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Popcorn - Ben Elton

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      29.04.2009 23:32
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      Satire on the media

      Ben Elton books are nice and easy to read and I do find them very funny but I also can recognise that a bit like the foodstuff that provides the title of this book, once you have consumed it you are left wanting something more filling a short while later.

      Elton generally satires something in his books and in this one it is Hollywood and the instant fame thing that are in his cross hairs. Bruce Dalamitri should be on cloud nine, it is Oscar night and he is a sure bet for an award, plus in his acceptance speech he had planned a tirade against those who blame his films for an increase in violence however things are not going to plan as he is being held hostage by his biggest fan and his world is about to change for ever.

      It is not hard to see where Elton gets his inspiration for his characters in this book and he makes little effort to hide this fact making it easy for the reader to identify with them.

      A lot of the story is told through flashbacks and this story telling style works well and this book has awell constructed story to it and is also bitingly funny at times with some wonderful satire.

      I would say that this is one of his better books, packed with odious characters and an easy read as well.

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      05.09.2006 11:10
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      Satire of the Hollywood film industry and the makers of violent films.

      It should have been the greatest night in Bruce Dalamitri life, Oscar night and he was a dead cert to win the Oscar for best Director following the success of his ultra violent ultra cool movies. Add to this the fact that upon collection of his Oscar he would then have the platform to speak out against the liberal wish washy Hollywood critics who blame his films for a rise in violence and later that night he would perform on a different platform in the form of the hottest Playmate on the scene and the subject of many a school boy (and Bruce) wet dreams.

      What Bruce does not know is that also by the end of the night he will get to meet his number one fan however it is not an autograph that he is after and soon Bruce will have more to worry about than merely avoiding the embarrassment of delivering a speech in the Halle Berry / Gwyneth Paltrow stylie.

      I would probably describe myself as a luke warm Ben Elton fan, in his pomp he was a good stand up comedian who I went to see in my student days and as a writer of comedy on TV he is up there with the best of them. As a writer of fiction I have read three of his books now and they have been of varying quality. Like the previous books Popcorn takes a topical subject which is also an easy target for Ben Elton biting satire and slightly dark humour and weaves a fairly predictable story around it.

      In Popcorn it is the Hollywood film industry which is the easy target he picks on after all this is an industry where reality rarely makes an appearance and it exists within a culture of excess. In particular Elton focuses on the part of the film industry which produces those super cool very violent films ala Tarantino and indeed it is pretty obvious that the inspiration for Dalamitri comes from Tarantino right down to the Latin inflection in the surname.

      Elton does not limit his attack on the film industry though, he also draws upon the wider media industry and also the culture within American and indeed spreading across to these shores of always blaming someone else for your troubles and never accepting responsibility for your own actions. In a book that it is light on intellectual content it is still quite thought provoking the points he seeks to put across whilst at the same time providing an entertaining read for those who do not want to think further than the next page.

      On the plus side with this book there are some very funny moments that will make the reader smile and certainly the pace of the storyline easily held my attention and it moves along at a brisk pace. This is helped by the fact that Elton writing style is to keep the chapters to about half a dozen pages each and the story is primarily told from two main characters perspective with the story switching between them however at various times the story gets told by other minor characters in the book. This style helps keep the reader on their toes and the story moving along at a rapid rate. Elton also uses flash backs in the book to fill in the gaps and indeed in the opening couple of chapters you get to know some of the outcomes of the book and it is more a case of finding out how the characters got to that point rather than reading a chronologically structured book.

      I did find that, unusually within a book, there was not one likeable character in the whole story. In Popcorn all of the characters are flawed and at times down right nasty, Dalamitri is self obsessed with a vicious tongue who enjoys bullying people and has an air of self importance. In developing his characters Elton rarely strays from the stereotype which does give the reader a sense of predictability about the story line however it also serves to provide a comfort zone for the reader and makes it easy to relate to the story.

      I would recommend this book but only within a certain context. For me it is ideal reading if you are not looking to challenge the old grey matter too far and therefore it was ideal reading while stretched out on the beach turning my white bits pink. The subject matter of Hollywood is an easy target and one that it is fun to laugh at and the story is fast paced and entertaining with a few hilarious moments. There are a lack of twists to the storyline and the ending is quite predictable not least because you are given a few hints at the start of the book and it is very similar to other books my Elton.

      Overall if you have not read any of his work before then it is not a bad starting point however in my opinion his book Dead Famous which is a satire of the Big Brother style reality TV show is a better read and far more entertaining. Overall I would give this one three stars.

      I got my copy from the website readitswapit which is the source of most of my reading material these days. The rrp of my copy is £5.99 however it is available on Amazon for £5.59 new or from £1.40 in the new and used section or you could offer me a swap via readitswapit as I will shortly add it to my book list. I use my Dooyoo name on the site.

      Published by Pocket Books the isbn is 0-671-85567-0.

      Thanks for reading and rating my review.

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        11.11.2002 19:28
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        Okay when I got this book to tell you the truth I was just getting rid of some book vouchers before they expired and this above all looked like it would be worth a look, I was wrong as I will continue to explain. The Plot: Scout and her lunatic of a boyfriend Wayne are the mall murderers, they randomly kill Americans (which by the way isn't really a crime!). Bruce Delamitri is a well known director of violent films and winner of best Director Oscar. Whats the link well a rather poor one actually. The Mall murderers are huge fans of Bruce's films and they decide that since they are obviously doomed for what they have done that the director of these violent movies can be their scapegoat. They go to his house abuse him and anyone else that comes through the door until the scum bag journalists arrive and then they explain to the world how society is to blame for their wrong doings. I don't wanna say anymore as it will ruin it when you read the book. Okay so basically we have a couple of psycho killers and a Film director who is apparently cool. I ask you this though the character of Wayne and Scout are quite good, Wayne on the surface is a red neck idiot school drop out loser, however underneath he is a media made genius who has grown up watching and learning from TV. For one he'd have to be a bloody genius to get away with being filmed killing poeple on all the security camera's yet still managing to go unnoticed till he got into the house of the Best Director in the world. Anyways we have a confrontation of minds between this angry red neck and some arsey film director who to be honest would never confront a criminal in the manner that he does in this book let alone the bloody mall murderers. Imagine Quentin Tarantino in his house and some mass murderers arrive after killing his security guard and proceed to kill his agent and threaten his wife and child, do you think he would do anything apart from crap his pants? I thi
        nk not. The idea is clever to the point it's a question probably every educated family has discussed round the dinner table, is society to blame for the mindless killers that seem to roam our streets an awful lot. And the answer quite simply is no. Violence and 'evil' cannot be put into jusat anybody it is only taken up by those with already poor mental state. The whole point is to do what these mall murderers did in the total stupid and unplanned method they did it in takes a certain person and that person is born with that mental condition. The media does glorify crime and does abuse it's power in order to pay their wages and feed some fatcat boss of a media company's obsession with snuff movies or something. I mean come on who has ever been brought up without seeing loads of violence in real life and on TV and yet they lead perfectly normal lives without any need or desire for crime. You'ds have to be pretty poorly evolved to think that what you see on tv or read in the press is anything but glorified recollections of events and not the real story it is made out to be. Ok anyway back to the book, the author is criticising the same mediam which he himself owes his entire success, if it wasn't for critics and fans he would not be the millionaire he is. I think it is absurd to criticise the very thing that you owe so much too. Maybe I got it worng maybe he wasn't maybe he agrees with me that it is a ridiculuos idea to blame the worlds criminals on Media and society portrayal of crime, but even then he would be doing a pretty half arsed job of it, the book was in my view poorly written with unrealistic characters and an absurd ending (which I'll be surprised if anyone makes it to!) I for one will not be buying any more from this author as I think this book was an utter waste of time.

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          23.03.2002 19:16
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          I got Popcorn for a Christmas present. When I saw it was written by Ben Elton I felt like throwing it in the bin. I don't really like Ben Elton. I didn't mind blackadder. It's funny & witty but Ben Elton himself bugs the hell out of me. I decide to give the book a chance. I'm glad I did. Popcorn is a lot like a roller coaster. Slow & climbing at the beginning but once it gets over the top of the roller coaster doesn't stop until it reaches a violent end. I must say that there's a lot of violence in the book but I expected that. It's all about Bruce Delamitri, director of the movie Ordinary Americans. Bruce just won an Oscar for Best Director but alot of people think that Ordinary Americans is a downright evil, movie. After the Oscars Bruce mingles at the Governor's Ball, butter ups the stars and spewing rudeness at everyone else before leaving with Playboy model Brooke Daniels. When he brings her home for some seduction, she pulls a gun on him and demands a screen test. He agrees, and the two fall into each other's arms. Meanwhile to express their distress with the movie Ordinary Americans, Wayne Hudson and his girlfriend Scout a.k.a. the Mall Murderers have gone on a two month, four state shooting spree. They ended up at Bruce's house on Oscar night to take him and whoever is with him, hostage where they find Bruce & Brooke. After they settle in for a drink, Wayne questions Brooke with provocative questions while Scout feigns mortification. Bruce's drops by uninvited (he gets shot). Then Bruce's money grabbing ex-wife Farrah and bratty daughter Velvet show up; Brooke gets shot, and Wayne phones NBC. Two TV journalists, stripped down to their underwear, are allowed into the house. Bruce debates against his captors for a live-TV debate about violence in the movies. But as things get chatty, the ratings drop, so Wayne shoots Farrah. SWAT teams storm Bruce's house, and eve
          ryone is killed except Bruce and Scout. Bruce's career is clearly at an end. I think there are 3 reason why people choose to read this book first because of the famous name BEN ELTON. Secondly the satire humour is mostly dead right. It's so funny. And the thirdly reason is if you like Tarantino's films. If you don't like Ben Elton's humour or Tarantino's films don't bother reading Popcorn & if you're expecting an original book don't read it either because most of the book is based of the ideas and styles from films like pulp fiction, reservoir Dogs etc Popcorn could of been more original but it's still a good book all in all.

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            03.01.2002 20:11
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            This book is quite a few years old now but I've have only just been able to get a copy. Usually when I read a book/novel it takes me at least a week to read, but this book was so good that it only took a few hours to read. Popcorn is one of those books that you cannot put down, it seems as if something is happening all the time. This book is funny, witty, emotional and violent. What more can a story have? This book is about a film director on a particular day of his life, infact, a special day in his life. This day happens to be Oscars day and he has been nominated for the 'Best director award'. This director has made some controversial films and the public are split into whether he deserves the gong. At this partitcular time in the book, there are two killers on the loose that are basically copy cat killers. Copying the style of killings the director has produced to film. The whole book is about taking responsilbility and morals. It seems it's always asking us as the reader "Should we blame ourselves for our behaviour? Or is it someone elses fault?" The story portrays both opinions to the above question. Certain characters in the book believe films influence kids into crime whilst others think film making is an art.

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              06.10.2001 07:58
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              Plot outline! Wayne and Scout have a plan. They're the Mall Murderers - a pair of killers with little remorse, no goals or prospects, but a plan to keep them from the Chair! Bruce is a director. He makes very graphic films - lots of death and gore, he sees it every day and passes it on to the great American public in a glamourised, jumped up way. His latest film, "Ordinary Americans" has just won him an Oscar and he's got his favourite Playboy centrefold in his house. Predictably the two meet - The real "Ordinary Americans" and the man who likes to portray them on screen. The plan is simple - Wayne may be a psycho, but he's certainly got a good plan! He and Scout break into Bruce's hopuse and get him, by means foul and foul, to broadcast his responsibility for these two criminals to the nation. It gets done, the killers are stopped and Bruce is ruined in the business. Hos life ends with the killing of Wayne and the capture of Scout as he's now thought of as the man who's movies inspired them. Critique: --------- The book is great, it begins, admittedly, a little slowly, lots of talk of the Oscars but gets involved very deeply in the stories of Bruce, Wayne and Scout quickly and very well. The style of the book is great, it is sometimes done as a screenplay, sometimes as a simple narrative and sometimes as Bruce in the frist person. The pace of the development from Oscar night to seige is gripping and exciting and there are a number of comic moments to enjoy. The overall story is excellent, the copycat idea is a popular one - do we follow blindly or do we have our own free will? It raises questions about society (if you want to go that far!) and is a real thinker's book. Highly reccomended by this member -0 have a read and follow into Elton's world, all of his books address a topical issue and end up with a great story, very enterta
              ining and thought provoking.

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              25.05.2001 00:20
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              I’ll be honest – this book took a while to get into. The only other Ben Elton book I’d read before this was Inconceivable, and the subject matter there was completely different, lighter maybe. Even though it was about a couple struggling to conceive a child, it wasn’t about murder. The humour there was also a lot lighter and less dark, and on the whole the book was easier to read. But I’m not writing an opinion on that, I’m writing an opinion on Popcorn (the book, not the favoured cinema snack). The word “gritty” could have been invented to deal with a book of this nature – it certainly doesn’t pull any punches. Like I said before, the story takes a long while to get into, and at the beginning, it flits around all over the place so you’re left wondering where you are for a while, but by the time I’d got a few chapters under my belt, I had really got into the story and was finding it hard to put down – I’m feeling tired today because I stayed up late last night reading the last 100 pages of the book – I couldn’t put it down, even though my eyes where starting to protest. The whole book tells the story of one day in the lives of a few people. First of all there is Bruce Delamitri, celebrated movie director, whose movie Ordinary Americans is hotly tipped to win him the Best Director gong at the Oscars that night. If you want to compare Bruce to a real life person, think Quentin Tarantino – his films are violent, bloody, full of death and rock soundtracks. Understandably, moral America lashes out against this, saying that his films influence people to commit the same type of crimes glorified in his movies – particularly the “Mall Murderers”, two young kids from a trailer park crossing the country leaving a trail of bullets and death behind them. Wayne and Scout are those “Mall Murderers”. Both are in their late te
              ens, both come from deprived backgrounds. Wayne is clearly the leader of the two, heavily armed wherever he travels, as likely to shoot you, as he is to talk to you. Scout is Wayne’s girlfriend; she is pretty and loves Wayne to pieces. Wayne loves Bruce’s films, and when he isn’t killing people, you’ll find him in front of the TV, watching his films on video. The book opens on the morning after the night before, as it where, and gives you a brief clue to what happened since Bruce picked up an Oscar for his film. It intersperses that with flashbacks to the previous day, before it moves totally back to the lead up to the huge finale. Bruce wins his Oscar, picks up Playboy centrefold Brooke Daniels and makes his way home for an after show drink and perhaps a little more. Meanwhile Wayne and Scout are staying in a motel, on their way to Los Angeles. The book is obvious, in that you know their paths are going to meet, but the book isn’t simply a story about what happens, there’s a powerful message behind the story, debating whether film’s like Bruce’s influence the killers, or is there another factor that makes them act the way they do? It is also critical of the influence television plays in our lives, how it distorts or views of events as we view what happens through the lens. Indeed, you could argue that the entire outcome of the book is down to the participation of television. The writing style is quite relaxed – it is fairly easy to keep up with what is going on and doesn’t require a huge amount of attention to be paid whilst reading. The writing is very witty; it uses a succession of clever comparisons to bring a smile to your face, comparing serious things to stupid things to remove the tension in places. The format is also quite clever – the story of Bruce, and Wayne and Scout, is kept separate, by each taking a chapter in turn until they finally meet out. One o
              f my favourite tricks Ben Elton uses was taking the critical scenes, and writing them in the form of a film script. Bruce often imagines his life as a script, thinking about what type of camera shot he would use or music he would play was he involved in his old film. At times, Elton actually moves into a film script, describing the shots and style of each shot. It is odd at the same time as it removes some of the emotion from the highly charged scenes, though I feel it is a wonderful touch – you can almost visualise it on the screen. Part of the beauty of the book is that it asks the questions, but never answers them – it lets you make your own mind up. Whilst I feel that Elton comes down firmly against the influence of television, and the way it manipulates people and events, he never answers the question of whether the movies shape the killer or if it’s some other influence that causes their actions. He presents the arguments for both sides, with Bruce the man saying they don’t and Wayne and Scout stating the case for. Both sides prevent very valid arguments, and it certainly made me think. The book works well because of the characters – all are very realistic and well crafted – Bruce is arrogant, says what he thinks and tries desperately to be cool. Wayne makes an excellent psycho, a man obviously completely unhinged and dangerous. He has some great lines, and provides some of the best lines of the book. Scout backs Wayne up, provides him something to feed off. They’re both scary people, but Scout is more reserved and shy than Wayne, and they have some great little interplays where Scout is putting Wayne down. There are also some more minor characters to add a little more life to the story – Bruce’s wife and daughter – his wife a selfish Hollywood wife, out for all she can get, and his daughter a loud mouthed product of the Beverly Hills public schools. The book pulls no punche
              s – it isn’t afraid of letting some of its characters go, and they don’t always go in the most pleasant way. Some of it can be a little gory, so if you’re of a nervous disposition, look out! The violence is never unnecessary though, I always got the impression that it was there for a reason and vital to the storyline – like I mentioned before, the switch to a script style takes a lot of the sting out the violence a little. My favourite part of the book is the final epilogue, which wraps everything up – including the suing and counter suing and blaming each other for the events, which happened. The underlying message the book is that there is no longer any real right or wrong in the world – different rules apply to different groups, and you can be guilty while still being innocent – like Wayne and Scout, obviously guilty of murder, yet protesting innocence because they are guided that way by the media. It’s scary, but it’s true and it’s becoming more and more evident in the world today. Certainly not the best book I’ve ever read, I don’t think it would make my top 10, but it’s still a really worthy read. It’s a little on the predictable side, but like I said, it’s the message the book is trying to get across that is the most important part of the book, rather than the story. I picked it up second hand for the bargain price of £1.80, so I’m not complaining!

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                19.08.2000 18:58
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                I have red several of Ben Elton's other books and was really looking forward to this as it is probably his most hyped before the film of Inconceivable came out. Ben Elton's books are usually about really gritty topics such as traffic jams and infertility and popcorn is no different. The effects of Film violence often appears in our news headlines - i would know, being a big boss media studies type person. Surprisingly, this book doesn't deal with the topic in an original or particularly interesting manner. His books are usually an amusing comment on life but this wasn't particularly amusing and ben hasn't engaged with the topic much. Basically, I thought this book was way to similar to Natural Born Killers. I saw the film and the stories are v similar and the characters are almost identical. One of the main characters - scout - reminds me soooooooooooo much of juliett lewis (i think thats her name) in both Natural Born Killers and in Kalifornia, that Ben must have based the character on her. Finally, before i get to stroppy to type, i thought that the ending could have had a sodding fantastic ending - and probably does in the play but the book just sort of fizzled as soon as the climax had happened. Doh.

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                  15.08.2000 03:39

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                  This book is an entertaining, non-serious novel addressing a very serious subject,the effect of violent media images on human behavior. The tone of the book seems a little strange, but I think the author pulled it off - it is a very entertaining book. Although it’s a worthwhile read, I'm somewhat turned off by Elton's holier than thou attitude, which quickly reveals itself to be as hypocritical as his targets by his acceptance of a movie offer. Mind you it still makes for a great read.

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                  04.07.2000 21:44
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                  A page-turner with morals? So many people love this book and who am I to disagree. “…a viciously funny satire that also works as a tongue-in-cheek thriller” - The Sunday Times “An absolute coup of black comedy” – Daily Telegraph Ben Elton started off as a stand-up comic back in the 80’s (remember them?) and then decided to write novels too. His stand-up is very political and he chooses to give his novels a moral and political tone. The moralising may not be to everyone’s liking but thankfully each of his novels can hold their own as plain old funny books. The plot is extremely simple and entirely guessable from a very early stage. Bruce is a moviemaker who makes very violent films and Wayne and Scout are killers of the indiscriminate variety. The three are bound to meet! The book is nothing to do with the plot and everything to do with our perceptions about who does what and why, who is right, who is wrong. Are we all to blame? Personally I think Americans are much more to blame than us Brits – that’s my line and I’m sticking to it! However, we know that watching trash like Neighbours encourages the producers to make more trash like Neighbours but we watch it anyway. This book examines who is to blame for all the trash, violence and sex we see and it does it in a way that makes you laugh out loud, as well as think. You could just as easily read this just for the laughs but my guess is that wasn’t Mr Elton’s reason for writing. Like his other offerings ‘Stark’, Gridlock’ and ‘This Other Eden’ the message is as important as the gags. The language can be very raw and the subject of the book is killers, be warned Mr and Mrs Sensitive out there. Everyone else go and buy or borrow a copy.

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