Books of 2015, #2: Silver Screen Fiend, by Patton Oswalt

I picked this up because it was indirectly referenced in a blog post of Chet’s.

I think the first time I ever saw Patton Oswalt was in a review of Young Adult on Roger Ebert’s show. Prior to that my only conscious knowledge of him was through Ratatouille. Until I read this, I still only really knew him from that and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I find his subject—the period of years where he was obsessed with watching movies—interesting in large part because it’s simultaneously so antithetical and yet still related to my own relationship with movies.

I regard film as a medium for entertainment, full stop. If a film can transcend being entertainment and show me something profound about a group of characters, I’m all for that—as a recent example, I would, in fact, hold up American Hustle as a film that proves that that is possible.

Call it the celluliod version of the Pre-Joycean Fellowship. I care not a whit for film for film’s sake. I would, honestly, rather read Roger Ebert writing about most films—especially “serious” films—than watch them.

So had I known him at this time in his life, I suspect I would be one of the people he looked at with blank incomprehension, unable to understand how they couldn’t recognize the importance of his obsession.


I am also the guy who picks all those same facts about the movies, the stars, the deals that went down, the films that were never made. All the things he felt he was boring people with at this time in his life, those I would have found interesting. The films, though? Not so much.

Anyway, having devoted all this space to me, let me now say that the book is entertaining, and yet transcends entertainment, in the way that most people’s attempts to understand themselves are able to do. It’s funny, but with only a couple of moments that made me laugh out loud—but those were really good: Louis C.K.’s comments on how to approach visiting Amsterdam, and his brother’s description of a scene in The Phantom Menace that continues to make me laugh just thinking about it.

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Michael Alan Dorman

Yogi, brigand, programmer, thief, musician, Republican, cook. I leave it to you figure out which ones are accurate.