cover image Seeing Through Movies

Seeing Through Movies

Mark Crispin Miller. Pantheon Books, $24.95 (266pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57491-2

These six essays pose a number of absorbing and insightful points, but also make an exaggerated case for the larger significance of mass culture films like Star Wars. Moreover, by focusing mainly on Hollywood money-makers, the authors, however ironically, reinforce the notion that the movies worth assessing are the ones that are big, expensive, popular and (above all) American. Citing A Face in the Crowd , Network and Broadcast News , Todd Gitlin's article, the least convincing of the lot, addresses the often-argued subject of cinema's capitulation to the eroding influences of television. In a perceptive piece on Vietnam films, Pat Aufderheide shows how subtle shifts in our attitudes about that war have contributed to these films' success. Peter Biskind's look at blockbusters says they have abandoned cynicism and critical perspective for childhood and childish views. Douglas Gomery analyzes the decline of movie theaters, and Stuart Klawans discusses colorization, cogently separating hysteria from the facts. Miller's ( Boxed In: The Culture of TV ) own work demonstrates the symbiotic relationship that has developed between advertising and films. First serial to the Atlantic. (June)