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Seeing Through Movies.

SEEING THROUGH MOVIES

Whether one agrees with the various points-of-view or not, there is no getting away from the fact that in this collection of thoughtful, analytical pieces is encapsulated the tortuous downward path of the movies as an art form along with the mental and commercial processes that have degraded it largely into a business in which "the deal" has become more important than what eventually appears up on that screen.

Each of the six pieces holds its own painful truths, whether they deal with the movies' relations with television (by Todd Gitlin), the state of the movie houses (by Douglas Gomery), Hollywood's slant on the Vietnam conflict (Pat Aufderheide), colorization (Stuart Klavans) or the excellent and well informed Blockbuster (Peter Biskind).

Miller, who also contributed a thoughtful article on Advertising, wrote the provocative Introduction, which superbly summarizes the Hollywood trends of the past two decades, stressing the dominance of "marketing" over quality and the emergence of new attitudes as the major companies' activities widened from the screen to TV, cable, records, theme parks, etc.

Miller deplores the abandonment of the 1948 Consent Decree and the new accent on the bottom line. "The lawyers and MBAs now managing the movie business are uninterested in, and bureaucratically cut off from the nitty-gritty of film-making," Miller writes. "Obsessed with blockbusters, they prize a movie only as a multiple exploitable resource, like a vulnerable company with a lot of assets.

"There are no more horizons, only the expanding universe of corporate enterprise, eternally recycling its own derivative images."

The old movie moguls, maintains Miller, at least mixed their pursuit of profits with a genuine love for the cinema. The age his writers yearn for, he says, is not the golden age of MGM "but that chaotic interregnum between the demise of the old studio system and the onset of the new monopoly."

There was a time when Hollywood "often dramatized the dark predicament of some lone and anxious self about to be erased, drowned out, filled in, or replicated by some superior force. That chilling threat - the onslaught of some hungry corporate force - is almost wholly absent from today's movies, or rather the movies still depict the threat, but not chillingly, for Hollywood now treats the corporate conquest of the self as something wonderful.

Much of Seeing Through Movies is self-evident, and some of the critical comments are not original, but combined in this collection they provide forceful, highly intelligent observations that add up to some depressingly negative conclusions about the "new" Hollywood.
COPYRIGHT 1991 TV Trade Media, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Hift, Fred
Publication:Video Age International
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Feb 1, 1991
Words:421
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