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It’s Book Time Again

It’s Book Time Again

Some people are amazed that I am still editing an annual
movie reference guide, and I am one of them. But it’s true: Leonard Maltin’s 2014 Movie Guide: The
Modern Era
is now available from booksellers everywhere, in two editions, a
mass-market paperback from Signet and a large-format version from Plume. Sharp-eyed
customers will notice that they have different colored covers, but they are
otherwise identical.

Almost everyone uses the Internet for information nowadays,
and I am no exception, yet in researching this annual guide (with my loyal
colleagues) I find it just as hard as ever to ascertain basic facts about even
the newest releases. Variations in actors’ names, billing order, running time,
and plot points continue to plague us all year long. That’s why we take a
certain pride in the finished product: what we offer is “curated information”
which we hope is user-friendly. The advantage we have today that wasn’t
afforded us years ago is that we can check a copy of the film itself, fairly
soon after it debuts in theaters.

For the second year, we have adopted a subtitle, The Modern Era, to notify longtime users
that many older titles have migrated to our companion volume, Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide.
Some readers still haven’t gotten this message, which is why we include random
cross-references to that spinoff volume throughout the Annual. Even a
1,600-page paperback can’t contain 100 years of movie reviews.

On the other hand, we’re entitled to have some fun. That’s
why I asked one of our editors, Michael Scheinfeld, to add something new to
this year’s edition: a healthy sampling of so-called spaghetti Westerns, those
Italian “oaters” that redefined the Western in the 1960s and early 70s. Savvy
revival theaters have featured tributes to these unique genre titles in recent
years, and that was our cue to respond, even though many of them are not
readily available in the U.S. (If you have an all-region DVD or Blu-ray player
you may have better luck. We only indicate those which are legally available
from U.S. distributors, and we’ve calculated their running times based on
America’s NTSC format, not PAL, which runs at a higher frame rate.) And just to
keep things from getting dull, many of the actors and directors in these movies
used Americanized pseudonyms, so it’s not uncommon to find their names being
spelled differently from film to film in the onscreen credits and movie
posters. We’ve done our best to select the most common spellings.

As always, we’ve combed existing reviews to add early screen
credits for such now-familiar actors as Tom Hardy, Octavia Spencer, John
Hawkes, Jacki Weaver, and Chloë Grace Moretz. It’s always fun to look back to
the not-so-distant past and spot people who have found their place in the
spotlight.

We’re already hard at work on next year’s edition. There are
just enough people who still like the idea of a reference guide sitting on
their coffee table or nightstand to keep us in business, and for that my
cohorts and I are extremely grateful.

 

 

 

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