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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elton takes on Hollywood - and wins
If your experience of Ben Elton the novelist is through "Past Mortem", "Dead Famous", "Inconceivable " and others, you may be forgiven for thinking that he is a very British novelist, concerned with british themes, concerns, and media phenomena. "Popcorn" blows that idea out of the water. Its set exclusively in the USA, mostly in Hollywood, and its sharp, streetwise,...
Published on 27 Aug 2005 by Mr. D. Clark

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I missed something very important...
I'm putting my low level of enjoyment for this book down to the possibility that I missed something very important. I was told this book is a masterpiece, very witty and a must read... but on turning the final page I felt nothing but relief: for finishing what I can only describe as a poorly written pastiche, more like a collage than an original work of fiction. Not one...
Published on 24 Oct 2000 by Mathew


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Elton takes on Hollywood - and wins, 27 Aug 2005
By 
Mr. D. Clark "londinius" - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Popcorn (Paperback)
If your experience of Ben Elton the novelist is through "Past Mortem", "Dead Famous", "Inconceivable " and others, you may be forgiven for thinking that he is a very British novelist, concerned with british themes, concerns, and media phenomena. "Popcorn" blows that idea out of the water. Its set exclusively in the USA, mostly in Hollywood, and its sharp, streetwise, shocking and funny.
I tend to think of Ben Elton as an issue-concerned novelist , and the issue at the heart of "Popcorn" is gratuitous violence in films, and whether it breeds violent behaviour in the audience for such films. The main character, Bruce Delamitri, is the director of a film called "Ordinary Americans" who seems a certainty for the oscar for best director. The events unfold throughout the day of the actual Oscar presentation, and the hours following it.
I took longer to get into "Popcorn" than into his other whodunits - "Past Mortem" and "Dead Famous". This isn't because its not as good - in some ways its better - but because it's a very different novel to the other two. Predictably, Elton depicts a Hollywood full of neurotic, shallow, self obsessed people whom nobody would ever want to pass the time of day with if they were not famous. Yet the world and the characters which he depicts are compelling not in spite of their awfulness, but because of it. The pace of the narrative accelerates to a remarkable climax, remarkable in as much as you continue reading even though you don't really care what happens to any of the protagonists. Except possibly the murderers.
One thing you can't help doing is matching up the fictional celebrities to their real life counterparts. If I was, lets say, Quentin Tarantino, I'd be pretty angry with this book, and I'd love to know what his reaction was to it.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Popcorn, 31 July 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Popcorn (Paperback)
The story concerns a hot-shot film director, famed for his violent movies, who finds himself taken hostage in his own home by a young 'trailer-trash' couple who have been travelling around America killing for fun.
The book opens up the debate of how acceptable violence (especially gratuitous violence) is in films, when, in reality it's not that entertaining, especially when it's happening to you.
I was quite shocked at the brutality in the book but it is saturated with irony and is laced with Ben Elton's observant humour.
Be warned though: the ending is grim and if you like nice tidy conclusions then this may not be the book for you. However, if you're after something thought-provoking and enjoy being unnerved by an uncomfortable combination of humour and violence, give it a go.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I missed something very important..., 24 Oct 2000
This review is from: Popcorn (Paperback)
I'm putting my low level of enjoyment for this book down to the possibility that I missed something very important. I was told this book is a masterpiece, very witty and a must read... but on turning the final page I felt nothing but relief: for finishing what I can only describe as a poorly written pastiche, more like a collage than an original work of fiction. Not one point in this book did I find cleaver or new, and remember not a single snigger throughout.
This was my first and last book by Elton... Ben Elton finds himself very funny and unless you subscribe to this personal fantasy, its almost impossible to find Popcorn titillating.
Read with care, don't expect much, as I did, and maybe it'll be worth it. If you have studied any kind of Media or Communications course however, steer clear, the book is one big convention and genre list. If it came out 5 years before it did then maybe.
I mean not to insult those who liked this book. It just didn't ring my bell.
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4.0 out of 5 stars excellent comic thriller, 16 Aug 2009
This review is from: Popcorn (Paperback)
Ben Elton is on top form in 'Popcorn'. This is the type of story he does best: a short, punchy, exciting, funny thriller.

As always, it is focused on a particular issue, highly relevant to modern life: does violence in film make people more violent? Or are people violent already? Does life immitate art or the other way round? This issue is addressed highly effectively, and instead of bashing us over the head with it (as Elton has been guilty of doing in many of his novels), he weaves it into the story line and leaves us to make our own decisions. Ben Elton certainly has his finger on the pulse of contemporary society.

The characters are not particularly likeable, or three-dimensional (they are just real enough for us to care about their eventual fate), but in this particular story there is no need for them to be. It is an extremely quick read (I read it in just a few hours, and I am by no means a quick reader). It is fiendishly addictive, tightly structured and savagely comic - I laughed out loud many times. And while it is instantly forgotten after finishing, and leaves no emotional mark (unlike 'High Society' which is extremely thought provoking), it does exactly what it says on the tin and was well-deserving of its Gold Dagger award. Highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cultural Window, 16 Oct 2002
By 
Simon Woolhead (Newcastle, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Popcorn (Paperback)
This is one of the most balanced books I have ever read. Not only does Popcorn have a genuinely fixating plot with a brilliant storyline, it also has some fantastic humor with dry sarcasm in some places and blatant comedy in others. But the book's by far most impressive aspect is its social commentary. Elton casts an eye over the daytime chat show media and reproduces it in a totally believably, yet intrinsically funny, way.
Of course, however, the most important aspect is the aspect on the 'film violence' debate. Elton presents the views of Bruce Delamitri in such a way that even the most hardened antagonist of violent imagery would surely be drawn about to his views. The minds of two killers are concisely portrayed to the point that their plight, and solution to it, is completely reasonable. This book, then, is a true masterpiece of readability and debate.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Out Tarantino's Tarantino with a higher body count than Rambo, 10 Jan 2009
By 
Andrew Dalby "ardalby" (oxford) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Popcorn (Paperback)
As always with Elton there is a little bit of politics. This is a novel about white trash acting out the movie of a Tarantino like director called Bruce Delamitri. It is his big Oscar winning night but then it all goes horribly wrong.

Elton gets you into the head of his Tarantino justifying his violence and the irony but this is a story within a story but one that asks the question of responsibility. Who is responsible for violence in society? Are films a reflection of society or an inspiration? In the end it is like GATACCA a look at the modern need to blame something or someone, so that nobody ever accepts responsibility for their actions or their failures.

So for me the ending is not over the top that is how Bruce would have scripted it and so that is how it should happen art and reality become blurred. But this is not a book for everyone as it is very violent if cartoon violent.

It is also worth mentioning the cameo played by Michael Douglas - Elton has a very wicked sense of humour.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elton + Tarantino = Excellent, 31 Aug 2001
This review is from: Popcorn (Paperback)
This is an excellent book by Ben Elton - on two conditions. First, you must be familiar with Elton and his sense of humour and like it. Secondly you must be familiar with Quentin Tarantino's films and his style (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Natural Born Killers...)
If you don't like any of the above, then you probably won't appreciate this book as much as it deserves!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good black comedy from Mr Elton, 8 Mar 2012
This review is from: Popcorn (Paperback)
Never been a big fan of Ben Elton as a stand-up comedian, but I do rate him as a writer and Popcorn is a very good read. I would think that Quentin Tarantino and his films are the inspiration behind Popcorn with its explicit and extreme theme of violence.

The book centres around Bruce, a film director renown for making violent (Tarantino type) movies, who is taken hostage by a Wayne and Scout - a couple who kill for kicks.

Popcorn is rightfully described as a 'high-octane thriller', but although it is set in the USA, it does have a very English feel about it and that's what I really like about this book: It's a very British dark comedy/crime novel and on par with two of my other favourite novels in this genre Not the End of the World by Christopher Brookmyre and the hysterical The Dealer by Tony Royden.

If you are new to the literary works of Ben Elton, I would definitely give Popcorn a read, you will be pleasantly surprised.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A witty, funny, thought-provoking, topical satire thriller, 11 Feb 2003
This review is from: Popcorn (Paperback)
In this intelligent thriller from an unexpected source, Ben Elton fuses many different qualities into an excellent book.
Every chapter looks at realistic situations with wit, sarcasm and satire; there were many occassions that caused a quick chuckle. Simultaneously, these situations are unavoidably thought-provoking; however you view the situations, your opinions have to be formed, and parts of modern life are shown in all their absurdity.
Even more brilliantly, while both thought-provoking and incredibly funny, the story continues apace, full of interest and intrigue, with descriptions that while vivid, avoid being gruesome, instead cleverly accentuating both the (thriller) plot and moral issues addressed.
The ending to the book is masterful, the epilogue incredibly funny. I also found the stageshow very enjoyable, but not quite as complete or convincing as the book.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Overstretching credibility, 21 May 2009
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This review is from: Popcorn (Paperback)
Having read 'High Society', thought I'd try another Ben Elton book.

By comparison to 'High Society' (which I thoroughly enjoyed), I found 'Popcorn' one-dimensional and rather dull. I didn't empathise or sympathise with any of the characters and just couldn't care what happened to them.

The two poor 'white trash' villains were imbued with intellect and debating skills way beyond what might be reasonably expected of them, which detracted from the book's overall credibility.

It lacked the dark humour, plot twists, sustained interest and compassion for many of the characters which made High Society such a compelling read.

'Popcorn' might have made an interesting short story, but to me it seems (over)stretched at a 300+ page novel.
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Popcorn
Popcorn by Ben Elton (Paperback - 1 July 2003)
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