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Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler: Celluloid Tirades and Escapades Paperback – February 2, 2000

3.7 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Joe Queenan is, by his own admission, not a nice man. He is, however, hilarious. These twin traits, combined with a genuine love of movies in all their flawed, insane glory, make him particularly well-suited to writing vicious and side-splitting little gems of film commentary. Queenan is a master of the quick jab (during a showing of Alive he is compelled to shout, "Eat Vincent Spano first!") and of cutting to the chase ("In short, Philadelphia is A Few Good Gay Men"), but it is his longer, more thoughtful pieces that really make the book. "Hair Force," his essay on actors who manage to hijack the audience's attention for entire films through inappropriate wig use, is a masterful dissection of an insidious and chilling cinematic phenomenon. "The Drilling Fields" is a heartrending piece on the consistent and doubtless crushing failure of the motion picture industry to portray dentists in a positive light. And only Queenan could produce "And Then There Were Nuns," the most complete guide to nun movies you're ever likely to run across.

But Queenan is no mere armchair sociologist. He is unafraid to venture into the field and put his own life at risk for the increase of cinematic knowledge. In the book's title piece, he shouts his way through movie after movie, trying to figure out what it is that makes people put up with hecklers. In the ongoing "Don't Try This at Home" series, Queenan puts cinematic plot points to the test, using the most rigorous scientific standards to determine whether you can really learn Portuguese in 20 minutes like John Travolta in Phenomenon (no) and if hot candle wax is really as erotic as it seems in Body of Evidence (don't even think about it). All in all, this is an indispensable volume for any serious film student. Especially if the film student in question really hates Vincent Spano. --Ali Davis

From Publishers Weekly

A quirky, often perceptive movie maven, Queenan (Red Lobster, White Trash, and the Blue Lagoon, etc.) returns to book form with a collection of 25 reprinted essays that satirize, spoof and frequently skewer the pomposities of Hollywood. Although his tone is occasionally serious--as when he points out the contradiction between Spike Lee's progressive politics and his endorsement contract with Nike, which allegedly runs sweatshops ("Spike Lee Does Not Bite")--Queenan more often couches his critiques in sarcasm. When he is describing how directors' visions are often eclipsed by Hollywood star power ("A Complete Lack of Direction") or the high-toned pretensions of the Merchant-Ivory films ("The Remains of the Dazed"), he usually strikes a balance between being recklessly arch and reasonably insightful. Queenan's insights are often so on-target that readers may find themselves wishing for more. But he is essentially a comic writer who delivers laughs in almost every essay: in "Hair Force," a piece on bad film hair, he claims that John Turturo's "failed afro... makes him look like a Sicilian Clarence Williams." Queenan fans will rejoice. (Feb.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (February 2, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786884649
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786884643
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
You could make a pretty strong case that Joe Queenan is one of the funniest people around (the good folks at the Simpsons would, in my mind, be his stiffest competition). You could also argue that Queenan is the meanest man in the world, although Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight seems to have a stranglehold on the title (no pun intended). But without a doubt Queenan is the funniest mean man on the planet, or the meanest funny man, take your pick. His humor isn't based on a quirky take on modern society or on expletive-laden tirades against foreign convienience store workers. No, Queenan focuses his hilarious malevolence on those people who stare down at us from the covers of People and Vanity Fair, the famous actors and singers and writers and other entertainment types we all supposedly revere.
The reviews and essays aren't just lazy hack jobs done from the confort of his couch. Queenan's great service to the public is through his exhaustive research of such esoteric topics as Bad Nun Movies and Blarniful Irish Films. He exposes himself to ludicrous risks to shine the light of truth and dispell the darkness that Hollywood casts. He takes a dip in the Atlantic to prove that Leonardo DiCaprio wouldn't have been so chatty bobbing around in the drink at the end of "Titanic". He volunteers to watch the entire Merchant-Ivory catalogue. In the title essay he assumes the role of the jerk at the back of the theater who shouts insults at the screen, ruining "El Mariachi" and "Alive" for the other moviegoers, any of whom could be a hulking Vincent Spano fan prepared to cave in Queenan's skull.
It is amazing, as you read Queenan's malevolent reviews, what total crap Hollywood regularly excretes and expects us to revere as art. He exposes many movies as stupid, insulting, moronic, self-serving, or just plain awful. That his reviews are also hilarious is just a nice added bonus.
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By A Customer on May 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
I loved Joe Queenan's "If You Are Talking to Me your Career Must be in Trouble" and have sought out everything else he has written since reading that hilarious book several years ago. This book is a disappointment. Part of the problem is that when put together, you realize that a lot of his essays consist either of: (a) the juxtaposition of movies with similar story lines to illustrate the point that Hollywood movies are formulaic (shocking revelation; its amusing the first time he does it, but wears thin after a while); or (b) attempting to do replicate feats in movies in real life to illustrate the concept that Hollywood movies are unrealistic (another shocking revleation; this wasn't funny to me even the first time). The essay which involved him acting like a jerk in movie theatres just didn't work for me either. Still has a few chuckles in it and good observations on movies. The piece about nun movies is quite amusing.
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Format: Paperback
Joe Queenan is a cynical b*stard. No, that's not an insult, and he probably wouldn't take it as such. In fact, he'd probably revel in it and tell me to keep up the good work. Queenan used to write for Movieline magazine and, for me at least, was the only thing worth reading in there. Confessions of a Cineplex Heckler: Celluloid Tirades and Escapades is a collection of some of these articles. As long as you don't mind raw language and (usually) snarky comments about movies and movie stars, you won't find a funnier book of entertainment essays around. I had to read parts of this book out loud to my wife (who has already read it, but so long ago that she doesn't remember details) because I had to talk about them to somebody.
This was my first exposure to Queenan (at my wife's urging) and I can definitely say I'm going to track down the rest of his books. He has a self-admittedly bad attitude which doesn't really suit every reader, but makes me laugh and giggle endlessly at what he says. The title article, where he goes to certain movies and heckles them loudly to see how long it will take before other movie-goers will do something other than say "shhhhhh!" works on two levels: it shows what a complete a** he can be, but it also shows how passive a society we have become. He went to ten films and shouted things at the screen or at audience members who politely asked him to be quiet (such as "The movie's in Greek, pal. Potato chips can't drown out subtitles") In only one of these movies was he thrown out, and most of the other time, people either just tried to ignore him or basically just said "shhhh!" Very rarely did anybody actually do anything about it.
That's one of the great things about Queenan.
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Format: Paperback
Yes, intellectually, Andre Bazin and Andrew Sarris have him beat hands down in terms of critical analysis of film but in terms of breezy, curmudgeonly American wit and pith, Joe Queenan is, along with George S. Kaufman, Robert Benchley, Groucho Marx and H.L. Mencken, one of the funniest men of the 20th Century to write (or think for that matter) in the English language. He is not, nor does he attempt to be, Jean Baudrillard writing "Simulacra and Simulation", but a clever, cutting wise guy who holds up a mirror to the Elephant Man that is a large chunk of American culture. Kaufman, Woollcott, Parker and others of the Algonquin Round table were not hard core intellectuals but journalists with a quick and brilliant take on the madness of the world around them. And yet, honestly, who would want to read Jean-Francois Revel's "Without Marx or Jesus" instead of "The Man Who Came to Dinner" or "The Groucho Letters"? That is why I will defend Mr. Queenan's brilliance until the last reel of the latest Keanu Reaves and Steve Guttenberg film goes tumbling over the spool at your local Cineplex.
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