Monday, January 31, 2011

Nathan Rabin's My Year of Flops

Nathan Rabin, the Head Writer at the AV Club, is, one of the more influential movie critics around. Rabin, and his AV Club colleagues Scott Tobias and Keith Phipps, are noted for the attention they devote to cult classics, so-bad-they're-good movies, camp, and other movies loved by film buffs (and former video store clerks, like themselves), but often ignored by critics at the major newspapers.

My Year of Flops collects two years' worth of columns about the most famous flops in movie history. Most surprising to me was how many of these movies sound as if they had the potential to be great successes, but were ruined by a bad decision or five by the director or studio head, reminding us that Spinal Tap's maxim that "there's a fine line between clever and stupid" applies to much more than just 1980's heavy metal. Rabin classifies every film as a fiasco, failure, or secret success, but he finds something of interest in each of the movies, even if its only a morbid fascination at how somebody could have ever thought that some of these movies were a good idea.

I really enjoyed this book, and, if you like movies, you'll enjoy it, too. I've read Rabin's My Year of Flops column since it debuted in the AV Club, and, to be honest, it works better as a regular column than as a book, because the essays have little in common with one another other than a common classification system. Its still a very good book, its just one that lends itself more to reading an essay or two at a time, on the subway or on your lunch break than it is a book to curl up with on the couch or hunker down with at a coffee shop. But definitely worth checking out if you love movies.

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