The 2012 edition of Leonard Maltin’s invaluable Movie Guide (as strong as ever in the digital age with 17,000 capsule movie reviews and 300 new entries) is definitely worth a holiday purchase as a $20 trade paperback (Plume) or $9.99 smaller paperback version (Signet). And for a great double-bill, the historian has also updated his Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide: From the Silent Era through 1965 ($23, Plume).
“The book expands different eras now and predates cable TV, home video, the internet, but the function of the book hasn’t changed, just the technology,” says Maltin, whose favorite film this year is The Descendants (which took the LA Film Critics top prize) because of its humanity.
Indeed, the 2012 Movie Guide is more important than ever, you could argue, because movies have never been more accessible and on such a multitude of platforms for our viewing pleasure. The trick is getting a younger generation interested in the classics. I was mystified earlier this year when meeting a waiter who said he wasn’t interested in movies made before he was born.
“The poet Cicero once said, ‘Not to know what happened before you were born, is to forever remain a child,” Maltin counters.”It’s a very immediate form of entertainment: they just announced that they’re going to bring the Harry Potter attraction from Orlando to Universal City, but it’s going to take several years to clear the land and construct it and execute it. And I’m thinking to myself, wait a minute: in a five to 10 to 15 years, will the children and adolescents of the next decade have the same interest in Harry Potter now that the series is over? What about after the Twilight movies are over? These are strains of pop culture that you and I can’t predict because young people tend to be fickle.”
Maltin, who is constantly reevaluating his relationship to his favorite movies, not surprisingly, lists Casablanca as his all-time favorite, and recommends such holiday fare as the melancholy Meet Me in St. Louis and the charming Remember the Night (scripted by Preston Sturges).
“At some point some in your life, not your parent and maybe not a teacher, will say, ‘Did you ever see Casablana? Or have you ever watched Singin’ in the Rain? You gotta see this.’ And that’ll lead people to more mature and broad-based view of the world and of continuing pop culture.”