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The Way Hollywood Tells It: Story and Style in Modern Movies Kindle Edition
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The previous reviewer presented a very selective view on Bordwell essays. By commenting "This is a superb insight into the modern lapse into lazy film making" the reviewer completely neglects Bordwell's thoughts on story and screen-writing.
Certainly, in the second half of the book Bordwell neatly illustrates the lack of focus in modern direction, taking 'Two Week's Notice' and 'Lord Of The Rings' as examples of muddled directions. But this is an oversimplification as he also illustrates the changing tastes of modern directors. For example, he presents a comparison of the same scene in the 1968 and 1999 versions of 'The Thomas Crown Affair' highlighting the different approaches.
However, in the first section Bordwell provides a much more positive view on modern scriptwriting. His detailed analysis of `Jerry Maguire' is a fabulous case in point. Through telling the story of Cameron Crowe's journey to emulate his hero Billy Wilder and by breaking down the script's core components Bordwell shows us the complexity in some modern Hollywood fare.
To simply call the book an "insight into the modern lapse into lazy film making" is to do it a disservice.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The references to contemporary Hong Kong cinema and analysis of films such as Johnny To's A HERO NEVER DIES are also valuable components of this book. Like DRAGNET's Sergeant Joe Friday, Bordwell insists that we supply facts based on viewing the evidence ourselves. We should not ignore important empirical aspects before we begin to make meanings that may eventually prove to be non-substantial. Those who choose to avoid the well-researched findings of this book should be issued with speeding tickets and forced to attend a scholarly version of "community service" or "boot camp" involving the detailed viewings of as many films as possible, reading interviews with film directors, and studying important journals such as AMERICAN CINEMATOGRAPHER. This is equally important for those newly converted "film experts" in English Departments of postmodernist persuasion who recently discover Laura Mulvey's 1975 essay on "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" and regard it as a "gospel" truth which remains unaltered today! These feelings are more akin to non-linguistic theological studies and not the highly textual, linguistic based explorations of biblical and near eastern studies that relay on studies in pre-semitic studies, Canaanite, Aramaic, and Arabic studies to reveal key empirical structures influencing "holy writ."
This is another indispensable work by an important scholar that every serious professor and student should learn from even if it only involves better interpretation and a more professional "making of meaning."
Of course not, he is not a religious profet or Jacques Lacan (Oops!).
However he usually describes the area of his study quite well, cites references and data he would like you to check in order to see whether he is right and, well, does serious scholarly work. Not a small achievent in a fastly globalizing (and fastly "mcdonaldsizing") academic community of cultural gurus who know everything about everything... Therefore, when you disagree with him (as I sometimes do), you usually know what your are disagreeing about and why.
This book is another Bordwell's insightful contribution to the study of American and global cinema (styles in cinema are basically more international/global than in literature; probably less than in classical music or jazz), explaining how contemporary cinema develops from older stylistical patterns. From the era of silent movies or Slavko Vorkapic's experiments for Frank Capra to modern-era (greatly digitalized) blockbusters, Hollywood's manners and procedures of telling a story can be compared with quite a fruitfull result.
Ofcourse, simple description of stylistic trend or procedure does not directly serve as a proof of aesthetic value, but the subject of this book is, basically, style, not aesthetic value or anything else that can be connected to (and is intertwined on many levels with) style.
This book is equally useful for scholars, teachers and (thanks to his nice style and clear argumentation) students of cinema and all other educated art lovers.
I highly recommend this book for both students of film theory and for working filmmakers. It is fair, balance, well written and extremely well researched. The book is split into two sections - one covering story in post 1960 film and the other analysing directorial style during the same period.
In the first section Bordwell provides a positive view on modern scriptwriting. His detailed analysis of `Jerry Maguire' is a fabulous case in point. Through telling the story of Cameron Crowe's journey to emulate his hero Billy Wilder and by breaking down the script's core components Bordwell shows us the complexity in some modern Hollywood fare.
In the second half of the book Bordwell neatly illustrates the lack of focus in modern direction, taking 'Two Week's Notice' and 'Lord Of The Rings' as examples of muddled directions. But this is an oversimplification as he also illustrates the changing tastes of modern directors. For example, he presents a comparison of the same scene in the 1968 and 1999 versions of 'The Thomas Crown Affair' highlighting the different approaches.
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