Thursday, October 22, 2020

Book Review: "Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema" by Lindy West

With Lindy West's new book, Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema in hand, you won’t look at certain movies the same way again!

Have you ever watched a movie from the 1980s, 1990s, or early 2000s and realized how ridiculous it was? Have you ever thought how a movie like that might never work in the context of today’s society?

Well, even if you haven’t, West has. This book contains essays on 23 movies that were part of the cultural zeitgeist of their time—and still might be in some way. She looks at movies like The Notebook, American Pie, Face/Off, Twilight, The Fugitive, The Shawshank Redemption, and the movie that inspired the book, Love, Actually.

In her sarcastic, snarky, and insightful tone, West skewers plot holes, inconsistencies, clichés, and the often-ridiculous and offensive ways female characters were treated in these films. (It’s almost shocking how many movies treated women as second-class citizens, and jokes about sexual assault and sexist, racist, and homophobic remarks were so prevalent.)

I laughed out loud at some of her commentary. One of my favorite lines, in her essay on The Terminator 2, was “Eddie Furlong as a child has the energy of an old Kristen Stewart.” She’s dead on in a number of cases, including her skewering of American Pie.

This was a fun read, but sometimes her messages were undercut a bit by her snark. There are definitely spoilers here, so if you haven’t watched a particular movie she wrote about and you don’t want it ruined, steer clear of that essay.

As a movie buff, reading this has encouraged me to rewatch some of these films. I love when books make me think!

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