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A Year at the Movies : One Man's Filmgoing Odyssey Paperback – Bargain Price, September 1, 2002

4.1 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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From Publishers Weekly

Until they realize how much dreck Hollywood puts out, most people wouldn't mind having Murphy's job. Murphy, best known from the cult TV hit Mystery Science Theater 3000, set out to see a movie a day for all of 2001-and he's got the occasionally repetitive but usually amusing stories to prove it. He snuck into Cannes, roamed Route 66 in search of drive-ins, visited a midnight sun film festival in Lapland, and lived for a week on (almost) nothing but concession-stand food. Few would argue with Murphy's harangues at shoddy theaters and dopey summer movies ("people watch them simply to be distracted and sort of entertained, and since I can do this watching a ceiling fan, I bristle at paying good money"), and his jolly geekdom makes for engaging company. He's a highbrow man of the people, and even when the occasional chapter falls flat or the book feels a bit slapped together, he'll still make readers eager to grab a paper and see what's playing at the local theater.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Kevin Murphy spent ten years as a writer, producer, and performer on the Peabody Award-winning series Mystery Science Theater 3000. He is coauthor of The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide. He lives in Minnesota with his long-suffering, movie-tolerant wife, Jane. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; 1st edition (September 1, 2002)
  • ISBN-10: 0060937866
  • ASIN: B0006ZRMFA
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 4.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,528,581 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew McCaffrey VINE VOICE on May 12, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For those of you who don't know, Kevin "Tom Servo" Murphy took it upon himself to "go to the movies" at least once a day for the entirety of 2001, and to put that experience down on paper. Given the amount of garbage that was passing for entertainment that year, this may seem like a fearsome challenge. But Murphy appears to have relished the opportunity to get paid for what most of us consider a relaxing leisure-time activity. And even acknowledging the aspects of movie-going that he disliked, one gets the impression that he at least enjoyed complaining about them.
A YEAR AT THE MOVIES is a collection of essays written during that year-long adventure. Fifty-two chapters, one per week, detail everything that he felt worth mentioning. Murphy engages in several gimmicks during the course of his book. He attempts to find the smallest theatre in the world (apparently it's squeezed into some guy's house, and is an actual licensed and legal cinema). He brings six different women to the same date movie on consecutive days (his wife is described on the back cover as "long-suffering"). He smuggles in an entire turkey dinner on Thanksgiving Day (the man fits a table under his coat - if there was an Academy Award for table-sneaking, he'd deserve it). He attempts spending a week eating nothing but concession stand food (again, his wife is described as "long-suffering").
However, as entertaining as these exploits are, I was more interested in the day-to-day things that Murphy picked up on during the year.
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Format: Paperback
As Kevin Murphy recounts his movie-a-day filmgoing year, I was afraid the story might start to drag somewhat, or that he would feel the need to review every film he saw. Instead, I got drawn into a book that, while relatively long (about 350 pages), was still intelligible, and enjoyable both in small doses and in longer, more concentrated, readings.
Murphy divides his epic, sensibly, into 52 week-long essays. The films he sees that week inform the topic of his essays, but seldom *are* the topic. Instead, we get interesting, and highly personal, looks at all different aspects of the filmgoing experience, ranging from travelogues to Italy, Finland, or Australia, to a few hours working at a multiplex theater, to meditations on genres like kung fu, fantasy, or horror films. There are also insightful and well-informed meditations on the state of American filmgoing, the impact of the multiplex and the near-demise of arthouse cinemas, and a useful chapter on the difference between film reviewers and film critics. There's an awful lot in this book, and it's nearly all good stuff.
Kevin Murphy clearly knows and loves films, and he is a fine writer. A comparison with the two books by his former MST3K colleague Michael J. Nelson (who makes a brief cameo in this book) might be in order: I found both of Mike's books really funny, but frankly haven't found myself in a big hurry (yet?) to go back and re-read them. Kevin's, on the other hand, isn't intentionally funny "humor writing," but still has a lot of entertaining stories, asides, and turns of phrases. And I could see myself re-reading it a lot more easily.
I waited impatiently to get a copy of this book (in part -- I'm obliged to say it -- because I loved Tom Servo), and it definitely paid off the wait. Film fans and MST fans both will, I think, come to the same conclusion.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is about the whole moviegoing adventure. He is not just talking about the movies, like the first Harry Potter flick, or just about the stars, like Jackie Chan, but everything. The theater, the audience, the food, the seats! He goes to film festivals in France and Finland, drive-ins in the desert, theaters in the South Pacific, Italy and in Australia. He talks about films from Hong Kong and films from before the invention of sound. He talks about the smallest commercial movie theater, where the owner sells the tickets out of his bedroom window, to the multiplex, the sing-along film, the club cinema and the cinema grill. He deals with the food, even trying to live on popcorn, individual pizzas and shrink-wrapped sandwiches for a week. He deals with movies in the park, movies in the museums and movies in Hollywood! He deals with the people too. The critics, the fanboys, the kids and the people who work AT the movies.
It is funny, yet has serious points. One whole chapter is on September 11. It so happens I was reading this while on the bus to the Pentagon. This chapter was so powerful that I started to cry.
The book reminds me of the greatest movie I ever saw. Star Wars. My family saw it when it first came out in a drive-in theater. My brother and I sat on top of the car, a station-wagon, and watched this great sci-fi flick on a background of real stars. AND it will never happen again. Drive-ins are few and far between. The movie itself has been CHANGED and even cars are different. I don't trust any of this tiny models to hold up my own weight (or even that of my brother's young kids).
Each chapter is a week, with the list of the films he saw and where he saw them (which makes a nice list of movies you might wish to rent or buy in the future).
Flip open the book, get a bucket of butter-flavored popcorn and ENJOY!
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