Last week I wrote a glowing review for It’s Only A Movie by Mark Kermode. (You can read it here).
Since then I have had the opportunity to read his follow-up, The Good, The Bad And The Multiplex. Once again I have to say it is a magnificent read and finished it even faster than the first one.
This books differs from the first one in that this isn’t so much about his life as a movie critic, but on the state of cinema in general.
Starting with a history of film projection, he laments the death of the projectionist and with it, the death of an art form. He rails against the commercialisation of cinema, to the point where no-one cares if the film is even being shown correctly in the screen. He rages about how to buy a ticket in the first instance you either have to use a computer (which then they charge you for using) or buy your tickets from the concessions stand in a naked attempt to encourage more overly-priced food sales.
If he sounds like a miserable old bastard, that’s because he is. But he is also terribly funny and spot on pretty much all of the time.
He goes on to attack the latest attempts by Hollywood to foist 3D upon the public, as they do every decade or so, the laziness and corruption behind the Academy Awards, the impossibility of blockbusters to lose money (no matter how boring and stupid) as long as they stick to three basic rules, and the problems of relatively small-scale national cinema when faced by the Hollywood behemoth.
This is a very informative book about all the problems that face cinema fans in the modern era. I once again thoroughly recommend this book to anyone, but particularly those with a love of cinema and care about its artistry and its history.
Without wishing to spoil the ending, his main solution to all of these problems is pretty simple. Don’t go to the giant corporate cinemas which show the same blockbuster movies and who look to squeeze every penny from you without even disguising their naked, unadulterated greed. Instead, (if possible) go to your local independent cinema, the one that shows the independent films you might not actually get the chance to see anywhere else. The cinemas that don’t rely solely on one man operating 30 screens from a control room. The cinemas that still have the option to screen 35 mm prints. In short, the cinemas that actually care about film and the people who come to watch them.
People who love cinema will give you the best cinematic experience.
Buy this book.