So now y’all know just exactly how far behind I am in my reviews. We read this book back in June? I think? Effff, I wish I would have written this review back then. I had so many thoughts!! Now, they are mostly all gone. GONE I TELL YOU, like piss in the wind.
Sorry, that was vulgar. Sometimes I am vulgar. It should pass.
But you know what, I’m feeling in the mood right now. I’m full of it. What you might call piss and vinegar. So it’s fitting, really, because I didn’t much care for this book.
My problems with it were two: First, that like many of you pointed out in your lovely reviews, Freeman’s thesis for this book was not workable, and impossible to prove. And second, her sense of humor does NOT match mine, and at times I felt some of her anecdotes were trying waaaay too hard.
So I will elaborate a little. On the second point, there isn’t much to say beyond my taste not really matching Freeman’s writing. I found her writing try-hard and desperate for approval. It often came across to me as, look, aren’t I so funny and cute? I liked her the most when she faded into the background and showed off that yes, she does actually know film really well and can write about it with aplomb, with the right material. Not so much when she is telling a shoved in story about meeting Matthew Broderick on the street while they were walking their dogs. Sometimes it was as little a thing as a turn of phrase that rubbed me the wrong way.
But the first thing isn’t about taste, and I think it’s pretty objective, and that is that her “thesis,” the whole point of this book (it’s in the subtitle even) is not a good basis for a book. It’s a cutesy marketing ploy that is impossible to actually write without coming across (as Hadley does often here) as reaching. It’s no coincidence that the essays where she backs the hardest off the premise and sticks to facts rather than subjective opinion (i.e. Eighties movies were the best!!!! All other movies are inferior!!!, etc. etc.) were the most successful.
I would much rather have read a book about what made 80s movies 80s movies (and she still could have written about the same movies, even!) rather than a book that had to shoehorn in constant reminders about how movies today no longer do what 80s movies did, leading to vast generalizations. I also would have preferred less of her opinions being treated as objective fact.
It’s a shame, because some of these essays really showed promise. In particular, I enjoyed the one about Dirty Dancing being a stealth feminist film.