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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

April 21, 1996|CHRIS GOODRICH

THE UNKINDEST CUT: How a Hatchet-Man Critic Made His Own $7,000 Movie and Put It All on His Credit Card by Joe Queenan (Hyperion: $22.95; 304 pp.). Joe Queenan must have a death wish. For a decade he's earned significant money and notoriety mocking Hollywood in various national publications. Doesn't Queenan ("If You're Talking to Me, Your Career Must Be in Trouble") know that talk is cheap, film expensive? Of course he does--and that's where the death wish comes in, because Queenan was bound to fail, and did. In film terms, at least: Although "Twelve Steps to Death," his mock-noir whodunit set in the world of self-help groups, was by most accounts pretty terrible, "The Unkindest Cut," is, despite itself, a pretty good book. His intent, ostensibly, was to make a film for less than $7,000, the figure made famous by Robert Rodriguez with his 1993 film "El Mariachi." When Queenan starts shooting film, his sneering tone dissipates and the book finally becomes engaging. "The Unkindest Cut" is full of extraneous details but the book is hard to resist, if only because the critic has put his money where his mouth is. Are you listening, John Simon?

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