Cinematic cultists beware: Leonard Maltinís esteemed movie guide is probably not the book for you. Iíve been perusing Maltinís books since my teens, and Iíve noticed that he doesnít always look fondly on the outlandish, bizarre films that tend to develop ravenous followings. For instance, he cuts off such fan-spawning enterprises as Scarface, Blade Runner, Memento and Kingpin with a mere one and a half stars. Sure, he does reward some risky films, such as Secretary and Magnolia with good ratings, but, in general, Maltin isnít about being edgy.
Heís about helping people find the perfect movie to settle in with on a Friday night, and his latest guide is no different. Movies are graded on a scale from four stars to BOMB (and yes, BOMB is printed in all caps, just to make the rating all the more horrifying for the afflicted filmmaker Ė or a poor soul who happens to like the maligned film). As usual, Maltin leans toward recommending mainstream fare (X2, Finding Nemo), but heís also useful in pointing out smaller movies that the casual filmgoer might have missed, such as the excellent Auto Focus (three stars) and the sleeper film Bend it Like Beckham (also three stars).
In fact, the best feature of the latest guide is a list at the front of the book of fifty overlooked movies that readers should check out (Iíve only seen a few, but have liked most of those Iíve seen, with the snore-inducing Waking the Dead being the only exception). Iíve always gravitated to those kinds of lists, which encourage renters to look beyond the ďNew ReleasesĒ section and discover something new, exciting and perhaps even challenging. Thatís what being a movie fan is all about.
Maltin, despite his somewhat conservative tastes, knows that. Thatís why his books have become an invaluable resource for anyone who plans to rent or watch a film between now and the end of time. His guide always deserves a place in the home, and this latest edition is no different.