PERFORMING ARTS

Shit, Actually: The Definitive, 100% Objective Guide to Modern Cinema

Hachette. Oct. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780316449823. $27. FILM
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Based on her series of essays for Jezebel, on rewatching successful films to see if they stand the test of time, this latest by West (Shrill; The Witches Are Coming) explores the longevity of films, especially those that later became cultural phenomena. The author admits that The Fugitive (1993), in which the hero is also the villain, is her all-time favorite, and she proceeds to judge other films by that standard. She thoughtfully considers rewatching works by beloved celebrities who have later failed us and liking imperfect movies that mean something to us. This leads to a reexamination of her fondness for classics such as Top Gun (1986), Speed (1994), and Face/Off (1997). As indicated by the title, West reserves the most dislike for Love Actually (2003) and does not shy away from profanity, saving it for movies that don’t hold up, such as American Pie (1999). Some of these essays were previously published, while others are original to this work. Though the author clearly states that the book isn’t meant to be comprehensive, her brief entries may leave readers wanting more.
VERDICT This irreverent look at film criticism will be popular among West’s many fans and may provide insight for readers grappling with liking flawed films.

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