Movies

Briefly Noted: Film Follies

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Nathan Rabin's My Year of Flops (Scribner) might look like one of those inane stunt books in which a writer spends a year hopping on one foot or eating nothing but beets and then somehow pads the experience out to 200 pages. But this project, in which the A.V. Club critic reconsiders some of Hollywood's most notorious failures, is much more interesting than that.

When the movies are as bad as their reputations, Rabin revels in their awfulness, picking apart their flaws in smart and funny prose. But he frequently finds that a film was pretty good after all, even if it didn't connect with audiences the first time around. And even a largely lousy flick might contain unexpected treasures.

The result is more than just a fun lark. It's an act of cultural archeology, with arguments that could transform some infamous flops into cult favorites. To read this book is to watch a canon being revised before your eyes. —Jesse Walker