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For over 20 years, film enthusiasts, trivia buffs, and ordinary movie watchers alike have consulted the pages of Halliwell's Film & Video Guide for the most comprehensive information available on their favorite films — from the classics of the silver screen to the latest blockbusters. Each of the books over 23,000 entries include information on the film's cast members; writers, directors and producers; a plot synopsis and critical evaluations; videocassette, DVD, and laser disc availibility; quotes from ...
For over 20 years, film enthusiasts, trivia buffs, and ordinary movie watchers alike have consulted the pages of Halliwell's Film & Video Guide for the most comprehensive information available on their favorite films — from the classics of the silver screen to the latest blockbusters. Each of the books over 23,000 entries include information on the film's cast members; writers, directors and producers; a plot synopsis and critical evaluations; videocassette, DVD, and laser disc availibility; quotes from contemporary reviews; and more. Halliwell's also features easy-to-interpret icons denoting film suitable for family viewing, winners of Academy Awards and nominations, sountrack availability, computer-colorized versions, and video format compatibility. Additionally, you'll find lists of four-star and three-star films arranged by title and by year of release, and a list of all the Oscar winners for best picture and director, best actor and actress, best supporting actor and actress, and best original screen play and adapted screenplay.
It has been a great year for films, including, as it does, Sam Mendes' brilliant debut American Beauty, scripted by Alan Ball, on the sterility and the pleasures of suburban living, Ridley Scott reinvigorating a moribund genre with his Gladiator, Mike Leigh breathing new life into period drama with Topsy-Turvy, and Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's witty exploration of identity, the wholly original Being John Malkovich.
There were also searing dramas such as Boys Don't Cry, David Lynch's delightful road movie The Straight Story, Michael Mann's exposé of corporate politics The Insider and such foreign pleasures as Pedro Almodovar's All About My Mother, Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run and Hirokazu Kore-Eda's After Life .
Yet, at the beginning of a new millennium (as Stanley Kubrick knew, it arrived in 2001), these may be the last gasp of 20th-century cinema. For movies are changing with the times, and there is a perceptible shift happening in the way films are made, seen and enjoyed. Inevitably, this is the result of the switch to digital methods of reproduction and distribution.
At the expensive end of film making, we can witness the re-creation of ancient Rome in Gladiator, or the incredible ballet of bullets and people in The Matrix. At the cheap end, the masses can now afford to make movies with digital cameras and computerized editing systems. Many wannabe directors will have been inspired by The Blair Witch Project, a cheaply made movie with an unknown cast that, cleverly marketed at low cost on the Internet, outperformed at thebox office heavily-promoted Hollywood blockbusters featuring $20m stars.
Already, Danish directors such as Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg have demonstrated the change and charge that can be got from dramas filmed with hand-held cameras using available light. The Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami has made films on minimal budgets based on real-life incidents, in which people have played themselves. (Imagine Erin Brokovich with Erin Brokovich rather than Julia Roberts in the lead.)
The success of web cameras on the Internet shows there is an apparently insatiable demand to glimpse the lives of other people. Films, too, are being made specifically to be shown on the World Wide Web. For the first time since the early days of film, the means to create movies is available to the many.
Hollywood has reacted so far by releasing films of interminable length and throwing millions of dollars at spectacular special digital effects. But that is an approach that will soon lose its novelty value. Once you can conjure up anything digitally, then the extraordinary soon becomes ordinary. The quality of imagination, the visionary collaboration of writers, artists and actors, will be what matters.
Hollywood, of course, will absorb the lessons, and many of the talents, that the digital revolution throws up. But for every George Lucas filming the next episode of Star Wars at vast cost with digital cameras, there will be a Michael Almereyda (who not so long ago was making movies with a Fisher-Price toy Pixel camera) using video to film Hamlet on a minimal budget, or a Mike Figgis, experimenting with split screens and simultaneous stories in a way that would have been impossibly expensive in the past.
Neither Figgis's or Almereyda's newest films will be found here, as they have yet to reach the UK. But some 400 new films have been added to this edition. For reasons of space, these do not include films made specifically for television, which still fall into the category of the missable. For the first time, too, some entries from earlier editions have been dropped. Unfortunately, this was inevitable, since the Guide cannot get any bigger. The movies eliminated from this edition are listed in an appendix.
The Guide in its entirety, together with its companion volume, Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies, will, however, be accessible on the Internet through Coppernob, a new and exciting site on the World Wide Web, that will, among many other matters of interest, provide extensive coverage of films. See you there!
I am grateful to the many readers who have taken the time to write to me, both with encouragement and complaints. I also owe thanks to Val Hudson and Monica Chakraverty and the technical wizards Graham Bell and Alan Trewartha at HarperCollins, and to my agents Rivers Scott and Gloria Ferris; my love goes to my wife Barbara, whose sense and sensitivity makes the hard work worthwhile.
John Walker (E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org)