24 Following

Uncertain, Fugitive, Half-fabulous

Stories about people. People who must ponder the implications of their laser gun swords.

Currently reading

Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond
Bill Campbell, Edward Austin Hall
Deathstalker War (Owen Deathstalker, Vol. 3)
Simon R. Green
Jews Without Money
Michael Gold
My Year of Flops: The A.V. Club Presents One Man's Journey Deep into the Heart of Cinematic Failure - Nathan Rabin,  A.V. A.V. Club (Editor) What, no Delgo?

My Year of Flops is a series of articles on The AV Club (far more than a year's worth) that explore, obviously, flops. One of my favorites is the article on the huge CGI misfire Delgo, which I totally intend to see someday. It was not included in this book, but here's a link: http://www.avclub.com/articles/floppiest-flop-case-file-126-delgo,16751/

Usually, I'm pretty much against buying a book filled with content that can be found on the Internet for free, but even if I hadn't gotten this as a Hannukah present, My Year of Flops is one book that I definitely would have gone out and bought. There are a few reasons for this.

First of all, I've always had a real appreciation for Nathan Rabin. Originally, this was just because he was the only person on The Onion's AV Club who ever, ever wrote about rap music. That his opinions differ wildly from mine on anything rap-music-related post-1995 or so is beside the point, at least he knows his shit and writes about it. More importantly than that, of course, was the fact that Rabin has a very funny and strong authorial voice, and is fascinated by a lot of the same things that I am. So, having read a good number of the My Year of Flops entries, having a nice book that would support the author and show that I like his work seemed like a good idea.

Secondly, it's a very well-put-together book -- a handsome paperback volume. There's great art, a lot of new material (Intro, Afterward, Appendix, interviews with those involved in some of the films, and a bunch of new movie write-ups that never saw their way online), and it works kind of like a greatest hits, with a bunch of his best pieces for the feature all collected in one place. Also I get real tired of reading off of screens. So fuck your Kindles and your Nanooks and get off my lawn.

The tone throughout My Year of Flops is one that teeters nicely between affection and derision. Rabin's writing (especially a few years ago, when most of these articles are originally from) is often very smart-alecky in that "I'm going to make a whole bunch of jokes and they won't all land but most will" way, but it's never too cynical or mean-spirited: he always acknowledges the difference between failures and failures with noble aspirations, and not all the movies herein are bad ones either. This whole subject of underappreciated (whether deserved or not) films is clearly one that he cares a great deal about, and so there's a lot of real thought and pathos in there with the jokes, and a lot of questions about what makes a piece of art succeed or fail. Also he does a write-up of Waterworld as he watches it. Ok, that one's just snark.

Many of the best articles in the book are actually the ones that are exclusive to the written page, possibly because they were written later, I don't know. A lot of those films (The Conqueror, Cleopatra) are older than the average Year of Flops candidate, and it's interesting to see him engage a little more with some of the more "golden" eras of Hollywood. Ooh, also a bodice-ripping "adaptation" of The Scarlet Letter from 1995, whose protagonist he describes as "the world's horniest Disney heroine" who has "a mind rife with rebellion, a tongue full of sass, and loins aching for sexual liberation."

Rounding out the package are a few well-placed interviews, in which Rabin talks to people involved in some of the films he critiques/rips apart. Regarding these films, the interviewees (mostly actors) range from indifferent to outright hostile, with the strange exception of Roberto Benigni, who happily discusses his disastrous (in the U.S.) Pinocchio.

Now, I can't quite bring myself to give a perfect rating to a book of things widely available online, and there are a few stretches where jokes begin to fall too flat (also, some really egregious typos, although that's neither here nor there I suppose), but overall it's a maddeningly fun read if you're interested in the subject matter. My Year of Flops starts in Schaudenfreude Schadenfreude (I was so close!) and ends somewhere in a place of tough love and respect. It's also really funny and enjoyable, with entries short enough to lend themselves to quick, breezy reading, but meaty enough to not feel like just another dump of bite-sized Internet material onto a page.