by Joe Garner
Reviewed by Steven H Silver
From "The Wizard of Oz" (1939) to "The Lord of the Rings" (2003), Joe Garner has selected twenty-five films Hollywood has produced which he feels include "Unforgettable Moments from the Movies" as his subtitle phrases it. He makes no claim to selecting the most memorable moments, but notes that his selections were partly based on which films he was able to get the rights to use on the DVD which accompanies the book, which explains the absence of "Star Wars" and, perhaps, "Citizen Kane.".
While everyone has their own favorite moments from the movies, there can be little dispute that the films Garner has selected are memorable. The span a wide range of genres, from the humor of "Some Like it Hot" to the tension of "Psycho." Not only does Garner discuss each of the twenty-five films, providing the reader with historical background on the making of the film as well as insight into the making of the film and the specific scenes Garner feels are memorable.
After each film, Garner includes a topical list of films. These, perhaps, allow for more argument than his primary choices. Following the chapter on "Alien," there is a list of five unforgettable "Space Sci-Fi" in films such as "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Stars Wars," neither of which will brook much argument, although the inclusion of "Total Recall" is a little more questionable. One of the strengths of these lists, however, is that Garner attempts to span the last two-thirds of the twentieth-century.
Over all, the book is a fun look at the movies, and at its best it reads like the commentary track accompanying so many films on DVD. In fact, the book comes with a DVD which includes excerpts from the films selected by Garner. The DVD is hosted by Dustin Hoffman, who provides an audio track similar to the text in the book, although punctuated by clips from the films. At its most interesting, Hoffman discusses his own film "The Graduate." The DVD is well produced and easy to navigate through, although it has the drawback of the clips it includes whetting the viewers appetite for the longer film (which are generally available at the local video store).
Now Showing is not a critical look at the films Garner has selected to discuss. It is a tribute to those films and his tone throughout the book is appropriate. A reader who has not seen these films and only read Garner's descriptions will come away from the book feeling that each of these films is an unmitigated masterpiece. While each of them in reality has strengths and weaknesses, Garner is correct in noting that all of them are memorable examples of the art of Hollywood.
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