- File Size: 361 KB
- Print Length: 111 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: December 12, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01MZXXU5D
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Not Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #646,909 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Corruption: American Political Films Kindle Edition
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Top customer reviews
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I had a lot of fun reading this even though I took my time between each review. A few of the films I never saw and now I want to see them with this book as reference.
What makes me wonder is how did we get so disengaged with our local politics that we only understand politics on screen versus our very real local rules and leaders.
Rarely, if ever, have I seen a more bad faith spiel in a book about film. The bigger problem though is that while Berlatsky is sometimes very insightful, he has been writing for blogs and magazines too long to actually MAKE a complete argument. He summarizes, alludes, concludes, and generally contempts in stark terms. He does with a mild humor, but again unlike his comic book writing, he is generally scolding. Instead of completing the argument about what Warren Beaty was misunderstanding about race in Bulworth, which I agree with him about, he basically accuses Beaty of just wanting to have the male gaze on Holly Barry. The heuristic of suspicion that one should have that a literate person picks up on in graduate school humanities is made into an assumption of personal defect. Berlatsky may be right even on that count, but he doesn't write on any topic for long enough or in detail enough to really prove it.
When speaking about political films with literary counterparts--such as films about books by Robert Penn Warren or James Dickey--he doesn't even seem to feel the need to comment on the relationship to the source material and what they may say about the time period. He never stays on a topic enough to complete that kind of argument. The blog style of journalism weakens this book of essays accordingly. Furthermore, Berlatsky's tendency to use his criticism to make personal attacks on people not even involved in the film--particularly people who often spars with on blogs--is unbecoming.
I wanted to like this book because I do sometimes like Berlatsky's work on comics and culture, because I want to like a slightly cynical book of "leftish" film criticism isn't bogged down in neologism and half-processed Deleuze references. Berlatsky's writings for Reason.com, which is actually surprising given some of his politics but is completely consistent with his distrust of class politics--often does deliver sound book reviews. Berlatsky benefits from an editor, but mostly, I wish he would reign his own writing in and let the arguments speak louder than the conclusions. He writes like he doesn't trust his writer to come to the "right" conclusion often, but then again, while his thesis that "corruption" renders most political films a-political is actually sound and quite astute, the sententiousness is just not earned within his essays but more by his passion here.
In short, this is a book that is tonally hard because it seems scolding, and in a many ways, seems written quickly and too contemporarily to be fully digested. The asides and personal attacks that Berlatsky uses as evidence are often not developed enough to feel like good faith arguments or actually on point contemporary references. His primary thesis is dead-on, but in away, that actually makes the books flaws more distracting. I would read it as I suggest one can learn from it, but read like one would read a blog. Berlatsky's scholarship on Wonder Woman or his book reviews for Reason.com or his writing for the Atlantic is probably a better place to start from than this collection.
I do think that at points he could use some TLC from an editor, but that's a peril of self-publishing and largely doesn't detract.
If you're torn, I'd recommend checking out his twitter @nberlat. If you decide you're up for different facets of "everything is horrible; allow me to explain with cultural criticism", and you like his tone on there, you'll like what you get. I did.