The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex is not Mark Kermode’s first book, but it is the first by the film critic that I have read. A well-known name and face in the world of film journalism, I always enjoy his appearances on TV shows along the lines of “The 50 Greatest Movies” – he invariably has something interesting, intelligent and funny to say, and for this stands out from so many of the other “talking heads” who waffle rubbish.
The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex is subtitled What’s Wrong With Modern Movies?, which gives a slightly better idea of what to expect. Kermode discusses his issues with modern cinema, ranging from the multiplex itself, through the lack of projectionists, the so-called “future” that is 3D, why blockbusters are so bad yet make a fortune, the point of film critics, and British cinema.
Kermode’s arguments are well thought out and well presented. How much research was required and how much of the content comes from Kermode’s existing knowledge I can’t say, but he backs up his arguments with facts and figures, and there is a great deal of logic to what he has to say.
For example, he argues that blockbuster movies are almost always highly successful, yet they are never intelligent fare, and are often pretty rubbish (Kermode cites Pearl Harbor as an example – and provides back-up for his assertion that it’s not just him who thinks it is rubbish). So, he goes on to ask, why can’t they be better quality if they are going to be successful no matter what? Why does Hollywood cater for a “dumb” audience? Kermode is certainly very convincing in his arguments; I will happily confess to enjoying a good blockbuster, they make excellent entertainment, but he makes a good point – even at their best, they are very simple things in essence, and have no thought-provoking points or intelligent content.
As an aside though, I did disagree with Kermode in his assessment of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies – he clearly is not a fan, to put it mildly. Personally I love them – good swashbuckling adventure with a brilliantly mad Johnny Depp. Each to their own however.
A quote from the back of The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex taken from Empire’s review of the book states that “The angrier Mark Kermode gets, the funnier he is; good news then that this book is FURIOUS.” From this I expected to be clutching my sides laughing throughout the book, but this was not the case. While Kermode is funny and made me smile on several occasions, it was not a laugh-out-loud book. He is very angry though, that I will agree with.
Kermode’s writing is almost casual in style, chatty at times and never too formal or heavy. You can imagine him making many of these points on his radio show, pretty much as they are written here. Yet despite this casual style, Kermode has weight to his arguments and comes across as a writer to respect – even if you don’t agree with him, you will respect what he has to say.
I did find myself swayed by much of what Kermode has to say. I’m not too keen on modern multiplex cinemas, but had never really coherently thought about it (except for the daylight robbery they call the price list). While I enjoy blockbusters, they could have a lot more value to them. The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex makes for an entertaining and thought-provoking read, and is highly recommended for anyone with an interest in cinema.
The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex by Mark Kermode
Published by Random House, paperback, September 2012
Many thanks to Random House for providing a review copy of the The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex.
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