-- How a critic's brain works.

-- The difference between acting and acting in films.

-- Deciding where the camera goes.

-- What we learn from Buster Keaton.

-- Why we cry at the movies.

-- What all the other Oscars are about.

-- The greatest films of all time.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Eastern Washington University (May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 091005570X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0910055703
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I've been doing a lot of reading about film in the last year and I have to say that Glatzer's guide was not as helpful as the other books I've read. When I compare Glatzer's guide to Jim Piper's guide, "Get the Picture?: The Movie Lover's Guide to Watching to Films," I fnd that while Glatzer may be a good movie critic, he, unlike Piper, is not a very good teacher of the subject.
Much of Glatzer reads like moive review of films instead of a guide for reading films critically. His first few chapters provide some basic insight on the differences between movies and theatre productions and the role of the camera in flims, but the rest of book is not as helpful as it could be.
The chapter on laughter in film, for example, is not useful. He tries to explain humor by focusing on the work of Buster Keaton, but many of us contemporary film goers might not find Keaton all that funny. The same goes for his chapters on musicals, foriegn films, and movie credits--each of them are not very helpful for understanding contemporary films.
Perhaps it's his last chapters that save this book. Glatzer provides a list of "must see films" and a list of guide questions you should ask yourself about a movie. I wish Glatzer had used those questions to develop his guide.
Finally, I was also disappointed that neither Glatzer or Piper provide a multicultural examination of films. There are so many films by directors of color that don't get examined in either of the guides. The contributions of Spike Lee, Wayne Wang, Charles Burnett, John Singleton, Melvin Van Peeples, Julie Dash, and Camille Billops (documentary film maker), should have been include in their guide.
I guess if you're coming from more of classical film tradition, Glatzer guide might be helpful, but if you're looking for guide to more contemporary, as well as classic and foreign films, check out Piper's book.
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Format: Paperback
This book was just what I needed. I love to watch movies, and I know what I like, but I never really knew why I liked them. It is the perfect book for someone like me who has never studied film but would like to know more.
It covers how movies are made, the roles of all the folks involved, and what separates good writing, directing, or acting from the bad.
Also his "all time best" lists, agree or disagree, are fun to discuss.
Finally, it is written in a fun, fast-paced style.
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By A Customer on July 13, 2001
Format: Paperback
Mr. Glatzer has a wonderful readable style which reminds me of his popular NPR movie reviews. No, I don't agree with all his conclusions --I happen to think THE ENGLISH PATIENT is a virtuoso film --but it is a treat to imagine arguing film with this gentleman. If every non-fiction author had his easy-going and intelligent style, I might be tempted to supplement my fiction diet with a few books the likes of BEYOND POPCORN. It is a triumph.
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