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Cliff's Notes For Movies

Plot and character summaries for movies
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(Cliff's Notes are those little yellow booklets with black stripes that contain summaries and discussions of classic novels and plays. There is an equivalent in the UK, but I've forgotten what they're called over there. Used by teachers to help kids understand how to analyse a book, and used by kids to avoid reading the book in the first place.)

Well, another batch of summer movies is upon us, and I'm still not caught up on all of last year's. Then again, I've also seen some movies that I just don't get: what did the ending of The Man On The Train mean, exactly?

It is easy enough to find film reviews on the Internet, but they usually do not tell you very much about the plot, or often even any character names.

So, this is a proposal for, if not an actual series of booklets, then at least a web site, with a full plot synopsis,a description of each character, and a high brow analysis of each film - what elements were lifted from what other movies, which parts are homages to which directors, precisely what the ending meant or left unresolved.

And then we can either finally figure out what that thing that was bothering us was about in that film we just saw, or skip seeing the film entirely and still be able to prattle on about it at the next cocktail party we go to.

(After all, 28 Days Later sounds like a really good film, but I never see horror movies (too vivid an imagination) and I'd still like to know how it all works out.)

[Just found a site that is intended to provide full synopses of movie (see link), albeit without the plot and character analysis I was looking for. Not fully operational, but I have taken the liberty of deleting some links that were wider of the mark.]

DrCurry, Jun 30 2003

Much Closer http://www.themoviespoiler.com
...but currently down. [DrCurry, Oct 04 2004, last modified Oct 05 2004]

[link]






       There are reviews by contributors at imdb.com, but they're not always terribly useful or well-written. I find many reviews in the NY Times to contain rather more plot outline than I want.   

       Otherwise, this is something I want, too. Like allmusic.com, but for movies.
snarfyguy, Jun 30 2003
  

       Often in DVDs there's an option for director's commentary, which I usually find very informative for a very good movie. However, this is a bit off target for what you want. The only baked version of this I can think of is a film class (highly recommend taking as many of these as you can) or a cafe chat with friends after a movie. The later option assumes 1) you have friends and 2) your friends gain more insight from the movie than you. +
Worldgineer, Jun 30 2003
  

       There is a book out that is along the lines of this format but, of course, its comments are limited to movies that have been out for a while. It's a good book, though. Can't remember the name of it.
bristolz, Jun 30 2003
  

       What, like some kind of Leonard Maltin thumbnail sketch of every move ever made?
snarfyguy, Jun 30 2003
  

       bristolz: I have that book, or one like it, but it doesn't tell you how the movies end.
DrCurry, Jun 30 2003
  

       <runs downstairs><puff, puff> Methuen's Study-Aids (notes on Shakespeare's "King Lear") is that the animal you have in mind? </puff, puff></runs upstairs>
po, Jun 30 2003
  

       Ah, yes. Good point, [DC].
bristolz, Jun 30 2003
  

       All Movie Guide is from the same folks that do the All Music Guide.
thumbwax, Jun 30 2003
  

       po: that's the ticket!
thumbwax: thanks for the link, but one paragraph does not an adequate synopsis make, and it suffers from the same defect noted above.
DrCurry, Jun 30 2003
  

       :)
po, Jun 30 2003
  

       Curry: allmovie.com gives away the ending of "The Bad and the Beautiful."
snarfyguy, Jun 30 2003
  

       Not to anything like the extent that Cliff's Notes gives away the ending of, say, MacBeth.
DrCurry, Jun 30 2003
  

       The thing that's unique about movies as art is that they combine plot/story--historically a written or musical element--and visuals, in a way that other art forms may be able to imitate but can't really duplicate. What's exciting about a movie is not only the story, but the directing, the production, the acting, the visuals, the camera angles, the lighting, the 'feel'--the list goes on. Cliff's Notes would strip away not only the suspense of watching the movie, but also the most beautiful aspect of the art form, which is the juxtaposition of story, word, image and sound and its powerful ability to shape mood and thought, as well as to amplify the meaning of every word. Fishbone.
disbomber, Apr 05 2005
  

       I have something to say but I don't want to ruin the suspense, so I'm not going to tell you what it is.
JesusHChrist, Apr 05 2005
  

       you could watch the film, then read the notes and watch it again with renewed interest and spotting the stuff you undoubtedly missed the first time.
po, Apr 05 2005
  

       As a wannabe screenwriter, I'd just read the script if I wanted to see the details I'd missed in a movie I saw. That's not everyone's cup of tea, though: no one other than screenwriters says "Baseball game? No, I was thinking of reading a script tonight."   

       But theoretically Cliff's Notes wouldn't tell you the things you missed anyway--the way I understand it, they would operate on a pretty high (general) level, describing the characters and the development of the story. Anyway, I think it's moer interesting to figure out what you missed by just watching the movie again. Lots of fun with movies like Memento, where the experience changes completely every time you watch it.
disbomber, Apr 05 2005
  

       //figure out what you missed by just watching the movie again// fine, if you're not just thick   

       one step back, please [disbomber]. smile, say cheese. flips photo <writes name>
po, Apr 05 2005
  
      
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